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July 27, 2009

Wahoo Lite

Maximize wahoo action and minimize fuel burn - the Bermuda Way

We're able to use 12- to 30-pound-class tackle when live-baiting this way since the boat's much slower speed reduces the shock that comes at the strike. The lighter tackle really enhances any battle with wahoo. However, anglers must be mindful of a long "belly" of line. Many yards off the spool, plus the speed of a wahoo's run, can put a lot of pressure on the line after the strike. Troll at around 3 knots: faster than that and the baits die quickly. When the bite occurs along a ledge or structure, the helmsman needs to work to keep the boat in the productive depth so that the other live baits remain in the strike zone. By staying in the right area, we enjoy multiple hookups regularly. If you think catching a wahoo on 20-pound line is exciting, try fighting two or more at the same time!

How does sight-fishing for wahoo sound? It's a phenomenon we enjoy in Bermuda by chumming (chunking). While obviously anywhere you find a concentration of wahoo provides a likely place to chum them up, the method can also be worth trying when you find schools of bait out on the grounds. We may anchor or drift, depending on conditions, but either way, chumming the right depth range is important. In Bermuda, at least, that means 40 to 60 fathoms.

Chunks of tinker mackerel make the best chum and hook bait, but you can use any fish with relatively dark meat that's tough enough to hold and hide a hook pretty well. Keep your chum line fairly sparse but consistent until you see wahoo ghosting past the   transom snapping up chunks. Along with the 'hoos, you're also likely to see other species crashing the party.

Fly-fishing enthusiasts also find this a great opportunity to tempt wahoo, a species not easily available to fly-rodders.

When you're ready to toss your baited chunks into the water, a 5/0 circle hook with a 12-inch, No. 6 wire bite leader does a fine job, particularly fished on a quality spinning outfit with 20-pound line. You can usually watch the action - and often have to endure several refusals as wahoo prove their excellent eyesight.