NORTHEAST FLORIDA LEDGE-ISLATION
In northeast Florida, wahoo season gets going in November, and the best action occurs from February through April. Here wahoo addicts center their efforts around the 28-fathom curve, where the Ledge, a 30-foot drop from 170 to 200 feet, holds enough fish to warrant the 55- to 60-mile run offshore from Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Although bottom structure is important, water temperature is also a key factor. Come winter, wahoo search for forage and milder water. Since the temperature of the Gulf Stream remains rather constant, finding an eddy drawing the current’s warmer, nutrient-rich water close to the Ledge is bound to pay dividends, so the more successful anglers review sea-surface charts and satellite images of the Gulf Stream to identify temperature breaks and eddies. While 78-degree water is ideal, locating a temperature break from 68 to 72 degrees in the winter is a major cue.
Speed-trolling in a zigzag pattern with five bullet-shaped lures without ballyhoo, which wash out quickly at high speeds, is an effective way to search for wahoo. When you catch a fish, make more passes through the same water from different headings. If you find willing ’hoos, switch to ballyhoo with Iland lures and slow down.
1. First lure 300 feet back, off a gunwale rod. 2. Second lure 250 feet back, off the opposite gunwale. 3. Third lure 200 feet back, off a transom rod (closest to the longest line). 4. Fourth lure 50 feet shorter, off the transom. 5. Fifth lure on shotgun line down the middle, 350 feet back, off the tower or hardtop.
FYI: Best speed is 12 to 15 knots. Use 10-ounce Joe Shute Cruisers, 8-ounce Flat Liners or Iland Crusaders to prevent skipping and line tangles. Smaller boats and bumpy seas may require sinkers (16 to 48 ounces) up the leader.