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Fishing Notes

Boy catches a dolphin weighing as much as him

An 8-year-old caught a 46-pound dolphin off the Florida Keys that weighed exactly the same as the young angler.

Mikey Capozzoli, a second-grade student in Islamorada, Fla., was fishing on the Catch 22 with a group of anglers including Bud N’ Mary’s Fishing Marina owner Richard Stanczyk.

The boat was headed back to shore after a successful swordfish catch when Stanczyk’s brother Scott, the boat’s captain, spotted feeding birds and flying fish.

Moments later, anglers on board the Catch 22 were simultaneously hooked up to seven different dolphin, all more than 20 pounds that are called “slammers” by Keys offshore anglers.

Young Capozzoli was one of those anglers.

“We had hooked seven slammers, all at once,” Richard Stanczyk says. “We didn’t realize Mikey had the biggest fish.”

Capozzoli fought the fish for an hour, all the time jockeying for position to keep his line from tangling with others.

The 46-pounder, caught on spinning tackle with a live cigar minnow as bait, finally was boated after all the other fish were reeled in.

“I was tired, but real happy,” says Capozzoli. “It was the biggest dolphin I’ve every caught.”

Stanczyk says the youngster is a natural fisherman.

“He’s an amazing little angler,” he says. “He knows when to reel and when not to reel, and how to keep pressure on the fish.

“But the real amazing thing is that we hooked up and caught all seven slammers, including Mikey’s big fish,” Stanczyk says.

Recreational catch numbers down slightly

Marine recreational anglers caught more than 468 million fish in 2007, down slightly from last year’s historic high of 475 million fish, but still the second highest recreational catch total in the last 10 years. The overall number of fish caught and kept also declined slightly, from 214 million to196 million fish, according to NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

The 2007 data demonstrates a widespread turn toward “catch and release” among recreational anglers. While anglers are catching about 27 percent more fish than a decade ago, they also are releasing more fish than they keep. Of the 468 million fish caught by anglers last year 272 million, or 58 percent, were released alive. The percentage of fish released into the environment has increased steadily from about 51 percent in 1993.

Spotted seatrout was the most popular catch among marine recreational anglers. The species is caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic regions, which have the highest combined concentration of saltwater anglers in the nation. The top catches in other regions were lane snapper (Caribbean), striped bass (North Atlantic), Atlantic croaker (Mid-Atlantic), chub mackerel (Pacific), black rockfish (Pacific Northwest), and bigeye scad (Western Pacific).

Texas angler wins Del Brown Invitational

Greg Smith of Canyon, Texas, caught a 26.125-inch permit on fly to win the 2008 Del Brown Invitational Permit Tournament, honoring late angling legend Del Brown. Smith earned the title of grand champion angler fishing with Capt. Scott Collins of Marathon, Fla. Smith caught his permit about 10 miles west of Key West.

Collins was named the tournament’s grand champion guide.

“If he can win with me, that says a lot about him,” says Smith of his guide’s prowess. “I’m just the knucklehead on the bow facing forward.”

Jack Noll of Montauk, N.Y., caught a 25.5-inch permit to earn the title of runner-up. He was guided by Capt. Jeffrey Cardenas of Key West.

Permit enthusiasts on 17 boats fished the tournament named for Brown, an internationally acclaimed angler who died in 2003.