When people think about Wahoo in the Florida Keys, they often think about high speed trolling or jigging under large floating debris miles offshore, typically while Dolphin Fishing in the late spring and summer. The wintertime, however, also presents some fantastic opportunities for anglers to land these highly prized, delicious, sushi-grade fish.
With a recent cold front moving into the Florida Keys cooling our waters to less than 70 degrees our Crews knew this change would likely draw Wahoo closer to shore as their food source swims to shallower waters. For our Mates, this means putting out more wire leaders while live baiting and kite fishing because Wahoo have razor-sharp teeth that would cut a Fluorocarbon leader with ease. Captain Marty Lewis of the Main Attraction was hopeful the new First Quarter Moon Phase this past Monday might help the bite and he seems to have been right! The Main Attraction crews experience paid off as they have been catching large Wahoo in depths between 130-180 feet all week.
These Wahoo were all caught while kite fishing with live baits, such as large pilchards and other large sized baitfish. The Main Attraction experienced an exciting moment when a school of Wahoo popped up and crashed their baits and hooked up. This was a treat for the clients and the crew as Wahoo are more often found swimming alone or in a pair. Once a wahoo is hooked, they will make a frantic high-speed run at nearly 50 MPH! After the initial run, it is important that the Angler fighting the fish winds as quickly as possible to keep the line very tight at all times. The Captain will keep the boat within range of the fish so the angler does not run out of line which means the angler must wind very fast when the Captain closes the gap so as to never allow slack. The force of that initial high-speed run that the Wahoo makes, can often open up the hole in their mouth made by the hook meaning any slack in the line could cause the hook to fall out of their mouth. Once the wahoo is gaffed and boated it is important for everyone to keep their hands clear of the dangerously razor-sharp teeth.
In the summer months, when our crews fish much further offshore in search of Dolphin Fish (Mahi), they like to keep a rod rigged with a wire leader and #7 circle hook just in case they get a chance to pitch to a Wahoo or other toothy fish that shows up. Typically, in the summertime, Wahoo are found hanging out under large debris that baitfish often hide under for protection from predators. In this scenario, our crews rig a colorful lure with a dead bait such as a brined ballyhoo or bonita strip and a wire leader. We have found that purple and black or red and purple lures work the best, however other colors will work too. The Captain then pulls the lures at high speed near the floater at speeds between 10 and 16 knots, if a Wahoo is under it, they will see the lure and chase it at high speed until they are hooked up. Sometimes the mate will put out the lure on a planer or a weighted lead drail that will pull the lure deeper instead of just below the surface. This can be an effective way to raise a Wahoo that’s in deeper water and get that coveted bite.
If you find Wahoo fishing as interesting as we do and would like to experience the Main Attraction way of doing it first-hand book an offshore fishing adventure with us today!