It’s finale time! The last major tournament of the season should go ahead tomorrow with the wahoo being the target of choice and, for many anglers, this will be their swansong before the boat is put into mothballs and moved to safety from tropical systems and winter gales.
Such is the nature of this longstanding event that the winners can come from just about anywhere and by any means. Winning fish have been caught by trolling, live baiting and even chumming. Both Banks and just about every location on Bermuda’s Edge has provided a winner at one time or another.
Having said all that, most anglers serious about finding a big wahoo will be looking for live baits. While frigate mackerel are the traditional bait of choice, there is nothing wrong with using live robins. Getting those is a bit trickier because it will involve chumming and then keeping the baits alive for transport to where the predators lurk. The advantage to live mackerel is that they occur in pretty much the same place as the wahoo do and they are also generally caught by trolling a daisy chain or tiny lures.
Expect just about every trick in the trade to be employed and the results should be nice haul at the Dockyard weigh station, where the public are usually treated to some excitement as the fish are brought to the scales.
With the full moon recently having gone by, the darker nights are thought to favour fishing early in the morning, when fish that normally feed by sight once again have an opportunity to hunt down their prey. The fact that the moon is presently visible during daylight hours means that the nights will indeed be dark. This may also have an effect on tomorrow’s fishing.
There are plenty of theories about the role played by the moon when it comes to fishing. Bottom fishermen specialising in rockfish have always preferred the full moon and, given the success had in the past week or so by a number of amateurs, this may well hold some truth. Marlin anglers at a number of locales swear by the full moon, insisting that the best bite comes a few days before and immediately after the full moon.
With much of the commercial fishery focusing on lobsters, many weekenders have chosen to chum and to work the bottom for those species that make for tasty fillets. Working the deeper reef bottom or the “porgy holes” is producing snappers, mostly yellowtails, coneys, barbers and the occasional blackfin tuna lured into the chum slick. A few really lucky ones have caught rockfish, but that is really a treat rather than an expectation.
Something else to be on the lookout for is an influx of flotsam. Heavy weather to the south often dumps all sorts of things into the ocean, many of which float for hundreds of miles, often attracting schools of dolphin or wahoo. These can range from pieces of boat hulls, whole palm trees, boards, ropes, netting; just about anything. While on the one hand, they are a hazard to navigation particularly for smaller craft, they can also be total fish magnets. In such cases, trolling around the object often results in multiple strikes and, frequently, a boatload of fish.
There is a new IGFA initiative that might tweak an interest in some local anglers. Although not really a new idea but rather a re-creation of a very old one, a worldwide fishing competition run by Field & Stream back in the day this does fill something of a gap. While most records are not broken on too regular a basis, some very large specimens which go unheralded are caught by anglers each year. This particular reincarnation goes by the less than creative name of IGFA Annual Fishing Contest and will provide an opportunity for anglers to gain some recognition for what might be a near-record fish. The competition recognises 74 fresh and saltwater species and prizes will be awarded for the largest of each species caught during the period October 1, 2017 until September 1, 2018. There are three categories; conventional tackle up to 130lb test; fly fishing (up to 20lb tippet) and Juniors (16 years and under).
Of the eligible species the ones most likely to figure as coming from local waters are the amberjack, bonefish, dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. There are many others but most are never found here, hailing from the Pacific or estuarine waters.
Naturally, there is a bit of a catch and this time it is that anyone who wishes to enter a fish has to be an IGFA member. It is possible to join and then enter a catch which may prove preferable for someone who wants to have a potential winning fish in hand, as it were. Further details can be had from IGFA at their website http://testing.igfa.org/contests/fishing/Default.aspx.
Bermuda produces some nice fish in terms of quality with the bonefish and amberjack both growing to pretty epic proportions here. Catch a big one and even if it is shy of a record there will still be a chance to be a winner as well as having had some fine Tight Lines!