Tight Lines

The heat is on for Billfish Challenge

  • Bays like Jew’s Bay have taken on a slightly strange colouration (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

It’s August and it is hot! This has a number of effects on the fishing scene, with much of the effect being on the anglers, many of whom simply refuse to brave the heat and a possible dose of sunstroke.

An antidote for this might be to concentrate on fishing for yellowtail snapper. Technically a reef species, these can be lured into a chum line later on in the day and they will stay and feed on into the night-time. Provided the boat operator is capable of guiding his vessel successfully home in the absence of natural light, it is possible to manage a really nice haul of this choice fish. Just remember to bring lots and lots of ice. Yellowtail can spoil quickly at best and even faster when they come out of warm water.

Chumming on the Banks might lure a few yellowfin tuna to the surface, although there have been no real indications of any numbers of this species being around. Trolling is leading to mixed bags of wahoo and tuna with the predominant tuna being blackfin, weighing in the teens. Most of the wahoo are school-sized, although there have been some nice specimens here and there.

Live-baiting may offer a chance at some large wahoo but there will be some large sharks to contend with as well. With the summer far from over, there are still billfish cruising the depths and they have no problem coming up the drop-off and taking baits intended for other species.

Earlier this week, visiting Captain Adam Utterstrom’s Offshore Lady went two for four on blue marlin and caught a white marlin, proving that they are still out there as well. Captain James Barnes’ Reel Lax also managed to catch and release a blue marlin on each of two trips made last weekend. Local boats also have had pretty steady action and this augurs well for this weekend’s Billfish Challenge, a total catch-and-release billfish tournament. This event is not quite as serious as some of the major billfish tournaments, but is intended to be fun and lets anglers gain some experience with these great fish. No matter, given the nature of the event it is bound to be competitive.

Observant individuals may have noticed that some of the enclosed harbours and bays like Jew’s Bay, have taken on a slightly strange colouration. It is very subtle but is sort of a fluorescent blue version of the water that is normally blue on a bright sunny day. Barely noticeable to most passers-by, this is an indication of a plankton bloom. Some phytoplankton or microscopic plants have found conditions that are conducive to a rapid rate of growth and reproduction. These conditions include the bright sun and long days, the warm water temperature and, probably, the recent rain which makes for freshwater input that might adjust the salinity ever so slightly.

There is also a sort of musty, seaweeds odour that seems to hang over such areas. Old-timers used to ascribe this smell to fish spawn and while that might be a component, given the locations in question, the more likely source is this sudden burst of plankton activity. In any case, it will be short-lived but it may be of consequence to the different form of life that call the inshore waters home. Just part of a natural cycle that goes on whether people notice or not.

Next Sunday is the day for the junior anglers to strut their stuff. What better way to introduce the next generation of anglers to the fun sport of fishing? It need not involve a fancy boat and all sorts of expensive gear; a simple hand line and a hook is really all that is needed to get started and it is rather amazing just what can be caught with such basic gear.

There are three age groups which allow even the littlest to try their luck. The categories are 6 years and under, 7 to 10 and 11 to 16.

Entry forms may be found on the internet at https://www.facebook.com/BermudaAnglersClub/ and must be submitted at either C-Mart or Dowling’s Marine by this Wednesday. As a real sign of the times, they may also be e-mailed in to bacajft@gmail.com.

Fishing starts at 8.30am, rain or shine, and the weigh-in will be held from 3pm until 5pm just west of the Flagpole on Front Street. Each entrant is allowed to weigh in just one fish and there will be no parrotfish, sharks or billfish accepted. All entrants at the weigh-in will receive a T-shirt and the school with the most representatives will win a cash award for their school’s PE programme.

There are lots of prizes and it doesn’t matter whether you are fishing from the shore or a boat or whether the fish is caught on a hand line or by rod and reel. There will even be facilities for weighing live fish that can be released afterwards.

Additional information can be had from the organisers, Bermuda Anglers Club, which is doing sterling work in promoting this sport to the youth, on their website www.bermudaanglersclub.com. The club’s commitment to the future of Bermuda angling goes a long way towards insuring future Tight Lines!