Author: Terry Lacoss
96965 Buccaneer Trail
Amelia Island, Fl. 32034
“Don Combs the Angler”
By Terry Lacoss
One of my favorite fish stories goes as follows.
“The sun was just about to set when I noticed a large school of bait that was being pushed up to the surface by game fish deep below,” Don Combs said. “The nervous school of bait fish showered the surface of the calm ocean, indicating game fish were feeding on them at will.”
Legendary blue water angler Don Combs and his fishing party aboard the St. Augustine, Florida based sport fishing boat, “Shark Bait,” were fishing for sailfish in three hundred feet of water. The sailfish bite had been excellent during the past few days off from Flagler Beach, Florida, which led them to believe that sails were more than likely working the pod of baitfish.
“We trolled right through that nervous school of bait, resulting in a big fish striking a black and blue ‘Flame’ lure,” remembers Combs. “We fought that big wahoo for almost a half hour before we were able to bring the hooked fish up close to the transom of my sport fishing boat, ‘Shark Bait’. Suddenly a giant wahoo stuck its head out of the water and shook the hook loose. I know that wahoo had to have weighed well over 150-pounds!”
Don Combs holds the existing Northeast Florida Marlin Association’s wahoo record, which weighed 125-pounds. Irronically, Don Combs and fishing team had just set out a spread of high speed lures when that big “Hoo” struck.
“Typically the really big wahoo will take a large bait or lure,” Combs said. “In this case we had just begun to troll with a spread of large ‘C&H’ lures. Minutes later that monster ‘Hoo’ struck and we had it in the boat in less than fifteen minutes. I immediately announced on the VHF marine radio that the tournament was over and we had just landed the winning wahoo!”
Indeed Don Combs and his “Shark Bait” fishing team had not only won the Northeast Florida Marlin Association’s annual wahoo tournament, but they also set a club record that still stands today!
The wahoo fishing is so good off Northeast Florida that blue water fishing boats often hook up to ten or more of these ocean race horses per trip to the ledge where water depths drop off sharply from 180-1,000 feet of water. Don Combs and fishing party once hooked 21-wahoo in a single day while fishing offshore of St. Augustine, Fl.
“Wahoo are one of the fastest swimming fish in the ocean,” Don Combs said. “They also jump during the cooler months and I have seen hooked wahoo jump as high as my flying bridge. Boy is that a sight to see!”
“One thing that I have learned though, is that wahoo prefer to strike a lure that is trolled under the surface and is also trolled in a dead straight line. Some of my favorite lure combination colors for wahoo include blue-white and red-black. Ironically, one of the very first lures that I designed is still one of my favorite blue water lures today, which is the ‘American Express.’ We have caught some really large wahoo with this popular lure and during one blue water fishing trip to the ‘Big Ledge,’ we boated a 67-, 57- and 45-pound ‘Bull’ dolphin with the blue-white ‘American Express’!”
Legendary saltwater angler Don Combs also is one of the first blue water fisherman to employ speed trolling for wahoo, which includes trolling speeds from 13-18 knots.
Don Combs list of high speed lures includes C & H “Mr. Big”, “Wahoo Whacker XL” and the “American Express”
However Don Combs also showed his greatness while producing some of the worlds very best blue water lures while heading up “C&H” lures. But Don’s real windfall was putting together “Salt Life” outdoor apparel!
With his wife Cynthia they captured the first “Super Slam” ever recorded in Northeast Florida and in one year caught and released 52- billfish off North Florida as well.
Don Combs is regarded as one of the best blue water fisherman while not only designing some of the world’s best trolling lures but also developing effective trolling spreads, lure rigging and high speed trolling as well.