Wahoo can be caught year round along the Atlantic coast of Florida from Key West to Jacksonville. However, the most productive time to target wahoo in south Florida is during the July and August full moons along the east coast of Florida. The three most important things to consider when targeting wahoo is structure, water movement, and the season. When the stars align and all three of these conditions happen favorably you will be sure to load your fish box.
The reason anglers are most successful during the July and August full moon is 100% due to water movement. During July and August, the moon is the closest it will be to south Florida. Due to this, the full moon will produce the two largest tide swings along the east coast of Florida during the entire year. Large tide swings produce very favorable currents, which will congregate wahoo.
When the high tide falls, bait and other nutrients will be flushed out of the intercostal waters and shallow coast areas into the deep ocean water. The dropping tide acts as a conveyor belt, funneling food to pelagic fish in deeper water. This feeding trough will cause wahoo to stack up in 100-400 feet of water just a few miles off the cost of south Florida. While you can catch wahoo during any tide condition, you will have the best luck during the out going tide.
If I had to pick a single depth to troll in a straight line, it would be 175 ft. However, there are many days where you will find them deeper some when you find the fish shallower. But for the best and most consistent results you should focus your efforts on covering lots of ground until you find where the fish are holding. To cover ground I troll in a zig-zag pattern between 150 and 400 feet of water.
While wahoo can be caught trolling at any speed, they are one of the fastest fish in the ocean. Wahoo do not have a problem destroying baits that are pulled upwards of 20 mph. I prefer to high speed troll between 15-20 MPH(speed over water) depending on seas and current. When trolling with the current, your GPS speed will likely be at the top of the range or possibly even above. When trolling against the current, your GPS speed will be at the lower end of the range. With all that being said, your boat will have the final say on your trolling speed. Every hull is different, and each will have a sweet spot.
Most wahoo are caught during low light conditions when the sun is rising or setting. When the sun is directly over head, the wahoo tend to push deeper into darker water, and do not feed at or near the surface. When the fish push deeper they are significantly less likely to bite. Additionally, there are so many fisherman in South Florida, the shear number of people fishing puts significant pressure on the fishery. Because of the fishing pressure, it typically pays to be one of the first boats on the water. As the saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm”.
If fishing in the morning you should plan to have lines in the water 45 min prior to sunrise as published by any weather app. The morning bite will typically last for 2 hours after the sun has risen. Once the sun has been up for more than two hours the fish will push deep and be extremely hard to catch.
South Florida Wahoo Spread – generally speaking, small to medium size lures are more productive when fishing off of south Florida. Due to the high fishing pressure, and the smaller numbers of fish in the area we find down sizing lures to be the most productive.
Shortest Line(150 Ft behind boat) – I always run my heaviest trolling weights closest to the boat, The additional weight helps to keep the baits down below the prop wash. I run a 48oz trolling lead on my shortest line. From the trolling weight I run a 25ft shock chord made with mono. I always prefer to run my largest bait on the shortest line. This will make it appear as the strongest and healthiest fish is the leader of the pack. My go to lure for my short line is a Hollow Point Medium or Money Fish Medium rigged with a double hook set.
Second Line(200ft behind boat) – I run a 48oz or 32 oz tolling weight on my second line. If the conditions are very calm, I will run a 32 oz as you do not need as much weight in calm seas. If it is rough, I will run a 48oz trolling weight to hold the lure deeper in the seas. My go to lure for my second line is a Medium Hollow Point or a Medium Money Fish rigged with a double hook set.
Third Line(250ft behind boat) – I run a 16oz trolling weight on on my third line. Large weights are not required on longer lines as the additional distance from the boat allows the lure to run deeper compared to your shortest lines. My go to long line lure is a Mini Hollow Point rigged with a single hook set.