When most think saltwater pelagic gamefishing, they conjure up images of billfish and tuna. However somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea, there is another leviathan cruising out there, waiting to challenge even the heartiest of anglers. His name is wahoo.
What is it?
Closely related to mackerels, but much larger and with tiger stripes, Mr. Wahoo, just Hoo to his friends, goes by many names around the world. In the Caribbean he is often called Peto, and in Hawaii, the natives call him Ono, but make no mistake, he is all business. Large, with decent yardstick-length specimens running over 30-pounds, and trophy fish about twice that, the current record was set off Cabo in 2005 by a female angler who landed a great 184-pound bruiser.
A sea monster with a beak full of razor-sharp teeth in his barracuda-like mouth, the short dorsal fin along his back resembles a 1950s crew cut. Brightly colored with a deep blue to silver scheme, these fish have vertical marks along their sides that greatly resemble that of a tiger.
Extremely fast (try 60 mph on for size) these speed demons earn those racing stripes rushing in around larger game fish and tearing up smaller bait fish before the big boys get a chance at them. Which brings us to…
Best Ways to Find One
Luckily, the wahoo lives closer in that some other trophy pelagic such as the sailfish and great tunas. This means you can find them around almost any blue water structure such as wrecks, reefs, and large buoys. Fans of baitfish and squid, these demons in a fish suit will attack a brightly colored artificial that has similar qualities.
When it comes to temperature and fisheries location, these torpedoes congregate nearly worldwide from the Bahamas to Hawaii, sticking to the warmer waters in very small concentrations. As witnessed by the record, Baja to Panama and South Texas to Colombia are some of the best areas. This sets up a number of prime wahoo encounters and charters who specialize in these fish. Beware though, the odds of getting a hit from one of these assassins is by no means guaranteed. Like billfish and tuna, you can often spend lots of time trolling for nothing.
What Happens if You Get This Lucky?
Hoo simply do not nibble or bite, they attack a line and run away with it as if their life depends on it. Remember, they are masters of grabbing succulent feeder fish nearly from the jaws of larger, more powerful predators and therefore are programmed to run hard and fast once they clamp down. This gives the angler a much different ride than in other game fish that fight for the ocean floor like a tuna or break the surface like marlin. No, Mr. Hoo is too wild for that. He will simply run. And run. And run.
If you can keep up, have the right tackle, and enough of it, once you land a wahoo they are among the most beautiful of creatures from the depths. Immediately get your pictures in, as their stripes will fade to gray almost as fast as you can grab a camera. However, after that, relish in the fact that they are one of the tastiest fish in the sea.
Which is perhaps another reason they are so fast.