After experiencing a solid wahoo bite at a structure break known as “the Rise” about 50 miles south of Beaufort Inlet, Brian Barber of Pittsboro and his crew set a return course aboard the Gnarly Charley the following day, July the 24th, and were rewarded with an 85 1/2-pound wahoo that was landed by Chris McCall of Rougemont. 

“We caught 4 wahoo and released 2 sailfish on Saturday and the weather was looking just as good for Sunday,” said Barber. “We knew where we wanted to fish and we knew that there were fish in the area.”

After stopping a mile short of their destination, the crew began preparing the assortment of skirted ballyhoo that had been brined and rigged by mate Matthew Spivey of Garner.  

The crew’s setup consisted of five rods trolled around 7 knots (or 8 miles per hour); three on top and two deeper-running offerings. Near the surface, a shotgun bait dressed with a ½-ounce Sea Witch or Islander and a ⅜-ounce chain weight trails the boat at about 100 yards, and two similar arrangements are pulled on the long outriggers on each side. The deeper baits are pulled by the shorter outriggers with the desired depth achieved by a weighted skirt in the 4 to 8-ounce range, a trolling weight of 24 ounces or more, or a planer board. 

The baits on top are intended for sailfish, rigged with 200-pound monofilament leaders and tooth-proof pin rigs. The deeper baits are more specifically for wahoo, with 10 to 15 feet of No. 9, 120-pound wire leader. Their 50 class reels are spooled with 50-pound braided line and a top shot of 200 yards of 200-pound monofilament. The rig is completed with a 7/0 to 9/0 J-hook.

After run-ins with two sailfish and a 32-pound wahoo, the crew endured a lull in the action that was interrupted by the planer rod popping from its rigger. Spivey leapt into action, grabbed the rod, and declared that there was indeed a fish on as McCall prepared for his turn in the hot seat.  “We knew it was a heavy fish,” said Barber.  “But, you would think a wahoo of that size would give you the fight of your life. This thing came straight in, like Chris was pulling dead weight. It was at the back of the boat in 2 to 3 minutes. 

“It really wasn’t that exciting until we got him about 10 feet from the boat.  We could see him and he could obviously see us at that point. He went berserk. Head shaking, trying to run left and right, and we only had about 20 feet of line out. But, by that time, we had him too close and Matt was right on point to sink the gaff in.”

“We knew it was big when he started yelling for the second gaff. Daniel Kelly put the that one in the tail of the fish and they heaved him over. Then, there was an explosion of high fives and cheers. 

“Next, we asked, ‘what are we going to do with this fish?’ The fish box definitely wasn’t big enough. We had a fish bag that you can put 4 or 5 wahoo in, but this fish was monstrous. We put as much of it in the bag as we could fit, took the ice out of the drink coolers, packed it on, and put a wet towel over it so it wouldn’t lose too much weight.”

The wahoo weighed in at 92 pounds upon capture and 85.5 pounds when hoisted at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Morehead City.