Walker Baldwin of Hampstead, N.C., had high hopes for a big day of wahoo fishing as he and the crew aboard the Kool-Aid, a 31-foot Cape Horn owned and operated by Shane Smith of Wilmington, N.C., left Masonboro Inlet and headed for the Gulf Stream on Oct. 20. Despite a slow start, Walker found himself bowed up to the wahoo of his dreams — a 108- pounder that measured 73 inches long with a 33-inch girth.
The fall of 2017 has presented a few challenges for fishermen in the Carolinas, but fishing has been good when the weather has allowed. Uninvited visitors Irma, Jose and Maria, plus some fronts rolling off other tropical systems, made the waters rough at times, but fishermen are persistent and made trips when possible.
The fall wahoo fishing off North Carolina compares to anywhere in the world. Citation size for wahoo begins at 40 pounds, and many citation wahoo are caught here — a few approaching or exceeding 100 pounds. It’s a longer run to productive waters from Cape Fear, but fishermen willing to make the run catch plenty of wahoo.
Although anglers entered in the 2017 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament are all about putting a big billfish in the boat, the blue water turns out other notable catches as well. Such was the case on June 13, when the Doc Fees crew found themselves tight with full grown wahoo — a 97.7 pounder caught by Chad McIntyre of Raleigh that turned out to be this year’s largest wahoo and one of the largest weighed in the tournament’s history.
Ray Myers of Jacksonville, N.C., and his father, Jim, headed offshore from Atlantic Beach, N.C., early on June 1, hoping to catch some dolphin. They were doing just that — and having a good time — when a fish hit and one of their reels began to scream. They immediately assumed it was something other than a dolphin, and when it didn’t jump, they hoped it was a big wahoo and not a billfish.