Captain Joel’s Fishin’ Holes

By: Capt. Joel Brandenburg 

Winter is probably the best season of the year to catch wahoo. We use several different techniques and they all work well. It seems to be all about being in the right place at the right time.

I know a Captain named Kevin Rowley in Big Pine Key who has a couple spots he’ll anchor on and fish for wahoo with live bait and when he’s done fishing, before he pulls the anchor, he’ll dive in with his wet suit and spear gun and come up with a huge wahoo many times. Other than being an awesome angler and free diving spear fisherman, Capt. Kevin has a gift for being at the right place at the right time. He knows exactly where the wahoo will be during certain tides, cloud cover, wind conditions, water temperatures, etc.

We’re not that talented yet, but we get our share of wahoo each winter. Since most of the time we’re traveling 12 to 14 knots it’s convenient to do a lot of high-speed trolling for wahoo to and from offshore. We use a 40-ounce inline cylinder weight with a cable on each side and a large swivel at each cable end. Our 100lb test main line is tied to one end and on the other end is 40 yards of 100lb mono tied to a swivel connected to a 500lb 3ft cable coming from a black and purple torment squiggly with a silver metal nose cone. At 12 knots this high-speed rig will run 40ft to 50ft deep.

The Torment lure is supposed to resemble a little tuna and 90% of the time we find little tuna’s in the bellies of the wahoo when we’re cleaning them. We catch most of our wahoo in 100 to 300 feet of water and most are caught early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We do best in smooth water with a slakish current. Sunny conditions seem to be better than cloudy conditions. We’ve had our best successes right before or directly after storms and fronts. Wrecks, ledges, weed lines, floaters and even lobster and crab trap buoys seem to attract wahoo.

One thing that will increase your wahoo bite is trolling your ballyhoo with a wire leader rather than mono. When trolling mono rigged ballyhoo every once in a while you’ll get bit off. You probably don’t even want to see the size of the wahoo that just bit you off. Wahoo have a row of razor-sharp teeth on top and bottom and will slice through mono like butter.

We got tired of winter wahoo breaking us off, so now we troll our ballyhoo with wire leader during winter and it doesn’t seem to turn off other gamefish we are targeting such as mahi, sailfish and tuna. Give wahoo a try this winter, best fighter and best eating fish in the ocean!

— For a charter with Ana Banana Fishing Company Marathon
Florida Keys call 813-267-4401 cell, 305-395-4211 office, or email us at  You can also visit us in person at Ana Banana Marina at 12699 Overseas Highway Marathon Florida Keys or Captain Joel Brandenburg 570 Sombrero Beach Rd Marathon FL 33050