The doldrums are upon us! Not just the flat calm seas that are rolling on a long, lazy swell — these are described as “doldrums”, but also the lacklustre interest shown by most anglers with many shunning the heat and preferring to seek the solace of air conditioning or a cool breeze between the islands while camping out or picnicking.
Many feel that the calm seas deter the fish from biting, but there has been enough action to prove this a fallacy.
Different conditions make for different tactics and even different strategies.
Chumming early and late in the day is preferable to expecting fish to come up into the brightly lit shallow water during the heat of the day.
A few species, such as blackfin tuna, don’t seem to mind, but the preferred yellowfin tuna show a distinct distaste for this. Large tiger sharks and even the commonplace grey sharks seem quite happy to cruise their way through the warmer water.
Locating floating material such as old bits of rope and other flotsam can pay off with schools of wahoo or dolphin often following such material around.
The lack of heavy weather in this part of the Atlantic may have slowed this process down although the gyre that is the Sargasso Sea seems to eventually collect all kinds of floating material, man-made and natural.
Although there has been virtually no real billfishing effort put in over the last week or so, that has largely been because the visiting sport fishing fleet has departed.
There are, maybe, half-a-dozen foreign boats left here and they are in the various stages of departure, waiting on fuelling up, custom clearance and, above all, a decent weather window that will allow them a comfortable and safe run to the US Virgin Islands or to North Carolina, depending on individual plans.
So, no effort has meant that there has been little gossip among the sport fishers.
The local charter fleet is not as busy as it might be, for a variety of reasons, and they, at best, only put in a very limited amount of time for marlin.
On almost all charters, the clients are interested in catching fish, often assuming that they will tantamount to jump into the boat. Not many will recognise that often many hours go into producing even a single shot at a blue or white marlin.
In order to make for happy clientele, the boats often put in some trolling effort for wahoo and then concentrate on chumming which should produce almost any amount of small game.
This offers great variety, plenty of colour and plenty of fast action on suitable tackle.
Rainbow runners are a good little game fish in their own right and are among the more brightly coloured specimens to come out of the deep blue sea.
Barracuda are fearsome looking beasts, certain to impress most neophyte anglers; perhaps accounting for the fact that they are the No 1 species mounted by taxidermists.
Now, just because there haven’t been too many billfish reported recently does not mean that they are not out there. In fact, there are probably more than there have been during the last month or so.
For whatever reason, and the past will bear this out, the numbers of smaller, presumably male, blue marlin tends to peak in August into September.
Most of these fish are in the 125 to 250-pound range and are, therefore, well-suited to lighter gear; say, 50-pound test line.
With the commercial fleet trying out the drop-offs for the first signs of the autumnal wahoo run (fingers crossed that it happens!), the incidence of encounters with these smaller blue marlin is increased.
Experience suggests that blue marlin tend to be more solitary than some other billfish species even though they do occur in pairs and maybe trios — this may be related to spawning phenomena — white marlin, and sailfish can occur in schools or, more likely in local waters, run in mixed schools with wahoo or tuna.
For this reason, early season white marlin are often caught by those anglers trying to exploit the spring wahoo run.
Whites have even been known to mix in with school-sized yellowfin tuna that are prowling around the Banks.
Although sailfish are a bit of an oddity around here; they are thought to be a more coastal billfish species, the ones that have been caught generally coincide with the early and late wahoo runs. For this reason, a few are caught as September approaches.
There is also the spearfish, a near rarity with only a very few caught in any given year.
Probably mistaken for white marlin, they look something like a cross between a white and a sailfish as the dorsal comes up a bit like a sail only much, much lower.
There are, apparently, several different species, but their lack of abundance has the scientists still unsure, so most anglers simply go with “spearfish”.
Even though school is still a few weeks away, there is no reason that the children should be ignored.
Next Sunday, August 18, sees the Bermuda Anglers Club Junior Fishing Tournament taking place. Entries must be in by Friday, August 16 and further details can be had on line from www.bermudaanglersclub.com/tournaments/bac-junior-tournament. Entry is free with anyone aged 16 and under encouraged to take part.
Also looking ahead, many will be awaiting the arrival of the “frigate mackerel” which are basically juvenile little tunny or, locally, “mackerel”.
This is often followed by a wild influx of wahoo and some fantastic fishing takes place. Maybe.
It hasn’t really happened on any scale the last few years but there is always the hope for some of these incredible Tight Lines!!!