JULY 7th 2012
From left – Rhett, Melissa, Jake, Eric, Panee, & Ali
Heading out of Tavernier in The Florida Keys, we started our day in 4-5 foot seas in search of the sometimes elusive Mahi-Mahi. Birds were abundant and in flocks small enough to keep us from thinking that they were over Bonita.
It was about 8:30am. We spotted a few birds that we ran up on and decided to toss live pinfish under them (I know, baits could have been better, but we didn’t take the time to pick them off the reef – bait store only had the pinnies!). We threw bonita and ballyhoo chunks as well as a couple jigs and – BOOM!!! Our baits were destroyed! Our excitement drastically came to a close when the fish were quickly brought to the boat – we realized that they all had about 2-6 inches to grow before they were legal. Not having a tower on the boat, we had difficulty determining if there were any potential keepers in the bunch. After letting the little guys go and sifting through a school of at least 500 shakers, we proceeded to repeat the aforementioned scenario several times until most of our spirits (and mono leaders!) were broken. We did manage to box a gaffer bull (wooohooo, Melissa!) and one small, barely legal lifter. Hey, we found ’em, right?!?
I know at some point, we all were wondering how we were going to share a half of a filet with our families! It was closing in on 1pm and most of us were wary about staying out any longer since it appeared as though the skies had darkened and we were about to get dumped on by some of Mother Nature’s finest. We started running back towards Tavernier – with lightning popping not too far from us in all directions! Being the die-hard fishing freaks that we are, we vowed to stop ONLY if something looked severely promising and was possibly worth risking that one-in-ten-thousand chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime. What can I say, we’re nuts. The ocean started kicking up even more and about two or three more times, we found a group of birds over sargassum patches which led us to pick up a couple more keepers on trolled, skirted ballyhoo and two more on pitched chunks. We decided that we had enough dinner for everyone and made our way back towards the most non-threatenting looking area of The Keys (Tavernier thankfully appeared to be clearing from the crazy afternoon storms).
Just as we were settling down for the ride in, one of our guys spotted a frigate flying low and “one, two, three, no – four, no-wait-five…five birds and a frigate flying low!!!!!! Yeahhhh!!!!!!” At that moment, it was like a fanatical frenzy to make sure the baits were rigged, properly skirted, and set perfectly in the spread. Jake, our “Cap-For-The-Day” circled us around the wheeling birds and diving frigate and within 20 seconds of setting the lines, that magnificent, almost musical sound of drag quickly peeling off the reel filled the air and then….it jumped. Big-ass dolphin. Sweet! About two seconds later, his girlfriend joined the party and the games began. I got the privilege of getting the little lady to the side of the boat which was gaffed and boxed perfectly by Rhett. Our Bull of the Day decided to put up a little bit of a fight. Eric worked him in perfectly after a few last runs and after one of those arrhythmia-causing gaff misses (don’t worry Rhett, you redeemed yourself – lol!), the second shot got him in the boat.
Well, all I can say is when you’re still not completely seasoned in Dolphin Fishing, a nice-sized bull like this can make you act like you won the damn lottery…or at least on our boat it does. Yea, we get excited – super excited. But, what’s fishing if you can’t have a little fun?? Today just goes to show you that the morning bite may not be the end of the day’s show…don’t give-up on the afternoon. Unless you’ve got lightening striking around you…then consider it…maybe.
BIG thanks to Panee C. who got the amazing jump shot of our bull – check him out on our home page!!
Ali Hobson – Islamorada/Fort Myers/Vero Beach – on the “Frigate About It”