Capt. Mike Webb of Pelagic Sportfishing in Atlantic Beach said a full-blown dolphin bite is taking place around the Big Rock, Swansboro Hole, the Rise and other popular offshore fishing destinations, with the bite taking off a few days ago after the first fish showed up in the middle of April.
Their numbers, according to Webb, are so strong that dolphin are attacking entire spreads of trolled baits instead of just trying to rush in and grab a bait or two. This early outburst has made for excellent fishing.
"This is the time of year the dolphin begin to arrive in our area, but their numbers seemed to explode in the past week," Webb said. "This isn't just dolphin fishing; they really are in attack mode. If you troll anywhere close to a weed line or temperature break, it's almost guaranteed dolphin will streak into your spread.
"A couple of days ago, we were working along an edge towards a color change I could see from several miles away on the bridge," Webb said. "We found out the color change was marking a 4-degree temperature break. The dolphin started attacking when we were still a couple of miles from the break. They wrapped us up several times before we got there and then continued to bite like mad as we crossed into the warmer water and trolled down the change. Every bait we put into the water got hit. Not all hooked up, and some threw the hook while jumping, but it was a wild couple of hours."
Webb had seen the color while trolling for wahoo along a rip over the break and headed to it. He said all his baits were rigged on wire since he thought it would be a wahoo trip, but the dolphin weren't the least bit leader- or wire-shy and piled on the baits as fast as they could be replaced and dropped back.
"We began the day wahoo fishing, so we had lots of medium ballyhoo rigged into sea witches, but on wire rigs," Webb said. "For a while, the bite was so wide open nothing seemed to make a difference. Then, the action slowed a little, and we saw the blue-white sea witches were getting hit faster than about anything else. They also liked the purple-black sea witches we had rigged for wahoo."
Webb (252-904-3361) said this odd color match has held true for a couple of trips since then. He is catching dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna and said several boats have already released marlin and sailfish. Webb said even with wahoo still biting, he has begun leaving the dock with more baits rigged on mono leaders so the dolphin are easier to handle and the deck isn't so cluttered with wire after multiple strikes.
"We've been catching more dolphin on the warmer side of the temperature breaks," Webb said. "Anything that is floating might be holding a few, so I always make a pass and drag a bait or two beside boards, floats, buckets or whatever else might be floating. I've been trolling pretty quickly until I find them and then slowing down a little. It's pretty to watch these fish lit up in neon colors rush into the baits to eat. Right now, most of them are nice gaffer dolphin, too."