The title of this month’s article describes Bahamas fishing at its best. Throughout the Bahama chain, wahoo can be found in great numbers in the months of December, January and February.
Not many places on earth will you find these concentrations of these lightning fast fish. They are here in big numbers, and in big sizes. It is not uncommon for a day’s take that one ends up with double-digit catches on good-sized wahoo.
In my particular situation, the weather plays a big role in fishing the Bahamas at this time of year. Brisk north, northwest and northeast winds bring high seas that make the crossing to the islands difficult from my home port in Islamorada. With every cold front, it seems these fish bite off the charts. But with that, are a few days of wind that can keep you from your plans due to high seas.
Chub Cay, or a popular area for fishing known as “The Pocket”, are often sheltered a bit from the north and northeast winds and provide great action for wahoo most of the winter. The fishing here is exceptional most of the time for these and a host of other pelagics, due to the ocean topography and currents rich in nutrients.
Cay Sal is another area that gets consistent action throughout the winter. It is a close jog from the Florida Keys, if not for the requirement to check in with Customs in Bimini or Cat, then proceed the nearly 90 to 150-mile trek to fish it. As I have written extensively prior of South Florida and Keys fishermen, those taking their chances fishing Cay Sal without checking in and obtaining legal entry into the Bahamas and fishing licenses are breaking the law. This is on BOTH sides--the US of legal exit and the Bahamas of legal entry, plus Bahamian licenses.
If you want to fish Cay Sal, do it LEGALLY by checking in in Cat, and then fishing towards Cay Sal high speed. You will be amazed at the quality and quantity of fish you catch; more than likely exceeding your allowed limits of both exit and entry into the US, before even getting to Cay Sal.
I avoid the longer trip to Chub and the issues of Cay Sal and prefer to have Bimini my wahoo homebase. From here, I can fish down towards Cay Sal along Wahoo Highway, fishing both into, and following the current of, the Gulfstream. Often while fishing this way, I catch anything from my targeted fish, wahoo, to mahi, salifish and the occasional tuna.
If I decide to fish the Northwest Passage, I cut across south of the Gingerbreads and then hug the large expanse of the shallow bank all the way back to Bimini. One can do a bit of great bottom fishing off the Gingerbreads and its expansive area to fish. This makes for a full 12-14 hour day of extreme fishing that my clients, at times, opt for. Here, not only is wahoo on the menu, but big grouper, yellowtail and mutton snapper. This fishing mixes it up a bit as my clients catch bottom fish most of the day and then we head back and return by dark fishing both times for wahoo--the early morning and late afternoon bite, and bottom fish during the day.
The fishing techniques I employ for wahoo are high-speed trolling from 10-18 knots, chunking, live bait fishing and drift fishing. The techniques have been discussed at length on previous FishMonster Wahoo articles, but will be touched upon briefly here.
High-speed trolling means higher speeds than trolling for marlin or mahi and tuna. Here, speeds are 10-18 knots. I suggest a 3-4 rod set-up. A port, starboard and center rod, and center deep rod. I space them out a various lengths and depths to cover the water column and horizontal boat wake. I highly recommend 80 to 130 wide reels on bent butt rods, just due to withstand the strike of the big wahoo you can catch. Remember you are going 10-18 knots and the strike of a 70-100 pound wahoo will put a HUGE amount of stress on your line, rod and reel--hence the big-boy tackle.
Chunking involves chumming likely wahoo areas with big chunks of mackerel, speedos or bonito, and then deploying and drifting wire rigs with sturdy hooks.
If you have never experienced wahoo fishing, the first charter you take in a great wahoo area will keep you coming back every year, as a few of my clients do. The strike hit is one of the most exhilarating and heart pumping runs of all the pelagics, including my favorite, “The Lady in the Blue Dress”, the blue marlin, of which will be around the corner this spring! More on her later...
Comments will be approved before showing up.