NORTH­EAST FLORIDA LEDGE-ISLATION

Saltwater Sportsman - - Hunt For Ocean Tigers -

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.

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