The summer season for offshore fishing in South Carolina really begins in May, but two longtime fishing friends ventured into the ocean in early April. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm and in this case it was a stud wahoo that ran their digital scale into triple digits. A 100-pound wahoo is a survivor and won't be fooled easily. So just what tactics made this fish take the bait?
These two local businessmen are partners on a 50-sportfisher named Palmetto Guard, which docks in Charleston Harbor. Leaving out of Charleston for trips to the offshore fishing grounds like the Georgetown Hole to the north or the Edisto Banks to the south can require a three-hour run. Anywhere along the Continental shelf ledge between these two landmarks can be a good place to troll for wahoo.
Serving as Captain on April 11, 2014, Chip Campsen had the boat trolling on a sunny and calm day. They were targeting wahoo, and since they can be spread out over a large area, Campsen kept a sharp eye on the fishfinder for concentrations of baitfish to identify the most productive waters.
|Chip Campsen, left, and angler Louis Costa pose with their 100-pound Wahoo caught off the coast of South Carolina April 11, 2014.|
Louis Costa was the angler watching the rod rigged with an Iland lure in dark colors. They spool the reel with a braided line, but a 174-pound wire leader is attached to the lure since wahoo feed by slashing. They have a mouth full of sharp teeth and can slice through a heavy monofilament leader easily. The lure included a ballyhoo bait rigged on an 8-ought J-hook.
Running six lines behind an offshore boat takes some skill, and for wahoo the bait presentation needs to be deeper in the water column rather than on the surface. They attach two lines to their flat riggers, and use a planer or downrigger for the rest, always staggering the distance behind the boat for each individual lure.
When the big HOO snatched the bait, the reel screamed like it was a five-alarm fire and Costa grabbed the reel and slowly increased the drag to tire the fish. A 45-minute fight ended with the massive wahoo in the boat, and at 100.24-pound it was their biggest wahoo yet. Although it's not a record — the South Carolina state record is a 130-pound wahoo — it is still rare to hook up and land a wahoo in the 100-pound class.
It's worth noting that back on land, Campsen serves as a state senator and is a member of the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, an affiliate of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. Whether talking about land conservation or saltwater fishing management, Campsen brings a hands-on point of view to the discussion.