The dolphin are thick off Hatteras Island, with a good mixture of peanuts and gaffers mixed in, and anglers are finding them without having to venture too far offshore.

“We’ve been catching them for the past few weeks without having to go farther than 20 miles out. We’re seeing good quantity and good quality, and we’ve been catching them in some pretty unconventional ways,” said Capt. Ethan Ingle of Seas the Day Charters (336-202-2174).

Engle, who fished on the University of South Carolina Fishing Team that has won the past two FLW College Fishing National Championships, loves all types of fishing, and likes to use not only his experiences with one species to help him with another, but also his tackle.

“I approach offshore fishing differently than the average saltwater guy and have had success. Bass anglers love it because it is very active, we use a lot of stand up tackle and very little trolling,” Engle said.

And even when trolling is the best method on a given day, Engle still finds a way to make the fishing more active than just kicking back with lines out, waiting for a bite while the boat does all the work.

“When we’re trolling for dolphin, it’s pretty common for other dolphin to follow one that is hooked, and we’ve been catching those with Lew’s BB1 baitcasting reels on bass fishing rods. We’ll cast a swimbait alongside the hooked dolphin, and just crank it like we’re bass fishing on a lake. It catches fish, and really adds to the experience. They will really put a reel like that to the test,” he said.

Engle said that on some days, especially when he finds grass lines bunched up tight, he will slow troll, and have his anglers cast bass lures across the weed lines from the front of the boat. He said this requires calm weather.

“The conditions have to be right, but it’s pretty awesome to watch a dolphin come up through the grass and eat a swimbait,” he said

Engle said things got real exciting on a recent trip, when they were fishing with bass gear and caught a dolphin that really tested their tackle.

“We caught a 22-pound dolphin on a Rapala Skitter Walk!” he said.