By Dale Wills
- The Woo Woo
- 1 oz. Embark Vodka
- ½ oz. Peach schnapps
- ½ oz. Cranberry juice
We feel that it’s only natural to introduce the Champion’s Cup with a celebratory shot. The guys over at Embark Vodka, one of our early sponsors, asked if we had a favorite cocktail. Over the years we’ve seen a bunch of fishing traditions involving alcohol that anglers partake in to celebrate a noteworthy catch or get them through a lull in the action. This is the story of the Woo Woo.
Legend has it that Blackbeard would ascend the tallest mast of a captive ship—after he and his scallywag crew pillaged and plundered all of the treasures—and raise a glass yelling “Woo, woo, woo, woo,” as a victory chant. The Woo Woo was also made famous in sportfishing circles during the 1980’s by Mr. Russ Hensley while fishing the North Drop off St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on his 55-foot Hatteras Beastmaster. We called upon his son Capt. Clay Hensley to provide first-hand knowledge of the historic Woo Woo shot.
While attending F.A.U. in the early 80s, Clay recalls hanging out at the Dive Bar off US-1 in Boca Raton, Florida. A bartender introduced him and his friends to the wild pink shot called a Woo Woo. A short time later Clay and a couple of his friends flew down to St. Thomas to fish with his father. At some point during the early part of the trip Clay and his buddies started ordering shots. Clay recalls his dad taking a liking to the Woo Woo.
After fishing each day, Mr. Hensley would make his way to Piccola’s marina bar and restaurant situated near the dock in Red Hook. One afternoon in celebration for releasing a blue marlin, Mr. Hensley asked the bartender to give everyone in the bar a Woo Woo shot. Fast forward to every patron holding a shot glass in hand, Russ told everyone to follow his lead. Mr. Russ Hensley started off warbling “Woo, woo, woo, woo,” until everyone was on key, then as the harmony grew louder, Mr. Hensley yelled out “Ahh shit,” tilted his head back sending the shooter down the hatch. It was on that August evening in St. Thomas when the Woo Woo made sportfishing history.
The celebration continued to evolve during the course of those summer nights. In short time, each evening after successfully releasing a blue marlin it became customary for Mr. Hensley to buy the entire bar a Woo Woo. Everyone yelled “Woo, woo, woo, woo,” and “Ahh shit.” The sequence further evolved to a point when finished with the shot you had to slam the glass upside down. Those that didn’t were flagged with a penalty napkin and harassed to buy another round.
Clay Hensley also recalls the same year when his father made the 80-mile voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the annual San Juan International Billfish Tournament. While hanging out at the San Juan Hotel & Casino lobby bar prior to the captain’s meeting, his father asked the bartender to give everyone a Woo Woo shot. The bartender brought a tray full for everyone around the immediate area, Hensley asked again, “Why didn’t you give everyone a shot? The bartender didn’t understand at first until Mr. Hensley said, “No. Everyone in the lobby of the hotel!” Clay estimates a couple hundred people enjoyed a Woo Woo that night and followed Mr. Hensley’s lead as he raised his glass shouting, “Woo, woo, woo, woo,”…“Ahh shit,”! The bar tab was damn near $15,000!
So the next time you release a blue marlin, enjoy a Woo Woo and continue the tradition but don’t forget the “Ahh Shit.”