Tight Lines

Winds of change but wahoo tournament to go ahead

What is it with the weather and tournaments? It can be fine, calm and sunny for weeks on end and then a major tournament comes along and the island finds itself the target of its first taste of some undesirable, seasonal tropical weather system.

With the last big tournament of the year slated for tomorrow, the wahoo are the species of choice and pretty much all participating anglers will be using their preferred methods to catch “the big one”.

It’s not as if they have not been trying for the past week or two, with what can be described only as lacklustre results.

That is not to say that there aren’t fish out there. There most definitely are, but they are most finicky as well. Many have opted to use live baits — primarily robins — and this has been hit and miss, with the “miss” option being the more likely result.

There are numerous reports of boats having a supply of robins and being unable to capitalise on more than just a few. The baits are being attacked and cut off by what is pretty clearly a wahoo.

One suggestion is that the wahoo, which are numerous, are actually small fish that take smaller bites and, as a result, are more likely to miss the hook intended for them. There are claims of hooks not being sharp enough and good old-fashioned bad luck.

Another positive sign is that there have been some sightings of what look to be juvenile or “frigate” mackerel and depth sounders are showing the presence of bait on the Banks. There is usually a bit of a time lag between the bait showing up and then the predators, but this may mean the two are just about to find each other, much to the angler’s delight.

Leaving live baiting and chumming aside, there have been some reasonable wahoo caught by traditional trolling methods and a few have been caught by chummers lucky enough to hook them in the corner of the mouth so that they cannot run their teeth over a monofilament leader. In any case, there are wahoo out there and it will be just a matter of sorting out who catches the big one.

An important consideration in tournament fishing that is all too often overlooked is the paperwork. In the billfish tournament, the paperwork and video evidence are a crucial part of the competition. Granted, with a released fish, the video is an essential part of proving that a fish was indeed caught, but wrong or incomplete paperwork is also grounds for disqualification.

Local tournaments theoretically have this option, although it is rarely exercised. That a fish is actually brought to the scales is proof enough of the catch, but that is where things go awry more often than most people think.

Boats often turn up at a weigh-in without an entry form. The excuses are legion — it blew overboard, got all wet — almost like a schoolkid’s missing homework. This is where the problems often start. Blame a bouncy day on the ocean, a few too many beverages or just plain confusion, but there are frequent mix-ups with regard to who caught which fish and on which line test, and so on.

Of course, there are some boats who are truly well organised. On those boats the crew has made sure that the catches are tagged or otherwise coded as to angler and line test. Tournament organisers often receive phone calls or e-mails after the event saying that maybe so and so actually caught the bigger fish; or maybe it was on 20lb test instead of 16lb test.

Obviously, this can lead to problems, and in some cases there is no equitable way of working things out. Although a problem, most local tournament sponsors are loath to disqualify fish or boats that turn up unprepared, even though the outcome may be lots of gossiping between the other competitors. Overall, it really is in everyone’s best interests to do things correctly — it speeds up the weighing process and ensures that the rightful winners are identified.

Now, the big question on everyone’s mind must be what influence will Florence have on the “go, no go” decision. At present, the wind forecast for Sunday is very light and, while there will be undoubtedly some large swells owing to the cyclonic effect of the storm, conditions should be fishable.

There is also the theory that fish feed before a storm and that a dropping barometer also influences their activity. Given the possibility that a hurricane may grace us with its presence in midweek, and with the further likelihood of more tropical activity to follow, there is reason to hold the competition on the first occasion. For many this is the season’s last opportunity for many to venture forth in search of Tight Lines!!!