The calm sea exploded around the skipping ballyhoo, the rod bucked wildly and the fish took to the air. There was no doubt we were hooked up to the most beautiful fish inhabiting the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream: the dolphin (fish), more commonly known as mahi-mahi.
Young Robert Lyon, the third generation of Lyon family members I’ve had the honor to fish with over the years, took up the rod and, after a great battle, Capt. Bryan Benson aced a nice gaff shot. Dinner was in the box. It was midday, and we had just arrived at our destination some 90 miles off the coast of Hilton Head.
The calm seas promised for the morning were late, and we found our way offshore, stopping at Navy Towers R7 and R8 looking for some action. We were not disappointed, having jagged up some amberjacks that provided tough, bulldog battles for young Robert and my son Caleb. We also had a wolf pack of cobia circling the boat for awhile, but had no success in getting them to take the bait. Huge schools of spadefish, barracuda and mutton snapper offered up an aquarium experience that is all but guaranteed in the clear waters around these towers.
However, now we were in the Gulf Stream, our original destination, and the sea had flattened. With young Robert’s fish in the box, Capt. Bryan and I redeployed the bait as the senior Robert Lyon started working the boat up and down a spotty sargassum weed line.
We spotted some blackfin tuna jumping around the weed—a good sign—and were soon rewarded with another explosion on the skipping bait. The line poured off the reel, and I wondered if it was one of the tough football-shaped blackfins we had sighted. The fish burst from the water with a huge headshaking jump and, again, there was no mistake…a big bull dolphin.
Caleb was on the rod this time and finally living a dream. For years, my son had told me, “I really want to catch a bull dolphin!”
The back-and-forth battle went on for 20 minutes, accented by many aerial escapades by the bull. As the battle neared the end, we admired the gold, green and blue colors of this amazing fish as he jumped and swam only feet from the boat. Capt. Bryan aced another great gaff shot just in time, as Caleb announced the fish was wearing him down. But, he prevailed, and his dream became a reality with a nice catch—a 25-pound bull dolphin!
Young Robert caught another large mahi and, while we set no records that afternoon, it was certainly a wonderful day. Two youngsters bending a rod is always a fun experience and fishing with my son and young Robert’s father brings back good memories of casting a line with one of my favorite people of all time: the senior Bob Lyon.
Great people, great day!
Article and photo by Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters, who has more than 42 years of experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new “Finatic” boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.