Vieques, Puerto Rico -- Early June is here
and our typical summer weather pattern has arrived. Recent days
have brought us warm temperatures and light winds. Generally in
the late spring and summer months we can expect the wind to be
in the five to fifteen knot range giving us comfortable fishing
conditions and very little chance of losing a great day on the
water to weather.
While there is a good chance at all other
blue water fish, the main target in the late spring and summer
is blackfin tuna. These fish generally range from five to twenty
five pounds and are great fun on light tackle. Pound for pound
they are some of the strongest fighting fish in the ocean.
Typically we will see birds diving on top of the tunas as they
push baitfish to the surface. Tuna will usually feed furiously
on the surface for a brief period and then stay down deep. We
troll until we find the birds, get up wind of them and then cast
lures to them on light spinning tackle which makes for very
exciting fishing. If we are seeing explosions on the surface
under the birds, it is usually tunas, bonitos or skipjacks .
This happens because this family of fish has a big, bulky shape
that displaces a lot of water, making a big splash when they
feed on the surface. If we are not seeing large splashes under
them they are usually over dorados (the fish that many of you
may know as dolphin or by their Hawaiian name of mahi mahi).
This is not always the case - sometimes they are over dolphin
the mammal, not the fish.
On a recent trip, I had a family aboard from upstate New York
that had never been on the ocean before. We had a decent morning
of fishing, catching a handful of blackfin tunas and had a four
foot dorado on for several jumps when we spotted a bunch of
birds diving about a half mile outside of our location. We
trolled out to the vicinity and I was briefly disappointed that
the predators that were chasing the flying fish out of the water
was a pod of about a hundred spinner dolphin; the mammal not the
fish. I quickly realized that this was probably much more
exciting for my charter than if it was just a bunch of the same
fish that they’d already caught and seen before.
We stayed far enough away to not disrupt
the feeding frenzy and enjoyed the show. The dolphin seemed to
be corralling the flying fish in a wagon train fashion and
taking turns charging through the middle with hundreds of flying
fish showering out of the water. We watched until they decimated
the whole school and then they came to visit with us, jumping in
our bow wave and surfing our wake. It always seems to me that
the dolphin are at least as excited to see us as we are to see
We had about a dozen dolphin playing under
the bow when John, the patriarch of the family, decided to drag
his hand on the surface of the deep blue ocean. What happened
next was something that I had not seen before in about five
thousand days on the water. Three separate dolphin surfaced and
high fived the man with their pectoral fin! It wouldn’t surprise
me if the dolphin said to each other “Hey guys, I just slapped
that thing on the hand!” Scientists are certain that dolphin
have a very complex system of communication. I’ll bet the family
remembers that experience for a while.
The topic of dolphin communication reminds
me of another unique experience I had a few years ago. I had a
group out trolling off the continental shelf south of Key West,
Florida. We had a pair of spinner dolphin, one large and one
small, swim up to check us out. They were jumping in our wake
and having a great time in general which seems to be their M.O.
This is something that we see about once week on average. This
day however was a bit different because the charter brought a
big yellow labrador along for the ride. These two dolphin were
visibly psyched at the presence of this dog as was he to see
them. This dog was standing on his hind legs with his front paws
up on the gunwale barking excitedly at the dolphin. They were
paying attention to nothing except the dog as they had probably
never seen anything like him. Spinners are deep sea animals that
never mess around near beaches and harbors. They’d likely seen
merchant sailors and fisherman before but the odds of them
having encountered a yellow lab in their lives is pretty slim.
They swam with us for a while and then took off. One of these
beings had an obvious identifying feature. The top of his dorsal
fin was bent over at a sharp angle, which I’d not seen before.
They were gone for maybe thirty minutes when a huge group of
dolphin reappeared with the original two in the lead. The only
assumption that we could make is that they’d rounded up a huge
herd of their buddies to show them this strange creature they’d
Taking people fishing is a great way to
make a living for several reasons; and the excitement of the
fishing is only one reason. You never know what you may see on
any given day.
Capt. J Ferguson
Amity Fishing Charters