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July 29, 2008

Trophy dolphin almost gets away - twice

Angler gets wet to save his big catch

Everyone knows that bull dolphin are hard to handle when they're on the line.  But a crew of Virginia anglers almost lost a trophy dorado back at the dock.  Brett Whitt and his buddies were fishing 70 miles off Virginia Beach when Whitt hooked a huge dolphin that put on an explosive aerial display.  After they got the fish into the boat it went berserk, kicking and thrashing in the cockpit and refusing to go into the fish box. 

"I'd caught big dolphin before," Whitt says, "but this was the biggest one I'd ever seen." 

Once the fish was safely on ice, the guys thought that their troubles were over. They were wrong. Back at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, crewmember Chris Martin put the huge dolphin in a plastic cart and proceeded to pushed it up the dock and to the fish scale.  That's when the dolphin made its second attempt at escape. 

"The wheel of the cart slipped off the side of the dock and the fish just flopped into the water," he recalls. 

Martin didn't hesitate, immediately jumping in after the trophy fish and sacrificing his car keys and cell phone.  "I got a hand on it but I couldn't hold on," he says. 

Martin, who is an experienced mate and accomplished angler would not be consoled. 

"I couldn't stand to see Chris broken hearted," Whitt says, so he elicited the help of Wes Feller, captain of the local headboat who happened to have a full set of diving equipment handy.  Feller suited up, jumped in, and recovered the big dorado. 

"When I saw that fish I was ecstatic," Martin says, "everyone on the dock cheered." 

Martin put the dolphin back into the fishbox and took it to a near-by tackle shop where it weighed in at 58 pounds 6 ounces and set the mark as the largest dolphin caught in Virginia this year.

"No way was I taking that fish out again until we were on dry land!" he says.