Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tricks That Can Reel in Dolphin; Advanced Tactics Work When Fish Become Fickle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tricks That Can Reel in Dolphin; Advanced Tactics Work When Fish Become Fickle

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob McNally

Local dolphin fishing has been a banner one for many area offshore anglers from Daytona Beach to St. Simons Island. And east winds with clear water and stacked weedlines have continued to make for better-than-average near-shore dolphin action lately, especially off the Georgia Coast.

Dolphin are widely known as one of the ocean's premier eating machines.

Much of the time when the bright-colored, choice-dinner-fare fish are encountered, anglers can make quick work of them casting lures, trolling dead baits, jigging and live baiting. But there are times when dolphin can be fickle, but the following tips can help with success.

JUGGING DOLPHIN

Jacksonville Capt. Don Dingman is a widely-traveled angler with lots of dolphin-catching experience.

He says most anglers know the old trick of keeping a hooked dolphin in the water to hold a school of dolphin within casting range of fishermen.

But an advanced twist to this tactic is to take a hooked dolphin and tie it off with fishing line to a floating boat buoy. Then allow the buoy and dolphin to drift away from your fishing boat.

"It's easy to do, and it helps prevent school dolphin from spooking once you start catching them," says the host of the outdoor television show "Hook The Future." "You can use a small boat bumper or even a large floating ball you'd use for mooring a boat, whatever on board that floats. I rig the ball or buoy with some type of snap clip for easy use of attaching it to my fishing line. If I'm trolling and catch the first dolphin, I'll just unclip the trolling line leader holding the fish, and snap that onto the ball. It's easy and fast and gets the hooked fish away from the boat so the dolphin school stays together with that first fish."

Once Don has a buoy-rigged dolphin set up, he'll motor well away from it. Then cast big chugger plugs and jigs a long way to the buoy to collect more dolphin.

"You can work on a school a lot longer from long range like this than you can if you keep a hooked fish near the boat," he says. "One time fishing in Costa Rica, we rigged the first big dolphin we hooked to a buoy just this way. We caught 34 fish from a single school, all on chugger plugs and spinning tackle. They weighed 15 to 39 pounds."

CHUM 'EM UP

Chumming works well for just about everything with fins, including dolphin. But there is some specialized fine-tuning to the tactic that dupes dolphin consistently for veteran Louisiana Capt. Tommy Pellegrin.

"If school-size dolphin weighing 2 to 5 pounds get finicky, I mix macaroni noodles with menhaden oil or ground menhaden we make from cast-netted bait," he says. "Macaroni noodles absorb menhaden oil, and you get twice as much chum volume with noodles. We use small, white plastic-tail grub jigs for lures, so we soak the grubs in chum before fishing. …

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