After striking out on two offshore trips and what was shaping up to be the third, Robert Shelton and Steven Trottier of Winston-Salem were about to throw in the towel this past Saturday. But when Trottier suggested one last troll in 350 feet of water just south of the Big Rock off Cape Lookout, Shelton agreed, and the pair turned their luck around with a 78-inch, 94.8-pound wahoo that struck a skirted ballyhoo.
“We trolled out of Beaufort Inlet; stopped at the No. 14 buoy and evaluated the ocean,” Shelton said. “We trolled for about an hour-and-a-half with nothing on the depth finder. That's when we decided to go out to the 90-foot drop and troll out to the Big Rock.
“We trolled unsuccessfully for three or four hours,” Shelton said. “We were completely defeated. We decided that at 1 o’clock, we were going to pull the lines in and go do some surf fishing.”
To this point, Shelton had been trolling baits near the surface at about 10 miles per hour: two black/purple skirted ballyhoo off the port and starboard sides and a daisy chain straight off the stern.
Then, he made some changes. On the starboard rod, he attached the 30-pound monofilament leader to a No. 2 planer board that was tied to 4 or 5 feet of 80-pound fluorocarbon shock leader before tying to the wire of the pre-rigged No. 8 Blue Water Candy skirt. Next, he cut his speed in half.
When 1 o’clock arrived, Trottier thought they might as well troll back across the shelf before leaving instead of reeling in on the far side. A few minutes later, he noticed the tip of the rod that pulled the planer board had suddenly straightened.
“Steven said, ‘Look, Rob, look!’, Shelton said. “The rod tip popped up, and then that rod bent all the way down. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life. It just went off, straight down.”
Shelton rushed to grab the rod and held on for the blistering runs.
“He fought like a beast at the beginning,” he said. “Then it was just like a lug. It took about 30 minutes before we could finally see him 20 feet down.
“We both lost it. I pretty much had a meltdown I was so excited. He circled around the boat, then he went under the boat. I loosened my drag and went around to the other side. He circled around, went back under, back and forth. Finally, I was like, ‘This is it.”
The next time the wahoo circled, Trottier sunk the gaff in the fish.
“I went over to help him get it in the boat,” Shelton said. “We just sat there in disbelief.”
The two fishermen headed back in, weighing the big fish at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach.