Seize the day before Hallowe’en puts the frighteners on
If the proliferation of witches, ghosts and pumpkins hasn’t given it away yet, then you may just start to come to the realisation that the angling season is slowly, but very surely, coming to an end.
Although back in the olden days when the tourism-operated Bermuda Fishing Information Bureau actively promoted this island as an angling destination, and with some success, the recognised season was from May through November.
This was probably optimistic, as once September came to a close, the weather was “ïffy” even for anglers who were used to a bit of rough weather. Being able to pick dates in advance and actually be able to fish on those dates was a very tricky matter indeed.
At the other end of the spectrum, the season actually did not start until May because it was acknowledged that the weather might be less than desirable in April. By experience, most people would say you were more likely to get a fishable day in April than you were in November.
While many are saying that the weather is changing, global warming excluded, it is still pretty much a given that the sports angling comes to a halt by mid-November and starts up again with the real hearties having a few trial runs offshore once the weather shows signs of settling around mid-April or when the spring run of wahoo becomes imminent.
Bearing this out is the present situation. The weather is switching into winter mode — there really are only two seasons: summer and winter, with the latter postulated by the passage of cold fronts and low-pressure systems from the northwest with periods of calm, sometimes very calm, in between.
Don’t worry, some winter gales go on for days, making winter seem to last for ever.
Enough of the summer mode remains with a particularly nice little run of yellowfin tuna offshore. These fish are falling victim to a variety of methods with normal trolling and even chumming getting shots at some nice specimens. Fish up to about 80 pounds have been caught and it is not often that the tuna put in a significant appearance this late in the season. It does happen, yes, but it won’t take too many fingers to count out those in the last generation or so.
Perhaps, surprisingly, live baits do not seem to be the best method of eliciting a bite from one of the larger tuna. It may be that the fish are on the move and they are preferring to save their energy for travel, rather than the pursuit of baits, making chumming all the better of a tactic.
Once the tuna start feeding, the action usually builds on itself and when there are some larger fish around, greed seems to take over and the big fish will almost always beat the smaller fish to the baits.
There are still enough wahoo around to justify going out rigged for this species. Sizes vary widely, with some really nice fish taking baits on a regular basis. Live baiting seems to be the technique of choice at the moment, with the surprise being that it is back to using live robins rather than “frigate” mackerel.
This is not because there aren’t any juvenile mackerel round any more; there are loads of them, only they are no longer so juvenile. They can be seen busting the surface all over the Banks and are actually pretty hefty mackerel now.
They are basically too large for most of the standard live-bait trolling techniques normally used for wahoo. This provides some insight into just how fast they can grow.
A couple of lesser sought-after species that become most common at this time of the year are the amberjack and the bonita (or Almaco jack).
Happily, these usually occur in small schools, with the largest amberfish often running in pairs. So if one is caught, it is usually a good idea to go back and try for the other one, which may often be there and willing to please. The best action for these species usually comes along Bermuda’s Edge, even though the Banks can have their moments as well. Chumming is the usual means of catching these species, but they are also likely to take a live robin without any further ado. Cut baits of fresh fish, preferably mackerel or jack, or even squid, work as well.
When numbers are involved, just keeping bait in the water should keep the school around and give a chance of filling the fish box.
For a last tactic, one that the commercial fishermen often move to in the winter months is drifting. This can be done along the Edge, but is easier on the Banks given that the tide has less of an effect when the depth does not change markedly over a short distance.
Working the bottom with multiple drop rigs can eventually produce some nice hauls. Coneys and hinds should be predominant, although jacks, ambers, bonitas and various other fish will latch on, giving the hard-worked angler some most rewarding Tight Lines!!!
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