Before Mother Nature decided winter was going to be in March, offshore anglers had been running into quality mixed catches in all depths of water.
Those who were fishing deeper water were doing well catching tuna, amberjack, red grouper, mangrove snapper, kingfish and hogfish between the windy days.
To capitalize on the good fishing and a good day of weather, Travis Amuso headed offshore with Bob Gelzheiser for red grouper and more before the cold front arrived. Amuso had recently found a new spot approximately 30 miles west of Sarasota, and he wanted to see what was on it. When the duo began fishing, Gelzheiser caught a red grouper and lane snapper on the first drop with an Alien jig.
“While pulling up those fish we saw what we thought were blackfin tuna busting on the surface, so we went over to check it out,” Amuso said. “No luck, so we headed back to the spot.
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When it hit the deck, we were both in awe. I screamed like a little boy and we started high-fiving in shock of what we just caught.
Travis Amuso, fisherman
“Before we could even drop a line, this massive fish shows up behind the boat. Immediately, I knew it was a wahoo, which is strange because usually I’ll guess two completely wrong species when I see something come up to the surface.”
With their sleek bodies, long profile and razor sharp teeth, wahoo can be easily confused with kingfish and barracuda from a distance. The big difference: Wahoo will light up and display a brilliant blue when aggressive.
58 The weight of the wahoo landed by Travis Amuso and Bob Gelzheiser before the cold front arrived last week
“We started throwing cut bonita and sardines to the wahoo, and it immediately ate all the chum. I had a free line rigged with 50-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 4/0 circle hook that I put a piece of bonita on, and it immediately got broke off. I quickly put on a wire rig and the wahoo swam up to it multiple times, but wouldn’t touch it.”
Years ago, I ran into a similar situation as Amuso approximately 40 miles offshore. A hungry, lit up wahoo was tearing through the chum below the boat. The only option? A heavy spinner with the equivalent of tarpon tackle, heavy fluorocarbon leader with a big circle hook and a freelined bait. The wahoo ate, the hook held, and an anxiety-filled hour later my first wahoo was in the boat.
Thinking quickly, Amuso rigged a 100-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 8/0 circle hook. He put a chunk of bonita on it. The wahoo saw the bonita chunk, ate it, but didn’t get hooked.
“At this point I thought there was no way we were getting this fish. I put it back out there and he swam up and turned around.
“I threw my bait along with a bunch of other chummed bait and the fish took mine. I grabbed the rod and started reeling as fast as I could so the fish couldn’t swallow it.”
When the fish was hooked, Amuso handed the Penn Slammer 8500 and 6-foot, 9-inch Shimano Terez to Gelzheiser, and the wahoo took off on a run of 200 yards. The back and forth lasted 35 minutes when it finally came boat side. Amuso grabbed the gaff, sticking the wahoo on the first chance he saw.
“As I started to pull the fish over the gunnel, I could feel the head of the gaff breaking, Amuso said. “Bob quickly helped me pull the fish in the boat as I was almost getting bit on my hand. I told him, ‘No matter what I’m not losing this fish.’
“When it hit the deck, we were both in awe. I screamed like a little boy and we started high-fiving in shock of what we just caught.”
The wahoo weighed in at 58 pounds, a true trophy for the west coast.
CB’s Saltwater fly fishing school, Bradenton, 8:30 a.m.
CB's Saltwater fly fishing school, Bradenton, 8:30 a.m.
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