Wahoo Record Smashed In Virginia

wahoo fishing
Susan Nelson with her record 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo.
Virginia Marine Resources Commission

Susan Nelson's 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo, caught on June 23rd, by Susan Nelson, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Nelson?s catch surpassed the existing record of 109 pounds, caught nearly 20 years earlier by Delmo Dawson of Zuni, VA.


The Whiteford, MD native made her record-setting catch off Wachapreague, in an area known locally as the Lumpy Bottom, while fishing with Captain Keith Neal aboard the Wachapreague based charter vessel Teaser. The monster wahoo hit a Joe Shute lure ballyhoo combination rigged on a 130-pound monofilament leader crimped to a Mustad hook. Nelson was using a custom built rod mated to a Shimano Tiagra 50 reel and loaded with 80-pound test Mamoi Hi-Catch Diamond monofilament line. The Teaser was competing in a MSSA Tuna-ment and hooked the huge wahoo while trolling for tuna.

Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament State Record Committee member Bill Hall of Bloxom verified weight, length, and girth measurements and positively identified the wahoo, in accordance with the Tournament?s State Record procedures, and completed the State Record Application.

Captain Neal indicated the wahoo hit the longrigger, made a blistering run and later came up to the surface four times in the early part of the battle but never jumped. The crew believed the fish was a foul hooked blue marlin because of this behavior. The fifth time the fish came to the surface during the 45-minute fight the crew saw the distinctive stripes and realized they had a huge wahoo on a mere 130-pound monofilament leader. 

wahoo fishing
Susan Nelson and the rest of her group pose with the monster wahoo.
Virginia Marine Resources Commission

The group could only hope for one shot at gaffing the toothy fish and when that time came two gaffs were needed. As the fish was hoisted on deck they crew felt they had a 90-pounder. Before slipping the fish into an iced down, insulated fish bag, a quick measurement indicated the fish was over 80 inches long. ?That?s when we knew there was a shot at the state record,? said Captain Neal.


The 122-pound, 1-ounce record-setting wahoo measured 82-1/4 inches in length, had a girth of 34 inches and was registered at Wachapreague Marina by weighmaster Z.R. Lewis III. The prior state record of 109 pounds was caught off Virginia Beach along the 100-Fathom Curve, by Delmo Dawson of Zuni Virginia on September 25, 1994.

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