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Sportfish Profiles

Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri)Wahoo

Written by: Dr. Larry G. Allen

Wahoo are long, slender, cigar-shaped fish with sharply pointed snouts and closely set, triangular teeth. They possess long, spinous, first dorsal fins, angular second dorsal and anal fins followed by a series of about nine finlets. Coloration is generally deep blue-black on the back, becoming silvery on the sides and white below (typical counter-shading of most pelagic species). When agitated they usually have about 30 irregular dark purplish-gray bars down the sides. Wahoo are closely related to sierras and king of mackerel (kingfish), and are essentially long, slender tunas.     

SCIENTIFIC NAME - Acanthocybium solandri, family Scombridae (tunas)

COMMON NAMES - wahoo, ono (Hawaii)

DISTRIBUTION - They are distributed world-wide in the warm, clear waters of tropical and subtropical seas.

SIZE & AGE - Wahoo reach a length of seven feet and a weight of about 125 pounds although any fish over 60 pounds is huge. We know absolutely nothing about age and growth in this pelagic species. I would be perfectly happy to study this fish - if some one out there has the money and the interest to fund it!

DIET - Probably small fishes like sardines, scad, mackerel, and squid though no studies have been published. They are perfectly capable of biting chunks out of other fishes.

REPRODUCTION - The only thing I can find, at this time, on wahoo reproduction is that they are reported to spawn relatively close to shore in the spring and summer months. Female wahoo, like other tunas, are probably pelagic spawners which produce hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs each year.

FISHERY - California sport anglers generally need to travel to southern Baja to get a chance to catch one of these wonderful fish. The East Cape area north to La Paz is probably the best in the late summer and fall. Long-range trips to the Revillagigedos Islands are as near a sure-bet as you are likely to get for wahoo. In El Nino years, wahoo have been caught as far north mid-Baja on the Pacific coast (off Cedros and the Benitos Islands). Wahoo are great fighters which are capable of doing multiple marks of Zorro across the surface, water rooster-tailing off the line, faster than you could ever imagine. In Hawaii, wahoo are known as “ono” and are widely recognized as the best tasting of all fishes (a view supported, enthusiastically, by me).

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