Historic marlin haul a boost in trying times


No doubt that the temperature is high, and it is a hot, dry summer by any account and the fishing is that spotty sort that suggests that even the fish are feeling the heat.

Certainly, the calm seas and searing sun are enough to give most casual anglers pause for thought.

Some shade and maybe a cooling dip may well be preferable to tossing bits of baits overboard and watching them disappear into a seemingly bottomless blue completely devoid of fish or any other life, while beads of sweat find endless places to coagulate on the human form.

The yellowfin tuna that were so prevalent on the southeastern side of Challenger Bank seem to have moved on with the likelihood that they have shifted the base of activity over to Argus Bank.

It is highly unlikely that they have completely evacuated the area, so they may be on the move or simply avoiding the heat of the day, thus making themselves scarce when anglers are most likely to try and tempt them.

Wahoo continue to be taken on trolled rigs although they are sporadic without much in the way of rhyme or reason.

Copious amounts of seaweed are proving to be a nuisance for trollers and although this has little effect on the fish it can have a devastating effect on the fishing, tangling up baits and forming masses on deep trolls that keep mates busy clearing such obstructions.

The flat calm also sets one in mind of searching out floating debris that may prove to be a jackpot for species like dolphin and wahoo that often congregate around such things.

A lack of continuous heavy weather to our south may mean that there is less flotsam at present but, at best, the encounters of such are pure happenstance.

Shifting activity on to the top of the banks or over the deeper reef areas should be rewarded with blackfin tuna and mackerel with the former definitely preferring warmer waters with the present generally the optimum season for the species.

Small game should be ubiquitous and things like small bonita, amberjack and yellowtail snapper all make for quality fillets that will freeze well should there be an abundance, for the summer season will disappear almost as quickly as it came into being; the prospect of a long winter hovers in the foreseeable future.

It would be remiss not to mention Paul Van Pelt’s recent capture of a blue marlin.

The fish, which was released, was estimated at about 300 pounds and would not be a particularly noteworthy feat but for one thing. This fine catch has the distinction of being the first blue marlin caught on a fly in Bermuda waters.

The catch was made from Captain Joey Dawson’s Gringo and marks another milestone in Bermuda angling history.

By and large, fly fishing has not figured prominently in local angling annals. There are plenty of very impressive light tackle feats, both historic and modern with some records which were set early on still persisting to this day.

For various reasons, none too clear, there has always been precious little interest in fly fishing among locals even though a few practitioners would travel abroad at great expense to experience some of the fabled salmon rivers of northern Europe.

Once home again, the gear would be carefully stored to await another foray abroad. It would seem that light tackle was the tool of choice for pursuit of the game fish found locally.

A visiting angler in the early 1970s named Jim Lopez brought fly fishing to Bermuda’s blue water and successfully set a number of records, primarily for yellowfin tuna. While this grabbed the attention of locals for a momentary spell, fly fishing has never really attracted local aficionados.

Over the years and into this century, a few anglers have occasionally made notable achievements with the long wand and feathers, but all these have also all but faded into obscurity.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the large bonefish that call Bermuda’s grassy flats home, there have been very few who have pursued this species on the fly.

Considered by many to be the ultimate challenge in the “skinny water”, one would have thought the situation here ideal.

Again, thus far it has not been the case.

Whether the art of the fly is ever a mainstay of local angling is debatable at best, the successful efforts to do so should not go unrecorded and certainly any catch of a blue marlin on such tackle is to be commended.

Marlin are still being caught on a regular basis with the number of blue far outstripping their smaller white marlin counterparts and this weekend should see a number brought to boat side as the Bermuda Marlin Release Challenge competition takes place on Sunday.

Billed as the Covid-19 Edition, this no kill tournament is less strict than some of the others but still features monetary awards and a focus on the fun associated with big game angling. Late entrants can still get in on the action by e-mailing a.gillis.08@gmail.com.

By its very nature there will be no weigh-in, so the only way anyone can indulge in this very special thrill is to take part and hope to be rewarded with the eye-boggling explosive power of a blue marlin on Tight lines!!!

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Published Aug 8, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 8, 2020 at 12:09 am)

Historic marlin haul a boost in trying times

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