How To

Mississippi Offshore Angling for Wahoo, Tuna, and Swordfish

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Saltwater fishermen can look for a bumper crop of offshore fish again this year, according to the many captains and saltwater anglers on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. According to Captain Lenny Maiolatesi of the Fighting Chicken, docked at Harbor Landing Marina in Ocean Springs, Miss., “If you’re going out to deep water in April, you never know what will happen, what fish will be biting, or what tackle you’ll need. We’ve learned to take all of our tackle and be ready to fish for anything. These offshore trips last 30 hours, and our customers want to be fishing as much as possible. Most people like a combination trip where we fish for yellowfins and blackfins, wahoo, grouper, or amberjacks when in season, and if possible, swordfish.”

Wahoo

“April means wahoo, and we use a three-pronged attack to fish offshore then. In April, the fish seem to scatter and we usually find them between the Midnight Lump and the floating oil rigs. Generally in April there’s big wahoo and lots of them to be caught. The biggest wahoo we ever caught on the Fighting Chicken weighed 92 pounds.” Maiolatesi’s customers primarily pull Mann’s Stretch 30+ crankbaits and shaky baits for wahoos in water 180 feet from the surface all the way down to 1,000 feet from the surface. They pull their wahoo baits over the tops of rocky structure.

Tuna

“However, we tend to get more blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna when we’re dragging for wahoo than we do wahoo when we’re fishing this way,” Maiolatesi explains. “Once we get out to the floating rigs, we reel in the shaky baits to start fishing live bait like hardtails on kites that keep those hardtails splashing on the water’s surface. That action wakes up the yellowfin tuna and will bring the fish up to the surface to take the bait.” Maiolatesi says you usually can see every tuna that takes your bait, because most often they’ll come up and out of the water when they strike.

The Fighting Chicken’s average tuna caught in April will weigh 60-80 pounds, but now and then anglers will catch 150-pound tuna. Maiolatesi enjoys catching those 60- to 80-pound tuna more than the bigger ones, because as he reports, “They come to the boat fairly quickly, giving us a better chance to have more anglers catch more tuna. If we catch 10 or 12 in a day, we’ve had a really good day. On an average trip, we’ll generally also catch a few blackfins, which are primarily night feeders that we take around the rigs. But when fishing during the day, we’re usually fishing for yellowfins. We had a crew several weeks ago that brought in four wahoos, 20 blackfins but no yellowfins, a limit of grouper, a limit of amberjacks and a 128-pound swordfish.”

Swordfish

“On this overnight trip, we opted to fish for swordfish after dark instead of yellowfins, since another boat came to the rig where we were fishing,” Captain Maiolatesi says. “So, we moved about six miles out to a ledge where I’d previously caught swordfish. We dropped our swordfish rigs down and hooked up that swordfish in about three minutes. Then we fished there for another three hours but didn’t get a bite.”

To contact Captain Lenny Maiolatesi, call 228-326-3180 or go to www.fightingchickensportfishing.com.

To learn more about Mississippi fishing, get John E. Phillips’ eBook Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide. You can go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Image courtesy John Phillips

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