December 09, 2020
Meet a Northeast Florida Wahoo Fishing Maestro.
Jacksonville-based Saltwater Challenge captain Tim Altman is lagging behind at 20 knots. His trolling weights weigh 6 pounds. Its lures weigh 4 pounds. The giant wahoo is his target, and he’s very good at his game.
Tim targets wahoo year round, but December through April is his favorite season. “Let it get so cold that all the coastal water on the 28 fathom ledge is below 70 degrees and the large ledge that marks the start of the continental shelf will be magical,” Tim said. “Let the temperature get to 70 degrees on the beach and they’re likely to be anywhere.”
“I’ll let the technology tell me where to fish using the Roffs fishing satellite charts, and if I have to split the day, I’ll let the solunar tables tell me when,” he added.
Keep in mind that trolling at 20 knots for 8 hours covers an incredible 160 miles. Tim reiterates the importance of organizing your day.
“In fact, I have kept records of what time the wahoo is likely to bite in particular places. There is nothing like a school of blue runners to make me drag a spot. Apart from the obvious bait on the surface, we are moving from a proven bottom structure to a more extensive bottom structure. The anglers make the best new crew for me. Find me a big school of beeliners in 70 degree water and I’ll show you a big wahoo.
High speed wahoo fishing requires specialized equipment. The goal is to keep your bait well below the surface at 20 knots. This requires a braid or line of Monel yarn. It also requires the best of swivels, crimps, friction buckles and other connections. Tim fishes a 130-pound braid at a weight of 36 to 96 ounces. It is also important to put yarn at each end of the weights as the wahoo often bites off the weight. Next is a 30 foot 300 pound mono leader to a large straight lure (usually a steel head), with a 900 pound cable between its two hooks. The goal is that your 80-pound curvy butt setup doesn’t have a weak spot that can’t withstand the violent collision of the wahoo and the 20-knot decoy.
Asking Tim why he thought he caught more wahoo at 20 knots was a laughing matter. “We don’t catch wahoo anymore. We just avoid more amberjack, barracuda and other fish. We had some big mahi hits at 20 knots at times, but that’s rare. Look, if you shoot mullet or ballhoo at the places we fish, you’ll stay plugged in until you run out of leaders. Don’t look for a lot of giant wahoo in your catch. ”
Tim says his team are doing better than most when it comes to the end of the game.
“Getting stung is the easy part. Getting the hooks to stay in a wahoo’s mouth after it hits it at 20 knots is the hardest part. First of all, don’t slow down too much. Imagine his mouth is torn and you have to keep the hook from falling. This means that you have to bring him in regularly and always under pressure. ” FS
First publication of Florida Sportsman magazine in April 2018