The Great Wahoo Vortex of 2014

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The reports were coming in daily and at times, by the minute as the Great Wahoo Vortex Of 2014 unfolded. It’s normal for the Florida Keys and Key West to experience an uptick in winter wahoo catches but this was an anomoly. To catch more than one wahoo in an outing is rare but when spearfishermen are limiting out (2 per angler) with as many as five divers getting wet, it’s staggering. The largest wahoo in the spearfishing crowd was a beast weighing in at 79 lbs. taken by Key Wester, Roberto Ruiz, with a close second at 76 lbs. by another Key West bluewater free diver, Ben Shepardson. The offshore charter fleet was buzzing with excitement as well. They were producing limits for their anglers on occasion with at least one wahoo being a common occurrence during their trips. Recreational anglers weren’t left out by any means, and celebrated right alongside the professionals, a village wahoo celebration for sure. WC-wahoo-jan-2014-013Here at FishMonster Magazine it is a common occurrence to answer questions about regulations, but when asked about wahoo limits we take notice. Here are some of the conditions that prevailed during the Great Wahoo Vortex of 2014:
  1. Record cold temperatures for most of the USA and a drop in water temperatures throughout the Florida Keys accompanied by a prevailing eastbound current.
  2. A full moon known as the “Full Wolf Moon” at it’s peak during the major flow of incoming wahoo catch reports. Wahoo were caught in big numbers 5 days before and 5 days after.
  3. Massive schools of blackfin tuna arriving west of Key West where multiple landings per vessel were common. Sometimes as many as ten wahoo for the day tight to the tuna schools. Wahoo eat tuna.
  4. A lack of dolphin (mahi mahi) leaving more anglers and charter vessels to concentrate on wahoo.
  5. The information pipeline alerted many anglers through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; adding fuel to the fire. Most everyone knew the bite was on and did what they could to partake in the once in a lifetime event now known as the Great Wahoo Vortex of 2014.
1016197_10152162959005419_1447904718_nInteresting Wahoo Facts, courtesy of MyFWC.com:
  • Wahoo are related to mackerels and are members of the fish family Scombridae.
  • Wahoo live in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. During the summer, they may migrate into temperate waters.
  • According to the International Game Fish Association, the official record (http://www.igfa.org) for the largest wahoo caught on hook and line is 158.5 lb (71.9 kg). However, uncertified reports indicate wahoo may grow as large as 200 lb (91 kg) or more.
  • Wahoo tend to be solitary, but they are occasionally found in small, loose schools.
  • Wahoo is a prized gamefish due to its speed, fighting qualities and excellent flavor.
  • Wahoo are among the fastest pelagic species (reaching speeds up to 60 mph) and are capable of capturing a wide range of prey, including various fish and squid.
  • Wahoo are thought to be relatively fast growing. In one study, a wahoo that was tagged, released and recovered ten months later had grown around 22 pounds in less than a year-from 11 lb (5 kg) to 33 lb (15 kg).
  • The giant stomach worm (Hirudinella ventricosa) is commonly found in wahoo stomachs, but the worm does not affect the portion of the fish eaten by humans.
  • Wahoo have been included in the FWC-FWRI Mercury Program, which investigates total mercury levels in the muscle tissue of various Florida fishes. The Florida Department of Health (http://www.doh.state.fl.us/) has issued a health advisory for wahoo in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay regions.
  • Wahoo are currently the topic of much scientific research in Florida. Scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute are studying wahoo biology. Scientists at Florida Atlantic University are conducting a genetic study to investigate the relationship between individual wahoo from different parts of the world.
  • More information is available at MyFWC.com, SAFMC.net and Gulfcouncil.org.
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