Tight Lines

Looming storm halts Bacardi Tournament

Was there ever any doubt as to what would happen? Probably not, especially at this time of the year when the so-called tropical systems dominate the weather in the Atlantic basin.

So, it should come as no surprise that the first and probably lone major fishing tournament of 2020 should be postponed.

On a positive note, the organisers, Bacardi and company, should be commended for taking proactive action by making the decision early enough to allow potential participants an opportunity to secure their boats and homes.

One of the advantages of tropical storms and hurricanes over certain gales and other storm systems is the fact that they can be followed almost from their inception off the coast of Africa through their development and on into their ultimate demise in the cold north Atlantic or over a continental land mass.

While the predictability may not yet be an exact science, it is certainly good enough to provide a day or more’s notice with some idea of its intensity and duration.

Such information makes it possible to decide days in advance that a tournament is not going to take place this weekend; even a glancing blow would be preceded by a heavy swell and generally rough conditions, neither of which is conducive to a day of sport fishing.

Given these present circumstances with predominantly easterly winds, there is every likelihood that the fish would not be cooperative, either.

There is some value to the old adage about the wind in the east making the fish bite the least.

Thus, a postponement is a wise call, with the following weekend probably being better for fishing, anyway.

Whether or not the Island sustains a direct hit or not actually has very little to do with the state of the offshore fishery.

The passage of any storm system seems to ensure that the ocean gets a good mixing and anything which brings more in the way of cooler water to the surface has the two-fold benefits of mixing in nutrients in the upper waters and in lowering the overall temperature.

The latter point makes it a less hospitable atmosphere for tropical storm systems while the former usually encourages planktonic growth and stimulates the food chain.

It is these effects that often influence the activities of the fish. Obviously, a change in temperature provides Mother Nature’s hint that it is time to be on the move as wintry conditions are not that far off.

Most of the game species around here are derived from warmer waters with Bermuda at the limits of their preferred temperatures. Some are more tolerant than others: yellowfin will stick around with temperatures in the upper 60’s°F as will wahoo but blue marlin definitely like the temperature substantially higher.

So it is the onset of autumn, generally September in these latitudes, that the action should swing into high gear before petering out over the ensuing few weeks.

The last few weeks have seen a real mix of the fishing. Wahoo and yellowfin tuna seem to be the mainstays but that may be a result of the type of effort put in. Most troll baits intended for wahoo and actually expect to catch wahoo and little else.

Some of the more creative have taken to carrying a daisy chain in the spread and while this has remained quiet for most, there are reports of small mackerel and blackfin tuna.

With any luck, these may become more common because they should eventually extend their travels over much of the deeper reef areas and along Bermuda’s Edge.

When this happens not only is the offshore scene pretty hectic but there is some inshore trolling to be had as well.

In fact, such small mackerel have even taken cast lures from various shoreline points. Net fishermen, too, can have a field day with them. Not normally sought after as a food fish locally, these smaller versions do enjoy a limited niche market.

For the most part, it has been traditional chumming and trolling that has produced what little has come in the last week or so.

Chumming has been on and off again but, at its best, has been rewarded with school-sized yellowfins in the high teens with a very few larger ones making it into the 20-pound bracket. Encouraging enough but about to take a break from exploitation.

When things calm down after the passage of a storm, it is worth keep an eye out for floating objects; bits of rope, whole palm trees, half sunken barrels, all sorts of things.

Very often they will have schools of fish associated with them.

Dolphin are the usual suspects, but these same objects are often home to numbers of wahoo.

These wahoo will tend to be school fish in the ‘teens, but they are generally willing and will take most any offerings.

In the meantime, staying safe is the name of the nautical game as well as the usual precautions taken to minimize loses and damage as a result of this sort of weather.

This too will pass and there will be days when the heavens will smile on anglers and their search for Tight Lines!!!