Wahoo and tuna keep the chummers happy
It might be June but were it not for the warm humidity that has graced us this past week, it could be March or April. Wind, rain and even thunder simply are not the things that we associate with summer. But, so far, there hasn’t been too much complaining because we do need the rain but the prolonging of such conditions when we really should be enjoying halcyon days afloat does put a damper on affairs.
While the pursuit of trophy blue marlin is fast becoming the name of the game, there is still some decent wahoo action to be had and there are enough tuna around this Island to keep the chummers happy.
With most of the foreign boats only interested in billfish, the edges of the drop-off and the Banks are the venue of choice for anglers who are interested in catching the species that originally made Bermuda famous as a light tackle destination. Not that many use much in the way of light tackle anymore.
Chumming does remain the first choice of many anglers for several reasons. First of all, it does use less fuel and therefore keeps the bills down. Secondly, virtually any fish can be caught utilising this method and it also allows one to plumb the depths for bottom species like hind and coney if the floating target species aren’t cooperating.
The formula is: rush out to the Bank, trolling along the edge just in case a wahoo wants to make your day and then drop the hook, usually on the south-eastern side where there are lots of rocks and the grapnel will take hold quickly and surely.
Then start tossing fry/anchovy/marlin bits/other fishy bits overboard until something new puts in an appearance. Robins are often the first to oblige and these make fine live baits and, once dead, they can be filleted for use as hook bait or chopped up for chum. Ditto for any mackerel that zip in and out of the free-floating offerings.
Just a matter of time before something decent like a yellowfin or blackfin tuna shows up. Except, of course, if the bait just never gets far enough from the boat to attract anything because some unwanted visitors make merry with your chum and have no issue with snatching some of the steel-reinforced slabs of fish that you are paying back into the abyss.
Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Shearwater!
Often considered by anglers to be the ultimate nuisance, putting even barracuda to shame, the shearwaters are present offshore in numbers, driving chummers to their wits’ end.
The good news is that they don’t really tarry too long in any one place. This species of birds is on a pretty much endless mission that takes them from their breeding grounds in the South Atlantic all the way to the Arctic Circle off Scandinavia. That’s some hike and it is repeated over and over again, so that in a lifetime these birds cover hundreds of thousands of miles.
The problem is that such travelling makes the birds hungry and when they find a stopping place in the mid-Atlantic where people actually bring them food and toss it overboard to them, why would they not stop for a while to rest and regain their strength?
There are a couple of semi-solutions to this. One is to actually catch the birds and put them in your cockpit if you have the room. They will pretty much stand there looking gormlessly at you as you go about chumming and, hopefully, fishing. They cannot fly away because they have to get a running, actually paddling, start by running across the water to get up enough speed to get airborne.
Weather permitting; the first of the big participation tournaments will take place tomorrow. The 2012 Bacardi Rum Fishing Tournament has drawn close to 50 entries, ranging from small private boats all the way up to the professional class. The fact that the competitors compete on the basis of what size of boat they are on makes this event a great leveller as is the fact that line tests don’t really matter. This is unlike other tournaments where the ability to catch large fish on light line provides a strong competitive edge. Regardless of line test used, each fish entered scores one point per pound. Here the challenge is not so much about scoring points but catching a big fish.
There is a 20 pound minimum size for all fish entries. There is also a limit on the species which are eligible to win awards. The named recognised species are wahoo and tuna with there being an additional award for an “Other” category. This category consists of the other BGFA game species with the exception of all billfish and sharks. So, realistically, the most likely fish that will be caught that fit into this category are the amberjack and bonita (Almaco jack).
In terms of the overall awards, the high point angler prizes go to the anglers with the best three fish and the high point boat prize is based on a maximum of five fish. This is, in some degree, a conservation measure because it gives the appearance of limiting the number of fish that are caught. In actuality it does not because the commercial boats certainly want as many fish as they can catch and even the amateurs see that if they already have three fish, it is worth catching more simply because one or more of the later caught fish might be bigger than any of the first three. It is then a matter of picking the biggest three to weigh in for any individual and for the five biggest to be caught on the boat to comprise that boat’s entry.
The miserable weather of the last few days may have inspired the birds to move on and if the sea conditions please tomorrow there should be enough fish to warrant observers going down to the weigh-in at Fairmont Hamilton dock to see what the brave fishers have managed to capture. Last year, it was nothing short of phenomenal and organisers are hoping for something similar this year.
Looking further ahead, there is the 47th Bermuda Anglers Light Tackle Tournament (ILTT) which will be fished the week starting with the 17th. This year’s event is showing signs of reverting to its former glory with a total of eight teams taking part.
There is a really comprehensive website dedicated to this event and that can be found at http://www.ilttbermuda.com/.
The main targets for both these tournaments are the wahoo and tuna with an emphasis being placed on the yellowfin tuna which can attain weights in excess of 100 pounds. Naturally, if 12-lb test tackle is the gear in use, a fifty-pounder is a real challenge and anything larger is really going to test out an angler’s mettle by providing him or her with some very, very Tight lines!!!
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