3-10-14 - Team FOUR REEL - "Epic" Wahoo Bite Offshore aboard (Pic Heavy)

Yep, I said it, "epic"

When I got a phone call from my boss and friend Mike to fill a spot aboard Curt Englert's 36 Yellowfin, Four Reel, I jumped at the opportunity. "Meet me at the gas station at 3:15" Mike said.

I've been known to be late to work, but I am never late to go fishing. Go figure. At 3:30 sharp, I hopped in Mike's truck, extended a tired hand to his son Jack, 14, and the three of us headed out to Curt's house in Palm Valley to meet up with Curt and the rest of the crew.

The rest of the crew turned out to be Curt's three boys, Hansen, 11, Harrison, 14, and Hayden 16. You read that right: We were going tournament wahoo fishing, in March, with 4 kids aboard. I was a bit skeptical about having that many kids aboard, and the thought crossed my mind that I'd be in for some extra work. I couldn't have been more wrong.

We loaded up the boat as the pre-dawn chill settled in on my bones. Like a well oiled machine, the kids snapped into action even though we were all barely awake. All head-to-toe in Grundens, the kids were ready to fish.


Part of fishing on a new boat is learning their style, their preferences - and sometimes quirks - and then assimilating into it. Their style? It was all business. The sheer amount of work that was accomplished getting the boat loaded in a 25 minute period hardly gave me a chance to breathe. Their preferences? Very, very specific: Each rod had a specific place, and the kids that I thought might need help ended up helping me understand why a specific rod went to a specific place. Rod leashes, outrigger clips, and loose items were all addressed by the team before I could even make a meaningful contribution to the undertaking.

We made one stop leaving the inlet to allow any remaining breakfast to be deposited into the ocean.


While tournament rules specify that you cannot start fishing until safe light, the rules don't specify when you can start heading out. Four Reel's style is to be ready to fish at daybreak. That means riding out to the unspecified and super top secret bluewater grounds in the dark. This is where I want to talk about the boat.

The 36 Yellowfin, first of all, is beautiful. It is the perfect boat for our NE FL wahoo fishery. Around here, you have to run a ways to get to bluewater. Powered by triple 250 Yamahas, a 6500 pound weight, and 24 degree deadrise, it is like sitting atop a javelin in nasty chop. I am a tech guy, so I really appreciated the use of an autopilot and closed array radar in the cold March chill. One thing I never really considered until I got on this boat was the inability to see the next swell or wave and prepare for it while running. Its dark, its cold, and the eisenglass gull wing curtains have a glare to them. You can't really see anything. No matter. Englert, Mike and I stood at the console and watched the radar and speed over ground numbers. "We will be out to the ledge in an hour" Remarked Englert, arms folded. The boat took care of everything, he didn't even have his hands on the controls.

"When we have a wahoo strike, its like a car accident. We are traveling at 13-20 knots, the fish is a torpedo, traveling at 30-40. Its a very violent collision." Englert continued "We don't throttle down, though. When we get a fish to the boat, I want you to grab the shock leader and secure the trolling weight. Walk everything to the front of the bow. That's your job, understand?"

No one had to say anything to Jack, Hanson, Harrison and Hayden. They popped up out of bean bags right when they felt the throttles back off. We got our lines in the water at first safe light, per tournament rules. The seas were perfect.

Hansen, 11 and his Dad, Curt

Hansen, 11

It couldn't have been 7:30 when the first outrigger popped. The 50-wide Tiagra was dumping line so fast I thought it was going to come apart. "That is definitely a wahoo" stated Englert, matter-of-factly. "Guys, get ready".

Hayden, 16, is by far the most capable fisherman on the boat. He is the deck boss. You ask him what to do if you don't know. "Take the long line in!" spat Hayden. I started reeling in the 80-wide, per his instruction, to make sure no tangles ensued. Even without a fish on it, these things will wear your arms and shoulders out. It's not uncommon for more than 1 person to take turns reeling in empty lines. When there is a fish on, taking turns is a requirement.

Jack prepared the Go-Pro, Harrison started clearing the deck, Mike began securing outrigger tag lines, and Hanson readied the gaff for Curt. One thing Curt insists on is being the gaff man. Up front, Hansen prepared the bow of the boat so that the coffin box could be pneumatically raised. All of this was done without Curt barking orders.

We boated a nice Wahoo with minimal drama and continued trolling:


The action only got hotter!! We were catching Wahoo at such a frenetic pace, there were a couple times that I almost wanted a break from all the reeling. ALMOST.

View from stern

We had a quadruple header at about 10:15 that day and amazingly, boated all but one.

Harrison, 14, Jack, 14, Hayden 16

Harrison, 14, Jack, 14, Hayden 16

Capt. Curt Englert on the gaff

Capt. Curt Englert in action

Hayden Englert, 16, with a fish he released

The fish box was looking very nice by 2:30. At this point, whenever we boated a fish that looked small, like the one below, we reverted to bass techniques. We just leadered the fish, yanked it aboard, removed the hooks and set it free.


Hayden Englert, 16, with a fish we released

All in all, we went 15 for 20 on wahoo, keeping 12 fish. There can't be that many people that fish wahoo tournaments with four kids aboard. This was a day no one aboard will soon forget.


Picture above: Harrison Englert, 14, Curt Englert, Hayden Englert, 16, Jack Richardson, 14, Mike Richardson

Yours truly, with a keeper hoo

Back at the dock, the well oiled machine continued. Curt Cleaned fish, Mike and I cleaned the boat, and the boys shifted their attention to cleaning fishing equipment, that is, after they posed like prizefighters with their hard earned catch! Tight lines!!


Eric S. Vaughn
Mandarin FL Native

17 Sea Boss CC
90 Mercury FourStroke EFI


Sign In or Register to comment.