On The Prowl
Capt. Ray Rosher of Miss Britt Charters in Miami falls between Hunt and Black, trolling artificial lures, not bait, at 8 to 10 knots. In the winter months, Rosher anticipates catching wahoo when he finds a clean-water edge anywhere between 200 and 400 feet deep.
Even when far offshore sight-fishing for dolphin, Rosher often pulls three of his own Wahoo Magnets while searching, and gets both wahoo and dolphin bites. “Having those lures out attracts fish,” he says. “They jitter along the surface and then go under for a while. Dolphin will eat them and wahoo won’t bite through the cable.”
Rosher staggers two small- or medium-size lures fairly far behind the boat off his outriggers, using only the lead in the head of the lure to keep them underwater. “Five- or 10-pound dolphin will come up on a medium-size lure but won’t eat it,” he says. “We often pick them up with the small lure about 250 feet behind the boat as a shotgun.”
“Off Oregon Inlet, if I get three wahoo bites in a day, I’d call that a crazy wahoo bite,” says Mike Merritt, a freelance captain in North Carolina (firstname.lastname@example.org). “If I put wire out, dolphin will eat it, but the tuna won’t.” Instead, he often takes his chances with monofilament. “I hope it hooks in the corner of the jaw so it won’t bite through the mono.
“Wahoo are a structure-oriented fish. If I’m fishing a ledge or a wreck and there are a few around, I might put a bait behind an Ilander on wire,” Merritt says, typically on a planer to get it a few feet underwater. “Wahoo like a gaudy bait,” he says, so he picks his lure accordingly.
Wahoo range anywhere the water is warm — as far north as New York. Off Destin, Florida, Capt. Gary Jarvis trolls diving lures along weed lines. He targets wahoo on natural peaks or wrecks, or beneath debris offshore. “Live bait on downriggers works well,” Jarvis says. “Herring, Spanish sardines, blue runners — I put them down between 90 and 120 feet, and just bump an engine in and out of gear.”
Fishing from Port Aransas, Texas, Capt. Scott McCune finds wahoo on wrecks, oil rigs, weed lines and debris by trolling ballyhoo at 5 to 8 knots behind Ilanders on the surface, and setting a couple of diving lures deep. “Bigger isn’t necessarily better,” McCune says. “If things are slow on the surface, sometimes a 4- or 5-inch Rapala gets attention deep and gets all the fish fired up, not just wahoo.”
Based in San Diego, Capt. Barry Brightenburg catches wahoo south of the border in Cabo San Lucas and Magdalena Bay by slow-trolling diving lures by Yo-Zuri, Rapala and the like. “If a big long-range boat just came through or an area has been pressured by private boats, I’ll use smaller lures and lighter wire,” Brightenburg says.
But it seems the resourceful charter boat crews in South Florida have come up with the widest variety of tricks for enticing their clients to yell, “Wa-HOO!”