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Been away for 30 days. Saw nice catches of bigeye and yellowfin tuna at Martha’s Vineyard and strippers and bluefish at Nantucket. So to get a handle on things when I returned I called a couple of local guides . Got one who said things were slow  before he took his family on a road trip. Called another who said things were slow as he had just returned from being away. My bait guy said fishing was slow and even the pilchards hard to find. Picking up on a theme here?

Discussed the options with my anglers and we decided to do the offshore thing and try for the illusive dolphin figuring we would have a hit or miss outing. Game plan was to turn our eyes and radar looking for birds and when found run by them with small jigs, start chumming when we hook up, then free line baits when we have the fish around the boat. We decided to concentrate from 700 ft out. Almost immediately we came across a few birds and immediately hooked up on the troll but no jumps. Pretty sure we had a small tuna around  6#-8#. While we hoped it was a blackfin it’s a little late in the season and more likely assume it was an Arctic bonita aka skipjack tuna. Eventually it wore thru the lite fluro leader so not a winner and we even lost track of the few birds to boot. We continued to run and gun for nearly two hours as the ocean looked like it had been vacuumed clean...with not even an edge or rip to fish to and no more birds so we elected to go on the troll with skirted ballys and small jigs. Never ever saw any meaningful weed lines or any kinds of flotsam working all the way from Govt Cut to north Key Largo and back. Worked 700’ out past 1200’. I’ll save ”the story” for last but we did release one small schoolie dolphin and a cuda caught way offshore who must have gotten lost.

As far as "the story” is concerned”… it will stay imprinted in our mind for some time to come. We got a hit on a bally with a black and purple skirt hung out of the rigger. A relatively normal hit. Then the bait was dropped almost immediately. We continued on a long drop back as the fish picked it up and ran off like a freight train. As we were using “J” hooks we set the hook hard and the line started ripping off the reel. Thankfully we were using  reels with a top shot of mono but backed up with a lot of braid. After a really long run a huge…let me repeat that, really huge…dolphin put on an impressive arial display with repeated jumps and lastly a greyhouding run. Several seasoned anglers and myself estimate the weight in the solid 30#-40# class. The fish looked especially large even while jumping several hundred yards behind the boat. The big bull's head looked like a side of a barn. Then after the arial display while the fish was still on the run, it abruptly ended. The hook did not pull or break off, the leader and wind on leader did not break. The line broke. When reeled in the end line relieved that it had nicks in the last few inches. Don’t know how they got there…possibly from touching the hull before in a previous battle which I should have seen…or running over something…but really have no idea. It was nothing the angler did or didn’t do. The line had been compromised. Bottom line…while the fish was not boated and the fillets were not grilled  the memory of what we all saw will stay with us for a long long time.


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