Try smaller lures for bigger dolphin

Well, folks, the dolphin fishing is still pretty good, with plenty of slammers out there in addition to lots of fish in the eight- to 12-pound range. Look for birds and weed lines anywhere from 200 feet and deeper.

There are also good numbers of skipjack and blackfin tuna in the same areas as the dolphin. To get bites, you’ll want to use smaller lures, such as Billy Baits like the mini turbo, dropped way back behind the boat. The trick is to get out in front of the general direction in which the school is heading and troll your baits through the school without actually driving your boat through the fish.

The wrecks are holding mutton snapper as well as amberjacks, almaco jacks and large jack crevalles. Live ballyhoo or live pinfish are your baits of choice.

On the reef, the yellowtail and mangrove snapper action continues in earnest. The best areas for the yellowtails are 50 to 70 feet of water, whereas the mangroves are in shallower at 30 to 40 feet.

There are also plenty of mangroves on the patch reefs. Keeper-size yellowtails are there, too, but not the real big flags you find on the reef.

In the bay, the mangrove bite remains consistent on the grass banks and inshore wrecks. There are also lots of fun fish, such as jack crevalles and small cobia, prowling these areas.

Fresh chunks of pinfish or ballyhoo are working for the mangroves and live pinfish for the jacks and cobia.
Lobstering continues to be productive in Florida Bay, with many bug hunters reporting specimens two pounds or better.

The week’s best catches

David Denholz and family from Fort Myers spent a day at the humps with Capt. George Griffin aboard the Pip’s 36 out of Captain Pip’s Marina and Hideaway in Marathon. They came back with a nice bunch of tuna.

Capt. Zach Willis guided the Dorenkamps, from Treasure Island, on a Pip’s 20-foot Cape Horn rental boat to an excellent catch of yellowtail and mangrove snappers.

Capt. Jeff Shelar, of Catch-Em-All Charters out of Captain Pip’s, reports lots of dolphin in the 12- to 18-pound class, with usually at least a few 20-pounders thrown in for added fun. Inshore, he’s catching nice mangroves and medium-sized yellowtails.

Mike and Justin Porciello, from New Jersey, fished the edge of the reef just inside the color change with Shelar and landed a 10-foot tiger shark along with a giant silky.

Fishing on the Klimax for SeaSquared Charters, Capt. Chris Klimas had a couple of offshore trips that produced tuna and dolphin, including a 41-pound bull. He also did some family fun fishing for snappers.
The SeaSquared spent much of the week shallow-water shark fishing, with landings from nine to sixteen lemons, with snapper fishing on the reef and in the bay filling in the blanks.

The Stone sisters, mom Renee and Scott Evans, from Atlantic City, caught two amberjack weighing 17 and 23 pounds along with several yellowtails fishing the reef with Capt. Kevin and Barbie Wilson of Knee Deep Charters out of Geiger Key Marina. On a separate lobstering trip, Barbie netted a monster 3.8-pound bug and Kevin speared a 19-pound black grouper.

Capt. Moe Mottice, of Moe’s Custom Charters in Key West, reports great offshore fishing for dolphin if you can find some grass before seeing the mountains of Cuba. On the reef, bonito and barracuda are eating trolled ballyhoo and, in the harbor, the tarpon are still taking cut shrimp trash.

Snapper fishing has been great with plenty of yellowtails and big mangroves, and the sharks in the gulf are eating hard and keeping anglers busy with Goliath grouper and mackerel mixed in.

Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Captain Pip’s Marina and Hideaway Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, and

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