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Wahoooooooo!!  Rating:  Rating
 
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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:17 pm
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shagnrelease
Sealiner


Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
Status: 
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Mana: 
Hi all,

I have caught many Wahoo over the years and from lots of different coast lines, however these have all been caught while looking for marlin, so to say we were targeting them would be a fib of massive proportions.

I was sitting thinking today and it was just wahoo that came to mind as these really are a great fish to catch and one of the best eating around, so I starting doing some research on how to really target them.

now we have some prime areas for them on our coast namely the big drops at Vidal, Sodwana and richards bay and then the light came on and I remembered that these are the exact areas where we have always caught these fin-credible fish so clearly they are always going to be there!! And I truely believe that if we actually target them we will start seeing them in better numbers.

I came across this article by a legendery wahoo guru and thought I would share it with you, as the more people go out and target them the better we can see as to what numbers we have available to us.



Wahoo Fishing Secrets



by Capt. Ron Schatman
(three time winner of the Bahamas Wahoo Championship)]


In 1990 I picked up on the high speed trolling method. Because I fished with natural baits, mostly ballyhoo, my speed was limited to trolling at 14 knots. Only the best of baits would hold up at this speed. For several years we rigged between 40-100 horse ballyhoo a day when wahoo fishing.


Prior to the 1996 season, I decided not to use bait at all and strictly use artificial lures. This drastic change was not an easy transition for me. My success rate with double hooked baits was fantastic so why should I change. The year before my team even won the Bimini Wahoo Tournament.

In mid October of 1996 I took my first charter wahoo fishing out of Cat Cay, not telling my clients that what I was doing was not part of my normal program. We managed to boat 8 of 10 wahoo up to 60lbs that day. The numbers looked good to me, but I was not satisfied with the rig used in the lure. At high speed there was a problem with the skirt tangling or fowling on the back hook. I carefully looked at my problem and instead of hiding the back hook in the skirt, I dropped the entire rig back so the point of the back hook was 1/4 inch behind the skirt. That did the job.

As I have done with all the fisheries I have become involved with over 36 years, understanding the species sought, is top priority. Billfish, sharks, tuna, swordfish, dolphin, wahoo etc. are all unique to their environment. Each is sharing the same habitat. However, feeding habits of these species are all totally different. By asking the following questions about the target species, you will be able to focus on that species for more success in locating and catching them. This works with all species from small mouth bass to broadbill swordfish.

Let's start with the questions and see how it works to help understand the target species. Remember that your location in the world may give different answers to the same questions.

What is a wahoo?
a) A school fish
b) A high speed blue water predator
c) A mackerel


When and where do they occur?
a) Fall and winter wahoo migrate along the steep drop off of the Bahamas archipelago.
Smaller fish migrate through at this time of year.
b) During spring the largest fish are found in the eastern Bahamas.
c) Summer wahoo are found in both deep water and scattered along the drop off, but not in the vast schools of fall and winter.


How and what do wahoo eat?
a) Small to medium size wahoo eat all types of school baitfish. Ballyhoo, jacks, houndfish, flying fish and small bonito.
b) Large wahoo will seek larger prey like big bonito and tuna. The largest wahoo can slice and dice a 50lb tuna.
c) Wahoo hunt in packs. Small fish will usually be in large schools. The larger fish will be much less numerous.
d) Because of their incredible speed, a wahoo swims up on its prey, grasping it with razor sharp jaws and shaking its head, cutting its prey in pieces.


After several years of high-speed fishing I asked why do they eat so fast? While cruising down the edge at 15 knots, I watched flying fish skitter right on by. For sure bonito and tuna are even faster. A baitfish swimming at 30 knots to escape is no match for a hungry wahoo. A lure going up to 24 MPH turned out to be a natural speed to entice wahoo!

Successful wahoo fishing and the methods used will vary depending on the type of boat and the class of tackle used.

Outboard boats can fish at high speed only when sea conditions are flat to a light chop. In a following sea outboards will bog down to 6 or 7 knots one minute and then surf down sea at 20 knots or more. This unstable condition is a major drawback. A slower speed that allows your boat to maintain a steady trolling rate will not produce the number of wahoo strikes that high speed trolling does, however, you will catch wahoo. Slower speeds by the way are more effective when using natural bait rather then artificials.

Light to medium tackle also has drawbacks when attempting to high-speed troll. At 18 knots for instance I set my drags on 50w reels loaded with 80lb line at 22lbs. No failure ever occurs. You simple cannot apply the proper drag on 30lb or 50lb line to fish ultra high speed. Adjust speed to be compatible with your tackle class.

Perfecting a fishing method takes time. The average angler is limited to how much time he can spend actually fishing. Trial and error can take forever. A problem I see with many blue water fishermen in this day and age is confusion on what works best. The variety of tackle and techniques used to accomplish the same thing varies from one expert to another. The average angler may try a method related by a professional via magazine, video, seminars etc. If that angler uses that method with little success, the next time he may try another method. You must focus on a method and carefully tune in and develop it to your advantage. Know your limitations and pick techniques that you can master. A good example is the variety of ways to rig a ballyhoo. I use maybe 3 or 4 different rigs that work for various types of fisheries. Marlin, wahoo, grouper and dolphin all require different ballyhoo rigs. I don't need to rig a dolphin bait 10 different ways. Pick a rig style that you are comfortable with and master it for maximum success.

Rigging for wahoo is simple. I highly recommend my Double Hook Pro Rig with Wahoo King Lures. Short shank ring eye 10/0 to 12/0 hooks work best. The hook should be positioned as mentioned before with the point of the hook just behind the skirt to avoid fouling on the hook. If natural baits are used, the hook should be placed as far back in the bait as possible.

Anglers that can properly twist stainless or music wire leader should use at least #10 or heavier. Novice anglers will be glad to know that multi strand stainless cable works well and is much safer than leader wire that is improperly twisted. The sharp edge left by not properly breaking off the free end of the leader wire can be as dangerous as wahoo teeth. If cable is used, hard black heat shrink should cover the sleeve and protruding end of the cable. This practice will eliminate nasty cuts and stop the skirt from fouling on the rig.

To eliminate "Bite offs", I use only 3 feet of leader to my lure. A 20lb wahoo is about 4 feet long. When hooked the fish runs off with the lure against it's body. A lure on a longer leader will trail behind the fish and become a target for the next wahoo in line for lunch, usually resulting in the first fish being cut off at the leader. This can become costly. Last season I had only 3 or 4 bite offs out of some 500 wahoo bites.

The short leader has another advantage. We target the larger wahoo. When using wire leader, only one fish is caught on that leader and it is discarded. Any bend or kink in that leader may cause the lure not to pull perfectly strait if reused. When a fish is caught, the fish, lure and rig is put in the box and dealt with later. Another lure and rig is then returned to the water. This practice will allow you to get back to fishing quickly and the crew can remove the hooks after the fish is dead. A much safer practice.

A simple shock leader of 400lb mono 12-15 feet in length is used. A double ring ball bearing heavy-duty snap swivel at one end of the shock leader fastenes to the lure leader. Mono although vulnerable to wahoo teeth works best for your shock leader. Handling the fish at the boat, especially when so many multiple hook ups occur, is easier on mono. When tangles do occur from time to time, mono leaders most often come threw intact and may be reused. When tested, wire or cable shocks were a problem often resulting in lost fish in a tangle. Always the wire and cable had to be replaced.



Next an inline cigar lead is rigged with 2 feet of #19 stainless wire or stainless cable on either end of the lead to repel bite offs. A heavy-duty snap swivel that fastens to our shock leader is sleeved to one end and a loop to fasten to your rod at the other.



Trolling leads come in all sizes up to 3lbs. Selecting the size for your tackle will depend on sea condition and speed. As I mentioned before, I use a 50w reel with 80lb line. A 2lb lead allows me to troll in calm seas up to 20 knots. As the sea conditions build we slow our speed accordingly. Fishing in 3-5 foot seas during winter months at 14-16 knots is an average. Of course boat size may also be a consideration. Know your limitations.

When using lighter tackle, smaller leads should be used at slower speeds. Remember that the faster you go, the more drag it takes to keep the line from slipping off your reel. When a strike occurs at high speed the line is ripped off so fast it may break. I use just enough drag at high speed to keep the line from slipping off the reel.

Any time stainless cable is used, zinc plated or nickel-plated heavy wall copper sleeves must be used. I use nickel exclusively. Electrolysis will eat aluminum or unplated copper sleeves in only several days of trolling. Your rigs will then fall apart.

Occasionally when a lead bite does occur, the shock leader will run threw the wahoo's mouth. The leader will be parcially cut or shaved. Inspect the shocker and have back ups ready for replacement. These bites almost always occur when you have multiple strikes during a "frenzy bite" rather then catching single fish, as you troll along the edge.

Lead bites are quite common. Some fisherman even attach a hook to the lead and occasionally will catch a wahoo on that hook. This practice is plain stupid. I am waiting to here the story when the lead hook catches that fisherman in the arm or face with a foul hooked 60lb chainsaw on the lure end. How greedy for a fish can this guy be?

As you can see I have a safety first attitude. When someone gets hurt, the fun is over. Wahoo can inflict serious wounds. Most of the worst stories I've heard over the years about someone being bitten or snagged by trailing hooks when boating a fish involved wahoo.

Once the basic rigging of the terminal tackle is completed, you should mark your lines at staggered lengths. Trolling 3 lines at high speed is very productive and the chance of a tangle is almost eliminated.

The marking of your lines is simple to do with a good heavy duty waxed lace. To avoid any slipping of the lace on the line, the mark should be made by half-hitching for at least 2 inches on the line.

Placement of lines, all fished flat should be at lengths of 100 feet, 150 feet and 200 feet. One back up rod is usually marked with all three marks in case there is a problem with any of the three rods being fished.

The practice of marking lines allows you to return your bait to the water to the exact position without guessing or hesitation.

Trolling the Edge

Wahoo as we know are a school fish. They will congregate in places along the drop off to ambush schools of bait fish passing by. If bait is scarce the school will scatter out over a mile or more to feed randomly. This break up of the school is common. Days when there are heavy concentrations of bait on the edge, multiple strikes, including triples, are common. When the fish scatter out we see many more single or double strikes rather than triples. Our best day last season produced some 60 bites in 5 hours. we caught 40 wahoo that day and had 15 triple strikes.

Fishing along the drop is accomplished by tacking across the depths in an "S" pattern from the outer edge of the reef in 150 foot of water to 500 foot of water and back in to 150 feet. Some days the fish are in tight on the drop, others they may be just outside. The tacking method allows you to find where and how wahoo are located on a given day. Now and then I find the fish on the reef in 150 feet. all my strikes come only from that depth on that day. Had I worked deeper, I would have missed them altogether.

Proceeding down the edge at 14 knots or faster while tacking will enable you to cover about 10 miles of bank in an hour. We often travel 20 or more miles before finding a pack of hungry wahoo. Once a school is located, repeated passes threw the area will usually produce more fish. If no more bites occur, keep going until another school is found.

"Handling the Fish"

My system of boating wahoo is truly awesome. Fish up to 100lbs are pulled threw the open tuna door and slid into a deck box or lifted into the 320qt SSI cooler on deck. No gaff is ever used except for a foul hooked fish. Our SSI cooler will hold fish up to 60lbs in a salt water chill. The deck box, that is refrigerated, is only used for larger fish or when the other box is full.

When a wahoo is fought to the boat, the captain, must always keep at least one motor in gear. By staying tight on the fish, you avoid the chance of the fish shaking the hook at the boat. When my mate takes the leader especially on a big fish, I put both motors in gear to keep the fish from trying to turn or dive. As he pulls the fish up short, he will take a double wrap on the leader as he walks backward to the forward part of the cockpit actually dragging the wahoo threw the door. Surprisingly the Wahoo will lie still on deck. The mate will then grasp the tail with a gloved hand, choke up on the leader and lift the fish into the cooler. Someone onboard in assigned the job as box man. He makes sure the box is opened at the proper time and as soon as the fish is placed in the box he closes the lid and secures the latch. Handling these fish could not be done any faster or safer. I have never had anyone on board hurt using the routine. Every Wahoo that is gaffed will go ballistic, no exceptions, and blood everywhere.

During a bite we are able to boat fish and rebait in a few moments. Sometimes catching up to 20 or more in under a hour.

Occasionally a fish pulled threw the door will go balistic. When this happens my mate will choke up on the leader to a point where he can hold the fish's head away by keeping his arm fully extended until the fish stops.

Once the fish hits the box, the lure leader is unsnapped, a new lure is snapped on and returned to the water.

If a door is not used, then the gaff must be properly placed in the fish's head. Do not gaff the fish in the body. Wait for the right shot and take your time. A lost fish is better then a fishing buddy with a 20 inch long bite from a wahoo.

"Lures and Bait"

The fact that wahoo prefer lures that do not bubble or smoke makes me wonder why a lure like a jet that has holes to create a smoke trail in used for wahoo fishing. When I pull a Wahoo King Lure behind a 2lb trolling lead, it does not smoke. Any Wahoo King high speed lure or Wahoo King lure and bait combination will work for catching wahoo. If you plan to fish at speeds up to 13 knots, then bait seem to work best. From 14 knots or faster, lures are the ticket. I try to match lure size with the type of bait that is common to an area. Wahoo King Lures are about 13 inches in length. They work great. Color is your preference. I fish a mix when starting out on any given day. If I see any color doing better, I will double up. Most of the time wahoo will eat whatever is presented. The fact that they eat the trolling lead shows us that they are not as selective as we might think.




To conclude, working at high speed in a choppy sea can be tricky. Take your time and develop your skills. This fishery although not difficult to master requires experience to perfect. The results are very rewarding. By catches of dolphin, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, blue and white marlin are regularly recorded. Tackle failure at high speed is the main problem with beginning anglers. If your not sure about which piece of tackle to use, use the heavier one to start. 


 

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:20 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
sorry the images did not work to well.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:21 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:22 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:22 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:23 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
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Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
note the big heavy head, with no jets etc.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 06:50 pm
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nicos
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Joined: Mon Nov 26th, 2007
Location: Girbraltar, Spain
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Mana: 
This is super interesting, especially the trolling lead. I've always believed we fish too shallow for many species.

I'm going to make myself some of these setups, but will have to buy some heavier tackle if I am going to fish at that speed!

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 07:40 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
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Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
nicos wrote: This is super interesting, especially the trolling lead. I've always believed we fish too shallow for many species.

I'm going to make myself some of these setups, but will have to buy some heavier tackle if I am going to fish at that speed!
I may know someone who can help you there...:spite:spite

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:08 pm
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John F
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Last edited on Thu Dec 23rd, 2010 11:26 am by John F

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:35 pm
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benniejordaan
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Joined: Wed Nov 14th, 2007
Location: Durban, South Africa
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Mana: 
Shagy boy! Nice stuff. Thanks for this. A very good point, nobody every specifically targets them. Interesting. Will have to pull out the new Tica 50, load it with 80Lb and head for the deap with some decent trolling lures!
Edit: May need some spare skirts though!

Last edited on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:36 pm by benniejordaan

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:49 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
John F wrote: Hey Shag,
Wahoo are still a mystery to me... at least in our area... here in Maputo bay, people will not target them directly, but some good catches have been made, especially during late winter early summer...

One thing I've noticed is that no one seems to catch smaller-sized wahoo. All wahoo I've seen around here are +12 Kg. What size wahoo have you been catching in Sodwana, Vidal, RB?

Where are all the babies? Is our coast just a feeding area for the teenagers?

Guys, any ideas?

cheers
Hey John,

I would like to say that we have only caught big ones but we have had some rats of 5-7 kg of of Vidal and sodwana, but your right the average of of here is around 12-13kg my biggest locally was around 20 and we got a belter of 28 of xai-xai.

again I think we just don't fish enough for them here, I am sure the juniors are here as well as those 100lb fish, I have had marlin lures attacked by fish that screamed of at such a speed on 80lb and then we have only had a neat trimmed leader to show for our efforts...I can only imagine they are big hoo's??

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:50 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
benniejordaan wrote: Shagy boy! Nice stuff. Thanks for this. A very good point, nobody every specifically targets them. Interesting. Will have to pull out the new Tica 50, load it with 80Lb and head for the deap with some decent trolling lures!
Edit: May need some spare skirts though!
well you got the right gear mate!! and Im sure you know someone with some spare skirts!!

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:55 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
Here is a rat from vidal around 5kg

Attachment: DSC02641.JPG (Downloaded 1643 times)

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 08:57 pm
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
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Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
and an awesome pic of one making short work of a skirt...Airwolf

Attachment: 3-12-08_flying.jpg (Downloaded 1633 times)

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 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 10:09 pm
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tackle whore
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Joined: Mon Mar 23rd, 2009
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22oz heads for trolling at 18 knots or more .these are sold though !!

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 Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:00 am
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shagnrelease
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Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
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Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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Mana: 
tw that is just the ticket!! then you tease by telling us they are sold!!

come now!!

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 Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:32 am
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On Strike
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Joined: Sat Aug 16th, 2008
Location: Roodekrans, South Africa
Posts: 327
Equipment: Shimano / Penn / Fenwick
Best Catch: Still out there, just hafta fish more
Favorite Fishing Spot: Mozambique Channel, Dullstroom, Rhodes, Zambezi
Boat: "FawnyCat" a Maxi Cat Centre Console
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Mana: 
Great post Greg.

Last year we also had a number of big Wahoo as "by catch" while targetting billfish in Moz.  This past week we attempted to target them specifically with some of those very large williamson shiny heads retrofitted to skirts and some 7 strand.  Trolled as fast as we could but had no joy this time.

I have now got a bunch more ideas based on the article you posted.

Cheers. Peter

 

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 Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:41 am
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On Strike
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Joined: Sat Aug 16th, 2008
Location: Roodekrans, South Africa
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Best Catch: Still out there, just hafta fish more
Favorite Fishing Spot: Mozambique Channel, Dullstroom, Rhodes, Zambezi
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Mana: 
Some of the Nomad's Wahoo catch at Ponta 2008 ... all decent size fish.

 

Attachment: 2008_NC_Ponta_Wahoo.jpg (Downloaded 1612 times)

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 Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:42 am
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On Strike
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And another

Attachment: 2008_NC_Ponta_Wahoo 3.jpg (Downloaded 1608 times)

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 Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:57 am
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20th Post
shagnrelease
Sealiner


Joined: Mon Feb 9th, 2009
Location: South Africa
Posts: 2154
Equipment: Shimano reels,berkley big game/ande line, shimano/fenwick
Best Catch: Black marlin 236kg
Favorite Fishing Spot: cape vidal
Boat: 21 ft yeldcat, centre console, 2 x 115 suzuki 4 ...
Club: Cape vidal and Richards bay
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These are great fish!!

Thats what I'm talking about!!

Last edited on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 05:58 am by shagnrelease

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SEALINE - South African Angling and Boating Community > Offshore Angling > Offshore Angling Discussion > Wahoooooooo!! Top