So this was just a little fishing trip, we werent all geared up nor did we have the time to go out 30 miles to go after some big wahoo or mahi, but we did have the time to go out offshore about 10 miles, which is still great for catching dolphin, but your chances of landing a big bull dolphin are pretty rare, and by big I mean 25 pounds and up. Since we were saltwater fishing Fort Lauderdale, we decided that we would be going after schoolies, that would be the most likely way to fill up the cooler with some edible fish. I am really not that much into swordfishing, but if I was then this would be a great place to do so as you only need to go about 15 miles offshore before you can start trolling for them, as swordfish like it deep. But the thing about swordfishing is to have a different line at several depths of water, this way it increases the chance of a swordfish biting, its just not my cup of tea, so I will stick with dolphin fishing until I get a wild hair up my ass one of these days.
Now this is how you catch mahi mahi in Fort Lauderdale when you are anywhere from 5-15 miles offshore, this also applies to other parts of Florida also, such as the Keys and from the central east coast of Florida down. If you are in the west coast of Florida, saltwater fishing the Gulf of Mexico, then you will have to go further offshore to get dolphin.
There are certain things that you should be looking for, and these are birds, not just any birds, birds that are feeding on fish, particulary frigate birds. The birds know where the bait fish are, and where there are bait fish there are usually dolphin, or tuna. Another thing you should be looking for are weedlines, the bigger the better. If you happen to find a big tree branch in the water, there are more than likely dolphin under it. If you happen to find a board in the water, then it is like finding a treasure chest as you will probably be able to reel up 10 or more fish if you know what you are doing.
So we were about 8 miles offshore salterfishing Fort Lauderdale for dolphin, we were in a 36 foot boat and we had 2 outriggers with lines on them, and four other lines out for trolling. For the bait we used ballyhoo, with a couple of colorful dolphin lures to attach the ballyhoo to. We were trolling around 8 knots, and we had lines in the water by 8:00 a.m., not a bad start, the earlier the better. We were trolling for about 30 minutes when I spotted a palm tree branch in the water, we trolled past it and sure enough we got hooked up with a dolphin. Now this was no monster dolphin at all, so I reeled the fish up to the boat and put it in the rod holder while the others got spinning rods in the water with small chunks of ballyhoo on the hook, no weights. When you leave the small mahi mahi in the water the school of dolphin will usually follow, this is where it can get fun, as if you are lucky enough you will be reelin in fish left and right.
We managed to catch two that round, but there was another round that was coming up just a couple of ours, and many beers later that is. The second time we hooked up by trolling we were on a huge weedline, and we hooked up again with a dolphin that was a little on the short side, but he just so happened to draw the whole school with him. We were able to land 5 altogether this round.
Not the biggest dolphin in the world but good enough for me, being that we barely cleared 10 miles offshore. We would have landed more if it were not for the storm that came and broke up the weed line, and rocked the boat so much that it was a little hard to keep a hold of your beer. As soon as we got back to shore the rain and wind stopped, but it was about 3 o'clock anyway, it was a good enough day of saltwater fishing Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for me. We wound up going to the Keys the next day where we faired out much better, but we also went 25 miles offshore, I will be posting that on my other fishing blog though davespates.com if you are interested in some more saltwater fishing Florida stories.
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