Fast speed trolling is key to catching Lowcountry wahoo

Winter wahoo gang up off the South Carolina coast where different offshore currents collide, creating a hard edge with different temperatures on both sides.
Winter wahoo gang up off the South Carolina coast where different offshore currents collide, creating a hard edge with different temperatures on both sides.

Speed is the key

March is wahoo time offshore of South Carolina’s Lowcountry beaches, and for Jeremy Burnham of Atlantic Game and Tackle in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., high-speed trolling is the key to catching them.

“High-speed trolling is the way to go. These fish are super aggressive this month. They would rather chase down something fast instead of swiping at an easy meal,” he said.

When Burnham says high-speed, he’s talking about trolling anywhere from 9 to 12 knots.

The biggest challenge fishing fast is having lures heavy enough that they’ll stay in the water when trolling at those speeds. Burnham said it’s best to avoid lures that have a lot of action. He prefers straight, symmetrical lures with no built-in wobble.

“I use homemade lures with 5- to 8-inch heads, a 10- to 12-inch skirt and two hooks,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty, either. I also don’t think color is a huge factor. But I do like dark colors on overcast days and light colors on clear days.”

Wire leaders aren’t always necessary

Burnham also doesn’t use wire leaders, which many wahoo anglers feel is necessary.

“I use 150- to 300-pound monofilament for my leaders,” he said. “It’s plenty strong, allows better action, and it doesn’t scare away leader-shy fish. I break off my share of fish — probably more than I would if using wire leader — but, I get a lot more bites with mono leaders. So, in the end, I catch more fish with mono than I would with wire.”

Burnham cautions anglers against trolling with too many rods. He uses two at a time but keeps several others rigged and ready to deploy if he has a fish break his line.

“You’ll break off sometimes, and when you do, you better have another rod ready to get right out there. Otherwise, you’re going to miss out on some fish. You don’t have time to retie,” he said.

In March, Burnham said wahoo love to hang out around places where different offshore currents collide.

“That makes a hard edge, and that’s where there will be as much as 4 or 5 degrees difference in water temperature. That kind of change attracts baitfish and gamefish. Wahoo will be all over areas like that this time of year,” he said.

Once he finds an edge and begins trolling, he puts one lure 75 yards behind the boat and the other 130 yards back.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1359 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.