Super speeds, the strength of its run after taking the bait, and an aggressive fight on light to medium tackle are reasons why the wahoo is sought after by sports fishermen. It’s no wonder then that three tournaments on three different islands celebrated the fact that November is the peak of wahoo season in the northern Caribbean.
On November 2nd, it was being in the right place at the right time that led Beth Basinski to win the Top Angler prize in the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) Wahoo Windup. Basinski, fishing aboard the 65ft Hatteras, Living the Dream, reeled in the largest wahoo, a whopping 42.35-pounder. Her fish was about 32lb short of winning the tournament’s grand prize of $3,000 for any angler boating a wahoo weighing over 75lb.
“My fellow anglers Jason (Senff) and Ryan (Senff) had each caught a wahoo,” Basinski explains. “Then, I hooked a wahoo and lost it. After that, I hooked up another wahoo. It took off with good speed just peeling off line. I figured it was either big or feisty. It turned out to be both!”
The Best Boat award went to Double Header, which not only caught the most wahoo with five, but also bagged the most wahoo by weight at 136.95lb.
Two weekends later, wahoo tournaments occurring simultaneously on St. Croix and St. Maarten had vastly different results.
Anglers aboard six boats collectively caught only three wahoo in the Golden Hook Fishing Club’s November 15th Wahoo Tournament in St. Croix. Even so, just 2.5lb separated the winning boat from the runner up based on total pounds caught.
“We first fished a private FAD (fish aggregating device) out on Lange Bank, but after circling it for a few hours nothing was biting,” explains Chuck Porter, owner of the winning boat, Turtle Daze. “Then, we went up off Judith’s Fancy, which is usually a good fishing hole for wahoo, but the weed was so bad we had to clear our lines every two minutes. Then, we headed west and trolled off Sandy Point. It was here in about 7000 feet of water that Festus Pemberton caught the 30.5lb wahoo on a ballyhoo rig.”
The team aboard the Fraidy Cat brought two wahoo to the scales, but the combined weight of 28lb was less then Pemberton’s whopper wahoo.
The winner’s story was completely different at the 7th Annual St. Maarten Budget Marine Wahoo Tournament; held November 15th –16th, out of Philipsburg. The team aboard the Tahla’o from St. Barths caught an impressive 25 wahoo weighing in at 854lb to earn the champion title. What’s more, team Tahla’o also brought the second largest wahoo of the event to the scales, a 58.7-pounder. Shuggie Two from Saba finished second in boat awards with a proud catch of eight wahoo totaling 260lb. Yellow Whip from St. Martin landed the largest wahoo of the weekend, a 68.2-pounder. Boats traveled from as far away as St. Croix to the northwest and Nevis to the southeast to fish this popular and well attended tournament.
The best part about wahoo fishing is the eating that comes afterwards, something all of the fishermen enjoyed at each tournament’s awards dinner.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.