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Pirates Of The Gulf

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On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 12:47PM | By: Florida Marine Times

This month we’re going to take a look, at not a fish, but at a mammal that can really wreck a good day of fishing—or at least a good spot! I’m sure you know who I’m talking about… Flipper, that’s right, the Florida porpoise. It is what I believe to be the epitome of a love-hate relationship. You cannot help but love them, yet at the same time you abhor what they do as they swarm the area you’re fishing and kill the bite, as well as steal the fish, often right off your line! Amongst others, the previous three fishing trips I did in the bay for a little Snapper action proved to be more of a challenge than usual.

I experienced an unexpected rendezvous with the crooks that led a full-out assault mission on my plans of fried Snapper for dinner. Now don’t get the wrong idea and think that I’m saying I have the sole right to harvest the fish that are in their habitat, because that is not the case. All I’m saying is that these dolphin are ruthless! We were out on this particular day catching 2-5 pound Snapper, as well as a couple of keeper Gags here and there, releasing most of them. But our mission quickly became a quest to fill the cooler, seeing as they were meeting the same fate no matter what. EVERY fish, and when I say every, I mean EVERY fish we released might as well been handed over to the dolphins on a silver platter. In fact, we pulled anchor and left after about the sixth or seventh fish was stolen straight off the line. The dolphin would take the fish before we even had the chance to decide whether it was a keeper or not.

The dolphin are not picky eaters either—they took Snapper, Grouper, Seabass, Mackerel, and Jacks, all with the same merciless attack. The fish didn’t stand a chance, often succumbing to the double-teamed assault. It’s just not fair—they’re out-sized and out-numbered! The only thing we could do was step up the tackle (which lessened our hook up ratio), and reel like there was no tomorrow. For a little while, we were actually pulling the fish so hard and fast across the surface it seemed as if they were just oversized top-water lures. Occasionally the dolphin would have our fish within seconds of the hook set. They never got a hook in their mouths, though. You could actually watch them grab the fish by the tail and just swim off until the hook bent. Porpoises have an amazingly strong and powerful bite, and once they have your catch there is no getting it back. As for the undersized fish we caught that needed to be released… well, let’s just say that it was a short swim to the bottom… of Flipper’s stomach. The only chance for the undersized fish to make it was if they instantly took off towards the rocks, carefully eluding the porpoise by taking refuge in the crevices of the rocks at the bottom.

The dolphin are tricky as well. Sometimes they would stay under for a lengthy period of time, making us think that they had gone to plunder helpless Snapper elsewhere. But then, to our surprise, just as soon as we thought it safe to fish and hook up, they would be right there, ready to eat! As for my advice on how to beat them…you can’t, and it’s not worth the effort. Just move! As always, Good Tides and Tight Lines! Trever Flathman


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