Free-Spool for More Wahoo

This 91.9-pound tournament wahoo was caught by Capt. Joseph Shugart and the One Time Fishing Team off the Georgia coast. From left are Colton Shugart, 14, Jack Smith, 14, Aidan Strickland, 14, and holding the card is Brooks Shugart, 12.

Here’s a solid wahoo tip from Capt. Judy Helmy of Miss Judy Charters in Savannah, Ga.

The wahoo’s nickname is tail-cutter. Why? They are known for disabling their prey before they eat.

So, here’s how this goes: They speed by and cut the tail or tails of fish off. This causes the intended meal to start falling in the water column. You already know it’s hard for a fish to swim, much less escape, without a tail.

The wahoo is also known for its ability to make sharp turns. In other words, really corner like it is on rails! Their tail design allows them to make precise as well as accurate 180-degree turns while never slowing down.

Now, with this information on board, you as a fisher should be thinking about the best way to catch this speed demon. Let’s talk about my old-school fish-catching tools while using big horse ballyhoo rigged on Ilander lures. My favorite was red/black, or I should say “burgundy and black.” I pull this lure way back behind my trolling spread, and it is always in the rod holder located behind me on the bridge. When it gets bumped, better known as a “short strike,” I immediately put the reel in free spool and quickly drop back the bait.

Why? If you think about this fish’s nickname “tail cutter,” you should assume the wahoo just cut the tail off your bait. Bait can’t swim without a tail. While you are dropping back your bait, the wahoo that just hit your lure is or already has made a 180-degree turn. After it makes that turn, if your tailless bait is not falling in the water column, the wahoo immediately thinks something is wrong because the fish it just cut the tail off of should be falling.

How much line should you drop back? Free spool as long as you feel. After all, you already know there are big hungry fish in the area. And what is this drop-back plan called? “Prospect Fishing!”

Just so you know, I suggest dropping back all baits in your spread. You got not a thing to lose, and you just might get hooked up! That, my friend, is exactly what fishing, or should I say “HOOKING UP AND CATCHING IS ALL ABOUT!”

Check out Capt. Judy Helmey at

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