Although the crew of the Wee Doggie Fishing Team had mackerel on their minds while competing in the S.H.A.R.E King Mackerel Tournament out of Wrightsville Beach on July 17th, they made time for a world class wahoo when it slammed the longline of their trolling spread 15 miles outside of Little River Inlet. Fishing a patch of live bottom known as “the jungle”, Capt. Joey Crisp and Andy McInnis managed to stick an 82 pounder that measured 69 inches long with a girth of 28 inches.
While a number of areas closer to home held promise, Crisp of Wilmington and McInnis of Laurinburg had a hunch that their best bet for a big king lay over 50 miles south of the weigh-in. No biggie for a 38-foot Fountain powered by triple 350 Mercury Verados. While both the first and third place kings were caught here, the hand of fate would have a different plan for this pair.
“We had been fishing for a couple of hours and caught a few smaller kings ourselves when the longline rod went off,” said McInnis. “He took off and ran like there weren’t no tomorrow. He was still on his first run by the time we got all the other lines in. We thought we had one of our largest king mackerels on there.”
In addition to the longline, which trails at about 55 yards, Crisp and McInnis run two more free lined menhaden off the port and starboard sides as well as a bait on a downrigger at a speed slow enough to allow the baits to swim naturally. The 2-hook rig features one #4 VMC treble hook through the nostrils of the bait and another dangling underneath the bait as it swims. The hooks are connected to a stretch of 40-pound Terminator titanium wire leader, which ties to a Spro swivel and the 20-pound monofilament mainline.
Although the team was a bit under-gunned for such a large fish, that only added to the excitement of the moment as McInnis held on for dear life.
“He acted like a king mackerel for the first 5 or 10 minutes into the fight,” said McInnis.
“Then he started running around erratically. Going north, south, east, west, running us around in circles back and forth.
“We kept fighting him and running around for about another 20 minutes,” he said. “Then we started to see a vague outline in the water and we could tell it wasn't a shark, but we couldn't tell if it was a cobia or a king. We didn’t think it was a wahoo because of the shallow water; it was only 65 feet deep. Then in a minute or two it came in close enough where I could see the stripes, but I couldn't have told you how big he was.
“When Joey reached in to gaff the wahoo, that's when we figured how big it was,” said McInnis. “He gaffed it, got to the side of the boat, and was grunting, saying, ‘I need help!’ I had to set the pole down, reach down, and grab the tail to help him sling it over the side.”
The fish was weighed and measured at Sheffield’s Seafood & Grocery in Ocean Isle Beach.