October 22, 2013
What's better than turkey, football and relatives you haven't seen all year? Easy answer: wahoo, high-speed trolling and a boat only big enough for six of your best friends or family.
This year, plan on Thanksgiving in the Bahamas during peak wahoo time. “It doesn't get any better than November and December, if you want a shot at catching a wahoo, ” says Florida Sportsman contributor and radio host Capt. George LaBonte. “November and December are best for fishing the westside of the [Bahama] bank and January and February are best for fishing the eastside [The Abacos].”
Catching wahoo is not too unlike going for other pelagic fish, except for the razors just inside their lips. Adding singlestrand stainless steel or cable leaders is necessary. Aside from that, you can catch them trolling a traditional five- or seven-bait trolling spread. Or, you can go the route of many veteran wahoo anglers and high-speed troll.
“I primarily fish two bent butt 50s spooled with 60-pound stainless steel wire line clipped directly to a 48-ounce trolling weight,” explained LaBonte. “That's followed by a 3-foot section of cable, clipped to 15-foot section of 200-pound shock leader which finally is clipped to a 3-foot wire or cable leader attached to my lure. I sometimes add a couple of flat lines using braided line and 16-ounce trolling weights. I fish these baits way back. My go-to lure more often than not is the Yo-Zuri Bonita, but I also troll long bullet-headed lures as well.”
Finding fish is easiest when you troll fast. No one really knows where you'll find wahoo on any given day. The best option is to cover as much ground as possible. “I troll at 14 to 17 knots and, depending on the tide, fish between 85 and 350 feet,” said LaBonte. “A lot of people only fish the outgoing tide, but if you're in the Bahamas and the tide's going in, you can still catch more fish with your lures in the water than sitting on the dock. In fact, that's when I go in shallower, 80 to 200 feet, and fish green water. I may catch a few barracuda but I also catch a lot of wahoo.”
Ideally, you want to be fishing the outgoing tide which is creating fish-gathering rips and edges in the 300-foot range. “I look for contours in the shelf where the bottom is running east and west,” said LaBonte. “These aberrations in the north-south-running wall off the bank, similar to one you'll find just south of Memory Rock, need to be worked over carefully.”
An Old Bahama porch provides spectacular views on any morning, but especially so when reading emails from your friends that are having to spend time holiday shopping and eating dry turkey.
Where to stay to cook your Thanksgiving Day wahoo? There are plenty of marinas and hotels in all of the Bahamas ports of entry. In the event you have to bring an in-law who resisted a little to ditching the turkey, your problems will be solved when they open the door to their oceanfront suite in Old Bahama Bay, West End, Bahamas (www.oldbahamabay.com).
West End is dead center of wahoo ally, 25 miles west of Freeport and 16 miles south of Memory Rock. You can begin trolling in either direction literally minutes from clearing the inlet.
To Feed Your More Competitive Side
If what you're after is a contest, a chance to show you're the king of the island, Bimini's Wahoo Smackdown III may be just the thing you're itching for. Early registration has boats from 27 to 65 feet entered from up and down the east coast. Tournament director Paul Cameron anticipates over 30 boats and 150 anglers to attend the event slated for November 21-23, 2013.
“The fish have already arrived, and the weather patterns are favorable. Most of the fish are being caught right now north of here around Isaacs and south near Cat Cay,” said Cameron, who frequently provides updates on Bahamas fishing on the FS Forum under the name Complete.
The entry fee is $1,250 (covers four; $100 for each additional angler) but you have the chance at winning thousands of dollars (based on 20 boats entering). First place prize is $5,000, followed by $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. Largest catch prize is $2,500. “Crews will be fed three full first-class dinners and cocktails,” said Cameron. “In addition, goody bags will include custom tee shirts for all participants, sponsored lures and other gifts. Base pay out will be $10,000 with a mountain of other prizes and trophies to go with it.”
For questions, check with Paul directly on the Florida Sportsman Forum thread in the Tropical Sportsman section or call him on his cell phone, (561) 301-6309.
For all other information, including signing up, log on to: www.biggameclubbimini.com