Catching Dolphin in the Florida Keys!

Catching dolphin, find 'em, fool 'em and fillet 'em!

dolphin jumping Florida Keys

Catching dolphin, what's not to like about that in the Florida Keys? They fight hard, make spectacular jumps and light up in their blue and gold suits and they're great to have for dinner.

Sometimes these fish act like they love to be caught. They hit just about anything you have on the end of your line when you're trolling or drifting. Every spring and summer they invade the waters of the Florida Keys as soon as the water warms to their liking.

Dolphin Catching Tips

There are several fishing tactics that are universal and work almost every time.
floating debris * Dolphin love structure, whether it's week lines, temperature breaks, buckets or floating debris. Anything that provides cover for baitfish is a possible chow line for dolphin.

* Where you find one you'll almost always find more.

* The first hooked dolphin should be kept in the water near the boat until another one is hooked. This draws and holds any others that may be in the school with it.

* They learn quickly as you fish them. The first few will hit just about anything you throw at them but then they get picky.

* Use the right gaff when landing serious dolphin. Make sure to use a stout 8 foot gaff with a good grip and a minimum of a 3 inch gape hook.

* Keep the fish low. Never, ever lift the fish's head out of the water. This will cause them to go wild and begin to shake their head in a frenzy and lead to them throwing the hook.

* Take your time. More big fish are lost when anglers rush the gaff shot. Don't risk jumping the fish off with a hurried gaff shot or a badly placed gaff.

* Have a plan. Make sure everyone onboard knows what's going on and what their role is. Have one person ready to open and quickly close the fish box, then sit on it. Always gaff from over the fish toward the boat and behind the leader.

* Stay committed. Once you commit to taking the fish, don't stop for a second. When you get the shot follow through and put dinner in the fish box.

gaffed dolphin

Dolphin fishing has its own lingo and so does dolphin catching!

Peanuts: So small the fillets resemble a strip of bacon.

Chicken: Larger than a peanut and in the two to six pound range.

Schoolies: Any size that's legal and found with others of the same size. They're usually 18 inches and up to about 15 pounds.

Gaffers: Nice ones, usually 20 pounds and up, these require a good gaff man.

Cows: Female dolphin, very distinguishable by their rounded heads.

Bulls: Males, you'll know them immediately by their high, squared off foreheads.

Slammers: Big enough to break just about anything in the cockpit!

Last dolphin catching tip

All summertime trips offshore should include catching dolphin rods, rigged and ready every time your boat crosses a rip or weedline in the blue waters off the Florida Keys.

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