The pull of the pelagic species that call the waters Australia home is undoubtedly one of the biggest draw cards for Australian spear fisherman. Wahoo are regarded as one of the fastest fish in the ocean, and spearing one is highly sought after for even very experienced hunters.
Wahoo can be found from the north coast of NSW right around the top of Australia to Exmouth in Western Australia. Although sporadic encounters occur outside of these boundaries, specifically targeting a wahoo outside of these areas would be worth querying.
Wahoo are one of the fastest growing fish in our oceans during their first year of life. With specimens captured from the Coral Sea growing as fast as 3.7mm per day. That astonishing growth rate can only be matched by the incredible growth rates of mahi mahi or the much larger sailfish. Growth rates slow dramatically as the fish reach maturity, which can be reached within a year at lengths of 1-1.1m fork length, by almost half the females studied from the Coral Sea.
Their spawning habits are equally as speedy, with females spawning as often as every two to three days over spawning season. Releasing between 500,000 and 6 million eggs during each spawning event. That massive effort put into reproduction probably explains why the growth rate slows dramatically once the fish reach maturity.
Wahoo are generally a clean water fish, meaning you’re unlikely to find them if the waters around your usual haunts are murky due to inclement weather. Look for them around deeper submerged reefs and ledges or areas with good current flow. Reefs extending to anywhere around 15-40m of depth is generally a very good place to start. Look for them between the surface and fifteen metres down, usually floating over or adjacent to the structure below.
Wahoo’s incredible speed means you need to be geared up to try and spear one of these speedsters. A gun-equipped reel holding between 50-80m of line is recommended, and a belt mounted backup reel, which you can connect to your gun, is never frowned upon. As for the gun itself, you will want to reach for something with a decent amount of power, even with the use of berley and teasers or flashers you aren’t always going to get as close as you’d want. A long shot of 4-5m isn’t uncommon and a gun producing enough force to securely penetrate is a must. Generally roller guns of around 1m in length or standard double rubber guns of 120-130 are the most common.
Over the 2016 Easter break Adreno members Wayne Judge and Waade Madigan managed to spear a couple of great wahoo from the waters off North Stradbroke Island. The pair made comment of the need to be patient when targeting pelagics like wahoo, noting it’s easy to get flustered when you’re descending into a school of likely targets. Move slowly, act naturally and you should be able to ‘float’ to within range. Experienced spearo Wayne always recommends working in pairs, as the ever present danger of sharks is especially apparent when spearing fish that fight as hard as wahoo.
When you’ve done all the hard work and got your wahoo onboard, make sure you bleed the fish right away and get the fish onto ice or into a slurry as quickly as possible. Wahoo is a fantastic eating fish and is perfect for sushi or sashimi as well as a variety of other methods like grilling, crumbing or baking.
Wahoo are a species that every spear fisherman should target, the thrill of the hunt in open water and the fight they put on leaves most for dead. If you’re ever thinking about targeting wahoo or any other pelagics the crew at Adreno have the experience and the know how to put you in the right direction.