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Fall Means the Wahoo Hunt is on for North Carolina Anglers!

As the summer heat begins to wane, the waters off Coastal North Carolina transform into a playground for anglers seeking the exhilarating pursuit of fall wahoo. These powerful, high-speed predators make for a thrilling catch, and the fall season offers a unique opportunity to target these oceanic rockets. In this article, we'll delve into the world of fall wahoo fishing off Coastal North Carolina, exploring the tactics, techniques, and prime locations for an unforgettable angling adventure.

Timing is Everything:

Fall is the ideal season for wahoo fishing in this region. As the temperatures cool, wahoo become more active, making their way closer to the coast. September through November is considered the prime window for targeting these speedsters. Keep an eye on water temperatures and plan your trip when they range between 75°F and 85°F for optimal wahoo activity.

Tackle and Gear:

Wahoo are known for their powerful runs and sharp teeth, so it's crucial to equip yourself with the right tackle. Use heavy-duty trolling gear, including stout rods and reels spooled with at least 50-pound test line. Wire leaders are essential to prevent bite-offs, and high-quality lures and baits that mimic wahoo prey are a must. Another powerful weapon in the wahoo arsenal is the planer rod. These short, bent-butt rods are pulled in the flat line position from the corner of the boat, typically with a large conventional reel like a Penn International 80VISW or Shimano Tiagra 80W. Anglers here will pull various dead baits and lures from a bridled planer. The #16 planer is a popular size for targeting big wahoo.

Trolling Tactics:

Trolling is the go-to method for wahoo fishing off Coastal North Carolina. High-speed trolling with lures like bullet-headed skirts, jet heads, and diving plugs is particularly effective. A popular highspeed lure type is the “cowbell” style which rattles and smokes when pulled at high speeds. Popular cowbells are produced by Ballyhood and Big Nic Fishing. Another popular wahoo lure is the Nomad DTX Minnow. However anglers see plenty of bites pulling dead ballyhoo on traditional skirted wire rigs. Wahoo are aggressive predators, and the high-speed approach can trigger their predatory instincts. Cover a variety of depths and distances from the boat to increase your chances of enticing a strike.

Targeting the Right Areas:

The Gulf Stream, which flows close to the coast in this region, is a hotspot for fall wahoo action. Key in on temperature breaks, color changes, and underwater structure like seamounts and weed lines. Pay attention to bird activity, as wahoo often hunt near schools of baitfish that attract seabirds. The fall can also find wahoo patrolling nearshore waters, particularly on structure. It is not uncommon for king mackerel anglers to encounter wahoo in the 80 pound class or higher during the fall king fishing season.

Bait Selection:

Wahoo are opportunistic feeders, and the choice of bait can make a significant difference. Rig large, natural baits like ballyhoo with colorful skirts or use artificial lures with flashy, high-contrast colors. Adding a smoke trail or scent can also enhance the attractiveness of your presentation. Skirted ballyhoo rigs featuring Islander heads or Seawitches are popular among North Carolina anglers.

Weather Considerations:

Keep an eye on weather patterns, as fall can bring unpredictable conditions. While wahoo are known to be more active during overcast days, be cautious of rough seas. Check weather forecasts before heading out and prioritize safety on the water.

Noteworthy Locations:

Coastal North Carolina offers various productive areas for fall wahoo fishing. Head to popular spots like the Big Rock, the Swansboro Hole, and the Rise for a chance to encounter these speed demons. Work the edges of the Gulf Stream and the areas with significant temperature changes for the best results. Don’t forget though, plenty of wahoo are caught around structure withing cell phone range of land as well!

So Get Out There!

Fall wahoo fishing off Coastal North Carolina is a thrilling experience that combines the excitement of high-speed trolling with the beauty of the open sea. With the right gear, tactics, and a bit of strategic planning, anglers can enjoy the adrenaline rush of hooking into these powerful pelagic predators. As you set out on your fall wahoo fishing adventure, remember to embrace the unpredictability of the ocean, savor the breathtaking coastal scenery, and relish the joy of the catch in this angler's paradise.

For more information contact Carolina Boat Company at or call 919-659-5096.


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