Which season is it? Winter one day, then summery the next; it is that on again, off again time of year when no one is too sure what is going to happen next. Not to worry, though; it happens just about every year and soon it will truly be spring, rapidly followed by the summer heat.
With most of the commercial fleet using the good days to work their lobster gear, there has not been a whole lot of offshore effort. What there has been has been rewarded with fair to middliní results, although there have been rumours of some better action off the East End of the island. A big part of the problem stems from there not being too many sequential fishable days. It generally takes the best part of a day to find the fish and then another day or two to actually start to read the situation and their movements. Following the fish is the trick to getting big catches when there is a run of wahoo or knowing where to anchor to chum up the yellowfin that are lurking just off the bank.
Suffice to say that there are no signs of bait on the banks; that is, no obvious flying fish or squid and what bite there has been has tended to be sporadic. This suggests that the fish that are there are having to hunt for sustenance and are spread out. A dayís trolling has produced a few wahoo of varying sizes; fortunately they tend to be a reasonable size here as compared with many other venues. There are some small tuna about as well, but these donít really interest the commercial operators as restaurants and markets generally prefer larger yellowfin. The possible good news is that, for many pelagic predators, small tunas equate to bait. So, things ae still on the slow side as might be expected at this time of the year.
Something that has come to light as of late is that some people take this column as neigh on gospel. This has led to minor disagreements and, in worse cases, confusion. First off, there is the necessary concept of a time-lag. Things have to happen before they can be reported. News travels fast in some quarters such as between boats and those in the industry and less quickly among those who have only a passing interest in such affairs.
While it is true that the events of the past week or so are reported as accurately as possible, people have to remember that fishing of any sort is a dynamic affair. Conditions can change radically from day to day; in fact, at certain times of the year, it can be hour to hour. So to read that so and so got ten wahoo somewhere on Monday can have absolutely no bearing on what is going to happen the following Sunday. The fish may have moved on; they can move miles in a far shorter time that one might think and there may be nothing to indicate which direction they may have taken. Alternatively a concentration or school of fish may have broken up and spread out randomly. Of course, the whole bunch might simply be transiting the area and have headed north or south, leaving Bermuda entirely behind.
This article like all the fishing reports that can be found on the internet or in periodicals are snapshots of offshore activity. They are produced by various charter boat operators, marinas and governmental agencies such as tourism departments and are primarily stating what happened yesterday or the day before. Using this and established knowledge, guesses are made as to what lies ahead. Where species are seasonal, their arrival can constitute an important part of the report by notifying interested parties that the run or season has begun. Some of these things are fairly reliable because they are annual events; others can come as surprises.
For instance, the capture of a large blue marlin during a winter month here is against the run of play. Although of interest to anglers, no one was going to drop everything and head offshore with 130ís to work the deep water. This will be a much more likely scenario will be when several boats report raising blue marlin consistently come late May or early June.
Even the established patterns can turn out to be false. For instance, one species that was common here has not been seen in any numbers for some years now. This is the oceanic bonito or skipjack tuna. They were caught when trolling and occasionally would invade chum slicks. Large schools were often seen around the banks where they would turn a patch of water electric blue. They were also commonly stomach contents of billfish. There is no reason to think that they have undergone any sort of global decimation even though there are some commercial fisheries for skipjack. Skipjack tuna have not been conspicuous in the Bermuda area for some time now and no one knows why. On balance, there could be a huge influx this year and none of us will know why.
As always, way more questions than answers. Fortunately, many anglers really donít care about the whys and wherefores; it really is all about the Tight Lines!