It’s blowing a steady 15-knots out of the northeast with crisp five-footers out front. Many tournaments would call for a lay day, but die-hard wahoo anglers are made from a different mold. It’s the first leg of The Bahamas Wahoo Challenge and instead of hitting the snooze button these guys are pulling up their Grundens and rigging shock leaders. It’s arguable wahoo have more of a cult-like following than any other prized game fish, with die-hard fishermen going to extremes timing the annual migration in regards to lunar and tidal activity. Not to say that serious blue marlin hunters aren’t dedicated, because they certainly are. There’s just something about a wahoo’s blistering strike and bold stripes that anglers can’t get enough of.
While you’ve surely seen photos of crews flaunting massive wahoo hauls, don’t be fooled. These striped torpedoes are, in fact, difficult to catch. The competitive teams that routinely fish these events are masters of their trade. They know that few species generate the excitement level of a big wahoo. While these striped torpedoes often surprise unsuspecting fishermen, they simultaneously drive determined wahoo whackers beyond the point of sanity. Just when you think you have them figured out they will stop feeding, or disappear altogether.
After months of grueling battle, the overall tournament champions would be determined at the final leg held at Bimini Bay Resort.
In its third year, The Bahamas Wahoo Challenge has already attracted quite a strong following. Although wahoo fishing tactics are pretty much standardized, with six days of fishing during the tournament’s three events, which include some hefty cash prizes, it’s no surprise crews remain tight-lipped in regards to their technique, tactics and precise fishing locations.
Due to the challenging ocean conditions associated with harsh winter weather, wahoo tournament fishing in The Bahamas remains fairly low-key. I can guarantee you that if wahoo migrated through The Bahamas during the calm summer months that there would easily be 100 or more boats competing in every leg of this event. Combine less than ideal conditions with long runs to isolated fishing grounds through unprotected water and it’s no surprise most sailfish and “meat fish” crews elect not to compete. Oh yeah…crossing the Gulf Stream to get home is yet another challenge facing these overly zealous anglers.
Do you think you have what it takes to wahoo fish against the best?
November 5-7, 2009
Hosted by Bimini Bluewater Resort in the heart of Alice Town, the first event of the 2009/2010 Wahoo Challenge kicked off with a bang. Unfortunately, high seas and stiff winds plagued anglers who crossed the ‘Stream to compete in this highly prestigious event. Typically, strong winds indicate the presence of an approaching frontal boundary, which generally results in a hot-bite. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t get the memo and the action remained unseasonably slow throughout both days of fishing.
Day one saw nothing more than a sporadic bite with Good Times taking the daily by weighing four fish for a total aggregate of 122-pounds. They also posted the largest fish at 43-pounds. Liborio took second place with three fish good for 71-pounds. Lynne Louise, Airborne, Blackwater and Kimbuktu all posted between 25 and 50-pounds of fish, with the rest of the fleet returning to port with empty fishboxes.
Hoping for a change of pace, the fishing remained slow on day two. Only three teams were able to weigh fish, with Airborne taking the daily with 77-pounds and Kimbuktu claiming second place with 54-pounds. Good Times didn’t weigh any fish on Saturday, but their Friday total was good enough to keep them on top and give them the overall win. Airborne skyrocketed from fifth to second place, with Kimbuktu rounding out the top three. Remarkably, 39-foot SeaVee’s claimed the top three spots. Although the first leg of the Challenge didn’t live up to its hype, teams were already looking forward to the next venue.
January 14-17, 2010
Competitors reconvened at the hospitable Port Lucaya Marina and Pelican Bay Hotel for the second event of this Triple Crown series. Relative newcomers, Shine On, showed that hard work and perseverance really pay off after a rocky start on the first day. While bringing a 50-pound brute to the boat, the fish made a final run and was chopped up by the propellers. They managed to boat the fish but as tournament rules clearly state, the fish was considered mutilated and therefore disqualified. It weighed 51-pounds even with the absence of a large chunk of meat. They still managed to weigh four fish and weren’t deterred on day two as they added two more quality wahoo to their overall total. In the end, they managed to hold off the competition and take home top honors. Tournament regulars Ocean Alley finished in second place, posting the tournaments largest fish at 56-pounds. Coming in at a close third was Kimbuktu followed by Blackwater. Heading into the third and final leg, Kimbuktu led Ocean Alley by a mere 25-pounds.
February 18-12, 2010
After months of grueling battle, the overall tournament champions would be determined at the final leg held at Bimini Bay Resort. Not only were there hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, but the notoriety of being named the champions of The Bahamas Wahoo Challenge was at stake. After the first day of fishing every single boat returned to the weigh-in early and tournament directors knew something was up. It seems that the teams were actually tired of catching wahoo, with a couple of boats limiting out with 18 fish! The crews were making dockside wagers as to who had more and/or larger fish, but when it was all said and done, Kimbuktu stole the show with 18 wahoo between 30 and 50-pounds. A record day no doubt, as their top four fish totaled 188.5-pounds for an average of 47-pounds per fish.
On day two everyone was chasing Kimbuktu, and the field’s game plan was to dethrone the leaders. The second day’s haul was equally impressive with steady action being reported all day resulting in every team weighing quality fish. Good Times wheeled some impressive wahoo to the scale including the tournament’s largest, an 85-pound behemoth. Not only did Good Times have the most weight on day two, but they also secured first place with 226.20-pounds. Kimbuktu held onto second place, which along with their previous tournament results was good enough to crown them Bahamas Wahoo Challenge Champions. In addition to a large check they were also awarded four custom designed wahoo pendants created by award winning jeweler, Luis Reyes from Reyes Del Mar.
If you think you’re up for the challenge, visit www.wahoochallenge.com for information on this winter’s event.
Rules & Regulations
- Max Lines: A total of six lines can be fished including a maximum of two wire lines (manual only).
- Boundaries: Boundaries are set for each individual event to coordinate with their location.
- Daily Scoring: The team with the heaviest total of four fish for each day will be the winner for that day.
- Overall Scoring: The team with the heaviest four fish from either day’s weigh-in may be used for the total.
- Series Rules: An award will be given to the team with the highest total weight consisting of a maximum of two wahoo per event. The total weight of these six fish will determine the series winner.