Found worldwide in tropical and subtropical areas like the Bahamas, the wahoo is a prized game fish—and not just because of its fun name. This saltwater torpedo is known for its speed, tenacity, strength and excellent flavor. Closely related to another delicious fish, the mackerel, the wahoo is known as one of the best eating fish around; though you might see it listed as “peto” or “ono” on the menu, depending on the area.
A Touch of Color
The wahoo is distinguished by its elongated body with silvery sides, irregular vertical striping, and iridescent blue back. Its scales are small and barely visible, creating a silky smooth appearance. Beware of its large mouth lined with razor sharp teeth, which can cut skin easily as you hoist it into your boat. Its jaw has a sharper appearance, which helps distinguish it from its cousin the mackerel, as well as the patch of skin that covers its mouth when closed. It’s sleek body and bladelike fins help the wahoo reach its notable speeds.
A large, parasitic worm makes its home in the wahoo’s stomach, but this doesn’t affect the portion eaten by humans, nor does it seem to bother the host.
Catch It If You Can
With bursts of speed up to 60 MPH, the wahoo is one of the fastest fish in the sea and a challenging catch for even a skilled fisherman. Light to medium tackle makes for a stellar bout, but heavy tackle is best to compete with its aggression and fast speed. This fish won’t go down without a fight.
Though averaging between 35-60 pounds, 80-90 pound catches for this stunning, medium-sized fish are not uncommon. They’re known for being fast growing, with some studies having shown growth by as much as 22 pounds in under a year. The largest caught measured 8 feet in length and weighed over 150 pounds.
The wahoo sustains itself on an appealing diet of mackerel, butterfishes, scads, jacks, and squid. They feed aggressively during tide changes, making it the optimal time to troll for larger catches. If tuna, billfish, or dolphin fish are around, so might the wahoo.
The Bahamas is the one of the best locations for baiting some of the world’s largest wahoo, with November to April being the most ideal time for a trip. A multi-leg wahoo championship is held there each year.
While this species can be found in small groups of three or four, conditions in the Bahamas are perfect for running into schools of up to 100 fish. Because of these large numbers, after you’ve had success, work the area thoroughly. You’re likely to catch a few more.
Wahoo can be a bit picky in their lures. Combinations like red/black and purple/black work best. They like fast food so don’t be afraid to troll at eight or even nine knots.
The Future of the Wahoo
Every day we’re learning more and more about these fast, strong and tasty creatures. Because of their commonality worldwide and growing popularity, the wahoo are a current favorite for scientific study. These studies hope to uncover how wahoo from different areas are similar and distinguished from one another. Don’t fret, though! Population numbers suggest this fish is unlikely to be flagged for overfishing any time soon.
Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina is host to the Annual Wahoo Smackdown Fishing Tournament. This years Wahoo Smackdown VII will be taking place November 12 -14, 2015. for information and registration visit: Wahoo Smackdown VII.