There is no fish that I love catching more than a cobalt-blue striped meat missile aptly named a wahoo - which was brought on by their blistering runs after they take a bait and what we believe is the sound anglers made when they hooked up to one. If you have ever caught one, you definitely know the feeling of watching hundreds of yards of line peel off at a pace that would melt the skin off your fingertip if you were to touch the spool.
These wahoo make their way into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico in late spring and hang around until well after the summer has ended. We are spoiled by our fishery here as there have been fish caught less than a mile offshore, but the majority of the fish are typically caught in the 15-to-30 mile range. This is the perfect distance for small boats under 25 feet to target these breathtaking pelagic species.
The main thing for these small boats to focus on is picking a day where the waves calm down so much that you cannot tell where earth ends and heaven begins. You know, those days where you can peer over the side of your boat and see your reflection as if you were looking into a mirror in your own bathroom. We want to take a deep dive into this topic and answer questions such as:
How to read the weather in the Gulf of Mexico and pick the right day to go fishing?
What kind of tackle will I need to catch a wahoo?
What lures should I use to catch a wahoo?
What kind of safety equipment should I have on my small boat when going offshore?
You know your boat is reliable and now you have picked an incredible weather window to go chase wahoo in your small boat. Use the checklist below to ensure you have all the things you will need to go fishing. If you are planning on high speed trolling (HST), we have marked these items with an asterisk. If you are not planning on that, just ignore those pieces of equipment.
(5) Offshore Trolling Set-Ups size 30 or bigger
(8) Ball-Bearing Snap Swivels for Trolling Set-Ups + extras
(2) Packs of Frozen Ballyhoo, preferably medium or select baitmaster brand
(5) Ilander Ballyhoo Rigs, with 3 blue/white, 1 purple/black and 1 pink/white rigged with a 8/0 Mustad hook and 150# Fluorocarbon
(2) Diving Plugs, either Nomads or Rapala rigged with 150# fluorocarbon
(2) Bonitas, either YoZuri or Nomad rigged with 150# fluorocarbon
(1) Tackle Box with extra ballyhoo hooks, 150# fluorocarbon, and crimps
(1) Pair of Crimpers
(1) Pair of Pliers, Preferably SORD Titanium Pliers
(2) Shimano Tiagra 50W or Bigger Trolling Setups **
(2) 32oz HST weights **
(2) HST Shock Leaders **
(2) HST Lures **
You now have your boat ready and required safety gear picked out, you have picked your weather day lined up, and all the tackle is in the truck ready to roll out in the morning, and you have picked the spots that you want to troll at. The last thing we like to do for a peace of mind is to grab our external safety device, a Garmin InReach, that will allow us to send satellite text messages to our loved ones back on land. This device also has a SOS function, in case you need immediate help, and something has gone wrong that your VHF radio is not working.
Now you are ready to get out there and chase the white sashimi of the sea. Check back with us, or subscribe to our email list below for our article next week about where you should start wahoo fishing and how to find them.