Milder temps, calm conditions offshore mean plenty of offshore winter wahoo
A milder winter that makes duck-hunting trips real duds can have a silver lining if you’re an offshore fisherman like Tyler Hatrel of Metairie.
If he’s not hunting, he’s taking out his frustration by mopping up on wahoo out of Fourchon.
Hatrel said late January, February and early March are prime times to target wahoo off Louisiana’s coast. They head for an area roughly 80 to 90 miles south/southwest of Fourchon.
“We’re fishing underwater dome structures. The whole point of what we’re looking for is significant depth changes, so the area we’ve been fishing is somewhere just over 300 feet, and the reef jumps up to 180 feet,” he said. “So that’s where the bait is getting held up, and that’s why wahoo are holding there.”
Hatrel said they’ve had success trolling up to about four shaky baits, like a Mann’s Stretch 30, at about 6 or 8 knots.
“Sometimes we’ll pull more than that, but in most cases, every single rod can go off, and it gets out of hand,” he said. “You can’t actually expect to reel in four fish at a time — all hell breaks loose with that many fish on at one time.
“It’s kind of counterproductive at that point.”
Reels of choice include Penn or Shimano Tiagra 50 or 30 Wides, he said. Line is typically 60- to 100-pound mono, with a single-strand steel leader 9 to 14 inches long.
Sizes last season were consistently in the 30- to 60-pound range, with one of the best being a 67-incher that was estimated between 75 and 85 pounds.
“You’re looking at 40- to 60-inch fish,” he said. “If we can get out there, we go to the same two or three areas, and we would expect to get on them.
“The main problem in the wintertime is getting out because it’s normally windy and nasty in January and February.”