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Wahoo! (The Most Appropriately Named Fish in the World)

Every blue water fishing experience is exciting for me.  Getting out on the open ocean to tangle with big fish is certainly a treat—even a shock to the senses—because 90 percent of my fishing is focused on freshwater species.

But I have to admit, I have taken a particular shine to wahoo.  Part of that has to do with their lightning quickness.  Wahoo are one of the fastest fish in the ocean, and they can top 150 pounds in body weight.  Match that mass with velocity, and when a wahoo hits a bait with its razor-sharp teeth, the force created is unlike anything else.

Trolling for wahoo is also a unique game.  While the standard speed for trolling for many ocean game fish might be 7 knots, for wahoo, the boat captain will often kick it up a gear and cruise at nearly twice that speed, often weaving a serpentine pattern over an ocean drop-off, where depths vary from a couple hundred feet to over 1000.

The Straits of Florida and Gulf Stream are prime wahoo waters, particularly when the water is cooler in winter.  As for the rigs to use, every captain has his own favorites, but bright bubble skirts and rattle skirts, staggered at various lengths (150, 200, 250 feet) and depths is a smart approach.

The fight with even a smaller (30-pound) wahoo, is enough to wear you out.  But it’s worth every ounce of energy.  Wahoo also happen to be among the best tasting fish in the world.  I like mine grilled, with a simple sauce made from equal parts of green tomatillo salsa and light mayonnaise on the side.

If ever you get the opportunity to chase wahoo in the ocean, jump at it.  One take… one fight… and one wahoo dinner will cause the word to jump right out of your mouth.


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Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.