Big Game Destinations

Bobby Byrd & John Cochrane
Big Game Destinations
Landing a sail can bring awesome displays of speed, power and attitude.

It's no secret that February is not the hottest month for big game fishing off Texas. As we have said before, the winter weather keeps most offshore fishermen in check. If there is a window of calm weather you can run out to the deep rocks and the wahoo fishing can be phenomenal. This is when the big wahoo show up and are concentrated on these rocks, but you have to be ready to leave on any day at any time when the weather permits. It's a 100+ mile run and there is not a lot of room for error. You need a fast boat with plenty of fuel and you must keep a watchful eye on the weather. This time of year many of the fish will average over 50 lbs. with some pushing 100 lbs. If you catch it just right, you can really load up with these fish and multiple hook-ups and double-digit catches are common. Under conditions like this it's hard to stop putting fish in the boat, but be practical and only keep what you are going to eat. Releasing some of these fish after you have plenty will help keep this fishery going, so you and others can enjoy it in the future.

Big, deep running lures like the Strike Pro Wahoo Hunters, Yozuri Bonitas, big Rapalas and other big swimming lures are very popular for this kind of fishing. Heavy jets and straight running lures can also be deadly, especially when put in front of a ballyhoo. Live and dead baits can be drifted, but the sharks and barracuda may have a lot of fun with you, if you're not careful. Wahoo like the edges of rocks around 100 to 200 ft deep. If you get too shallow the barracudas will let you know.

If a 100+ mile run in the dead of winter is not your idea of fun fishing, then you do have some other options. If you can trailer your boat, you might want to head east and hit Venice, Louisiana for some yellowfin tuna and wahoo. It's still cold and you have to watch the weather, but the runs are much shorter and the fishing can be fantastic. If you don't want to trailer your boat, there are plenty of charter boats that can put you on the fish. This is the time of year that the "Lump" turns on and big yellowfin tuna are caught a mere 17 miles from the jetties at the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River. Going further east you might want to try the Florida Keys or even run over to the Bahamas, only 50 miles east of Miami, for some great wahoo action.

Unless you own a big sportfisherman that can travel long distances, your next option is to hop on a plane and enjoy a fishing vacation. Taking a break from the winter weather and fishing some tropical location can be your best choice this time of year. There are many destinations to choose from, so we picked a few of our favorites for this time of year.

Panama: This is prime time in Panama and we highly recommend Tropic Star Lodge. Big black and blue marlin, striped marlin, sailfish and tons of dolphin are common. This secluded hotspot is a world-class destination. They are booked well in advance, so call now and you might get in for next year. Their website is Another Panama option is "Hooked on Panama."  Texan Rex Hudson of Shallow Sport Boats has set up this operation down there and is gearing up to accommodate fishermen. Check them out at

Costa Rica: One of the most popular destinations for fishing in Central America, this country has fantastic fishing on its Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The Caribbean side is well know for tarpon and snook, the Pacific side for marlin and sailfish. For tarpon and snook try Rio Parisma Lodge at For the pacific side there are a myriad of charter boats to choose from. We suggest looking for a charter boat at Los Suenos, one of the finest resorts there. Anglers here enjoy calm seas and an abundance of fish in a beautiful tropical setting.

Mexico: On the Caribbean side, Cancun/Isla Mujeres off the Yucatan Peninsula is a great place for sailfish. Several Texas boats along with many others from the U.S. will travel there this time of year. The sailfish bite can get ridiculous there at times, with catches of 30 sails or more in one day, on one boat. On the Pacific side of Mexico you can mainly count on striped marlin and sailfish. Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta are our favorite choices. All of these places have plenty of charter boats to choose from. One of the advantages to these places is the short jet flight from Houston.

These are just a few of the destinations you might consider when you want to get away from it all and take a fishing vacation. When booking a trip try to get references from the charter boat or resort operator. You can find out what to expect and how good the operation really is. It will also help you determine what tackle you may need to bring with you.  Some operations have great tackle, others not so good. You may also be able to trade out tackle for some portion of your charter. For other charter boat/resort options we suggest the International Game Fish Association at Look under membership discounts for fishing operations all over the world. By becoming an IGFA member you can get a discounted rate. We also use the travel department at Fishing Tackle Unlimited in Houston, to book other great fishing trips.

We are looking forward to the Houston Fishing Show at the end of this month, February 28 – March 4 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. That's also a great place to book a fishing trip, buy some tackle, learn some fishing techniques and see what's new in the world of fishing. Come see us at the Tops-N-Towers booth and talk about fishing. You can also come by and see us at our new Fox Yacht Sales - Clear Lake office located at Tops-N-Towers on Nasa Road One in Seabrook. We are the exclusive Cabo and Riviera Yacht Dealer in Texas and also have an extensive inventory of brokerage boats. For more information call our yacht sales office at 281-291-0656 or check out our website at or