“You are driving past the fish.” is the first thing I said to one of my friends who was hell-bent on catching a Wahoo out of the Destin pass one summer. He had spent 99% of his time in waters over 250 feet deep, which was a 25+ nautical mile run each time he left the pass. Late one evening I received a text from him “you were right” as he shot me a picture of a lit up Wahoo that he had just caught in 230 feet of water on a DTX minnow.
The first thing in finding a spot to start trolling for Wahoo is to understand that deeper is not always better. You can be in over 300 feet of crystal clear blue water with a great upwelling, but the Wahoo will not be there. These speedsters are focused on two things in the summer: structure and bait — and if I had to take an educated guess, you probably know more places with structure and bait in under 250 feet of water than you do over 250 feet. These spots are also a lot closer to pass, making it an easy run on a flat calm day when the weather is just right for a small boat.
If you are like me, you already have a few spots in your head now that come to mind. They might be your go-to natural bottom fishing spot, or even a ledge that you have run over and have not checked out yet. These are the ideal places to start your search for a Wahoo. If you are not sure where to start, check out the picture below for a rough idea of places.
You will see the trend here is staying in the 150-250 feet of water. I personally prefer to fish on the shallower side of the ledges starting around the nipple and working Northeast until you hit the Southeast edge and then curving back up to troll over the swath of natural bottom straight south of Destin. This area holds an incredible number of Wahoo and the charter fleets routinely take advantage of this while traveling from spot to spot. You too can do this while bouncing between your snapper holes. The best way to prospect these areas would be to start high speed trolling when you hit around 130 feet of water and head out deeper while keeping your eyes peeled onto your bottom machine for structure and bait. Scanning the surface of the water for schools of Bonita and Blackfin will also be great places to start your search for your first Wahoo. If you find a place where structure and bait overlap, then focus on that area for a minimum of 30 minutes until you decide to move on to another spot.
Once you have hooked a Wahoo on the troll, take note of the moon phase, tide, and the time of the day in a journal. Wahoo will typically follow the same patterns year after year and you should be able to routinely get bites in the same spots that you did the previous years. Save these spots in your GPS and go fish them on similar moon phases and patterns to repeat your success.