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May 21, 2013

Wahoo Fishing in Bermuda

Bermuda's reefs and banks might offer some of the world's best wahoo action.

Fish On!

It didn’t take long for the deepest rod to go off. “Fish on!” Burns shouted, as Jacobs grabbed the rod and wound tight to the fish. It made a blistering run, then stopped and shook its head violently — classic wahoo behavior. Jacobs went to work on the fish, and we soon gaffed a brilliantly striped fish that would weigh close to 40 pounds.

My turn came next, and I hooked a mid-30s fish on a light spinning rod, an absolute blast. Over the course of that afternoon, we hooked and landed fish after fish, including several doubles. At one point, as Jacobs and I each fought a fish, he turned to me and said, “I told you Bermuda had the best wahoo fishing in the world.” 

He got no argument from me.

Two Runs

Although there are always some fish around, Bermuda has two major wahoo runs, in spring and fall. In spring, the fish are headed north for summer, as far north as Georges Bank. In fall, they head back south to winter in the Bahamas and the Caribbean; the fall bite can be spectacular.

“In fall, it can go ballistic,” said Capt. Delvin Bean, who runs the 54-foot charter boat Paradise One, along with his brother Allan. The Beans like live bait too, but Delvin is quick to point out that “we use whatever it takes to produce fish.”

Bean says that in the spring run, the fish can be spread out around the entire island, and it’s a matter of ­locating them on a particular day. When searching for the fish, they often go “dinky trolling,” pulling small ballyhoo rigged on wire with single J-hooks and small skirts on downriggers.

Bigger in Fall

But in fall, live bait is preferred, and Bean says live baits ­usually produce bigger fish. “We fish out around ­Challenger and Argus banks with small, live mackerels (little tunny) in fall,” Bean says. “The fish average 40 pounds and up. One fall, we foul-hooked a fish out there, and we stopped the boat to gaff it. It was flat calm, and as the fish came up, I saw there were easily a thousand more wahoo with it. That’s how many fish we sometimes get here.” 

When the bite is on, the locals say lure color on the troll doesn’t matter. “Everybody has their favorite,” said Capt. Sinclair Lambe of the charter boat Mega Bucks, “but when they’re biting, they’re biting, and they’ll eat whatever you put out there.”

Lambe says the fish spread out along the south shore in fall, and the southeast corner of the island can be good, as well as the southwest. “We like the live baits too, but we also like fast-trolling ballyhoos about 60 feet down on the ­downriggers,” he said. As for the spring bite, Lambe says the run has begun later in recent years. It used to start in April, but now it starts in mid- to late May.