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Bahamas Fishing - Only 50 miles off the coast of Florida is some of the best fishing in the world

For the time of your life, follow the dotted lines...

Before we go any further, let's get something right out in the open. From Thanksgiving Day to Valentines Day, the rich waters surrounding the islands of the Bahamas hold more trophy wahoo than anywhere else on the globe. It's for this reason so many who appreciate these mysterious fish, end the year crossing the Gulf Stream to take full advantage of the most prolific high-speed trolling found anywhere on any chart.

This late in the year, crossing the 'Stream can prove a bit precarious when faced with uncooperative tropical winter weather, but I promise you getting bounced around for a few hours will be well worth the reward. That is, if you savor coming face to face with one of the fastest and most aggressive killing machines in all the world's oceans. Over hear on the other side, we're talking ten to twenty fish days with respectable wahoo averaging 20 to 40 pounds, not to mention the possibility of monsters twice that size a real possibility.

If this exciting fishery sounds intriguing to you or you're just looking to expand your horizons and brush up on your high-speed skills, then stick around. We're about to lay the groundwork for everything the novice to the pro needs to know about finding, fooling, fighting, and filleting these ferocious fiends.

Wahoo were probably given their somewhat dubious name from the most common sound emitted from an anglers' mouth when the savage fish strike, leaving the privileged in awe of the relentless power these speedsters command as they tear off on their initial screaming run. Comparable to a guided missile, wahoo are efficient hunters capable of soaring through the water at breakneck speeds. In lieu of a homing devise, these deadly assassins are armed with wicked jaws lined with surgically sharp, serrated teeth capable of tearing through a 20 pound tuna in one swift slice.

Concealed by a distinct camouflaged pattern and lead by telescopic eyesight, wahoo possess the somewhat supernatural ability to materialize out of their surroundings, easily picking off fast moving prey from great distances. Favoring tuna, bonito, dolphin and other mackerels, wahoo grow extremely fast reaching close to 40 inches and sexual maturity by the end of year number one. With this long list of attributes, once a wahoo hones in on a target, there's little the victim can do from becoming the silent stalker's next casualty.

Structure orientated, wahoo are close cousins to king mackerel and prefer water temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to low 80s. Small clusters will hunt in wide spread groups, though they are not characteristically a schooling fish. Like many pelagic predators, populations migrate north in the summer and head south for the winter, right on the tails of mass concentrations of baitfish and the bonito, tuna, and mackerel feeding on them.

An insurmountable amount of this forage make's its way toward the warm Northwest Providence Channel. From there, bait concentrations head into the shallows surrounding the western most reaches of Grand Bahama Island, or continue on their trek south and pile up on the outskirts of the Great Bahama Bank. What makes both stretches so inviting are the steep ledges quickly falling from 100' to well over 1000' in less than a mile. It's these sharp counters bordering both protruding oasis' where high-speed wahoo hunters will find most of the drag screaming action.

Just to be clear, the steep wall paralleling the western most edge of Grand Bahama Island from north of Memory Rock down to around Freeport is a constant producer. For crews departing Jupiter, Palm Beach, Boynton, and Boca Inlets, this stretch of productive water should be your 'go-to-spot' for serious wahoo action.

The second, equally rewarding stretch borders the bottom side of the Northwest Providence Channel from Isaacs down and around to Gun Cay. Teams crossing from Hillsboro, Port Everglades and Miami's major cuts will find this stretch a breeze to reach. Realistically though, at only 40 to 60 miles both locales are easily accessible from all of the above mentioned ports, even for small and mid-size boaters.

Your only obstacle for reaching these promising wahoo areas during peak season smack dab in the middle of winter will be the weather. Safely crossing the Gulf Stream requires you keep a sharp eye on marine forecasts and local weather patterns. Bearing in mind any amount of wind from a northerly quadrant will leave you convinced the 'Stream would have been better off left alone. Nonetheless, similar to years past, adequate windows of opportunity do open up.

To take full advantage of these brief periods of tolerable conditions between passing fronts, be ready to depart your home port on short notice. Keep your high-speed gear at the ready and the boat's fuel tanks topped off. When the window opens call a couple of your best buddies, load a cooler with rations, and shoot over for a day, a weekend, or an extended holiday sprint. When you arrive you can expect Wahoo World to be teaming with fish just beckoning to be caught.

For as far back as I can recall, every time we've crossed to the other side to get in on the hot high-speed bite we've always kept concise records of moon phase, tide, weather, water temp and so on...Over the years a pattern has emerged revealing these ferocious predators bite best just prior to, during, and right after the full moon. The increased activity is probably attributed to stronger tides and currents. With that said, from November through February you'll definitely accumulate more and bigger fish during the first few hours of the ebbing tide, that's a certainty. The falling water spilling off the shallow banks brings with it a constant food source. Keeping in mind it's not baitfish wahoo are interested in, it's the predators gorging on them that these ferocious fish enjoy destroying.

Regardless which end of the spectrum you head to, West End or Bimini, effective high-speed trolling in Bahamian waters requires specialized tackle and a specialized approach. The most consistent producers troll in a zig-zag pattern over the aforementioned ledges from 150' to 500'. It's this narrow avenue of sorts where the majority of wahoo prefer to hunt. No need to look deeper and definitely no need to troll any shallower, or you'll be spending a tremendous amount of viable fishing time fighting off pesky barracuda. Once you encounter your intended quarry, and you will, flip a quick 180 and backtrack through the same depth. 8 of 10 times you'll experience a second and third strike right where you got slammed.

Now that we've made it crystal clear on precisely where and when to find wahoo, let's talk more about appropriate gear and proper execution. One thing is for sure, high-speed trolling isn't for sissies. As I mentioned earlier this type of angling requires specialized tackle designed specifically for the job at hand, a job that requires pulling heavy lures and heavy weights at well above average trolling speeds.

My favorite and most effective high-speed trolling spread is comprised of four lines; two lures fished from bent-butt 80s loaded with braid and weighted down with 32-ounce cigar shaped trolling leads and two stand-up 50s spooled with mono with 16-ounce cigars. The later are run much farther back in the pattern. Depending on conditions, you can't go wrong at 12 - 16 knots. But if you feel you're trolling too fast, add two or three more knots of speed and you should be right on the money.