It was a crowded boat for angler Petie Lowe and captain Ricky Sands in late February; their first fish of the day was a wahoo that they caught trolling off of Hope Town in the Abacos. The massive fish dwarfed the 27’ Sea Pro center console, Sweet Escape, and had the fight and strength of a blue marlin. Sands, who has fished the Abacos for nearly two decades, and Lowe, a retired professional lobster diver, were thrilled with the catch, which weighed in at 112 pounds and nearly six feet long with a 31” girth.
After leaving the dock at 7am, Sands guided Sweet Escape to the fishing grounds off Abaco in 2-4 foot seas and with winds blowing at about 15-20 knots out of the southeast. Most of the wind was blocked by the island as Lowe and Sands ran a 5 line spread and trolled through disorganized seaweed. Sands spotted a patch of seaweed about 50 yards in diameter with a bit of a rip on it. He cleared the lines and trolled the seaweed, and was immediately rewarded by a violent hit. With an explosion of white water, the fish took the bait and ran 400 yards, nearly emptying Lowe’s line. The reel screamed for nearly a minute as the fish tore off, and Lowe proceeded to fight for 30 minutes as it dove and ran. After a second long run of 100-150 yards, Sands got the fish on the leader, and realized just how large he was. At that point the fish had another burst of energy, and dived under the boat. After hurriedly taking the rod from the fighting belt and switching sides, Lowe and Sands got him on the leader again. The wahoo then swam straight at the motors, and Sands quickly stuck him with the gaff. Once they secured the monster, it was mayhem as they brought the angry fish into the boat.
“This wahoo was a unique fight, very erratic with impressive speed and strength,” said Sands. “Normally big wahoo stay down deep, but after he hit this guy ran straight out, nearly dumping the 50 wide reel. During the fight the angle of the line changed frequently as he dove and rose, so you may have thought he was a small marlin. Once we had him on the leader, he was about 40 feet down and the water was so clear you could see him. He was a beautiful fish, and shot towards the surface before swimming in circles as we pulled him in. During the fight he charged the surface and dove repeatedly. It was impressive how fast and strong he was, and how much fight he had in him. Petie did a great job of bringing him in as it was not a short or easy fight.”
Sands, who runs Ricky Sands Charters out of Guana Cay, caught a similar wahoo ten years ago aboard his uncle’s boat, Backbreaker. While such catches aren’t rare in the Bahamas, it was rare for this area. “The larger fish run in the heart of winter,” said Sands. “The quantity goes down but the quality goes up.”
By Fish On!