12175296065?profile=RESIZE_710xA camper named Colton  holds the head of the 87-pound wahoo that surprised and thrilled the 12- to 14-year-olds who fished with him during his annual ‘Kid Camp.’ Lemieux hooked the fish after one of the kids discovered it, and mate Kole Hawk (in hoodie) reeled it in. Photo provided by Chris Lemieux

By Steve Waters

Although wahoo can be caught year-round in South Florida, the days leading up to and after full moons in August are the absolute best time to land one or more of the speedy, tasty game fish.

No one knows why wahoo bite so consistently well this time of year. What anglers do know is fighting and landing a wahoo is a thrill, and so is eating its firm, white flesh, which is delicious grilled or sautéed or even raw, sashimi-style.

Offshore anglers get a bonus this month because there are two full moons, on the first day of August and on the 30th. That means the wahoo fishing will be good the first week of

August as well as during the days leading up to Aug. 30 and into early September.

“The day before and the day after the full moon usually aren’t as good, but for some reason like two or three days before and two or three days after are the best for me,” said Capt. Chris Lemieux of Boynton Beach.

Few anglers are as skilled at catching wahoo as Lemieux. Earlier this summer, while guiding a group of 12- to 14-year-olds during his annual weeklong “Kid Camp,” Lemieux caught a giant 87-pound wahoo.

Lemieux started the trip trolling for wahoo, but that only produced bonito, a hard-fighting member of the tuna tribe whose strong-tasting flesh is better suited for making trolling baits than making dinner.

The kids asked if they could use the live pilchards that Lemieux had netted that morning to catch blackfin tuna, which often hang out with bonito.

“We’re sitting there catching bonitos like crazy, and one of the kids said, ‘Oh, man, my bonito got eaten in half.’ So, I just assumed a barracuda or a shark ate it,” Lemieux said. “I look over the side and there’s this giant, massive wahoo just circling the boat. I said, ‘Reel it up, reel it up!’ As he’s reeling it up, the fish swipes at the remaining half and kind of hits it a little bit.

“I reached over and grabbed a rod that had just a monofilament rig on it, a live-bait rod. I tied a titanium wire rig on it real quick and just cut a chunk of the bonito and cast it out. The wahoo ate it right next to the boat.”

As wahoo typically do, the big fish made a blistering first run, dumping all the 25-pound monofilament line on the conventional reel and getting into the braided line backing.

After seeing the size of the wahoo, none of the kids wanted to fight it. So, Lemieux handed the fishing rod to his mate, Kole Hawk, then started the twin Mercury outboard motors on his Conch 27 center console and chased the fish offshore.

“We caught him real quick, in like 15 minutes,” Lemieux said. “It was a really, really cool experience with the kids.”

Lemieux (who can be booked for charters at 561-767-6211) said wahoo fishing this month is good north of Boca Inlet and in the Delray Beach area. There also are artificial reefs south of the inlet where wahoo hang out.

Trolling a bonito strip, which is about an 8-inch-long piece of bonito belly, or a dead ballyhoo behind a colorful Sea Witch lure is the most effective way to hook a wahoo.

“I love catching them on live bait but just to target them on live bait is very hard,” Lemieux said. “To truly catch them consistently, you have to troll, just because you’re covering so much ground.

“Once you get a bite, just kind of stay in that area. They’re usually not by themselves, they’re usually in packs. So, I’ll stay in the area for a little while and hopefully get another bite.”

But as the kids on Lemieux’s boat discovered, sometimes one wahoo bite is all you need.


Outdoors writer Steve Waters can be reached at steve33324@aol.com.

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