NC bluewater bite is great for fall wahoo action

Bluewater fishermen out of Beaufort Inlet often limit out on big wahoo in September.

Wahoo populations are on the rise, and anglers are catching plenty of them

Offshore anglers who fish bluewater out of Beaufort Inlet find loads of wahoo during the fall, and few captains have as much experience in finding and putting these tiger-striped, toothy torpedoes on the deck as Thomas Wood of the Dancin’ Outlaw charterboat, which docks at the Morehead City (N.C.) Waterfront.

“September is a good month for wahoo down here,” said Wood (252-241-8346). “They’re one of the (few) fisheries on the rise the last 10 years. It’s not unheard of to have a party catch a limit (12 fish) in one day.”

However, it’s a big ocean, and knowing where to fish is as important as getting there.

“I look for bottom (features) that holds baitfish,” said Wood, who tries to find uneven features or ledges. “I look for truck-size rocks and wrecks. It doesn’t take a lot of structure to hold baitfish with wahoo above them. Sometimes, they even hang out near blackfin tuna or beeliners (vermillion snappers). The surface (grass) lines will be gone by September. I’ll also look for (temperature) breaks, and I study current.”

These fish range from 20 to 60 pounds this time of year

While Wood speeds away from Beaufort Inlet, mate Eli Blake prepares terminal trolling tackle by tying a 5-foot length of No. 9 piano wire leader to a blue or blue/white Sea Witch skirt with a 7/0 hook sewn inside a medium-size ballyhoo. A wahoo’s razor-like teeth can’t sever heavy wire leaders.

Wahoo sizes vary from 20 to 60 pounds this time of year.

“We’ll troll six lines (at) 12 to 13 knots on top and one downrigger that pulls a bait about 20 feet deep,” Wood said. “The wahoos seem to like downrigger baits but will hit surface lures. Occasionally, we catch a blackfin, dolphin or a sailfish.”

Sailfish that pop up in bait spreads are prone to joust with teasers, so Wood’s mate keeps ready a “pitch-bait” rod.

“We’ll keep trolling, and (the mate) will flip a ballyhoo on a circle hook at it,” Wood said. “Sometimes, they come in a swarm, and your clients can have pitch-bait fun.”

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.