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Whopper wahoo in southeastern Bahamas

1/19/2006

  • Editor's note: "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" airs each Saltwater Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Episode 2, depicting the wahoo-fishing excursion below, debuts Sunday, Jan. 8. (This episode re-airs Jan. 14 at 6 a.m. ET and Jan. 8 at 6:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.) For more on George Poveromo, visit www.georgepoveromo.com.


    Wahoo are one of the fastest fish in the ocean, capable of bursts of speed nearing 50 mph.

    The impact that occurs when one strikes a bait trolled along at 10 knots — and the ensuing long and powerful run (big wahoo have been known to strip reels clean of 600 yards of line!) — make it one of the most sought after offshore game fish.

    And when it comes to targeting the world's largest wahoo, the attention focuses on the far-southeastern Bahamas — more specifically San Salvador, Cat Island and Rum Cay.

    I have fished for wahoo in these waters, with impressive results.

    Two seasons ago, while shooting an episode for my TV show — "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing," which airs at ----- on ESPN2 — I caught a near-record 143-pound, 3-ounce wahoo off San Salvador.

    That fish, which nearly stripped a reel spooled with 600 yards of 80-pound line, measured 61/2 feet and had a girth of 36 inches. (By comparison, I'm 6 feet tall and have a 36-inch waistline.) A fiberglass replica of that monster wahoo adorns the pool patio area of my home.

    My latest venture to the waters of the giant wahoo was last spring, when I joined friend Trey Rhyne and his Over Under Adventures operation at Rum Cay. Over Under Adventures specializes in big game-fishing trips throughout the southeastern reaches of the Bahamas, complete with private air service to make getting there — and back — a breeze.

    Our plan was not to take advantage of the quality fishing around Rum Cay, but to travel to the fabled Diana Bank — an underwater mountain that rises to within 40 feet of the surface from 5,000-plus-foot depths.

    Diana Bank is about 6 miles long and a little more than 3 miles wide. It rests about 65 miles from Rum Cay.

    Many of the stories from those who had fished around the remote Bank are awe-inspiring. I know anglers who have had 80-pound-class reels stripped clean by monster wahoo and world-record-class fish that were mauled by sharks.

    Of course, there are victory stories too, such as 100-pound wahoo, 20- to 30-wahoo tides, huge dolphin and blue marlin. I couldn't wait to get there.

    We boarded a 54-foot Bertram at Rum Cay mid-morning and cruised 54 miles down to Bird Rock, which is at the tip of Crooked Island. At Bird Rock, we put out a spread of trolled baits and worked our way down to the southern end of the Island.

    We then anchored overnight off Albert Town on Long Cay, where we would be a mere 21 miles from Diana Bank for our morning assault.

    Regardless if they're pursued in the Bahamas or along the coastal United States, wahoo respond favorably to subsurface baits … that is, a bait that is trolled a foot or more beneath the surface will be more productive than one skipping along the top.

    Also, a bait trolled between 10 and 15 knots will usually get more strikes than a bait trolled between 5 and 10 knots.

    Our bait spread consisted of 32-ounce Bluewater Eagle and 16-ounce Bluewater TB2 lures rigged on 480-pound test, 49-strand cable leaders, and a big Yo-Zuri Bonita plug rigged on a 270-pound-test cable leader.

    The flat-line lures, including the Yo-Zuri plug, were each fished in conjunction with a 32-ounce trolling sinker. These baits tracked about 3 feet beneath the surface.

    We primarily trolled with two-speed reels filled with 80-pound line and matching stand-up rods. Each reel has a 30-foot-long, 100-pound-test wind-on leader.

    Heavy tackle is a must here, because it helps you land these wahoo faster (a must for getting your fish before the sharks do) and it's added insurance that you'll catch a monster wahoo — should you hook one.

    Wahoo also feed aggressively at the change of the tide, and we were at the right spot along Diana Bank at the right time. The first strike came on a flat line. I picked up the rod and was fast onto our first wahoo. A short time later, we decked a 52-pounder.

    It wasn't long after the baits went back out that we had a doubleheader. We pulled the hooks on one, but did manage to land a 60-pounder. Shortly after that, the big Yo-Zuri Bonita plug got clobbered. The big fish kept taking line. Unfortunately, the hooks pulled on what may have been the biggest wahoo of the trip.

    Our hot morning bite continued, and we missed a couple of fish and boated a couple of others. At one point we had five rods go down simultaneously, with two fish solidly hooked.

    I thought my hook had pulled, only to discover it had broken off in the jaws of the fish. Rhyne remained tight to his fish. Looking at the amount of line leaving the reel, he had a big wahoo. After a few very impressive runs, we boated the 77-pounder.

    Our journey to the fabled Diana Bank certainly didn't disappoint.

    The seas were nearly flat calm, and the bite that morning was clearly "on."

    Prime time for wahoo here is between November and April. But wahoo aren't the only game fish migrating past the Bank. Dolphin begin showing in numbers around March or April, with the yellowfin tuna appearing in March. A blue marlin is possible at any time, although the chances of catching one increase dramatically in April and May.

    Needless to say, I'm already planning another exotic offshore trolling expedition down into the far southeastern reaches of the Bahamas. The fish are here … big ones, too! All you need to do is get here.

    Contact Over Under Adventures at 305-852-8015 or its Web site.


    "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" airs each Saltwater Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Episode 1, depicting the wahoo fishing excursion below, debuts Sunday, Jan. 8. (This episode re-airs Jan. 14 at 6 a.m. ET and Jan. 8 at 6:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.) For more on George Poveromo, visit www.georgepoveromo.com.