Wahoo bite drawing anglers from all around

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Wahoo is exactly what many offshore anglers in the Cape Fear area have been saying recently, as the prized game fish has been biting as well as seen in years. Several local anglers, captains and bait shops have reported great results for wahoo fishers in recent months.

“Wahoo bite has been fired up,” said Matt Best, of Bluewater Yacht Sales, who is also a captain-for-hire. “There’s a big population now for a big class of fish.”

The wahoo bite hasn’t just been prevalent, also been sizeable. While wahoo catches are generally in the 40-60 pound range, several outings have brought back fish nearing 100 pounds, and sometimes more.

“Usually, on the high side, they’re 50 to 60 pounds. We don’t get to see a lot in the 100s.” said Best, drawing from nearly two decades of local fishing experience.  “They’re plentiful and they’re a lot of fun to catch. They’re king mackerels on steroids.”

Marshall Davis of Tex’s Tackle and Bait in Wilmington said that best wahoo bite has typically been on the shallow side of the Gulf Stream.

“Temperature plays a huge role,” Davis said. “Typically, you’re looking for around the 70s.”

Tourists from the Ukraine show off the 97-pound wahoo caught in late January. Photo courtesy of Jessie Gawlik.

Davis said best baits to catch wahoo are lures, high-speed lures or medium-sized ballyhoos, dressed with sea witches.

There are different views on why wahoo are biting more prevalently this winter. Warmer temperatures are one indicator, several said, but other factors may also be playing a role.

“It’s awesome right now. It’s got to be because of the currents,” said Jessie Gawlik of Ocean Stinger Charters.

Davis noted that one excursion of five anglers reached its two-wahoo limit in less than two hours.

While water temperatures near the shore have gotten down to the 50s, the temperature at the gulfstream is still in the low 70s.

“Fish will stay into the warmer water,” Gawlik said.

To catch wahoo, anglers must travel to the Atlantic Gulf Stream, a trip of about 55 miles, taking up to two hours to reach. Because of that, most anglers prefer fair weather days before making the long trip.

The prime fishing is attracting sport fishermen from all around, Gawlik said. Three anglers from the Ukraine booked their early February trip last October, where they caught a 97-pound wahoo. Gawlik also hosted a pair from China.

“At this time of year, especially February and March, people come from all over the world to catch these things,” Gawlik said.

Those that do catch wahoo are in for a delicious treat, Best said, noting that the meat can be used in several dishes, including sashimi.

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