What a phenomenal Father’s Day weekend! Not only did I have the pleasure of spending time on the water with my father, but team Best Bet also took home first and second place honors in the Big Time Bait & Tackle Father’s Day Dolphin Derby. I’d like congratulate all the anglers—Doug and Sarah Chinchar, Matt and Carolyn Anthony, Rich Sloan and Mike Long—with special props going to Matt, who reeled in the winning fish, and Doug, who caught the second biggest dolphin of the day. As a whole we caught several fish upwards of 22 pounds, and despite losing a big bull over 40 pounds were able to secure the win. Pretty work team!
For those of you planning on targeting dolphin over the next few days I’m pleased to report that the fishing is steadily improving. Strong currents and increased winds have pushed the bigger fish back up on the surface, and we’re again finding quality dolphin anywhere from 16 to 26 miles out in the sapphire blue waters of the Gulf Stream. Fish weed lines, slicks, floaters and birds, and you’ll have a good shot at landing some nice slammers.
In addition to seeing more and more large fish, we’ve also been catching good numbers of keeper-sized schoolies. It appears the small peanuts that were so prevalent just a few weeks back are now big enough to be fish box worthy. Just keep in mind that dolphin must be 20 inches in length measured from the fork of the tail to be of legal size to keep.
As usual, the Atlantic wrecks continue to thrive with life. We’ve been catching good numbers of mutton snappers over the past week with several hard-fighting AJs in the mix as well. Remember to constantly check your baits while out dropping on the wrecks as the seaweed (green slime) is still causing problems fouling leads and latching onto baits. If you haven’t had a bite in a few minutes it’s not a bad idea to reel up your bait and make sure your rig is clean.
On the deep reef, the large flag yellowtails continue to steal the show. Awkward wind and current conditions have proven to be a problem over the past week, but we have battled through it and caught plenty of big fish. If you’re having issues with the conditions, try and use a small jig head to get your bait down deeper in the current. Chum balling will also work well, but as you know, it can be quite a messy endeavor.
Also on the reef, the mangrove snapper bite has been solid. Small pinfish fished on a ¼-ounce to ½-ounce jig heads with 20 to 30-pound fluorocarbon leaders have produced well during the day and at night. Look for the nighttime snapper bite to really turn on over the next few weeks, especially after the next full moon phase.
Inshore, tarpon fishing remains red hot at the bridges and in the channels. Baits of choice are live pinfish, pilchards, blue crabs and mullet, although mullet have been a little tough to come by lately. Live shrimp have also been working extremely well at night as shrimp are being sucked through the bridges during the evening tides. In addition to tarpon, the smaller bridges have been holding good numbers of snook. While not currently in season, snook are still loads of fun on light tackle and can add a little bonus to your tarpon trip.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Don’t give up on the dolphin!
The dolphin fishing is definitely heating up. I anticipate good things over the weeks ahead so don’t hesitate to head out to the Gulf Stream and search for those big summertime slammers.