Saltwater Sportsman - - Hunt For Ocean Tigers -

Char­ter boats from the Outer Banks point to May, when the tem­per­a­ture of the wa­ter reaches the mid-70s, as the month when wa­hoo be­gin con­gre­gat­ing in the re­gion, but most con­sider late sum­mer and fall, when wa­ter temps hover around 80 de­grees, as the peak of the wa­hoo run.

An­glers from Ore­gon In­let fo­cus their search on well-known spots like the Tuna Hole, the Point and Whale Hole. Boats out of Hat­teras pa­trol fa­vorites like the Rock­pile, the Beach, Big Rock, 200 Rocks, and var­i­ous deep wrecks where fish sus­pend around the bot­tom struc­ture.

Far­ther south, off Beau­fort In­let, crews key on color changes and dropoffs, or rises on the bot­tom along the edge of the con­ti­nen­tal shelf, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to where the cur­rent pushes over struc­ture cre­at­ing up­wellings that ag­gre­gate small bonito and other prey.

Pur­ple-and-black, red-and-black, pink-and-blue, or yel­low-and-green Joe Shute or Iland lures over large bal­ly­hoo rigged with 9/0 or 10/0 hook tandems are a main­stay in trolling spreads. In North Carolina, so is a Drone spoon be­hind a planer. An iden­ti­cal setup is often fished off the op­po­site side, far­ther back, and some crews opt for a down­rig­ger in­stead to troll an­other Iland lure­bal­ly­hoo combo deeper than a planer al­lows. A six-line spread is ef­fec­tive and man­age­able, even aboard small cen­ter­con­soles with a re­duced crew.

READY FOR DUTY: For wa­hoo, Iland lures with rigged bal­ly­hoo are a good bet.

1. Iland lure-bal­ly­hoo com­bi­na­tions off both rig­gers, 300 and 350 feet back, re­spec­tively. 2. Two sim­i­lar lure-bait com­bos — with 16- to 36-ounce cigar sinkers 30 feet ahead — set 200 and 250 feet back, off port and star­board flat lines. 3. No. 4 Drone spoon 100 feet back, off a bent-butt rod on a tran­som cor­ner with a No. 12, 16 or 24 planer 60 feet up the leader, bri­dled with clips for easy re­moval when reel­ing in a fish. 4. Iland lure-bal­ly­hoo combo 150 feet back and 50 feet down, off a down­rig­ger.

FYI: Rec­om­mended speed is 6 to 9 knots. To troll at the higher end of the speed range, sub­sti­tute the Drone spoon be­hind the planer for an Ilan­der-bait combo. Rig trolling sinkers with 4 feet of No. 9 wire to pre­vent cut­offs from wa­hoo at­tacks.

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