Winter Wahoo

By Nathan & Ted Miller

The winter migration of wahoo is in full swing off our First Coast in the month of February.
Anglers from around the country come to fish our waters as we have some of the best wahoo action around.

Beginning around 120 feet of water out to the ledge, large schools of wahoo can be targeted either slow trolling skirted ballyhoo or trolling artificial lures at high speeds (12 – 18 knots).
If the weather cooperates long enough to get out there, limits of two fish per angler per day can easily be obtained. There is no size limit on wahoo.
One reason anglers come from afar to the First Coast this time of year is the quantity of fish we have.

A second reason is the quality.

Andrew Gardner with nice-sized wahoo

Andrew Gardner with nice-sized wahoo

It is not uncommon to catch multiple fish in the 50 pound range. And fish upwards of 60 or 70 pounds can be caught as well.
Wahoo are targeted south of our area too, off places like Stuart, West Palm Beach and the Florida Keys. Although wahoo are common down there, it is hard pressed to find the numbers and sizes consistent to what we have here.

One former charter captain explained his theory. As the fish continue their southerly migration, the larger fish may eventually take a more easterly track and cut over to Bahamian waters off areas like Walkers, Spanish and Elbow Cay. Many of the smaller fish may continue south along the Florida coast ending up in South Florida.

Another difference in our wahoo fishery is the distance one must travel to target them. South Florida benefits from the short distance between their coast and the Gulf Stream, just a few miles. The steam off Jacksonville is roughly 60 miles away, so weather forecasts need to be watched closely.

Even if the weather the evening before or the day of fishing seems to be favorable, knowing the forecast later in the day when you are coming in is just as important. The boat run can take a few hours, and running home in building seas can be just as dangerous as fishing in them.

Fishing tournaments originate and thrive in areas where specific fish are targeted successfully, so a relatively new wahoo tournament growing in popularity in Jacksonville is no surprise.
The North East Florida Wahoo Shootout originated several years ago and seems to be growing year after year. The tournament runs from Saturday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Apr. 6. For more information, visit http://www.wahooshootout.com

Gary Creed and Pete Woodall

Gray Creed and Pete Woodall

Fresh fish is one of our favorite meals to prepare for our families at home. And fresh wahoo is at the top of our list. Whether it is grilled, fried, sauted, sashimi style or prepared to another newly-found recipe online, we always try to make the entire experience family-fun in the preparation as well as in the consumption.
Stay safe, and good luck!

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