Grand Fashion

Walker’s Cay May Be Closed But Wahoo Still Abound

Capt. Steve Dougherty November 26, 2013

After a restless few hours of sleep in anticipation of what was going to be a long day trip to The Bahamas, I woke to my alarm clock buzzing and my fiancé yelling “Shut it off!” I quickly got ready and stumbled across the street to my neighbor’s dock where in a sleepless daze we hopped aboard his 34 SeaVee and pushed off in the pitch black. It was 3:30 a.m. and you might call us crazy, but it was a brisk winter morning just prior to the passing of a cold front. The wind was barely puffing out of the northwest and we had a perfect window of opportunity to cross the Gulf Stream and smack some wahoo along the extreme reaches of the Little Bahama Bank.

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Big wahoo bust lures in the Out Islands of The Bahamas. Photo: Steve Dougherty/doughertyphotos.com

While many anglers make the crossing to Grand Bahama Island and target the fertile ledges from Memory Rock to points further north, this time around we wanted to do things a little different. After clearing customs at West End we snuck onto the bank and crossed the emerald shallows in the direction of Walker’s Cay. The fortunate thing about this type of fishing is that you don’t need an exorbitant amount of tackle, gear or preparation. When high speeding for wahoo in The Bahamas you only need to bring a set of 50 or 80-wide outfits, trolling leads, shock leaders and your favorite selection of bullet shaped lures.

Clearing the shallows at the marked channel in front of Walker’s Cay, our plan was to troll the entire bank and follow the outgoing tide all the way around The Corner. Unfortunately, our plan didn’t work out as expected and by day’s end our catch consisted of a meager weehoo and 35-pound wahoo head. “Hope you guys brought a change of clothes,” blurted out our fearless leader. And just like that our day trip suddenly became an extended sabbatical.

...just a little more than 100 miles from the coast rests an epic fishery with unpressured ledges and bait rich pinnacles.

Located at the top of the island chain of the Abacos, Walker’s Cay was a favored port of call for big game anglers hailing from Florida’s East Coast. During the 80s and early 90s, Walker’s Cay was the place to be. Sadly, economic times and hardships associated with Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne took a serious toll on this tiny island emerging from the azure waters of the Atlantic. The hotel and marina are no longer in operation, but the surrounding waters are as fishy as ever due to a break in recreational fishing pressure.

Fortunately, the nearby settlement on Grand Cay has stepped up as a solid option for anglers who have spent past seasons exploring the area’s fertile waters. Grand Cay has everything you need including fuel, marina, clean cottages, bar and a small grocery store, most of which are operated by Rosies Place. In addition, there’s no way on or off the rock without taking a boat ride. However, while Grand Cay isn’t lavish or luxurious, it doesn’t have to be. While you often hear of incredible encounters along the distant Out Islands of the southern Bahamas, Grand Cay can’t be ignored as a jumping off point for world-class deepwater fishing in the island archipelago of The Bahamas. Truly an isolated Out Island experience that’s accessible by nearly every center console along the eastern seaboard, Grand Cay sees hot runs of tuna, dolphin and marlin during warmer months of the year, although from November through April it’s all about wahoo.

The following morning I woke in an unfamiliar retreat on our unexpected overnighter to crackling flags and swaying palm trees blowing hard in the wind. It was clear that we had missed our weather window, but we were in The Bahamas and about to melee some wahoo. Headed west toward nowhere, we zigzagged the bank and worked the steep ledges and pinnacles at speeds exceeding 15 knots. As is usually the case with wahoo fishing, when you find one you’ve generally scored big and can pick off a few fish in the area.

As we fished through the snotty conditions we took turns leadering fish and managed to work our way through doubles and triples with a shorthanded three-man crew. We were about to learn that controlled chaos is best served with a healthy amount of salt spray in the face. With the winter winds now turning north we were in for a serious lashing. I was certainly going to be tired and sore tomorrow, but at the moment it didn’t matter because we were on the bite! These are the hard realities of wahoo fishing in the winter.

While it isn’t Walker’s, Rosies Place has taken up the slack and is one island you shouldn’t overlook. Just make sure to plan your trip accordingly or you may be in for the ride of your life. While many anglers make extravagant trips to Cat Cay and points further south for epic winter wahoo action, just a little over 100 miles from the coast rests an epic fishery with unpressured ledges and bait rich pinnacles. Safe crossings and see you on the other side!

Gear For The Fast Lane

Rods: Bent-butt trolling rods 50 to 80 lb. class.
Reels: Lever drag conventional reels 50 to 80 lb. class rigged with braid, wire or monofilament main line.
Weights: In-line trolling leads from 12 to 48 ounces.
Leaders: 20 foot, 200 lb. shock leaders.
Lures: Heavy jet/bullet style lures rigged with 450 lb. cable.

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