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May 21, 2008

Break on Through to the Otherside

Head to the pelagic playground of the Gulf Stream's eastern edge

Mahi Madness
Yellowfin may represent the sexy fish of the Otherside, but a tremendous big-dolphin fishery also exists, especially in April and May. Thick weed lines often form along the temperature breaks of the Gulf Stream's eastern edge, and if you find one that's been there awhile holding bait and possibly larger debris, it can mean mahi madness.
 
Big fish are the rule here, and they show up in quantity. A good spot during these early spring months can yield 20 fish in the 10- to 40-pound class in no time flat for an experienced crew.
 
Trolling skirted ballyhoo along the weed lines is a great way to locate the fish. Once they're found, break out the spinners and keep them chummed alongside the boat. Wahoo also hold on this structure, and Dwyer likes to drop a bait or lure deep to tempt them.

Dolphin stick around as the summer rolls on too. While we didn't necessarily find our June fish on structure, we located a number of fine dolphin mixed in with the birds as we chased the yellowfin. These fish did not seem as concentrated as during the spring months, but they were all quality fish. We caught them on Marauders, jets and while drifting dead baits.

Marlin Possibilities
Billfish rate as the Otherside's most overlooked players. Each season sees a number of marlin caught, especially from June through August. Most blues weigh in the 200-pound range, but 400-pound fish are not uncommon.
 
Ironically, no one really targets marlin in this fishery. They typically take a backseat to the tuna. Dwyer fishes the Otherside more than anyone, and even though he does not focus on billfish, he still manages to catch a few each year - if not by accident.
 
"We see a lot of marlin over there," he says. "They chase the tuna schools. All the blues we catch are right there with the tunas, trying to eat them. I catch a few, but I lose a lot because of the 60- and 80-pound fluorocarbon leaders I'm using for the tuna. Unless it's hooked in the corner of the mouth, it'll chafe us. Two or three jumps and it's a done deal. But if you targeted them with 300- or 400-pound leader, it could be interesting to see how you could do."
 
Winchel agrees. "There are so many marlin, and typically, you seem to get a shot at one," he says. "There are definitely some monster fish out there, and because it's a long-range trip, you don't get out there every day. So you want to take advantage of each opportunity. You could catch a fish of a lifetime! You could catch a really big marlin or a 140- or 150-pound tuna, and you might never see a fish like that again until you go to some international destination. It's a super fishery, right in a lot of people's backyards."
 
And, best yet, fishing the Otherside has become more of a reality than ever before for everyday anglers.