The leadup to the winter months has been filled with deer hunting, duck hunting and, even, speckled trout fishing across Acadiana and the rest of Louisiana. That’s why this is the Sportsman’s Paradise.
It’s been prime time for so many Teche Area outdoorsmen who retrofitted their schedules to hunt or fish the last few months of 2021. Plenty of deer meat, deer sausage, duck breasts and speckled trout/redfish filets have been stacked in the freezer.
Acadiana’s offshore fishermen in the know will have some pole-bending, muscle-stretching battles to remember this month and through February, for sure, when they target a certain delicious fish in this part of the Gulf of Mexico. Wahoo, known as “ono” (which means good to eat) in Hawaii, are starting their run and it passes through our neck of the woods.
Morgan City outdoorsman Larry Doiron Jr. and several knowledgeable area skippers plan to take advantage of the run as they have done for many years in the Gulf. Of course, they need a window of opportunity to take their boats safely offshore and back and most of the time that window opens two or three days after the passage of a cold front.
Whenever it’s right and he can fit it in his busy schedule, Doiron, who owns Doiron’s Boat Landing and its refurbished convenience store in Stephensville, a freshwater fishing hub in the region, takes family and friends. He points the bow of The Reel Deal, a 37-foot Freeman, to his favorite wahoo fishing waters at Ship Shoal Reefs.
“They’re crushing the wahoo right now. (But) we haven’t been yet this year,” Doiron said Nov. 19, warming up to the subject a week before Thanksgiving.
Typically, Doiron takes his big boat out and to near-offshore waters via the Atchafalaya River, which can be a cold ride in the predawn darkness of winter, three or four times each winter. He was hopeful of continuing the tradition just before or after Christmas.
His first of three wahoo trips last year was on the day following Christmas. With the business to tend to while building a new home.
“Hey, I’ll end up going. Don’t get me wrong. I l-o-v-e to go. It takes my mind off everything. At Ship Shoal Reef, like I said, they’re running right now. They’re crushing them,” he said.
From experience, he knows one of the best times to target wahoo is around Mardi Gras.
Most of the wahoo his boat tangle with weigh 30 to 50 pounds, he said, and his boat has landed four wahoo at a time. Occasionally, bigger wahoo find their way into the boat’s ice chest.
Doiron fished wahoo less frequently each winter until he bought the Freeman in 2019. It’s The Reel Deal for fishing offshore in the northwestern Gulf.
“I used to go but not as much. Since I got the Freeman, it makes it a little easier to get out there. It changes the way you fish, just makes it easier to get out there. The cruising range out of Morgan City makes it easier. It’s fuel efficient. We can pick our days,” he said.
He prefers to troll 35- to 39-foot depths with Nomad DTX Minnow 200, especially the red-hot hot pink model wahoos love to eat, and Ballyhoo. Trolled at 10 knots the former is a killer for wahoo at the Ship Shoal Reef, he said.
The Doirons like to eat their wahoo in a “poke bowl,” sashimi-style. It can also be grilled, broiled, blackened, sautéed or poached.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.