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Thank goodness we can count on something. As they are supposed to, the dolphin, aka Mahi-mahi, have shown up in huge numbers off our coast. Each year they migrate northward in the Gulf Stream, out of the Bahamas, along the southeastern coast and toward the mid-Atlantic. It is believed there are two groups: one group comes from the Gulf of Mexico and the Keys area and the other comes from the Bahamas. These two groups collide off the Carolina coast and make for one of the best dolphin fisheries in the world. This anomaly occurs annually from mid-May through June.
The average dolphin size is around 12-15 pounds, but fish upward of 40 and 50 pounds are not uncommon. The majority of the dolphin are running offshore of the 30-fathom curve, where they will feed on anything that moves. If you find floating debris or, better yet, a weedline offshore of 150 feet of depth, you’ll certainly find dolphin.
The biggest of the dolphin are typically caught in deeper water, at least 600 feet, where they run in pairs of male and female. Targeting these largest of dolphin will require you to run offshore the normal fishing grounds in 150-200 feet of water.
The best techniques are to either run and gun, use speed to cover ground and look for current rips or floating debris, or to put on artificial lures that allow you to troll at 8-12 knots and cover ground looking while also fishing. The latter technique is also a great way to hook up to a marlin, as these fish are also moving into the area to feed on the dolphin.
If you have ambitions to catch one of the best eating and most beautiful fish in the ocean, do not hesitate. Make plans to go fishing immediately. Also, The GPS Store Far Out Shoot Out Tuna, Dolphin and Wahoo Tournament is taking place now. Competing teams are fishing this week amid this hot bite and reporting incredible action. For updated results, visit www.OIFC.com.
In other fishing, the Spanish mackerel continue to bite along the beaches in 15-30 feet of water. Also mixed in are bluefish, king mackerel and cobia. The Yaupon Reef area off Oak Island has produced several kings and cobia over the past week. In addition, there are schools of pogies holding off Long Beach and Oak Island that will certainly also attract attention from the kings, Spanish and blues.
The grouper fishing has gotten very good over the past week as well. Red grouper and gag grouper are biting in the 90- to 120-foot depth range. There will also be king mackerel and cobia holding in this area as well.
All and all, the bite it on. It seemed like an eternity, but the fishing is finally coming around. Currently, the seas are forecast to be nice this weekend, so get the boat and the tackle ready. Let’s go fishing.
BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.