The Wahoo is found across the globe, in almost all tropical and subtropical waters. This close relative of the King Mackerel stays close to the surface in waters from Southern California to Peru, following longitudinal lines to the Indo-Pacific and central Pacific Oceans. There is also a healthy population in the warm currents of the Mediterranean Sea. Wahoo are one of Bermuda’s foremost fish, usually in abundance on banks in September and October. Mexico’s Central Baja Islands also receive great influx of larger specimens.
A slender, elongated oceanic fish covered with small, barely visible scales, the Wahoo has elongated jaws which make its snout look almost like a beak. The first dorsal fin is much larger than the second, followed by 8 or 9 finlets, with 9 more finlets behind the anal fin. On top the Wahoo is dark blue or iridescent green, with at least 24 cobalt blue bars decorating the sides which, along with the belly are shiny and silvery. It is distinguished from other members of the mackerel family by a larger mouth covered by a fold of skin when closed, and a sharper appearance. Average size for Wahoo is between three and five feet, with a maximum weight of 182 pounds. The all-tackle record is 158 pounds, eight ounces, landed off Loreto, Baja California, Mexico.
Sleek bodies and great endurance allow them to achieve speeds upwards of 47 miles per hour. This gives them a great advantage when targeting prey and escaping threats like silvertip sharks and other large predatory fish. Strong jaws and finely serrated triangular teeth allow Wahoo to feed on squid, other pelagic fishes like tunas, porcupinefish, flying fish, dolphinfish, herrings, and many other species. Wahoo live in solitary or small loose groups, preferring to congregate near drifting objects. This solitary lifestyle prevents it from being targeted by commercial fisheries, though it’s delicate, white flesh is highly regarded and tasty.
No other mackerel fights harder, especially for its size. They make long runs and peel away great lengths of line quickly after striking. Once landed this formidable fish may achieve a startling transformation into one of the best meals you can have. The Hawaiians call it Ono, meaning “good to eat”: a delicacy on your plate, but by no means delicate in the water.