Wahoo Regulations



Acanthocybium Solanderi


Ocean barracuda, tigerfish

Managed by:


Physical description:

The wahoo is a steel blue fish above and pale blue below. The body is slender and the elongate jaws form a pointed beak. It has a series of 25 to 30 irregular blackish-blue verticle bars on the sides. A distinguishing characteristic is that protrusions on the gills (gill rakers) are absent.

Biological description:

Wahoo occur in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They are short-lived fish and grow rapidly, reaching lengths of up to 60.1 inches and weights of up to 45 pounds. Both sexes are capable of reproducing during the first year of life, with males maturing at 34 inches and females at 40 inches. Spawning in the United States takes place from June to August. Wahoo are voracious predators that feed primarily on fishes such as frigate mackerel, butterfish, porcupinefish, and round herring.

South Atlantic Federal Regulations


  • OPEN
  • Size Limit: None
  • Trip Limit: 500 pounds (landed head and tail intact)
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Allowable gear to be used in the fishery will include: hook-and-line gear including manual, electric, and hydraulic rods and reels; bandit gear; handlines; longlines; and spearfishing (including powerheads) gear.
    • Longline fishing for dolphin and wahoo is prohibited in areas closed to the use of such gear for highly migratory pelagic species (HMS);
    • Owners of commercial vessels and/or charter vessels/headboats must have vessel permits and, if selected, submit reports;
    • Dealers must have permits and, if selected, submit reports;
    • Longline vessels must comply with sea turtle protection measures
    • For a commercially permitted vessel fishing north of 39 degrees N. latitude, that does not have a federal commercial vessel permit for dolphin or wahoo, there is a trip limit of 200 pounds of dolphin and wahoo, combined.
    • Operators of commercial vessels, charter vessels, and headboats that are required to have a federal vessel permit for dolphin and wahoo must have and display *operator permits.
    • To apply for a vessel, dealer or operator permit, interested parties should contact the Permits Office, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, or by phone at 727-824-5326.
    • *Note: An operator permit card issued by NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Region is valid for the South Atlantic Dolphin/Wahoo fishery. Similarly, persons who already possess an operator permit card to participate in the South Atlantic rock shrimp fishery do not need to obtain a separate operator card. For additional information, see: NOAA Fisheries' Southeast Regional Office News Release 11/4/04 (PDF) or visit NOAA Fisheries' Southeast Regional Office.
    • For information on how to apply for an operator permit from NMFS Northeast Region, visit their web site at www.nero.noaa.gov/aps/permits/.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates:


  • OPEN
  • Size Limit: None
  • Bag Limit: 2 per person/day
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Recreational sale of dolphin and wahoo caught under the bag limit is prohibited unless the seller holds the necessary commercial permits.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.

Additional Updates:

Regulation Update - Effective January 27 2016: New federal regulations will allow recreational fishermen to bring fillets of dolphin and wahoo from The Bahamas into the U.S. federal waters and update regulations that currently allow recreational fishermen to bring snapper-grouper fillets from The Bahamas into the U.S. federal waters. 

  • Two fillets are equivalent to one fish for dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species brought into the U.S. federal waters from The Bahamas.
  • Require fishers to retain skin on the entire fillet of dolphin, wahoo, and snapper grouper species.
  • Require fishing gear to be stowed while transiting the U.S. federal waters from The Bahamas. A vessel carrying fillets of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters would not be allowed to stop in the U.S. federal waters during the transit.
  • Require stamped and dated passports, as well as valid current Bahamian cruising and fishing permits to prove that the recreational fishers were in The Bahamas.
  • Not allow recreationally caught dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper from The Bahamas to be sold or purchased in the U.S.
  • Not exempt recreational fishermen from any other Federal fishing regulations such as fishing seasons, recreational bag limits, size limits, and prohibited species.

For state of Florida regulations regarding bringing recreationally harvested dolphin and other species back from The Bahamas, see: http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bahamas/