Sport fishing soon to be swinging into gear
What a glorious week this has been! All tied up with work on land while the ocean beckons with near-flat calm seas and sunny skies — very poor planning.
One should have known better because by all indications spring came early this year and now the summer is not far behind.
There are still a few whales on the offshore grounds, but in a week or so they will just be a memory and the sport fishing will swing into high gear.
At the moment, the fishing offshore is pretty good but a mite spotty. First off, there has been a massive influx of seaweed. This can turn trolling into a nightmarish workout as the cockpit crew go from rod to rod to crank in, clear and reset in a seemingly never-ending repetitive sequence.
Where it has been possible to troll mostly clear water there have been good numbers of wahoo taken with the fish ranging from about 25 to 50 pounds and better.
Naturally, the larger fish are not as numerous as the smaller ones, but no one is likely to turn up their nose at a wahoo of any size. Catches of eight or so have been average although there was one report of an overnight trip to Argus resulting in something better than two dozen wahoo.
Contributing to the “spottiness” has been the fact that the fish seem to be on the move. One day the bite is on Challenger, the next on Argus and so forth.
This makes trolling at speed a better strategy as it allows a lot of water to be covered until the fish are located then the areas can be worked. Baits of choice are the normal garfish rigs, both natural and with some sort of enhancement.
Although the wahoo are the primary target, there are other species willing to please.
There have been some nice-sized dolphin caught; not monsters but fish in the 10 to 30-pound range. An always welcome addition to any fish box.
Yellowfin tuna have been caught recently although the last week or so hasn’t seen much action from this species. They may have moved on or merely shifted feeding mode making them less likely to take trolled offerings.
Chumming effort has been slight, partially because of the current conditions, but also because the emphasis is on the wahoo.
The outcome of some of these trials has been mixed with blackfin tuna dominating affairs.
Small game species like robins and mackerel are there in numbers enough to make life entertaining, but when the intention is to catch yellowfin, the action leaves something to be desired.
The billfish season is still about a month away although there have been some white marlin caught and persistent rumours of blue marlin encounters.
With most boats carrying tackle more suited to wahoo and tuna, the latter are usually short-lived and less than popular because of the amount of time that can be invested in something of a trivial pursuit when there are food fish to be had. Although the marlin tournaments don’t really kick off until July, rest assured there will be some big fish cruising the deep water around the island long before that.
To put things into perspective, down in the Bahamas, a mere thousand miles or so to our southwest, such tournaments are already taking place although the heavy weather that they are currently experiencing is putting a damper on things.
The fish down there won’t be long making their way northward into our zone. Most likely some schools of tuna will show up first, hotly pursued by the marlin which will put in an appearance shortly thereafter.
The competitive season gets under way this Sunday with the local IGFA-affiliated angling clubs vying for bragging rights in the Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament, more popularly known as the BFCAT.
This is a light tackle tournament with a maximum of 30lb test line. Five of the recognised line classes starting with the 8lb test class are permitted.
The eligible species are all the species for which the IGFA holds line test records and those recognised by the Bermuda Game Fishing Association, but exclude all shark species. This tournament is unique in that the points scored on each line test are aggregated for each team.
The team results are then compared, so it is possible for one angling club to win the 12lb test class and another club to win the 20lb class and so on. The overall high-point club is the top award and there are also awards for the high-point fish, high-point angler and high-point boat.
All told, it is time to go fishing. Woe betide those who do not have the boat ready, the 24th is fast upon us and the summer will, as always, prove more fleeting than expected. The fish are in a co-operative mood, the heat is not oppressive, the seas are moderate; what better time to go in search of Tight Lines!!!