THE OFFSHORE LIFE IN ANY WATERS
As told by Capt. Charley Bartholomay, a 25-year pro tournament fishing captain and Yacht Broker at Sovereign Marine in Stuart, FL.
Late October is a time of year that all Floridians embrace with open arms, and nowhere is this excitement more evident than in the boating and fishing community. The hurricane season has wound down, ocean temperatures have started to cool, and Florida anglers know prime time fishing is just around the corner.
Leading the list for November fishing adventures is a quick trip to the other side of the Gulf Stream in search of blue water game, primarily Wahoo. Nicknamed the ‘Tiger of the Ocean,’ the Wahoo is a brilliantly striped razor-toothed critter noted for its unequaled bursts of speed on the strike and for the long high speed runs that follow on the hookup.
East of the Gulf Stream, the western Bahamas provide some of the best Wahoo fishing on the planet. The species is widely distributed throughout the Bahamian chain on both the Little and Great Bahamian banks. However, the western edges of the banks from Cat Cay and Bimini northward to Matanilla Light at the northwest corner of the Little Bank, provide some of the best Wahoo action this time of year.
The banks drop off quickly on the western edges, and in most conditions you should concentrate your fishing in depths between 180 and 500 feet. Ideally, you will be working a rip, color change, or possibly a grass line in that water column. Look for healthy reef structure with good breaks for tidal water movement; White Sand Ridge and Memory Rock are two such areas that consistently produce fish.
Wahoo are taken on both natural baits like Mullet and Ballyhoo, and can also be caught using artificial lures. My log book would favor the natural baits over lures, but many have found high speed trolling to be an effective way of locating fish stocks, and then switching over to more consistently producing natural rigged presentations.
Wahoo like a deep line. Whether by the use of a trolling lead or a planer, get those flat lines under the water. Your deepest running line should be closest to the back of the boat, with the other deep line shallower and farther back to allow you to turn and work an area without creating a tangle or crossover. Your outrigger lines will be surface running as usual to provide some presentation to Dolphin and Billfish. Wire lines work well also, but in all cases you will want to rig with a long monofilament leader of sufficient test between your lead or planer, and the bait; 100 pound test fluorocarbon of at least 30-40 feet would be my leader recommendation.
The bait proper would be a double hooked Mullet or medium sized Ballyhoo rigged with #7 or #8 leader wire. Blue and white, red and black, purple, orange and black are all good skirt or sea witch combinations that can be slid down the wire on top of the bait itself.
Wahoo do not have a great deal of hooking area within those dentures compared to Dolphin and Billfish, and when they get near the boat they are prone to throw their gills wide open along with the hooks. Be patient when leading a Wahoo to the gaff, and NEVER lift his head out of the water or you will soon find your glove hand holding on to nothing but air.
These are spectacular gamefish on a rod and reel and you will find yourself mesmerized by their quickness and power. If that weren’t enough to make them exciting to fish for, their food quality whether grilled, baked or even sashimi is second to none.
November is definitely Wahoo time on the ‘other side,’ so pick your days and plan for a quick trip to the western Bahamas. There will be plenty of blue water action and the bottom fishing for snapper and grouper never disappoints. Destinations like Old Bahama Bay and Blue Marlin Cove at West End Grand Bahama, offer fuel, dockage, restaurants, customs and accommodations.
West End…Where to Stay?
Combining Bahamian resort charm and island luxury, Old Bahama Bay Resort & Marina is an all-suite beachfront resort accompanied by a 72-slip marina and a private airport with a 6,000 ft. paved runway. Old Bahama Bay is also an official Bahamas Port of Entry with on-site customs and immigration services for arrival by air or sea.
Situated directly on the beach on the western-most tip of Grand Bahama Island, Old Bahama Bay is just 56 miles due east from Palm Beach, Florida. The resort has a barefoot ambiance with an out-island remote feel, as well as a very good full service gourmet restaurant.
GPS Coordinates - 26° 42.189' N and 78° 59.872' W
West End…Where To Eat?
The West End is the oldest settlement on Grand Bahama Island. One of the best truly local eateries in the West End is a Conch shack call Shebo’s, where you must try the conch salad…a mix of fresh conch meat, citrus, and spices with chopped onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Another local Shebo’s favorite is pickled conch. Bahamians take their conch very seriously and sure know how to put a spin on conch in the best way. If you ignore everything else, try the conch.
Top right: Two Wahoo in the 80-pound class caught by 2006 Regulator 29 Owner Bob DeSantis out of Rosie’s near Walkers Cay, Bahamas.
Bottom left: Bob DeSantis’ 2006 Regulator 29.