A pictorial tribute.
This year’s spring dolphin season has already etched its position in record books as the season with the outstanding number of gargantuan dolphin, and it’s barely June. So many respectable fish in the thirty to fifty pound range have been brought to the scales over the last couple of months, that bragging about a forty pound trophy nowadays barely raises an eyebrow.
Many experienced runners and gunners believe the sun, moon, and stars must be properly aligned. It’s no wonder, considering that a number of optimal conditions including current, a constant food supply, suitable water temperature, and sustainable water clarity must all be working in unison for fish of this stature to be roaming South Florida waters. While the full scope of reasons for the influx of overgrown bulls has not yet been revealed, there is no doubt that 2006 will always be remembered as the year with the MONSTER bulls!
Picture is above used as opener (The Thumbnail Above)
1) Fishing on May 26th alongside Captain Steve Rodger, owner/operator of Key West based Spear One Charters, angler Mark Smith Jr. got the surprise of his life when he landed this trophy fish in 700 feet of water due south of the island. The mammoth dolphin is the new Key West record at 70 lbs. 12 oz., and is barely seven pounds shy of the Florida State Record. The behemoth bull ate a live pinfish after more than twenty minutes of coaxing, and took more than two hours to subdue on 20 lb. spinning gear topped off with a 50 lb. leader. Way to go guys!
2) Called the “FishMan” by those who know him best, Eric Greenawalt of Orlando (pictured third from left) boarded the Tag ‘Em, operated by Captain Greg Pope from Holiday Isle in early June for this dream catch. The 70 lb. 2 oz. gargantuan dolphin inhaled a pitched ballyhoo alongside a weedline just southeast of the Islamorada Humps. Eric told us it took a full hour to land the giant fish on a 30 lb class Shimano spinning outfit. It was an exhausting battle he will never forget! His friends are worried that this catch may give “FishMan” bragging rights for many years to come. Guys, we’d be worried too!
3) Jim Hall couldn’t have gotten a better present. Celebrating his birthday by doing what he loves best, a frigate bird led his crew to this monster dolphin in 800 ft. of water off Hallandale. The fish had such a large profile, Jim thought they had snagged a tarp. All that changed when the monster erupted out of the water. A TLD30 loaded with 40 lb. mono was the weapon of choice. The fish tipped the scales at 69 lbs. on a makeshift platform scale with its tail portion still lying on the ground. By the looks of it, this monster bull could very well have been in the low 70s. Jim’s girlfriend, Nikole Fichter, does an excellent job at proudly displaying his achievement.
4) Pictured left to right, Christina Lauderdale, Keith Mueller, and Dana Triporo bested this mogan 64 lb. dolphin on a beautiful mid-May morning with blue skies and calm seas. The monstrous bull jumped all over a black and purple skirted lure approximately five miles southeast of Molasses Reef. The gang tells us the determined fish put up a grueling battle on a 20 lb outfit finished off with an 80 lb leader. Interestingly, once filleted, the anglers found a fresh sixteen-inch schoolie dolphin inside the big fish’s stomach with a hook and leader still intact. Nice!
5) Technically not South Florida, this super-slob still deserves an equal level of recognition. Capt. Rick Sirles reported running & gunning produced non-stop action on a recent trip to the Bahamas. Two day’s worth of fishing in early June produced approximately thirty tuna and thirty dolphin, most of which were released. Rick was anxious to add that the bite was so hot, they couldn’t troll more than two lines! He went on to mention that after losing an enormous dolphin estimated at over 80 lbs. on the first day of fishing, running to the Gingerbread Grounds from Lucaya on day two found his crew on expansive patches of weed. Keil, Rick’s wife, maneuvered the boat into perfect position as this beastly 71 lb. gargantuan proceeded to attack a feather. “I missed him the first time, but quickly dropped back and fed him again. An hour later, he was IN THE BOX,” added Sirles. Great job Rick, you’re living the dream!
Did You Know?
Fast growing dolphin fish rarely live to celebrate their second birthday.
The magnificent specimens portrayed here are no more than five, maybe six, years old.
All Tackle Record- 87.0 lbs. Costa Rica
Florida State Record- 77 lbs. 12 oz. Key West
Men’s 12 lb. line record- 77 lbs. 2 oz. Islamorada
Men’s 20 lb. line record- 76 lbs. 8 oz. Lake Worth
Women’s 8 lb. line record- 64 lbs. 8 oz. Dry Tortugas
Women’s 16 lb. line record- 56 lbs. 12 oz. Key West
Dolphin are a highly migratory pelagic species with a worldwide distribution. Not surprisingly, the hearty species is currently being considered for aquaculture, both domestically and internationally. Pilot programs reveal farm-raised dolphin would be ready for harvest at only nine months, since they grow even faster and larger in an aquaculture situation than they do in the wild. These efforts may alleviate a percentage of the commercial fishing pressure the species is currently encountering.
Did You Know?
Dolphin reach sexual maturity as early as six months of age with females in a constant state of egg production, which is a good thing considering the total annual mortality for the species including both natural death and human harvest has been calculated at over 98 percent. The trophies portrayed here have all beat the odds!
Mahi-Mahi is Hawaiian for “strong-strong.”
Dorado is Spanish for “gold.”