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ESPN2: Go to the bank for Bahamian wahoo

  • Editor's note: "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" airs each Saltwater Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

    Episode 2, depicting the wahoo-fishing excursion below, can be seen Sunday, April 16. (This episode re-airs April 22 at 6 a.m. ET on ESPN2.)

    For more on George Poveromo, visit www.georgepoveromo.com.


    For George Poveromo, a great day of fishing involves a trip to the mountain.

    Notice I said mountain, not mountains.

    Also notice that there is no mention of cold, rushing streams or rainbow trout on the end of a fly line either.

    No, for Poveromo, host of "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing," which airs each Saltwater Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2, a fishing trip to the mountain is actually a journey to the deep, blue water of the Atlantic Ocean near the southeastern Bahamas Islands.

    That's where the famed Diana Bank is found, an underwater mountain that rises from oceanic depths of nearly 4,000 feet to within a scant 50 feet of water's surface.

    "It's almost in the middle of nowhere," Poveromo said.

    Even so, it's worth the lengthy journey to get there thanks to the big wahoo that cruise the waters around Diana Bank as the fish migrate and feast on various baits such as tiny tuna, small dolphins (dorado), squid and skipjacks.

    Hoping to find a day of epic saltwater fishing, Poveromo flew to Rum Key where he joined Over Under Adventures president Trey Rhyne aboard the long-range fishing vessel Over Under.

    After coming aboard, Poveromo then waited out a lengthy run to Albert Town on Long Key.

    "We made that 70 mile run down there and then anchored there overnight," Poveromo said.

    Awaking early the next morning, the anglers then made an additional run some 21 miles off shore to Diana Bank.

    That's where Poveromo and Rhyne set out their bait spreads consisting of 16-ounce Missouri Bonita plugs fished behind 16-ounce trolling sinkers and 16-ounce Bluewater Wahoo lures.

    "We would put them out in a typical trolling spread, putting out about five baits in a spread," Poveromo said.

    "We would then start zigzagging tight to the Bank and then move out deeper with our trolling speed at about 10 knots."

    Fishing big saltwater reels spooled with 80-pound line; the anglers worked the outer fringes of the underwater mountaintop at depths ranging from 120 to 200 feet.

    Keeping the boat and the bait spreads at the right depth proved to be a challenge critical to the day's angling success.

    "If we got too shallow, we were covered up with barracuda," Poveromo said.

    But toothy 'cudas looking for an easy meal weren't the only problems faced.

    The other reason?

    Well, does the theme music, "Dunh-dunh dunh-dunh dunh-dunh," ring a bell?

    Maybe not for you the reader, but a big wahoo hooked in the shallow to moderate depths around Diana Bank is akin to the ringing of the dinner bell … for sharks.

    "The reason for our heavy tackle was two-fold," Poveromo said. "First, the wahoo there run overly big and if you catch a big one, it can run off a lot of line."

    "The other reason? There are a lot of sharks in the area and if you hook a wahoo, it was a race to see whether you would catch the fish or a shark would."

    Fortunately for the longtime ESPN Outdoors television host, the anglers won the race each and every time as they landed a half-dozen super sized wahoo in the 60- to 70-pound range.

    "We had a very good boat operator and captain," Poveromo said. "As soon as we would hook up, he would turn the boat off shore and get to deeper water."

    "Plus, we were hard on the fish and put a lot of pressure on (them) — you had to try to end the fight as soon as you could."

    "We very fortunate in that we didn't lose a fish to a shark once."

    That was quite a victory considering that there are a plethora of sharks in the region including mako sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads, bull sharks and Caribbean reef sharks.

    "There are some of the biggest sharks you ever want to see in the Bahamas (near Diana Bank)," Poveromo said. "You don't want to fall overboard down there."

    What you do want to do however is to hook up with a big wahoo.

    "They hit extremely (hard) and viscously on the strike," Poveromo said. "They see the lure and come up and hit it with a burst of speed — it's not unusual for them to hit a bait at close to 40 miles per hour."

    If the strike doesn't take your breath away, the wahoo's first run after being hooked will.

    "After getting hooked, they'll take off and run incredibly fast," Poveromo said. "A wahoo can rip off 200 yards of line in nothing flat."

    Even then, the briny battle isn't over with just quite yet.

    "After that first long run, they'll generally settle down. You get a second run, but it's about half as much as the first run."

    "And then after that, the fight features a lot of short, bulldogging, head shaking kind of runs."

    If Poveromo seems well acquainted with the process of hooking up with and battling a big Bahamian wahoo to the boat, he should.

    After all, while filming for the ESPN Outdoors television cameras three years ago, he boated a 143-pound, 3-ounce fish off of San Salvador in the southeastern Bahamas.

    That whopper wahoo was just 15 pounds off the all-tackle, world-record mark at the time, according to the angler.

    But for all of their violent striking, fast running, and head shaking ability, there's another reason that Poveromo rates the wahoo so highly on his list — they make superb table fare.

    "They're outstanding eating," Poveromo said. "They are among some of the best eating fish in the ocean."

    "In fact, we kept our fish, steaked them up, and had fresh wahoo on the boat. We also took home a cooler full of wahoo steaks."

    Uh, George, got any extra room at the dinner table after your next wahoo trip?

    Whether or not yours truly receives that dinner invitation, rest assured that Poveromo has more trips planned for this fantastic saltwater game fish, one that he rates third on his preferred list behind dolphin (dorado), tuna, and just in front of billfish.

    "We will be heading back to the Bahamas in May or very early June, so we'll go out there and see if we can catch any of them (wahoo) that are still lingering there," Poveromo said.

    "Our main trip in the Bahamas this year is for blue marlin, but of course, we will always warmly welcome a wahoo."

    When an angler is fishing near the remote Diana Bank for these hefty ocean denizens, it's easy to see why.