Fort Lauderdale Dolphin Fishing

Posted on by Captain Steve

Mahi Mahi Fish

Dolphin fishing off Fort Lauderdale hasn’t been great the last few years but this year but this year has been different. Summertime fishing used to be mostly fishing for Dolphin out in the deep, it was their time. These last few years saw the Dolphin coming much later in September, October and even later toward winter.

But this year we’ve had some good luck anywhere from 4 to 15 miles from shore as it was on out trip the other day.
Gerard, from Chicago, brought his group of three boys out for an all day trip. As we began at the reef trolling in hopes of a few Kings or Bonitos, Gerard made it clear he’s much rather be out in the deep looking for some Mahi-mahi. We had all day and some reports were finding some weed so why not? And off we went. While the big line was about 14 off, we started finding some nice patches around 8 miles off the beach. Our first big patch had us slow down and put the gear out and a bite came right away! But getting the boys up was a struggle, apparently they had been up late and we ended up missing that fish. Fear not, more were to come. Another pass got us a nice sized Blackfin Tuna and then 6 or so small Dolphin but only one keeper. Still the action was welcome.

We continued on searching patch after patch. It seemed we never went more than 15 or 20 minutes without getting a hit. Some were so small, they had to be tossed back but our fish box was getting fuller with each new patch of weed. A small Wahoo was also caught from under a crate we found.

While we still had some time, the boys had had it and we headed in a little early. We ended up with 8 or so keepers out of 25 or 30, the biggest being about12 pounds or so, the small Wahoo, the nice sized Tuna and a few Bonitos we’d caught before coming out. I’d thought Gerard was ready to cook up a feast but he said he just wanted to catch them and Darin and I reaped the reward. Had the Mahi last night for dinner by the way, it was excellent! Tuna tonight!

We’ve had a few trips like this lately. Because of the distance from shore, a 6 hour trip is the minimum and all days are better. But once you find the fish? The Dolphin fishing is great action! And so good to eat…

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Fishing Report

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Rosies fishing trip

It has been a few weeks since I’ve written a fishing report for the area off of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida. And in this time, we’ve seen some great fishing and some not so great fishing. But that’s fishing! LOL

With generally calm seas and light winds this area has been saturated with seaweed. Sargassum is a branchy type seaweed and is home to all kinds of small creatures like brine shrimp and other small species that provide food to bait fish which… attracts larger fish like Dolphin. While the weed has been so thick it is almost impossible to fish through, it has offered us some of the best Dolphin fishing we’ve had all year.

Many of the fish have been small and were thrown back but small legal sized schoolies as well as some larger fish in the 20-30 pound range have been taken. It sure is nice to come in with some of these to clean for the table, both our guests and our own tables.

While the reef area in close to shore has been slow a few Kingfish and Bonitos are being caught. But the Bonitos should be here in force and they are not. A valuable bait source for the charter boats, we need these fish to make our strip baits. We look forward to their return soon and you’ll enjoy the fight they give, at least for a while.

Our bigger game fish have been hit or miss. We’ve had some success with Sharks and a few Sailfish have been being caught late in the day, not unusual for this time of year. And while our most recent Swordfish trip did not net us a Swordfish, the boys had a blast filling the box with the Dolphin we found on our way to the grounds. Can’t wait to try again!

Bottom fishing has been very good. Large Yellowtail and Mutton Snapper have been in the reef area close to shore while the deeper wrecks are producing some good fishing with Amberjack, Grouper and even a Cobia or two. But a recent group of guys were so worn out from catching the Dolphin the day before they requested some bottom fishing. Deep drops for Blackbellied Rosefish were our target in very deep water that require use of the electric rod and reel. Bringing fish up 900’ by hand is excruciating and once we got on them? You can see in the picture they were biting as we were bringing them up 4 and 5 at a time. While the Dolphin will provide many meals from the day before, these Rosies will be a special treat!

We’ve been busy getting our NEW Buddy Cannady 47’ Sport Fish boat ready for service. Just another week or two and we’ll be in service. And then maybe I can be more prompt on my fishing reports for the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood area.

Captain Steve

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Fanntastic Fishing Summertime Trips

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Girls fishing trip

With summertime in full swing these days, Fanntastic Fishing is seeing more kids on board our fishing trips. Long days and no school bring the local, as well as the tourist, families out in droves. And the GREAT thing about fishing with kids is their excitement over each and every fish that is caught.

Summertime fishing brings the Bonitos to our area. Not great table fare for sure, but excellent fighters and plentiful. It’s not unusual to catch a dozen or so of these fish fairly quickly and usually more than one on at a time. The early morning and late afternoons will have them attacking the tops baits. As the day wears on, they move deeper and hit the deep lines when trolling.

The Kingfish are also plentiful this time of year, if the Bonitos will allow them to get a bait or two. They range in the 8 to 10 lbs. class but some bigger ones can be caught on both dead and live bait. They don’t pull quite as hard as the Bonitos but can be eaten. The smaller the better and always should be eaten fresh, within a few days.

Since trolling is our norm this time of year, wahoo, Dolphin and the occasional Sailfish are also possible. When the clean ocean waters come close to shore, these fish can be had just a few miles off the beach. Venturing further can be advantageous if you can find weed lines or floating debris. These offer the fish off shore a floating reef for protection. The Dolphin are generally small this time of year and many don’t meet the minimum requirements. But Dolphin are the fastest growing fish in the ocean and today’s throwbacks are tomorrows keepers.

Our larger game fish like sharks are becoming more and more scarce. Evening trips are the best time for these fish and can be found in shallow waters not far from shore once the sun goes down. But this is fishing and there’s always a chance during the day for a Hammerhead, Thresher, Dusky, Sandbar or Bull shark.

Bottom fishing has been productive with small Snapper and Grey Tilefish. It takes a lot of cranking to catch these fish in 300-400’ of water but you bring them up in numbers, usually 3 to 5 each time. The days that only one comes up makes it a little tough but the meal at the end is worth it. And there’s always a chance for a Grouper to pass by and bite.

The picture I chose of this young girl was our trip the other day. The kids were young and did struggle with the rods but she beat her brother and cousins by claiming the largest fish caught. This Kingfish was more than enough to feed the entire family and was cleaned and taken to the restaurant next door for dinner. The rest of the fish that were caught were left for bait. The Bonitos provide us with strip baits we use throughout the year for trolling.

Summertime fishing trips at Fanntastic Fishing can be loads of fun, especially for the kids. Bring lots of water… It’s hot out there, but not as hot as shore.

Captain Steve

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Shared Fishing Charter Trips

Posted on by Captain Steve

Shared fishing trip

Private charter fishing trips are the main type of trips we sail in the winter months but all year long we offer what is called a split or shared fishing charter trip. These trips are put together with people that are traveling alone or maybe as a couple and don’t want to spend the money for a private charter. In the summer months here in the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood/ Miami area, this is usually the case and type of trip we run.

Our group today got along so well, we as crew barely got a word in edgewise. Catching some fish sure didn’t hurt either. While the skies were sunny and the winds light, we began and continued to troll the entire time, a great way to catch fish in the summer heat as it creates a breeze as we move through the water. And I can tell you, even the smaller fish put up a good fight… It’s not as easy as it looks on TV and that comment was made more than once. LOL

A few Bonitos, we expect more to come, some Kingfish, small Dolphin and Tuna were our fish of the day. The Dolphin were too small to keep but were photographed before being released by those that caught them because of their vibrant color. In less than a week they will be big enough to keep but they are somewhat educated now… A couple of nice Kingfish in the 10-15 pound range, a Huge Bonito with a regular Bomber and a nice Tuna made our group quite happy.

The ONLY problem with split or shared fishing charters is trying to get the entire group to line up back at the dock for a photo with their catch! The two guys on the right were so excited about the size of these fish, I can only guess they were used to Bluegills or Croppies… They stood for over 5 minutes waiting for the rest to appear. The gal in the picture was also excited and one of the most tenacious anglers I have ever seen. In the end, this was all I could capture at the end of our trip

So if you want to save a few bucks and meet some great people, a split or shared fishing charter trip might be for you. It’s a great way to go sport fishing without the entire cost of the boat on your shoulders. But you have to be nice… And share…

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

amberjack fishing

As we near the end of spring things are changing in the fishing just off shore of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. May is traditionally one of our best fishing months but this year has been somewhat disappointing. While our customers have been quite happy with the results, the captains and mates have expected much more. So, what has been happening when you wet your line? You’re going to catch fish and lots of them. And as I write this report, it is improving with each trip!

Some of our big predators are leaving the area. It’s time for them to move on and they are doing so. You won’t be seeing as many shark pictures as you have in previous months. That’s not to say we won’t catch any, we just won’t see the numbers we have and won’t be spending our time specifically fishing for them. But the Sailfish will be around and mostly caught on the troll rather than live bait. As we warm for our summer months, the surface of the water gets warm, it is already in the mid 80’s. Fish, being cold blooded, don’t particularly like coming into warmer water column and it takes a splashing, moving bait to entice them. Most our fish are caught on the troll and Sailfish are included in that. And catching them on the troll is a blast!

What we have seen lately is an increase in both Dolphin and Tuna action. Nice sized Blackfin Tuna are biting with vigor and the Dolphin have been hanging in the same depth as the Tunas. Most the Dolphin have been small, so small we’ve had to throw some back as they don’t meet the minimum, but they are still fun to catch. Dolphin are one of the fastest growing fish in the ocean and the ones we release today will be big enough to keep in mere weeks. And they will eat almost anything you put in front of them.

A few days ago we fished the afternoon with Steve and his family from Melbourne, Florida. His kids had an absolute blast catching Tuna up to about 10 lbs. and with 18 of them in the boat? They had more than they wanted to take back home. I had a little seared Tuna last night thanks to them and it was delicious!

Bottom fishing has also been active off shore of Fort Lauderdale. Amberjack and Warsaw Grouper have been biting the big baits and the smaller Snappers are chewing on the chunks we offer. Always a good idea to have a live bait out for that passing Sail, Dolphin or Tuna that happens by. The picture is Walter from 2 days ago with a nice sized Amberjack.

Fishing has been good and yet, with all this going on, the crew is disappointed? It’s just never enough for our guests, we want and expect more. And more is on the way. Bonito and Kingfish are coming soon and the Bonito will be formidable. Many times we only get a line or 2 out before catching our first fish. If you are looking to catch a lot of fish? Now is the time.

And that’s all I have for this Fort Lauderdale fishing report…

Captain Steve

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Ladies Sport Fishing Fort Lauderdale

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While a high percentage of our guests are men here in Fort Lauderdale, there are some ladies that also like sport fishing or just fishing in general. Today’s trip was a group of gals that were far from the ordinary.

Bachelor parties are somewhat common but bachelorette parties? That’s what was in store for us this afternoon when Chelsea and the girls showed up. Most were from the Carolinas and one was from Texas. They had their food and beverage, which included an ample supply of beer only proving that they know how to fish and we were off and on our way or a fun afternoon.

As Joe was putting out the lines our first strike came right away. The bride to be, Chelsea, was given the first fish and it turned out to be quite a fish! Her first Sailfish was on the line and jumping! Because only a few baits had been put out we had little to retrieve and were backing down quickly as Chelsea took in the line. And within 15 minutes, we were able to get a picture of Chelsea and her prize.

We quickly found out that these ladies were all about fishing. How did we do this or that and can I hold my fish… And winding? We had to ask a few of the girls to slow down some so they didn’t pull the face off the fish! Even after just a short time, the girls were beating Joe to the rods and setting their own hooks. And some bantering between them all as the fish kept rolling in.

All in all, they caught some Kingfish, Bonitos and a few Blackfin Tuna along with Chelsea’s Sailfish. And as we headed home from our fishing trip off Fort Lauderdale, the ladies realized they had another 12 pack in the fridge. Celebration time! I really enjoyed fishing with these gals…

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Swordfish Fishing Trip

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Fishing trips for Swordfish off the shore of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood can produce a bite in a single day. But more experienced fishermen know their odds increase with a multi-day fishing trip. It just so happens the boys we had out today had fished the previous few days with us. Their first day was a bust as far as Swordfish went. The second day got a few bites but nothing stayed connected. Those first few days happened to be my days off and because of the poor luck, there was talk of staying in tight for some more action. But at the last minute, Chip changed his mind and we were once again headed off shore to where the Swordfish feed during the day. We were in the “Go big or go home” mode.

Dave and Darrin had done the research and with the few bites the day before, we had a good idea where to fish. It’s a long way to the area we fish for Swordfish so we had the high speed lures out for any Marlin that might be around. Our first set we found we were getting too deep too quickly and decided after 45 minutes to reset. Retrieving the bait and making a move in the heavy currents of the Gulf Stream can take almost an hour but we would find out this was to be our day.

Our second set got us a bite. The fish played and billed the bait but eventually lost interest and never ate. We checked the bait and found it was fairly mutilated so we rigged again, got back in front of the fish and dropped again. It didn’t take long until we were connected!

Because of the depth, the size of the gear and pure human resources we use an electric reel for this type of fishing. In many cases the angler sits in the chair and fights the fish just as you would but pushing a button to real rather than cranking with a handle. Many a fish can be lost if the rod is pulled or jerked too quickly or harshly. Chip opted to leave the rod in the covering boards and set the reel to automatic. With the drag set, the reel can do all the work if you wish and Chip opted for another beer. LOL

Once the weight was retrieved and removed from the line, our fish was still 150’ away and down from the boat, we still hadn’t seen him. Now we come to a bit more boat handling to keep the boat in good position. Chip ready with the dart as the fish neared the boat, the dart is merely a safety precaution to have another line attached to the fish. None of these creatures are happy about their first boat ride…

With the dart finally in (it isn’t easy and takes practice) and Darrin on the gaff, our prey was boated and high 5’s all around. 3 full days of fishing and finally Chip’s prize was on board. A nice one too, weighing in at 180 lbs. a 68” short length. (The short length is measured from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw). The short length makes sure the fish is big enough to legally harvest and there was no doubt with this one.

While it was great having one fish aboard, we were zooming back to where the fish were for a second shot and got that shot shortly after reaching the bottom again. A fairly fierce bite that destroyed the bait and retrieving as fast as we could and resetting for another shot did not pan out. It’s not unusual for these fish to start moving to shallower waters at this time of day to get into position for their night feeding where they come much closer to the surface and we revert to hand cranking them.

I felt lucky and privileged to be part of Chip catching his fish of a life time. And as the sun began sinking in the west, we headed home from our Swordfish fishing trip off Fort Lauderdale. The hours just seem to fade away when you come home with your prize.

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Great Fishing Trips

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The area just off shore of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood has been producing some great fishing trips for our guests. The weather has been cooperating with sunny skies, reasonable seas and some awesome catches this week. A very nice mixed bag of fish, just what you’d expect and should expect for the next few months as we shift from our winter season to spring and summer with fish migrating through our area.

What a pleasure to say to our groups “Well, that didn’t take long…” as many trips begin with hits before all the rods are set. One or two baits in the water and a reel is singing. We usually start trolling as we cross the reef and Bonitos, Kingfish, Dolphin and Wahoo have been quite cooperative in all of this. And I’ve always said, catching fish is like making money, the first million is the hardest. Well, not right now, for fishing that is.

The reef has been alive with baitfish and that has all kinds of species around. While trolling produces some hits, fishing with live bait has been producing larger fish. Big Dolphin and Kingfish have been biting well. Even a few Tuna and a Tuna that can eat a live bait is usually a nice one. Sailfish haven’t been thick but they have been around and should become more plentiful. And with all this going on? Sharks are now quite prevalent. You’d best reel quickly or lose part of your fish to a hungry predator.
IMG_0206 Mahi girl
Our pictures this week were some of the Dolphin we’ve been catching. A group from Boston had a blast catching this pair as they both hit at once and orchestrating the rods to keep the lines from crossing was quite a challenge. And who doesn’t like seeing a pretty girl with her catch?

It’s all happening right now off Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood’s shores and just a few miles out too. Some great fishing trips to be had. Join us, won’t you?

Captain Steve

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Great All Day Fishing Trip

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Charter Boats Ft Lauderdale

You never know what will happen on an all-day fishing trip here in Fort Lauderdale. Our group today had fished the afternoon the day before with poor results, my day off. So when they showed up to the dock on the absolutely gorgeous day, a few things were straightened out, since I was the new guy. LOL

Dan was the first of the party I met. We want edible fish he said even before we had been introduced. I already was aware of this as Darren had fished him the day before and we had already formed a plan for our outing. A fresh fish dinner was on our schedule for these folks and we had all day to fill the plates.

Along with Dan came Scott, Brad and Amanda. Their food and beverages were loaded which included a bottle of Crown and we were off for our day. The weather was absolute perfect. Clear skies, light winds, calm seas and a perfect temperature. You get that at the end of March.

Trolling was first up and as soon as we began, the first 2 baits out each were eaten by Bonitos. Well, that didn’t take long and our group was already happy to be catching fish and an improvement from the day before. All except Dan who mentioned that Bonitos weren’t very good to eat. Dan would turn out to be quite the character on this trip.

We continued on and caught a few Kingfish, all small ones. When it comes to eating Kingfish, the smaller, the better, as they have less oil in the meat. A few more Bonitos followed and all in all we had ourselves a pretty good box of fish. Even if our deep drop plans didn’t work out, food had been provided.

As we neared the midpoint of our trip, we made our move to provide a bit taster treat for our guests and headed to deeper water and some fishing with the electric reel. Black Bellied Rose fish and Golden Tilefish were our target. This kind of fishing is done with an electric reel because of the depth we have to fish in, between 600’ and 900’ of water with a 6 to 10 pound weight attached. It’s a chore just to bring the rig up with nothing on it, much less with fish.

Our first drop offered us quite the surprise. In almost 800’ of water fishing the bottom, only a few bites were shaking the tip. As our prey was retrieved, a surprise showed up along with the 2 Rosies we’d caught… A very large Dusky shark! We threw a few pieces of cut bait in to keep him interested and asked if anyone would like to catch this large creature. The response was YES!

So Darren quickly rigged a bait and pitched it on the right tackle to this shark that was hanging around waiting for more food. And who gets the call to fight the fish first? Amanda. Little Amanda who might weigh 100 lbs. Maybe.
IMG_0598 Amanda
Dusky sharks are quite rare, they have been protected for years here in Florida. This one was one of the largest I’d ever seen, they usually are around 6’ to 7’ in our area. Amanda was in the seat using the bucket and fighting this fish with some help from all. Dan was jabbering about something, Scott was observing and Brad was taking pictures of his fiancé fighting the fish. It took a while but soon enough we had the fish boatside for pictures, measurements and release.

Now, just a note here. Many times when we fight fish, I do not have time to snap a pic or 2. In these cases, I always ask the guest to send me the shots they took. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I would find out soon enough that Brad had every intention of giving me what he taken. 8 videos and over 100 shots, presented to me at the dock on a thumb drive. Talk about a photo service!

Once the shark was released we went back to what we needed to do. A new spot got us some Rosies and 1 Golden Tilefish to add to the bounty. Plenty for dinner tonight and tomorrow. And Dan was finally quiet and happy.

We’re always fighting the clock to provide fish on a half day trip but an all-day fishing trip gives us ample opportunity to do many things. Now let’s take a look at that thumb drive…

Captain Steve

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The Perfect Fishing Trip

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Charter Boats Ft Lauderdale

There are times our customers, or guests as I like to refer to them, have their own perceptions of what their perfect fishing trip is. But most our guests never know what to expect when they step onto our boats. They know they are going fishing but how and what happen are unknowns to many. They just board the boat and sit back for the ride.

For these people my idea of a perfect fishing trip is one where everyone catches something and then something cool to be brought in. Getting your hands on the rod, feeling the fish pull as you begin to wind. Maybe it pulls enough to make the drag slip out or maybe it doesn’t. The fish is soon at the boat and your job is done and done well.

Getting everyone a fish the last few months has been a struggle, to say the least. But it is with great glee that I say the tide has turned here in our area off the coast of Florida. With March came the fish and lots of them. Mahi-mahi showed up in good numbers and size. Kingfish began biting again as well as a few Bonitos close to the reef. Sharks of various species and Sailfish have also been caught in recent days like the one caught just 2 days ago in the picture.

And with ALL this action it’s so nice to see our customers smiling about their catches rather than our jokes and stories. But the true perfect fishing trip is the smile on the young man at the bottom here. While certainly no monster of the deep or trophy size catch, this young man caught the absolute BEST fish of his life all by himself. And that big smile he’s wearing, to me as a captain? That IS the perfect fishing trip!IMG_0196 smile

Captain Steve

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