Big Dolphin Fishing in The Florida Keys
100% Fun, that’s exactly what Dolphin fishing is in the Florida Keys. Have you got to try it yet?
This is not Flipper. The restaurants call it Mahi Mahi. Maybe you’ve already tasted it?
It was no different from any other day fishing. At this time in my life I usually fished alone. My boat has an auto pilot, so when I’m working the lines and bait , she steers herself. The beauty of fishing offshore in the Florida Keys is that so many fish are attracted to the same baits. You can catch Wahoo , Kingfish , White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Sharks and Tuna all by using just Ballyhoo.
It was May, the right time of the year for the Big Dolphin to be migrating thru the Florida Straits. This is my favorite time of the year to fish offshore.
I put my lines out when I got to 200 feet of water. I began trolling 210 to 240 degrees on the compass. This would take me deep and a little bit west to counter the strong east bound current.
I went out as far as 650 feet of water. In early to mid May the larger Bull Dolphin should be between there and the reef. I turned around and began trolling back toward shore.
The day was beautiful. Several boats were also out Dolphin fishing. I saw a few of my neighbors and the Charter Boat Sea Boots. We were all fishing for the same thing.
It was around two in the afternoon. I was back in at 268 feet of water. Their was a great color change. I began trolling it. I had 5 lines out, a down rigger, 2 outriggers and 2 flat lines. My port flat line began peeling off. I kept the boat in gear and began working on the other lines. I got the down rigger up first. It’s electric so all I need to do is push a toggle switch. Then I reeled in the rest of the lines. This is a real test to see how fast you can get the other lines out of the way.
I slapped on my fighting belt and began fighting the fish. He jumped several times. I could see he was big. Oh my gosh, I was so afraid he would throw the hook. I don’t want to lose this fish.
He kept going back and forth way back behind the boat. The only time I could get line in was when he turned. I was gaining on him. I got him pretty close, d@#*, he took off diving and then jumping. He was shaking his head from one side to the other. Oh please don’t throw that hook.
I’m working him and get him back close to the boat he takes me totally around the boat two and a half times. I have to take the rod over and under the other rods and then around the outriggers. Then he takes off again and he’s jumping.
By this time some of my friend who were also fishing began to circle me at a distance. Their teasing me saying I have the bottom hooked. Then they ask me if I’m ever going to get the fish in. They leave me alone and go back to trolling.
A little while later they come back my way. They’re circling me at a distance again along with a couple of other boats. They’re all teasing me on the radio saying you don’t have a fish on and boy I bet you’re thirsty. Wouldn’t you love to have a beer. I can’t answer the radio, I am really busy. The Dolphin and I are both getting worn out. I get him close again.
My friend Billy offers to gaff the fish for me. He has his wife Annamarie steer the boat, he jumps from his bow to mine. He came with his own gaff in hand. I threaten him that if he looses my fish while gaffing it I’ll use the gaff on him.
Three times he starts to gaff and I stop him. Finally I get the fish close enough and Billy nails him. We got the fish in the boat.
I’m shaking, this is fabulous I’ve never seen a Dolphin so huge. I’m screaming, I am so happy.
I take Billy back to his boat. I’ve drifted about 2 miles while fighting this fish. It took me 58 minutes to land him.
On the way to weigh him I stop at Billy and Annamarie’s house. We wipe the slime off the fish and paint him. Then we lay a white sheet on him and get a print of him. We do both side. What was I thinking??? The fish is losing weight. I haven’t weighed him yet.
I take my fish go on around to Sea Boots Charter's dock and have them weigh him. Every one gets excited. Lots of neighbors see the commotion and come to investigate. The Bull Dolphin weighed 68 pounds. Everybody’s happy. I take my fish home.
I had a commercial fishing license at this time. I sold the fish to Summerland Seafood. That evening Capt.Todd Baad from Sea Boots phoned and told me I had beat the 22 year standing World Record for Dolphin held by a woman. He asked me to meet him up at the fish house with a camera and measuring tape.
The fish was still there, seems lots of guys wanted their picture taken with it. We brought it out and took pictures and did the measurements.
Jim Sharp, the owner of Sea Boots Charters and a local hero, submitted a letter to the IGFA about me having witnesses to the fish being caught. He also sent records proving the scale was calibrated on a regular basis. This was the scale the fish was weighed in on. Seems you’re not suppose to get a world record if you’re fishing alone. But I filled out all the forms, sent in the required length of fishing line from the reel along with the leader and hook. They test these for breaking strength. It all passed.
They accepted the letter Jim wrote along with the other paperwork he sent in. It was accepted and I was presented with the IGFA World Record for the largest Dolphin caught by a woman on 50 pound test line. What an honor.
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