Summer Dolphin Tactics
By Capt. Gus Cane
Dolphin, Dorado, mahimahi. No matter what you call them these neon green, yellow and blue speedsters are perhaps the perfect pelagic game fish. Why? Because they fight extremely hard, they are common in warm waters around the world, they grow super fast, and they taste delicious. That’s why Dolphin are such a popular summertime target.
To get in on the fun, start with the computer. Satellite forecasting services can help pinpoint likely zones based on water temperatures, underwater structure, currents and temporary features like color changes and weed lines. Reports from the local tackle shop, marina or fishing forum will help narrow the search too.
On the water, the boat’s electronics will be invaluable tools. The chart plotter will identify ledges, humps and depth contours that concentrate bait. Some units offer real-time data overlays. Dial in the radar to paint frigates and other birds hunting for bait and keep a pair of binoculars handy to confirm the blips. The sounder will show the differences in water temperatures. Dolphin love hot water, so even a degree or two of change could mean a concentration of fish.
Having a mixed tackle set-up will expand your dolphin opportunities. Big plastic chugger and jet head lures on trolling combos run several waves behind the boat will cover plenty of water. A heavy Nylure lead jig in bright yellow trolled way back is a surefire bet. It often produces when nothing else will. A heavy spinning outfit with a large surface lure like a Sebile Popper can be cast quickly whenever the birds are working bait, or you run across a nice weed line or floating debris. Dolphin love to hang around anything, from wooden pallets, oil drums, trees and other flotsam. These “surface structures” attract small baitfish, which in turn attracts hungry dolphin. Another spinning outfit with a stout live bait hook and a chunk of ballyhoo is great enticement when that gang of gaffers does show up.
Dolphin typically travels in packs so once one is hooked, keep it in the water as long as possible. The thrashing and commotion will pull its school mates into casting range. If, after catching a couple the fish seem to lose interest, throw a handful of small cut ballyhoo pieces overboard. That will usually fire ‘em up again. Another trick is to use the raw water washdown hose and spray a light shower near the boat. The noise and dimpling water often triggers another feeding frenzy.
After a fun fight comes the best part—eating the catch. Dolphin filets are very mild and can be cooked a variety of ways. It’s hard to beat a big slab hot off the grill, however.
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Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com