Return to the Wild

By Heather Frese | Friday, June 17, 2016

And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.
     — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The fish looks like something a science fiction author would dream up — a flash of iridescent turquoise, yellow and green rippling just beneath the surface of vibrant blue water, the colors so intense they’re almost garish. Head squared, jaw thrust forward in a prehistoric-looking under bite, this predator will battle to stay in the sea, hidden in the sargassum beds, thrashing brilliantly on your line as you reel it to the boat. Its intense colors fade once it’s out of the ocean, so very few people get to see its living wildness. This is Dolphin — Corypaena hippurus, not the frolicking Flipper mammal — and the experience of catching one sounds like something that’s out of this world, but in fact it’s about as deeply rooted in our watery earth as you can get. When you take a charter to the Gulf Stream with the Albatross Fleet and get the chance to battle this fish out of the sea then prepare and cook it, nourishing your body and feeding your family with fish caught with your own hands, you’re participating in something truly epic, truly human, truly of this earth. Something wild.

Albatross Fleet Deep Sea Fishing - Dolphin

We vacation at the beach for many reasons — to recharge, to savor the natural beauty of the shore, to reconnect with family while relaxing into a slower, more deliberate pace than our regular workday world. But when you allocate a day for a charter fishing trip, you get a heightened vacation experience. The memories and bragging rights are unique.                                         

Stepping onto one of the Albatross Fleet boats, you leave the world of iPads and work deadlines behind. What will you see on your trip? Like anything in nature, there are no guarantees, but how amazing it is to catch sight of a pod of false killer whales cresting out of the water so close to the boat you can feel their spray on your feet or a loggerhead turtle gently floating in the current, his shell a patchwork of barnacles. The slice of a shark fin may part the waves or the shiny silver arc of a dolphin leaping and flipping from the sea. The Gulf Stream is tropical in nature, so you might spot birds such as Shearwater or Petrel soaring above the waves. 

Family fishing on the Albatross Fleet, Hatteras North Carolina

And then there are the fish you can catch. In the wild world of day spent charter fishing, you see firsthand how the trope of man versus nature originated. With your feet planted firmly on the deck of an Albatross boat, arms aching with the weight of the rod as the fish fights and the captain steers the boat for the best angle, it’s just you and the fish, steeped in nature, embroiled in battle, living fully in this moment. As wild as can be. There’s a chance you could hook a large game fish species like blue or white marlin or a sailfish with their rapier-sharp bills. On the edible side, dolphin and tuna are among some of the species frequenting the Gulf Stream in summer along with other food fish like wahoo and mackerel. After exerting your body to catch the fish, what happens next fulfills a story old as time as you prepare the fish to eat, nourishing your body and feeding your family and friends.

Shearwater and Dolphin going for the bait

We live in a world of GMOs and nitrates and pesticides, a constant bombardment of man’s interference with our food supply. But when you pull a fish out of the ocean with your own hands and immediately prepare and eat it, you’re sustaining your body with something natural and fresh. The meat of the dolphin fish is white, sweet, and extremely versatile, firm enough to grill and mild enough to accept virtually any method of preparation. Albatross Fleet owners Ernie and Lynne Foster recommend a simple yet extremely delicious beer batter along with a mayonnaise-based sauce. Other preparations abound. Try baking the fish with lemon juice herbs or using an en papillote technique, for example. Tuna is another fish you may catch that’s adaptable to many different cooking techniques. And forget about cracking open a tin can of Starkist once you get home if you follow Ernie and Lynne’s directions for canning your very own. 

You’ll celebrate that night, after your day on the water. When families and friends come together for an exhilarating adventure, festivity is sure to follow as you dine on the fish you pulled from the sea. We’re all tied to the ocean, and when you spend the day in its salty embrace you come back to land re-centered, spirit renewed, with stories abounding. Adventuring with the Albatross Fleet, you’ll find that something far beyond the ordinary occurs when you return to the wild.


Albatross Fleet Beer-Battered Dolphin


 1 can or bottle of beer, warm and flat
 1 egg, beaten
 1 teaspoon salt
  About 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 1/2 - 2 pounds dolphin, skin removed      
cut into thumb-size chunks
 Peanut oil for frying

 In large bowl, mix and beat the beer, egg and salt together. Add enough flour to make the mixture the consistency of pancake batter.

 Heat the oil in an electric fryer (for better temperature control) to 375 degrees. 

 Add the dolphin chunks, a few at a time, to the batter, turning to coat evenly.

 Drop the battered fish into the hot oil, a few at a time, and cook until browned and crunchy. Do not cook too many at a time since that will lower the temperature of the oil and result in soggy fish.

 Drain the cooked fish on paper towels
and serve immediately.


Combine mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s) and Dijon mustard in a proportion of 2 mayo to 1 mustard. Adjust according to your taste. Stir in enough dried French tarragon to mix generously throughout the sauce. Start with a teaspoon and, again, taste and adjust. The condiments provide the seasoning so don’t add salt.

Albatross Fleet Hatteras NC logo

Foster's Quay, Hatteras Village, North Carolina 27943

Phone: (252) 986-2515 |