Tips on Landing a Wahoo Solo

Took my first trip of 2018 this morning. 60 seconds in and one of the lines gets hit slow trolling skirted ballyhoos. Cut the engine and cleared the other lines. As the fish got closer to the boat I realized it was my first wahoo. Got him near the boat and he went on a few runs. I was getting ready to put the rod in the holder to grab the gaff and he ran under the boat and snapped the line. He was a slob and all lit up, looked amazing! Any tips for landing a wahoo solo? I want to be ready when the next opportunity comes up. I've replayed the 2 minutes 100x and keep thinking what I could have done differently to get him in the boat.


  • Beer moneyBeer money Posts: 76 Greenhorn

    Steer offshore and keep the boat moving. I usually only run 2 rods when I'm solo so you shouldn't have to worry about clearing the other rod. Once you get the leader close move the rod to the front so you can leader in the back near the wheel and stick em when it's ready.

  • butts182butts182 Posts: 164 Deckhand
    edited February 19 #3

    Keep the boat in gear while fighting fish. Sometimes you can get the fish to the boat without clearing lines, but it depends on how the lines are set up and how the fish runs. I personally never clear my lines and almost never get tangled. One you get it near the boat, put the boat into a slight turn and fight the fish on the inside of the turn. Get gaff ready during the fight. Once you get the fish to the boat, hold rod with one hand and pick up gaff with other hand. Gaff fish and sling it in or put rod down then sling in.

  • saltyseniorsaltysenior Posts: 770 Officer

    talk real nice to the makes 50% of them relax and easy to control....the other 50% will act just like your fish did...

  • GarysmoGarysmo Posts: 420 Deckhand

    I often fish where I have to handle the rod and gaff solo. I like to have a glove on my non-gaffing hand so when I grab the lead I can get a good grip on it and then gaff him quickly. Basically once I commit to get him in the boat I move quickly. However it sounds like you had a huge fish so that definitely makes it tougher. Its never fun to loose a fish., I lost a nice red in my kayak the other day and have done the same replaying like you.

  • CoastalCatchCoastalCatch Lighthouse PointPosts: 346 Deckhand
    edited February 19 #6

    Play with him a little longer so he's not so frisky when he finally comes alongside...the only downside might be the taxman!

    'The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.' ~ George Orwell

  • SloughSlough S.w. Ga./ St. JamesPosts: 4,497 Captain

    Play him longer like said. Don't go for the gaff till he is laying sideways. But remember, he is just resting and you have 1 shot.

    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you
  • Kevinwwings2Kevinwwings2 Posts: 1,268 Officer

    Don't stop the boat(may desire adjusting speed, but never a complete stop). Only clear the other lines if you have to, usually if you keep moving it is pretty easy to tell if the fish goes over or under the other lines and easier to stop the tangle. Turn off-shore or away from the reef, where sharks are more likely. Remember fighting a fish is not a race, more like a Marathon that you just want to finish. Let those tournament guys be the first ones across the finish line, I would rather just finish with dinner. IF you do get a tangle, let the fishless linego slack or severely reduce the drag setting on that rod.

  • CoastalCatchCoastalCatch Lighthouse PointPosts: 346 Deckhand
    edited February 19 #9

    @Kevinwwings2 said:
    Let those tournament guys be the first ones across the finish line, I would rather just finish with dinner.

    It's NOT a race (unless the taxman is closing in)..just enjoy the fight and dinner! B)

    'The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.' ~ George Orwell

  • JaxJax Posts: 57 Greenhorn

    Don’t ever take the boat out of gear, even if your not alone. Only slow down enough so you can reel the fish in.

  • Fireman BillFireman Bill Posts: 552 Officer

    I am going to disagree with the keep the boat in gear theory trying to gaff a big fish solo. Troll 2 lines 3 at the most. Fight the fish slowly do not bring it to the boat until it is worn out. You can leave the boat in gear early in the fight and steer offshore but at some point I would be in neutral. Put the gaff where you can reach it from either side of the boat Watch your feet when it comes in the boat. Make sure pliers and knife are handy as well. You are only going to fall overboard once from a moving boat.

    Fireman Bill

  • JWPBJWPB Posts: 159 Deckhand

    I've landed a 55 inch wahoo solo at night and you did everything you could. Unless you have auto pilot keeping the boat in gear becomes more of a hazard than a help when wind and waves beat you around. Yes, it keeps pressure on the hook but Wahoo typically do that for you and you broke off, you did not pull the hook.

    One thing you could have done is raise the engine. I've done that to make it easier during the back and forth under boat but sooner or later you need to put down rod and gaff the fish so a little luck always needed that he cooperates at that moment.

    Sucks to loose it but you did what you could when alone and the memories will last a while, tiger stripes and all.

    Jupiter 29FS
  • dragon baitdragon bait Posts: 5,777 Admiral

    Dead boat lost fish, keep it moving

  • ldavid516ldavid516 Posts: 292 Deckhand

    Say you landed it but did a C & R due to its beauty !!

  • K-DawgK-Dawg Posts: 150 Deckhand

    Besides keeping the hook set, the boat moving through the water acts as an extra hand to help control the fish.

    And if you're fishing offshore alone you'd be smart to use some sort of kill switch.

  • JaxJax Posts: 57 Greenhorn

    Ok, I should have said you need a kill switch and auto pilot. Also if your solo you would be smart to wear an inflatable life vest. The hook works a big hole in the fishes mouth, so you want to keep the line tight. Keeping the boat in gear helps with that.

  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 8,789 Admiral

    make some friends! I'm sure you can find someone to go with you and lend a hand.

    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 22,949 AG

    More likely to foul the prop if the boat isn't moving....very slowly in gear.

  • jtluongojtluongo Posts: 73 Greenhorn
    I fish for wahoo SOLO 99% of the time. Always keep the boat in gear moving forward. That will keep tension on him while you are clearing your other lines. No matter what, KEEP IT IN GEAR. After they are worn out they will skate on top of the surface. Let me know if you have any questions. All i do is wahoo fish and have caught hundreds

    Join Us for a "Great Day" of fishing :) (561-797-0607)
  • jtluongojtluongo Posts: 73 Greenhorn
    I would personally not listen to some of the advice given above. The wahoo can swim faster than you can react. You need to keep him behind the boat and keep it moving. You will lose probably 50% of the wahoo you hook if you dead boat it.
    Join Us for a "Great Day" of fishing :) (561-797-0607)
  • AftershockAftershock Posts: 180 Deckhand
    Ask a question this forum and you are sure to get plenty of opinions!  I fish solo a lot and have some sad stories that would have turned out better with help.  I agree boat in gear especially on a wahoo.

    Solo tip - whenever the boat's in gear I wear an inflatable life vest in a pouch around my waist with a PLB inside.  Never expect to use it but if the worst happens I still got a shot. 

    Good luck - get em next time!
  • Aquaholic IVAquaholic IV Posts: 776 Officer
    Many great suggestions but the best one is self inflating life jacket, I recommend the wearable one, not the fanny pack.  If you fall out and hit your head on the gunnel, you might not get the fanny pack one around your head if unconscious.  I NEVER fish without wearing my life jacket and I am mostly inshore.  Great swimmer if I am conscious!  It happens in a split second.  Also, people mentioned about not being able to catch a moving boat if the engine is running, well folks, what is the speed of the gulf stream?  You might not catch the boat either way.  Once you do catch it, is your ladder available or is it stored out of reach from the water?  Plan for the worst and hope for the best, have a plan and be a survivor!
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,184 Officer
    I wear an Autotether FOB in a zippered pocket, a self inflating PFD, a tiny PLB with GPS ,and a waterproof strobe.
  • kmarsh724kmarsh724 Posts: 20 Greenhorn
    Thank you for the comments and opinions.  I can’t wait to get the next one and put the knowledge to work.  Hopefully pictures to follow!
  • JIMinPBJIMinPB Posts: 1,875 Captain
    edited March 5 #25
    There are a number of ways to get a wahoo into the boat.  Personally, I think that getting him on the hook is the hard part.  If you get the fish on heavy tackle (like 80# or more with at least a 10/0 hook) then the local favorite way to harvest him is to speed up the boat & drag him on top of the water for a few minutes to soften him up, then bring him in.  This is the least sporting way to do it & in my opinion, the least fun.  This is harvesting.  It's not fishing.  Some guys would comment "that's commercial for ya".

    The other basic way to do it, is to play with him until he is tired out, just like with any other game fish.  If you have him on medium to lite tackle, then this is your only real choice.  If you don't have 500+ yards of line on your reel, then you may be required to chase him down with the boat at some point in the fight.  It could happen early on.  The first couple of runs can be blistering fast & pretty long.

    As you have already read, some guys like to keep the boat moving & other guys like to fish from a dead boat.  If you have other lines out, then keeping in motion is almost mandatory.  Even without other lines out, a moving boat will help control the fish if you know how to drive around him properly.

    If you don't have other lines out, then dead boating is an option that lets you concentrate on just the fish.  If you are going to dead boat from a boat with an outboard, raise the motor before the fish gets close to the boat & don't be shy about dipping your rod tip a couple of feet below the surface when the fish goes under the boat..

    When gaffing single handed, while holding a rod, I find it helpful to have a short grip on a gaff with a small diameter hook, like 2-3".  I've also been known to use a small flying gaff or a pole spear with a harpoon tip, when working solo.  A genuine harpoon was my favorite insurance policy when going after big tuna up north, but that's a different story. 

    If your boat has a fish door in the back & your tackle is at least 60#, I wouldn't even bother with the gaff.  I'd just drag him in.  You need to be careful doing it that way though.  Sometimes when they are part way in the door, they will lunge at you. 
  • bmoodybmoody Posts: 940 Officer
    Too many gaff answers for my taste -- skip the gaff, open the transom door and just slide it in.  You never need set the rod down until the fish is on the deck.  Less flipping and flopping that way too.  Works great on my boat, the fish box is just forward of the door -- they slide right into the ice if you can get the fish box open.
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