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How to Catch Wahoo – Offshore Fishing Tactics

If you’re like us, you’re game to throw a line after just about anything that swims. If you’re in a for a throwdown challenge, get yourself on the slate against the wahoo.

While “Wahooooo!!” may be the sound that comes out of your mouth when landing one of these beauties, Wahoo truly is the popular name for Acanthocybium Solandri. These awesome fish go by other handles too: Ono in Hawaii, Springer in Brazil, Queenfish in the Caribbean, and Peto in the Bahamas.

 

What Is a Wahoo?

While often mistaken for a King Mackerel, they’re a fish of a different color completely. Well, maybe they’re similar in color, but that’s about it. They have numerous dark vertical bands that extend to below the lateral line. Boasting a long nose about half the length of its entire head and vertical caudal fins, this fish grows upwards of 100 pounds.

They carry a very mild flavor, even after extended freezing, in their snow white meat, which lacks heavy blood lines.

You can find them in waters from Virginia to South America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, and other areas around the world. They tend to especially love the blue water zones of the Gulf of Mexico.

None of that is necessarily what makes this mackerel special. Anglers agree that they are the biggest, meanest, and fastest mackerel in American waters, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph. Their extremely sharp canine teeth can often make landing them way more difficult than finding them. They are an extremely streamlined predator with razor sharp teeth that cut up their prey in a scissor-like fashion. They’ve got a lot of fight.

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They are also fantastic jumpers. They will leap high in the air while chasing bait fish. That said, be on the lookout as you’re pulling your empty lure up.

They’ve been known to launch a last minute attack as it comes out of the water, and have been known to go sailing right into the face of a fisherman with their sharp teeth.

How to Find Wahoo

According to Captain Sean Bloomfield, the premier wahoo fisheries exist in San Salvador and Cat Island, Bahamas, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and Northeast Florida. Hit these places up through the wintertime, and you’re bound to get into some of these giant beasts.

Wahoo are primarily structure-oriented fish that like more aggressive bottom formations, pronounced ledges, wrecks, rips, and color changes. You could also find them stacked up underneath floating debris and weed lines, sometimes in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. They typically bite below the surface and can be located along drop-offs at around 120 to 350 feet of water. You’ll find them along a ledge with current coming over it, which pushes water up and compresses bait in the water column. They’ll sit on one side and feed.

The most active time to catch these monsters is right before daybreak, their prime feeding period.

They’ll usually start the reels a-screaming as soon as the sun appears on the horizon. Their major feeding takes place just prior to sunrise to early post-dawn. “Wahoo go wild during this time,” remarks Captain Charles Ebanks. “The bite might last only 30 to 45 minutes, but it’s aggressive as hell.” That makes running almost 100 miles off shore in the dark well worth it!

Don’t discount the moon or tides, either. Fishing on a full moon works pretty well, but the best times to get into these fish are the few days before and after one. Fishing prior to and into a tide change can really find them biting. Under stable weather, lack of action during an early-morning falling tide usually means a good bite during the afternoon incoming tide, and vice versa.

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In addition, pay attention to your barometer. As the pressure starts dropping, such as before a cold front of a storm, it can trigger a bite. They tend to shut down once the pressure shoots up, like when after the front arrives.

How to Catch Wahoo Trolling

Trolling at around 14 knots is where most find they tend to have success, and Ballyhood Lures actually advises you can catch bigger wahoo with faster speed. They recommend hi-speed trolling of between 14 and 20 knots. Captain Ron Schatman, winner of a dozen major Bahamas wahoo tournaments over five years agrees.

“In 1995, I went from pulling baits at 14 knots to pulling lures at 18 knots,” he shared with Sport Fishing. “From there, it all fell into place.”

You’ll do well to stagger your trolling baits at different depths and distances. They tend to cruise below the surface, attacking fish from below, so you’ll want to set out lines 20 to 35 feet below the surface. They like to chop their prey in half, eat one end, then circle back and eat the other. They’ll often bite a ballyhoo off just behind the hook. If you’re able to act fast and give it a drop-back, they’ll often turn around looking for more. When you see your rod tip take a sudden dip, then spring back up, let the reel go into freespool, allowing the bait to sink for a few seconds. Then jig the line once or twice. “Beyond question, the best part of wahoo fishing is hearing that reel scream,” claims Ryan Grotta, owner of G-Fly Lures in Boca Raton, Florida.

These guys really have tough mouths, so you won’t want to slow boat speed down once one strikes. The captain can help the angler keep things tight by bumping the boat in and out of gear, which also helps plane the fish to the surface. Once his head breaks water, step up your cranking to keep him on top which will help to tire him out quickly. Wind it steadily into gaff range until the gaffer is able to lift it over the gunwales and into the fish box.

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How to Catch Wahoo – Gear

Standard offshore trolling tackle works well for these guys, using 100 pound braided line or 400-pound cable. If you’re casting for them, medium conventional tackle with 80 pound braid will do the trick. You can use three ounce egg sinkers for extra weight with a 50-ounce trolling sinker rigged to your line to keep the lure running at the right depth. The single most important thing to take away is that you must use a wire leader! Those razor sharp teeth will cut straight through anything else. It’s also important to use cable around the sinker, since they’ll sometimes hit the sinker.

Wahoo tend to like specific color patterns, namely red/black and purple/black, though that isn’t always the case. Some anglers have good luck using a variety of color schemes, depending on the mood of the fish. Rig large ballyhoo behind colorful rubber skirts, and they’ll go on the attack, though that could get expensive pretty quickly. Try Rapalas or any other swimming plugs that can be trolled rapidly like Braid Maurader or the Yo-Zuri Bonita.

Having a two speed reel that you can crank to high gear once the fish is brought to the surface is ideal.

While they don’t travel in schools, per se, they do tend to hang out in the same areas, so once you’ve caught one wahoo, continue working the same area until you’ve covered it before moving on.

And watch your fingers and ankles!

 

Five Fishing Knots You Need To Know Before Your Next Fishing Trip

The sun is just starting to rise above the horizon, steam is rolling off the water in the early light. As you get closer to the to the first spot your heart swells with anticipation of what’s to come. You take your position, crank back on your rod and fire the perfect cast. A few short moments later your heart stops.

You reel down hard and lean in to the full weight of the fish when… “SNAP”.  The line goes limp and you settle in for a long day. This feeling happens all too often among anglers. The good news is, it can usually be related back to one detail, the knot. In hopes to alleviate some of this heart ache, below are five foolproof fishing knots that may just save a day of fishing and help land that fish of a lifetime.

Fishing Knots: The Palomar Knot

Strength – 9 out of 10
Complexity – 2 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

If there is one knot that I would consider a work horse this would be it. A tried and true champion of any class of line from heavy braid to small fluorocarbon, this knot will hold tight. I have gone days fishing with the same lure, being too lazy to re-tie, and this knot has pulled through for me.  Not to mention there hasn’t been a drop shot tied ever without this knot.

Being a simple self-tightening loop knot allows for fast ties and good line strength retention. One small detail of this knot takes it to the next level though. When completing the final step make sure the loop is on top of the knot and not resting on the side. This prevents the line cutting into itself which may cause early failure.

You can tie this knot to just about any bait and it will go to work. You may hear some people say not to tie it to walking topwater baits, jerkbaits, or crankbaits, but what that really comes down to is knot preference. The Palomar knot is a must know for the next time you hit the water!

Fishing Knots

Source: Shopfishheads.com

Fishing Knots: The FG Knot

Strength – 10 out of 10
Complexity – 10 out of 10)
Purpose – Main Line to Leader

This isn’t your average leader knot, this is for the big leagues. A super strong, low-profile knot that flows effortlessly through your guides. The FG knot provides a 100% line strength transfer. This allows the knot to stand up to the most savage saltwater strikes and hardest home run hook-sets. The way the main line weaves itself around the leader line forces it to bite into the leader, locking it into place. The small details in finishing this knot is what creates the most complexity.

First, absolutely terminate the FG weave with two half hitches, but don’t just tie them willy-nilly. Cinch them down slowly and as close to the FG as you can. Tying one away from you and the next towards you as the pictures describe.

This creates an even knot allowing it to cast and run through your guides that much easier.

Second, tying the finish, you will wrap away from you then “unwind” the knot and pull it tight. This creates tension, pulling the knot together every time you set the hook ensuring it will not work itself loose. Due to the complexity of this knot definitely practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. Once you get it right, you will be amazed as to just how strong it is.

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Source: Fishing.org

Fishing Knots: The San Diego Jam Knot

Strength – 8 out of 10
Complexity – 4 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

This is one of the few knots that have made the transition from the ocean skiffs to the deck of a bass boat. Developed initially for thick monofilament, the San Diego Jam Knot has been a god sent for anyone who fishes fluorocarbon in heavy cover.

The design of this knot allows for the force of a strike or hook-set to be transferred evenly throughout the knot, eliminating the classic fluorocarbon “pop” on a hook-set. This has become my favorite fluorocarbon knot and it works with any test line.

A small change that I make which seems to have a big effect is using less wraps when tying heavy line. I have a smaller profile knot and one that holds better as well.

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Source: Fishing.org

Fishing Knots: The Davy Knot

Strength – 7 out of 10
Complexity – 3 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

The Davy knot was one that was introduced to me on a small trout stream in Central Pennsylvania. I was fishing 6x tippet on size 20 – 22 flies and the knot I was using was simply too bulky. It was causing the fly to drag and sink.

Another gentleman on the stream came to my rescue and set me straight. He showed me the Davy knot which is also known as the Figure Eight knot.

Easy to tie and small profile, it is ideal for these micro sized flies.

Additionally, the ability to remove this knot when changing flies is not a problem with this knot. This proves exceptionally helpfully for forgetful fishermen like myself who never seem to have clippers. This may not be the strongest knot in the world, but without a doubt it can salvage a day.

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Source: Pinterest

Fishing Knots: The Snell Knot

Strength – 10 out of 10
Complexity – 3 out of 10
Purpose – Main Line to Hook

Living in Georgia, we are blessed with having thick vegetation nearly year-round. Allowing us to have a seven-and-a-half-foot broom stick with a cannonball for a weight on the front deck all the time.

Punching and flipping this grass pushes your equipment to its absolute limits.

You are going to want a knot that will take everything you throw at it and ask for more, the Snell is that Knot. Allowing for 100% line strength transmission and a low profile, the Snell knot is my go to when I know I will be dragging big fish that are buried deep into heavy cover. An interesting result of using this knot is when you set the hook on a fish, the hook doesn’t come straight to you, it swings out to the side increasing the chances of contacting the fishes mouth for a solid hold.

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Source: Fishing.org

With all of the variables that exist in fishing, all the curve balls we get thrown out on the water, our knots are something that we can control entirely. Taking the time to learn these knots will not only make you a more efficient angler, but also give you peace of mind knowing you have one less thing to worry about. Fishing is hard enough and with the knots above, next time you make that perfect cast and lean into that fish of a lifetime, you can have the confidence of knowing your knot will hold.