Midway through a long holiday weekend for most with many finding their way onto the water.
Just what might be expected of an island population where no one can be more than about a half mile or 2,600 feet from the ocean.
Throw in a hefty dose of the summertime heat and the water certainly does beckon invitingly, even if it is to ride the day away at anchor in some picturesque cove.
Not that such an idyllic way of passing the time appeals to everyone. Those with an angling bent will be sure to manage at least a day offshore with most heading to the Edge or the Banks, even though there is good fishing to be had on the various inner bottoms.
The focus of the last two weeks has been on the biggest game to be found locally and a glory species of the Atlantic. The Bermuda Triple Crown of billfish tournaments pretty much steals all the limelight during July even though this year’s events were hurried due to a later than usual start.
Participation was likewise lower due to the travel restrictions, the pandemic situation in the United States. and timing in general. The first two had gone off without a hitch and the finale was in progress last weekend.
Day One of the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, the island’s oldest, was dreadfully slow with only four blue marlin being caught and released. This left local boat, Legacy, ahead on time with Tenacious, Bree and Auspicious all tied with 500 points.
Day Two saw a remarkably improved bite with ten blue marlin being caught and released with Uno Mas jumping into the lead position by catching and releasing four blue marlin. A single release remained the best position any other competitor could find itself in. Things were still tight and very competitive.
The third day saw even more improved fishing with 14 blue marlin and one white marlin being caught. All but one blue marlin was released with the other fish failing to make the minimum weight much to the disappointment of the team who really thought that they had a keeper. Team Auspicious also had a good day, catching and releasing three to secure first place with 2,500 points. As time ticked away and sun moved deeper into the western sky, it so looked like that would be how it would finish up.
Once again, a twist in the tail as team Uno Mas waited until the final moments of the tournament to hook and release another blue marlin, propelling them into first place ahead of now second place but once leader, Auspicious.
The Sea Horse Anglers Club Tournament was won by Capt. Brooks Smith’s Uno Mas with Auspicious in second and frequent visitor Bree rounding out the placings. The next four positions were all held by local boats that had also made good showings throughout the tournament.
The High Point Angler for the tournament was also the High Point Lady Angler with 3,000 points on Uno Mas. The High Point Junior Angler was P.J. Rodrigues (1,500 points). The Largest Wahoo in the tournament went to Don Boys, aboard Bree, with a 34.5-pounder.
After the trio of tournaments, the overall winner of the Bermuda Triple Crown was Team Auspicious, captained by Edward Murray, and amassing 6,000 points from blue marlin releases. This team was never too far off the lead, coming second in the Blast and Sea Horse events and winning the Big Game Classic.
Some “take home” messages from this year’s billfish tournaments. There were signs that the fishing was running somewhat later than normal and despite the fleet catching over 70 billfish, no really large fish was brought to gaff.
Given Bermuda’s reputation as a large fish hotspot, this is a bit surprising but suggests that there may yet be more to come in the weeks ahead.
For now, though, marlin take a bit of a back seat to the other species which are the prime interest of most anglers and most likely to dominate for a while.
The Banks have been producing good numbers of yellowfin tuna that are ideally suited for light tackle even though there are not too many adherents to this faith any more. They do seem to have eased off on Challenger just lately but may well have shifted their base of operations to Argus Bank. Chumming is effective and the use of live baits should produce some of the larger specimens, particularly in deeper water. Smaller game like blackfin and rainbow runners will please as well.
Wahoo are quiet although there are always a few around. Trolling will occasion strikes but live baits will get the attention of the largest ones which often take to hanging around chum slicks and stealing baits fished on monofilament leaders.
Boats working inside the Edge around deeper reef areas have been doing well with yellowtail snappers. These fish are always welcome in the fish box although angles should be careful to take a lot of ice with them as yellowtails are notorious for spoiling quickly. Given the fact that the water is close to the warmest it ever gets, this should not be a surprise but a rationale.
The channels are the place and now is the time for white-water snappers with the cooler evenings being the preferred time to go in search of these. Another snapper species that makes for good eating, anglers should be reminded that there is a legal limit to the number that can be caught in any given day.
Lots of options for the casual line-wetter to the serious angler as the calm summer weather gives in to the doldrums of August when it gets so hot even the fish take a break. Summer and the living is easy or so the song says, just the time for some Tight lines!!!