The morning started as you might expect in the British Virgin Islands around Easter. Calm, quiet...tropically warm in the high 70's, but not hot or humid, almost surreal with the exception of large slurping noises coming from around the marina as 25 to 50 pound tarpon were sipping crabs and baitfish from the surface much like a trout on a pond here on Long Island. It was still dark at 5 a.m. as I entered the marina and walking down to the "Go with the Flo" charter boat you could hear these "slurpings" all around you and seeing them in the marina lights was amazing.
I was meeting the crew of the "Go with the Flo," a 53 foot Viking convertible that was fully air conditioned and piloted by Capt. Kawazi, a.k.a. "King Kawazi," a local legend here in the Islands on the wahoo circuit. I was to be a guest "crew" member for the Spanish Town 11th Annual Wahoo Tournament. Slipping through the many reefs surrounding Virgin Gorda and the Virgin Gorda Marina, we made our way past the last "marker" and as Captain "King" Kawazi gave thrust to the engines it was like taking off in an airplane. You hear the engines softly whine their way up to cruising speed, almost without noticing the power or the speed being developed while under way...like riding on a cloud and a truly amazing vessel to the spend the day on.
Our goal today was the king of the fishes here, the speedy wahoo. Sure they have all the members of the marlin family, huge mahi-mahi and both yellowfin and blackfin tuna as well, but it is the wahoo that drives the locals whacky down here and brings in people from all over the world to tangle with the "bullet" of the oceans. Trolling is the name of the game in the BVI and it is a rare day indeed when one can't find some sort of action on the Caribbean or the Atlantic side of the Islands and as I had hoped witnessing a spectacular sunrise...today was no different as we had plenty of action.
Using standard stand up tackle as we would here in the northeast, it was almost exclusively Penn or Okuma 50's with the 5-1/2 foot stand up rods. I was surprised to see the locals' love the fighting chair and all the wahoo I witnessed caught and all the captains I interviewed, all seem to love the fighting chair and rarely does anyone native to the region stand up to fight fish. So when in Rome do as the Romans...do so I fought my fish from the chair as well...it was weird feeling but I got used to it and actually enjoyed it as the sun was bight and hot that fine day. If you have never experienced it...there is nothing quite as hot as the sun in the Caribbean at Easter...except for maybe September and I've been to Virgin Gorda both times of the year so bring the sunscreen and wide brimmed hat.
The trip also employed the standard fare of trolling lures with green machines, jet heads and the like and of course perfectly rigged ballyhoo fish on the rigs. It wasn't long before we had the first strike and action was sporadic, but steady the rest of the day and while we had long periods of inactivity, as is usual for trolling for any fish around the world, when the strike occurred it was spectacular and I've never seen a fish so fast, peel off so much line is in such a short burst of time...it was incredible.
Capt. Kawazi is a master at the helm and taught me much of the wahoo's "social graces" and idiosyncrasies this beautiful day and I was able to land a few wahoo and small tuna this trip. It was fascinating catching my first wahoo as the power and speed is unmatched to anything I have previously caught in any of my trips around the United States...it was superior fishing and the crew awesome. As the gentle rocking of the ocean and cloud like ride of the 53 foot Viking lulled us into a state of total relaxation, bordering on nap time, it is the scream of the reel that jolts you back to reality and let's you remember why you are there...to do battle with the bullet of the ocean and to win the major tournament of the BVI for the season. As my turn in the rotation came about, I anxiously waited on the scream of the reel and it wasn't long before the opportunity presented itself.
Jumping from my near slumber I grabbed the rod and set the hook hard. Not once, not twice...but three times setting the steel into the maw of the toothy speedster and feeling the rush of adrenaline from the both of us transferred through the 80 pound mono as if a direct line of current flowed between us. If I remember correctly it took 15 to 20 minutes to subdue the beast as run after run was made by my adversary as he took off first in one direction, then another and then a third...all the while King Kawazi worked the boat to perfection never needing to bring in the other lines.
When it was all said and done I had a wahoo in the boat hovering around 50 to 70 pounds! Our trip also caught some small ocean barracuda of 5 to 10 pounds, some mahi but also a white marlin around 60 pounds or so which we released and it was an awesome sight to see. A beautiful specimen and in all we had about a dozen wahoo and missed winning the entire tournament by less than 2 pounds! I was awarded an official "Go With The Flo" crew golf shirt with an invite to fish with them again...which I am certainly going to take them up on! You can contact the Go with the Flo at 284-441-3589 (cell) or the main line number at 284-495-6050 or e mail Capt. King Kawazi at firstname.lastname@example.org