Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 35

August 29 - September 4, 2002

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Dancing with Wahoo

Wahoo isn’t as revered among bluewater anglers as tuna or marlin, but it’s winning new fans every year. Now you can count me among them.

What’s not to love? Fast swimmers that make tackle-destroying strikes and drag-searing runs, wahoo are fierce top-predators that overwhelm prey — chiefly squid and small flying fishes, herring, juvenile mackerel and tuna — with blazing speed. You might think of them as the cheetahs of the seas, with the pack mentality of wolves. And man, do they taste good.

Fishing once again with Karl Roscher on Hurricane off the Hot Dog, a popular spot 40 miles or so off Ocean City, we twice witnessed their renowned speed as they peeled off line. Kurt Beall, a lifelong Annapolitan I’ve known forever, it seems, led the cast of characters aboard that day. Kurt runs Heroes, a watering hole in Annapolis that recently reopened after a fire this winter closed its doors.

As a thank-you to Rob Proctor, Tim McDowell, Chris Zenzen and David Ross, the crew that did a lot of the renovation, Kurt took them fishing. I tagged along as Karl’s mate and enjoyed the show. With the notable exception of Kurt and Tim and despite enough Dramamine coursing through their veins to float the Titanic, the six-foot chop was too much for the fellas to stomach.

Still, even in the throes of seasickness, with Dave, poor Dave, suffering worst, Chris, Rob and Dave all landed nice fish: two wahoo (best weighing in at an impressive 57 pounds) and a small schoolie yellowfin tuna.

When Karl expertly leadered the beautiful big wahoo within gaffing distance, I knew — since we had on a monofilament leader instead of wire — that I only had one shot at it. So I struck hard and lifted quickly. As we brought it over the side, the numerous dark vertical bands on the side flashed like brilliant neon. Because of their razor-sharp teeth, some offshore captains eschew the gaff for wahoo and simply drag it through the tuna door into the cooler. Others tag and release it, a practice that I plan more of with pelagics.

The fast-moving Gulf Stream serves as a major freeway for their migratory ventures, and during the summer months, they cruise the fishing grounds off Virginia and Maryland. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a chance to intercept them again.

Fish Are Biting
Loads of spot are on many lumps, structures and oyster bars, including Sandy Point, Matapeake and the West River #1 can. Sea trout fishing is becoming more reliable by the day and will only get better as water temperatures cool. Locate the pods of fish first, then try jigging Stingsilvers, feather jigs or Bombers on them.

Some mixed schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel are around, and fishermen targetting blues are fast trolling surgical hose. Those anglers after the Spanish macs are using Clarkes spoons and trolling at an even better clip.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly