This time of year a few things happen in the Florida Keys. One thing is when the snow starts falling up north, the phones start ringing down south. Instead of the leaves changing like up north, the license plates start changing color down south. 

Another change is the wahoo bite. When the wind stirs up the water and we get a little chill in the air, the wahoo bite goes from good to great. The food chain changes, and that’s the main reason for the increased wahoo action. It starts with a glass minnow hatch. When the glass minnows get big enough they school on the outside edge of the reef. These glass minnows attract the juvenile bonita, a wahoo’s number one meal – which is why most artificial wahoo lures are modeled to resemble juvenile bonita. When we fillet a wahoo this time of year they have juvenile bonita in their belly. We open the bonita’s belly and find glass minnows in it. 

I compare wahoo fishing to whitetail buck hunting. Sometimes wahoo fishing is the most boring type of fishing in the world until you get one on. You have to be committed to it. You have to spend hours, just like sitting in a tree stand for hours waiting for a twelve-point buck to step out. Just like hunting, when the buck does step out, it’s normally a game of inches and seconds. When the wahoo strikes, you’d better have your drag set right, your knots tied tight and have a ready angler on standby.

If you Google how to catch wahoo, you’ll find a hundred different techniques. We’ve tried many ways and been successful catching wahoo with several of them. Our top three favorites are:

  • Slow trolling – We like to troll a pink and black double-hooked Nomad lure on an 80 wide Penn reel at six knots, using a 60-pound braided line with a 50-foot 100-pound mono leader connected with a snap swivel. We slow troll 125 to 250 feet deep. Don’t troll in a straight line; troll in wide sweeping turns left and right. Have one lure out 200 yards and the other out 75 yards so no matter how tight your turns are, you won’t tangle your lines.
  • Bump trolling – Catch and immediately de-hook and re-hook a live bonita on #8 wire leader. Use a main “J” hook through the roof of the bonita’s mouth and a treble hook stinger rig either dangling or hooked slightly in the bonita’s back so as not to hinder its natural swimming motion. Bump your boat in forward and back to neutral, never exceeding three knots.
  • High-speed trolling – Troll from 11 to 14 knots using a black and purple Tormentor feathered or plastic skirt dart with a one pound in-line cabled weight. We buy wahoo gear from the Tackle Box in Marathon. They are wahoo pros and can hook you up with the right tackle. It’s hard to imagine a fish being able to eat while going that fast, but it’s nothing for a wahoo. Wahoo are one of the fastest-swimming fish in the ocean, clocked at more than 60 mph – and some of the best tasting too!

To book a charter with Ana Banana, call or text Capt. Joel at 813-267-4401 or Capt. Jojo at 305-879-0564, or visit

Bio: Born in Coral Gables Florida, Capt. Joel Brandenburg is a fifth-generation Floridian and second-generation fishing captain in the Florida Keys. His businesss, Ana Banana Fishing Company, was established in 1999. Joel loves to fish, especially in the fishing capital of the world: Marathon. Each week he looks forward to discussing current conditions, what's biting, techniques and tutorials, season openings and closures, upcoming fishing events, tournaments and significant catches.