Set the Spread — and React to a Strike
First in the water, the long lines are let out to 450 feet and 350 feet, where Hunt has prerigged a 130-pound Dacron handcuff at each rod’s designated length. These attach with a doubled loop of 15-pound monofilament to a tag line run from the outrigger (see photo 6). Next in, the mids are let out to preset waxed flax markings at 300 feet and 250 feet, and trolled from the rod tips. Finally, the shorts go out to 200 feet and 150 feet, where Dacron handcuffs attach to short tag lines run from the engine exhaust tubes.
When a fish strikes, “clear everything shorter than the hooked fish on that side of the boat,” Hunt says. “Leave the other side out.” So if just a short lure is bitten, Hunt clears nothing. If the port mid hooks up, he clears the port short only. If a long line goes off, he clears the two shorter lines on that side.
“It’s always best to turn toward the fish to keep it clear of the other lines,” Hunt says. But if he is on his “uphill” leg — heading from deep water to shallow — and a fish bites a lure on the shallow side of his spread, Hunt won’t turn. “You don’t want to drag that fish into 60 feet of water,” he says.
Color Me Wahoo
On one of Hunt’s best days — 26 fish with five weighing more than 80 pounds — all the bites came on green-and-blue lures. On another day, he caught 27 fish all on pink-and-yellow. “I mix it up,” Hunt says. “Some big lures, some small, bright colors and dark, a jet head and a flat head. If I find something works particularly well, I’ll switch half of my spread to match, but I always leave three of something different.”
Hunt always has a few Yo-Zuri Bonitas aboard. While these large lures sometimes twist hooks out of fish, he’s seen days where they’re the only lures that work, trolled from his two short lines.
On days when he can’t seem to catch a break, Hunt pulls out his special lure bag “with the most obnoxious, crazy color combinations you’ve ever seen,” he says. “Maybe it’s more mental, to give me confidence in my spread again. When I’m second-guessing what I have in the water, I never seem to catch as many fish.”
Not So Fast
“I’ve caught a lot of wahoo at 9 or 10 knots, and I’ve got a much better chance of catching dolphin, tuna and billfish,” says Capt. Billy Black, who runs the charter boat El Viejo out of the Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort and Marina in Bimini, Bahamas.
Black puts four lure-and-bait combinations out on the surface, and then sets two lines deep right off the transom for wahoo. “I like wahoo belly strips. They’re tough and last a long time,” Black says. He rigs these behind a Billy Black series lure from Bob Schneider Lures using a pair of 10/0 double-strength J hooks and about a foot of No. 12 wire. Twenty-eight feet of 300-pound mono connects the lure to a 24- or 32-ounce trolling lead, which is connected to his main line.