Capt. Rom Whitaker
Release (Hatteras, North Carolina)
When and why do you choose to troll for this species?
Big dolphin start to show around mid- to late April and stay through May, tapering off in June. We have excellent dolphin fishing all summer, but the later fish are mostly bailers (3 to 6 pounds) with a few gaffers.
I choose to troll because you can cover a lot of ground in the course of a seven-hour fishing day. At that time of year, we usually have some distinct current edges or grass lines, depending on the Gulf Stream and its eddies. A lot of boats stop on the first grass line they see and fish there all day. I personally don’t like fishing behind a bunch of boats, so I usually keep going or just set out in the open over 50 fathoms and start looking for something floating. Many days, you can find a second or third grass line in deeper water.
Describe your favorite trolling outfit and rig for this species.
My favorite rig is a 4-inch Mold Craft Junior Wide Range in pink and blue over a strip bait (menhaden, false albacore or Uncle Josh offshore pork rind). The strip is about eight inches long and about an inch wide, squared at the front and tapered to the end.
I use two Mustad 3407SS 7/0 hooks rigged together, tied to 25 feet of 125-pound clear Sufix mono with a clinch knot. I crimp a loop at the end of the leader and attach it to a 100-pound-test Kroc ball-bearing snap swivel. Above the swivel, I use light-blue Berkley ProSpec mono main line. I double about two feet of the main line, using a Bimini twist, and tie that to the swivel with a uni-knot.
I’ll run this rig with a Penn International 30 and matching IGFA Penn rod. I also use standard ballyhoo rigs on 80-pound leader to 30-pound mono on a Penn Squall 50LD with a 6½-foot medium-action rod.
Why is this your favorite trolling rig/outfit for this species?
The rig’s my favorite because we might encounter 10-pound or 50-pound dolphin. This rig catches most of them most of the time. Smaller dolphin will pick the bait off a single hook. The strip bait works as good as any other bait, and it’s a lot less expensive.