Wahoo Words of Wisdom
By Jan Vafis
When we hunt for wahoo, my neck always gets a workout. It’s because wahoo often tend to be just under the surface (maybe 2-4′ of water) and I find myself kind of bending at the neck to get my head just under the surface so I can see sideways. When hunting other fish, I am usually looking down and out. Wahoo can also be behind you so you need to remember to do a 360 degree scan.
I have watched George and other spearos shoot wahoo. From my surface vantage point, it seemed to me like they hadn’t seen the fish they ultimately ended up shooting. Then . . . WHACK (shot taken) . . . and the fight is on! I have since learned that acting like you didn’t see a wahoo is a tactic that might help to shoot the fish. It seems like the wahoo know when you are looking at them. When you don’t look directly at them, it seems they will stay closer.
When coming up from an exploratory dive where there might be wahoo, leave enough breath hold time to hunt on the way up. When hunting fish other than wahoo, George’s tendency is to head for the surface with his gun pointing down and he’s not in the hunt mode. Around wahoo, he surfaces in a different way because he knows he might see a wahoo on the way up. I try to stay close to his float line when we hunt wahoo so I can give his bungee a little tug and point to where the fish are. There have been many times where I have spotted wahoo that George wouldn’t have seen (George has been focused on looking down in the depths when the wahoo are up closer to the surface).
Wahoo can sometimes be shot from the surface, but it is usually a screwed-up shot. The surface action of the water messes with the accuracy of the shot. I think it is best to be completely underwater when you take a shot (unless the ocean is super calm).
Another thing, if one of your buddies shoots a wahoo (or any other pelagic for that matter) while you are nearby, be ready to dive down and possibly take a shot
at a fish that might come in on the commotion created by your buddy having a fish on. There have been several times when George shot a decent wahoo and another bigger wahoo comes in to see what’s going on. Same with tuna, and for sure with yellowtail.
If you are in really clear water, you might think you are looking at a small wahoo that seems close – when in reality it turns out to be a pretty good-sized wahoo at a distance too far to shoot.
You need to get a very good shot on a wahoo. They are very strong and they will rip off if shot in the gut. Stoning them is optimal, but not always doable.
I believe George always uses wire cable for his shooting line. He only has monofilament shooting line on a small gun he uses on smaller fish and also on the small “2nd shot” Prodanovich gun I carry.
Remember that wahoo have incredibly sharp teeth. Be really careful when you are dispatching a wahoo, and also be careful when you get a wahoo on deck or on shore. I know of a guy who had to have stitches in his foot which was cut badly by wahoo teeth. The guy was simply posing for a photo (with the dead fish’s head down), and the wahoo teeth swung across his foot and made the gash. I was also on a trip where a wahoo was laying on the deck and the boat was rocking and rolling. A dead wahoo slid across the deck and the teeth cut the guy’s heel (didn’t need stitches, though).
Wahoo are incredible to see – especially the big ones! I hope you get some wahoo (big or small) and that you have an awesome time. Relax and be safe, Joe.
And . . . have fun.