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August 07, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Wahoo

This summer run of maximum mackerel lights up the mid-Atlantic

Plan B
A killer wahoo tactic is high-speed trolling with heavy skirts or big plugs, which replace Ilanders and SeaWitches. “High-speed trolling works best on glass-calm days when the fish are finicky,” Koci says. “When it is choppy, we have better luck trolling traditional Ilanders and SeaWitches.”

Koci also likes to drop vertical jigs to wahoo. “Anytime we encounter a float, we’ll start by dropping a 250-gram Williamson jig to prospect for wahoo.” He uses a short piece of seven-strand wire to attach the hook to the jig. “Catching wahoo from a dead boat with relatively light jigging gear is a whole nother world,” he says. The jarring strike, lightning run and tenacious battle prove again and again how this fish got its name. Koci laughs, “It gives new meaning to the name wahoo.”


Wahoo occur east of 20 fathoms from New Jersey to North Carolina. Look for them along the edge of the continental shelf and in Wilmington Canyon,
Baltimore Canyon or any of the offshore humps and hills. Out of Virginia Beach, the Fingers, Norfolk Canyon and the east side of the Cigar Seamount can be hot spots. From Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, target wahoo on valleys and plateaus including the Point, Tuna Hole and Whale Hole. Hatteras offers the most wahoo options, with fish hanging on the Beach, Rockpile, Big Rock, 200 Rocks and any of the deep wrecks.

What: Wahoo.

When: May to November, peaking September to October.

Where: Rudee Inlet, Virginia; Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina.


Rudee Inlet, Virginia

Capt. Pat Foster
Waverunner II

Oregon Inlet, North Carolina

Capt. Jason Snead
Dream Girl

Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina

Capt. Kenny Koci
The Big Tahuna

While anglers never know when or where they’ll encounter wahoo, they had better be ready for the fish. These high-speed killers will eagerly jump on baits intended for tuna, dolphin or marlin, but targeting wahoo takes planers, vertical jigs and high-speed plugs. While wire leader may seem like the answer to wahoo’s slicing teeth, these wary fish often spot that trick. All three captains prefer to take their chances with fluoro leader over spooking fish with wire line.

Rods: Stout trolling rod for planers  and a medium-heavy stand-up rod for trolling; heavy-action 51⁄2-foot, 30-pound stand-up rod for jigging.

Reels: Heavy-duty 50s spooled with 100-pound braid for trolling.

Lures: SeaWitches and Ilanders in purple, red or black for trolling; 10-inch Braid Marauder, heavyweight Ilander and Mold Craft Wide Range for high-speed trolling.

Jigs: Williamson 250-gram speed jig, Shimano Butterfly or similar vertical jig.