- Last Saturday, I drove to Key Colony Beach (Marathon) with 3 friends from my fly fishing club, Robert, Lance and Alligator Bob, for a dolphin meat hunt. Robert had been in the area a couple weeks prior and left his 22′ Cat boat in storage, so we didn’t have to drag a boat down from Tampa. We arrived and found our rental house to be a beautiful residence on a canal (as are all the homes in Key Colony Beach) We picked up the key from the rental agent and then to the marina to pick up the boat, dropped the boat in the water, dropped the trailer at the house, went to dinner and then a grocery and bait run. Sunday and Monday were forecast to be too windy to get offshore, so we chose to go into the gulf and fish some rockpiles. Both the days, the weather guesser was correct, but the rockpiles produced a good number of mangrove snapper as well as a couple surprises, a legal red grouper, a 2# porgy, and a just short of legal gag grouper.The rest of the week was forecast to be smooth with winds less than 10 mph and seas under 2′. Once again, the weather guesser was correct and we took off at daybreak on Tuesday with high expectations. At 14 miles offshore, we found a weedline and started to troll. This produced 10 average sized dolphin, but nothing to write home about. The bite was an early morning bite and dropped off after 11:00, so we tried for another hour with zero results other than teaching ballyhoo to swim, and we were home in time for a late lunch and nap while we left the heat of the day pass, and went to cleaning fish about 4:00.
Wednesday, we again left at daybreak and found weeds at 10 miles, but the captain decided he wanted bigger fish and ran to 20 miles without finding anything worthwhile fishing. We did manage 4 fish, 7-8# when we returned to the weeds at 10 miles, but were late for the bite and quit at 12:00 again
(these guys like 1/2 day fishing).
Thursday, again leaving at daybreak, we decided to NOT run over the fish and stopped at a weedline at 12 miles. This resulted in 10 fish, all caught on the troll with the biggest at 9# on the Boga. Never could we get any schoolies to come out and play.
Friday, we decided that since the bite was an early one, we would leave early, so at dark o’clock, we loaded tackle, bait and ourselves into the cat and took off. Once again, as soon as we put lines in the water at 12 miles, we got 2 fish, and they came with schoolies, but the schoolies wanted nothing to do with any baits or lures we offered them SO, we took off traveling south again. At 20 miles we found a weedline and since we were so early, we were the first boat on it. Once again, shortly after we put the lines out, one of the short lines got hit, but the fish missed. I picked up the rod, put the reel in freespool and felt the bait get picked up again. AS I set the hook, another rod went off and Lance picked it up. AS I was fighting my fish, a 10#, Lance was complaining he had hooked a trap or something as he could not budge what was on his line. I looked at his line traveling at an angle to the boat and told him he had a fish. About that time a large dolphin jumped in the middle of the weedline, convincing Lance he did indeed have a fish. Boating my fish, I coached Lance on fighting his and after about 15 minutes, it came close enough to gaff. Robert did the honors and the biggest dolphin of the trip, 29# was in the box. But, as we went back over to the weeds, before we could start trolling, Robert threw a jig and got hit immediately and the rest of the school came out to play. The next 1 1/2 hours were pure pandemonium with everyone hooking, fighting and gaffing fish, The first fish hit the box at 7:05. By 8:50, we had the fishbox and every cooler filled and were losing ice fast. We had 19 fish between 8# and the big 29# fish with some of the schoolies pushing 12 to 15 pounds, 4 were caught on a fly rod and most on jigs. We only used 3 ballyhoo for the day. We called a friend on the radio and waited for him to arrive before we took off for home. As we left, I turned around and saw our friends had not traveled 100 yards from where we left them before they stopped and were hooked up. By this time there were numerous boats all over the weeds and our friend only managed 9 fish.
If you look close at the picture, you will see a rainbow runner under the tail of one of the dolphin on the left side of the picture, about the middle of the pile, which was also added to the mix and made excellent sashimi.