The Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared" holds true for fishing any time of year, but especially now. One never knows what might show up when bottom fishing in 80- to 90-foot depths where we've been concentrating on grouper and snapper. Mahimahi have shown up several times. The key to catching them is having one or two light spinning rods in the 12- to 15-pound class rigged and ready with 2/0 long shanked gold hooks. Thesy are not large but are voracious feeders and often will swallow a short shanked hook, making removal difficult. Often one will strip a bait off the hook and another will strike the flash of the bare gold hook. When they show up, circling the boat, the impulse is to throw chunks of chum into the water to keep them around. Chumming should be done with small slivers of frozen sardine or squid. Mahimahi have small stomachs that fill up quickly. Once they start feeding, slivers of bait on a hook the same size as the chum will produce nonstop action. There are no recreational size or bag limits on dolphin in the gulf. It's easy to get carried away by the activity and forget how many fish are in the cooler. We have set a boat limit of five fish per person. When that number has been reached, either stop fishing for them or practice catch and release. Trolling has finally turned on mackerel, bonita and barracuda along with a few scattered kingfish that have arrived all along the shipping channel from markers 9 and 10 westward and on the artificial reefs.
Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.