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Dolphin, Catching them without running to the stream

Dolphin, Catching them without running to the stream Dolphin, Catching them without running to the stream
By Jim Hammond

When most of us here of Dolphin catches, around here, most of the talk is from the boats that have the size and fuel range to run to the stream. For those that have this capability, the fishing is great and they get to do some fishing the we only read about.

Well here is your opportunity to catch some of the most exciting fish that most of you will ever have the chance to catch.

Number one, you DO NOT have to run to the stream to catch Dolphin. These aerobatic fish can be caught at most of the artificial reefs from the MG (15 miles out) to the Elton Bottom or the Dry Dock (both of these are about 42 miles out).

Here is how I have done this for the past 24 years.

Material that you will need for the rigs: Most Dolphin are caught on the surface, so most of the rigs should be surface rigs. I start with a spool of 80# monofilament, a box of Tru-Turn 8/0 hooks, several hooks on bead chain rigs (this is a single hook about 8/0, straight shank that has is attached to a bead chain rig), several Sea Witch skirts in blue and white and in lime green, some other skirt type baits such as Zukers in lime green, and an assortment of C&H Lures skirts, all in lime green, a pair of wire cutters, the biggest pair of pliers that you own, swivels, rigging wire and a rigging needle, a cooler about 20 to 30 quart size, a bag of ice, a big box of rock salt, a big box or baking soda, about a gallon of water and I almost forgot the most important part, Ballyhoo, about four to six dozen, medium in size.

Triple hook rigs:
Take the TruTurn 8/0 hooks, the wire cutters, the pliers, some four foot sections of the mono, some barrel swivels, and some of the skirts. With the wire cutters, place the cutting jaws on the hook at the eye where the end is bent to the shank (the opening) and squeeze. This will spread the gap wide enough to get another hook through the eye. Run the point through the eye with both hooks laying the same way. Do this one more time, so you have three hooks joined together, all pointing the same way. Now take the pliers and squeeze the eyes closed, so the hooks will not come apart. From here tie on a piece of 80# mono about four feet long, then slide one of the shirts on the mono and finish by tying a swivel to the other end of the mono leader. After you have made about 12 of these wrap each up and place each in a separate zip lock bag.

Single hook rigs, Skip baits:
Take a ballyhoo and run the rigging needle, the end that is bent, from his mouth through his innards and out his anal opening. Slip the eye in the bead chain rig in the eye and pull the rig through his mouth, so the bend of the hook is not pulling on the anal opening. If the hook is pulled snug against the anal opening, the bait will spin and this will not work. Lay the beads along the beak and with the rigging wire, wrap the beads to the beak. Make sure this is warped good as this is where the ballyhoo is going to be pulled from. Tie on your mono leader, coil up the line and set him aside, until you have about two dozen rigged.

The brine:
In the cooler place the water, the rock salt and the baking soda. With a stick or spatula, stir this mixture until the salt and the soda are just about dissolved. Now add the ice and all of the ballyhoo, both the rigged and unrigged. This will make the baits like leather, thus keeping them from washing out and allowing you to troll longer with the same bait. This step needs to be done the night before your trip and make sure that you have enough ice so it doesn't melt before the next morning.

The Spread:
You have made your way to the area that you hope will produce some fish and you are ready to troll for dolphin. After your boat comes off of a plane, slow your speed to about 6 to 7 mph, this is your trolling speed. The skip baits are already rigged so send them out first. These I usually send out in the outriggers or the rod holders on the sides of the T-Top. Send these out about 100 feet behind the boat. These baits should skip or slide across the surface and should NOT SPIN. If they are spinning then you have the hook pulled too tight against the anal opening. You can fix this by re-rigging this bait or taking your knife and making the anal opening larger so the hook is not pulling on the flesh. Now for the hard part: You have a cooler full of brined hoos and some triple hook rigs, how do I get the hook in the hoo, so it DOES NOT SPIN in circles. First, break the beak off, even with the other mouth part. Take the hook that is tied to the mono and hook the hoo thru the top of the head and run the hook out through the bottom of the jaw. Take the hoo and bend him sideways at about a 90 degree angle, take the second hook and stick it in his back. As you straighten the hoo, the hook will ease down into him. Do the same with the third hook and you are on your way to catching fish.

Send the first of these out about 200 yards behind the boat, put it in the center rigger or the center rod holder in your T-top or transom. Send out the next two, one on each side of the boat. Stagger them so one is about 200 feet back and the other about 300 feet back.

Things to check:
With the exception of the bait way back, you should be able to see all of the rest. If you see any of them spinning in circles, pull it in and fix it or replace it. Check the baits every 20 or 30 minutes to be sure that it has not washed out. If it has, then replace it with a fresh hoo. If anything gets on the hooks or the baits, such as grass, this has to be removed. When the lines get wrapped around each other, this has to be fixed. Reel in the effected ones and straighten them out. The person driving the boat should keep an eye on the lines when making a turn, so they do not turn too sharp and tangle up everything.

The hook up and the battle:
After you have found and hooked a dolphin, expect him/her to run from one side to the other and jump several times. It is usually a good idea to get all of the other baits close to the boat at this time. DO NOT take all of them out of the water as it is common for one or more dolphin to follow the hooked one to the boat. If this happens, leave the first one in the water and send out a bait to the other ones. If you have more than one at the boat at one time, you should be able to catch several of them before they leave the boat.  If you have other dolphin at the boat, leave one in the water until they have all left or you have caught them all. As long as there is one in the water along side the boat the others will usually stay and are very catchable.

Visit Jim at his web site, or drop him an email at [email protected]

Jim Hammond

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