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Winter Wahoo in the Northern gulf of Mexico
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Winter Wahoo in the Northern gulf of Mexico

If you have checked into a social media app over the last two months, you will have seen that there has been a great number of wahoo being caught in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. I was even grabbing coffee at a local shop the other day and there was a group of spearfishermen from Tampa Bay that had traveled to Destin to spend three days chasing wahoo. It is the first time since being in the saltwater fishing scene that I have seen a bite as hot as this and so I reached out to Tom Hilton from Hilton’s Realtime Navigator to get his perspective on why it has been so great. Here it is: 

“The three SST images (that are below) show the following: the top 2 images are the same image from last Saturday, January 7, 2023. The top image is based on a custom temp range of 68 to 78 degrees which shows very warm water this time of year flowing through the area around the FADs and beyond.  Note the 4-5 degree temp break just offshore of the Elbow and extending westward – nice!  If there is any sargassum out there, there is a great chance that this will be a really nice weedline.  Additionally, this tempbreak runs from about 1,200’ depth westward and onto the shelf into depths as shallow as 150’ – fantastic conditions for wahoo!   I have the (Hilton’s Realtime Navigator) Nav Tool positioned just east of the FADs which shows the latitude/longitude position, distance and bearing from the Destin farewell buoy, depth, and the temperature of 77.5 degrees F.  This is warm enough to catch all kinds of pelagics including Dorado, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Tuna, and Wahoo. If you take a step back on the image on the site you will see that this warm water is a backflow eddy from the warm core eddy down south, bringing the warmer, bluer water inshore and into our fishing grounds.


The second SST image is the same shot as before, but tweaked down from 68-78 to 75-78, which dissects the warm water mass even more where you see the current streams and visualize how the currents are flowing through the area. The primary break is the one mentioned above near the Elbow, but this image shows some secondary breaks indicating current and possible congregation of flotsam, sargassum, and most importantly bait.  Having multiple custom SST shots based on different game plans is important to have at your disposal while out there – this allows you to navigate on the image most detailed for your game plan at the moment and allows you to slide over and fish productive water without having to travel great distances and maximizing your efficiencies while fishing.


The third SST image is from exactly one year prior; January 7, 2022 which shows that the water was quite a bit cooler last year as compared to right now (73.1 degrees).  This temp is still conducive to catching Wahoo and it would be interesting to hear how people did out there last year at this time – looks to me that the current is a bit stronger this year than last which could be the difference maker here.  Another interesting thing about going back in time on Hilton’s is that you will notice that 2 FADs were missing on that day last January AND you will notice the position of the drill ships and semi-submersibles on that day as well.  When logging your catches over time and looking back to see why you caught that fish on that day in days/months/years past, it’s an important learning tool to understand what the conditions were - I call it fishing in the rear view mirror.  If you were fishing a drill ship, for instance, that would play a major role in why you caught your fish there, on that day, so that is why we have structured the site to show you as accurate a picture as possible.


The next image shows the water color from this past weekend – beautiful, warm, blue water washing through the FADs in a westerly current.  You will notice the primary break is associated with a color change and the secondary breaks revealing current edges aligning with what we say on the 75-78 SST shot.”



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