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May 07, 2009

Fishing's Grand in the Northern Bahamas

Walker's Cay may have closed, but the Northern Bahamas still rock

Smith's son, Kyle, set out two bent-butt rods, one with wire line and the other with a PowerPro top shot over Dacron. He attached 50-ounce trolling weights and wire leaders rigged with red-and-black and black-and-purple Bob Schneider and C&H trolling lures over 90-degree, double J hooks. We tested the water, watching the lines. Dusk drove us home with an empty fish box but a still-urgent sense of impending excitement.

On our second day, the wind stayed sporty, giving us three- to five-foot seas in deeper water. We zigzagged from 250- out to 500-foot depths,  aiming toward Matanilla. Kyle Smith deployed the two heavy outfits and one lighter rig to run a surface bait. Both boats worked similar zones, trolling at speeds of 16 to 17 mph.

Tom Smith had checked a Bahamian tide table before crossing (www.tides.info); the high tide was scheduled to occur at 8:30 a.m. around Memory Rock. The wahoo bite typically turns on for the hour before and two hours after the high.

At 9:30, a small wahoo hit the purple-and-black C&H lure trolled   on the braided line. Though the 10-pounder barely bounced the rod tip, we felt a surge of confidence. Boat-to-boat commentary crackled over the VHF.

The 34 Open, captained by Jason Doyle, trolled inside of us and slightly faster as if the race to catch a bigger fish became a race between boats. Finally, an hour later, the 34 hailed us. "Hooked up!" they cheerfully chimed, dutifully notifying us so we could come alongside to shoot photographs. This time, the 30-pound 'hoo put a bend in the rod, and the 34's crew high-fived as Doyle lifted the gaffed fish over the gunwale.