Anglers catching plenty of dolphin around abandoned johnboat

When Blaine Anderson saw this johnboat floating 60 miles offshore, he knew the dolphinfish would be there.

Wayward johnboat spotted several times in past week

For the past week or so, offshore anglers fishing off the coast of Charleston have reported seeing a wayward aluminum johnboat dozens of miles off the coastline. And they’ve all been catching plenty of fish around that lonely vessel.

“Anytime you find something floating when you’re 60 miles offshore, there are sure to be mahi. We hit the jackpot when we found this johnboat,” said Ladson’s Blaine Anderson of Shimano after a fishing trip this past Monday.

And his crew isn’t the only one that’s been lucky enough to find fish stacked up under and around the boat.

“I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to find this abandoned johnboat 45 miles offshore,” said Jimmy Lichens of Charleston, who encountered the boat the day before Anderson. “We trolled around it and the dolphin bit like crazy. We left it for about an hour after catching dolphin after dolphin trolling it, and when we came back, we drifted alongside it in casting range and tossed topwater plugs and had a blast with the peanut dolphins,” he said.

When someone asked Lichens why they didn’t bring the boat back to shore with them, he was shocked at the question.

“We reported it to the Coast Guard, but no way were we going to touch that boat. We hope to find it again this coming weekend. It’s a lucky find to see a sheet of plywood, weedilnes, or something like a pallet floating out there. But finding this boat takes the cake. We’ve heard from some other anglers spotting it too, and catching fish off it. You just can’t beat that,” he said.

Lichens is right. Finding floating objects that far offshore are sure to attract baitfish seeking any sort of shade and cover they can find. And it’s not just something that a few baitfish will find attractive. They stack up in huge numbers, which in turn attracts gamefish like mahi.

“We usually troll for mahi based on current breaks, temperature breaks, and the presence of baitfish, but if we ever happen across something floating, we make sure to troll in a way that puts our plugs right under and alongside whatever it is. And when the sea isn’t too rough, we’ll also just drift beside it and cast all around it with topwater plugs. You’ll never have more fun than a day of doing that and reeling in dolphins one after the other.

“I don’t know whose boat that was or how it got away, but I can just about promise it’s got more value doing what its doing now than it’s ever had doing anything else.

“It’s tough to say how long this boat will be in the area, or where it will go from here. It can move a great deal in a day, or it can stay relatively close by. It’s tough to say. But I’m hoping that isn’t the last time I see it,” said Lichens.

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Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at