Key Largo, Islamorada and Tavernier fishing for Dolphin in the Spring and Summer months in the Florida Keys can be awesome! If you are planning a fishing vacation to target large dolphin in the Florida Keys on a fishing charter or plan on trailering your own boat, April and May are the best months.
In this episode I talk about sight fishing dolphin and catching them on fast moving surface poppers. As we get closer to the annual migration of dolphin through the Florida Keys I will be doing educational podcasts on how to catch these fish consistently so stay tuned.
If you have not seen the BBC Blue Plant Dolphin fishing episode, then I suggest you watch it. You will see the big picture and learn why sight fishing dolphin with poppers is very effective. Here is the link for you to check out, it is badass! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prZfI4Nzw40
In this podcast I talk about how I use surface poppers to catch big Mahi Mahi and Blackfin Tunas on the Islamorada Hump in the late Spring and Summer months. One of the absolute best fishing techniques for catching dolphin when you are have them in your sight is using a surface popper. In the podcast I specifically talk about one popper, the Halco Lazer Pro Roosta Popper RP105# (Bait Fish).
I have been using this particular popper for many years now and I have found it always gets the bites over all other brands of poppers. I have deviated from this popper over the years, just to try and prove that other brands like Yo Zuri and Williamson work just as well, but to be honest I always went back to the the Halco Baitfish. This particular color has the special “silver sparkle” sticker that provides just the right about flash in the blue water on a sunny day and the “not so secret” red chin.
I have raised several tunas from the depths with this popper and have caught big dolphin consistently using it.
For my rod and reel popper set up I use a Shimano Twin Power 8000 loaded with 40 lb. braid connected to a 3ft piece of fluorocarbon leader via double uni knot. I use a 7ft live bait rod by Adrenaline Custom Fishing Rods that allows me to make long casts.
Many times dolphin will get lethargic especially around a full moon or if the school was already fished by another boat further south. A popper tends to fire them up back up so the rest of the crew can get them on the dead squid or cut bonito meat, yet another reason to carry a popper.
Big dolphin lay on their sides looking upwards when hunting flyers. They lay on their sides to camouflage themselves when they are on the hunt. They can see the lure in the air above them and follow it to the splash. So you want the lure to hit the water like a flying fish does. Flying fish launch themselves “high” into the air when they are on the move. So make that lure “splash”, then pop/pull the lure and make it “chug” till you get the splash “right”. A fast retrieve is the key to getting the big dolphin to eat the chugger. It is very important to let the fish eat the bait as he will roll on top it and miss it more than likely on the first pass. His adrenaline gets the best of him, but he will get the bait dialed in quickly after that first strike. Your job is to keep it interested and not fall into “Did you see that?” mode. I call that the deer in the head lights look. You are in for one hell of a of visual bite which is much more fun than trolling.
If you are party boat fisherman in South Florida, I highly recommend bringing along your own rod and reel rigged with a Halco Baitfish surface popper. During the spring months, especially in the Miami area, Mahi Mahi can be caught on the party boats. If you bring a rod and reel rigged with a popper you can make longer casts and get them while the other party boat clients are scrambling. When the dust clears you will be the hero if you came prepared with a popper rod and reel set up. If you are a bridge fisherman in the Florida Keys and see a big Cobia cruising under the Channel 5 bridge, a popper Rod and Reel set up will leave the rest of bridge fisherman clapping for you as you walk off the bridge dragging a big cobia!