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High Speed Wahoo Tactics

80-pound wahoo caught off of Jacksonville.

Think there aren't big wahoo lurking around Northeast Florida in the winter? Think again: During the 2013 Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout, Corey Maire's team Florida Girl weighed in three wahoo for an aggregate of 193.20 pounds, topped off by an 83.22-pounder.

What was Florida Girl's strategy? Corey Maire demands a constant 16.5-knot trolling speed, and trolls in a straight line. His boat is a 31-foot Contender center console. Last spring, the team shed C&HMr. Big and American Ex-press lures, as well as a lure handcrafted by team member Adrian Hellman. Their spread involved five lures set at 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250 feet. The two short lures, 50 and 100 feet, are trolled from one side and the 150 and 200 feet lures are trolled from the other side of the boat. The long 250 feet lure is trolled in the middle of the spread as a shotgun lure. Drags are set at 20 pounds. Importantly, Maire and his crew carry spare rods rigged with the preferred lures. They can immediately replace rods when a wahoo is caught and is either hooked deep or has damaged the lure. All reels have lines marked with colored tape so that the lure can be set in the spread at the same distance.

The two short lures are rigged with 64-ounce trolling weights, while the three long lures are rigged with 32-ounce troll- ing weights. Terminal tackle begins with a 300-pound-test stainless ball bearing snap swivel attached to the tag end of 130-pound-test hollow core braid fishing line. Next, a 24-foot section of 300-pound monofilament leader is run from the snap swivel to the trolling weight. A 6-foot section of 275-pound wire cable is then rigged from the trolling weight to the lure. A 1-foot section of 900-pound cable with three rigging beads is then rigged from the leader cable through the lure and to a pair of 10/0 Mustad 7691 stainless steel hooks. The hooks are also wrapped to the cable with 3M electrical tape so that the lure trolls perfectly straight at high speeds.Some of the more productive skirt colors include black-and-green, blue-and- white, pink-and-white and purple-and-black.

High-speed lures and accessories flank a 32-ounce trolling weight.

Once a wahoo is hooked up, back down the trolling speed to 4 or 5 knots, while steering the boat slightly to the side the wahoo is running on. After a moment or two, clear the

remaining trolling lures. While handling cable, trolling weights and gaffing a wild wahoo, use a good pair of fishing gloves and an extra measure of caution.

Steve Grant of C&H Lures has custom rigged hundreds of the company's high- speed lures. He said the most popular high-speed wahoo lures o Northeast Florida include the Mr. Big and Wahoo Whack- er XL. Grant is also an accomplished angler.

“High-speed trolling for wahoo provides a better hookup ratio and at the same time discourages other species from striking your lures targeted for trophy wahoo,” said Grant. “You can also cover a lot more water when searching for a good wahoo bite.”

During a recent day of high-speed trolling, Grant, Dave Tennyson, Charles Erickson and JeStan enjoyed a banner day by Jacksonville standards. “We boated seven wahoo from 48 to 80 pounds,” Grant said. “It's critical to keep those lures just under the surface and in a straight track. Lures constantly changing directions make it di cult for fast-swim- ming wahoo to intercept them.” FS

First published Florida Sportsman February 2014

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