There’s plenty of action for everyone!
Hot and humid is the weather and the fishing is too! Well, maybe not humid, seeing as plenty of water is involved anyway, but certainly the action is hot with most of the game species at or near peak. Just about the only fish for which the best is still to come is the wahoo and, having said that, there are enough of those around to justify wetting a line intended for them. Plenty of action for everyone.
The billfish fever pretty well broke with July’s final marlin tournament, the Sea Horse Anglers Club event. The oldest of the local marlin tournaments, this year’s entry of 30 teams involved 296 anglers who spent three days scouring the ocean for marlin, preferably of the blue variety and, even more preferably, large.
When all was said and done, 46 marlin were caught; ten whites and 36 blues. The majority of the fish were released with three qualifying fish brought to the weigh station. The largest of these was a 619-pounder caught on Capt James Robinson’s Wound Up and this particular fish secured the proceeds of the Largest Blue Marlin Jackpot.
The winning boat in the tournament, with 1,500 points, was Over Budget with Fa-La-Me in second spot with 1,200 points. In third place, based on time, was El Cazador also with 1,200 points.
The Top Angler award was won by Sail Ricks who amassed 1,200 points whilst fishing from El Cazador. The Top Female Angler was Elaine Jones, fishing from Mama Who.
The tournament game fish awards were won by Singularis (25.5lbs dolphin) and Waste Knot (54.3lbs wahoo).
The Bermuda Triple Crown awards were the culmination of the tournament series fished in July, starting with the Bermuda Blast. This year the umbrella competition drew a total of 40 boats which took part either in all or some of the events. Ultimately, the Sea Horse Tournament was the final leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown event and the points scored there allowed Capt Moore’s Fa-La-Me to narrowly take the overall honours ahead of the highly successful Bree, skippered by Capt Kyle Laine. The winner had 3,900 points while the runner-up was thereabouts with 3,100 points. Back in third was Capt Ricky Sousa, Jr’s local boat Over Budget on 3,100 points.
Capt Robinson’s Wound Up came up with a bit of a rarity earlier this week when they caught a spearfish. While technically a billfish, as are sailfish, these species are poorly understood and occur from time to time just about anywhere with oceanic islands probably being their preferred venue.
Although few are reported here during any given year, there is a nagging suspicion that some are mistaken for white marlin, especially if they are small specimens. The all-tackle world records for the various species range from 70 pounds to 127lbs 13oz. Regardless of the species all of the recognised record fish are really large specimens. Given the size range achieved by spearfish and the fact that, until very recently, the scientists placed them in the same genus as the white marlin, the potential for laymen to make a mistake is huge. This is not the case with the other billfish species, the sailfish, which is easily identified by its huge sail-like dorsal fin, and which does put in several appearances here every year with April and September being the most likely months.
Although the focus is now shifting away from the competitive billfish scene, there is still some significant interest in those species from the visitors taking part in Marlin Magazine‘s Marlin University. The programme, which moves from hot spot to hot spot, is in Bermuda this year, teaching tricks and techniques to anglers willing to pay the fee for exposure to top skippers and experts as well as standing a reasonable chance of hooking into something memorable.
While these patrons will be hunting billfish, there is every likelihood that they will hook into one of the hefty yellowfin tuna that are pleasing at the moment. Quite apart from the mid-size fish that are likely to favour a chum slick, the really large fish are more likely to be caught on the troll. This is the case elsewhere, particularly in the canyons off the US. East Coast and out of the Carolinas, where anchoring up to chum in the deep blue water is not an option.
Here, every few years there seems to be an influx of large tuna, usually over 100 pounders. While there are a few caught each year, sometimes there are literally schools of these large fish on the Banks and on the Edge. Those who have raised eyebrows at that last remark might want to recall that “down north” during August often produces some fine specimens of yellowfin for trollers.
These large fish share the deep briny with the marlin and it is usually the baits or lures that make the difference. Rigged flying fish often the attention of the tuna and they will take rigged garfish as well. Naturally, a marlin will also take such baits but they often favour larger baits or lures that create a fuss similar to one that a mackerel or small tuna-like baitfish would make.
Lures that mimic squid tend to have an edge when tuna are concerned. The MoldCraft Chugger® in pink and white makes a good choice if it is the yellowfin that you want to attract. A marlin might show up unexpectedly but that is where another difference lies. Marlin usually appear magically out of nowhere but tuna often crash bait or cause other major surface disturbances which can alert you to their presence. Having some idea of what to expect can make a difference when working the areas between the Banks and Edge. Anyone carrying such lures on anything other than very heavy tackle had better be prepared for a long battle or the sudden need of a new spool of line.
Chumming on the Banks in the more traditional fashion will see tuna and a variety of small game species willing to please. Working a bit deeper, ambers and bonitos will also provide sport and there is an argument to be made for working the top of the Banks, even without heading for the crown. This is especially true if you anchor up in the vicinity or a mooring or spot that is worked on a continual basis. The input of bait attracts the small fish which attract larger fish and so on. If you think about it, why would a predatory fish want to leave an area where there is an abundance of prey?
Maybe go for a bit of a wander but definitely stay in touch with the chow line. It is because of this that such chummed-up areas often produce multiple trophy amberjack and Almaco jack. For the very lucky, this can also attract rockfish, which are definitely an added bonus. On the downside, sharks also adhere to the same scenario and this can turn into a disappointment. One way of avoiding a long-winded run in is to use a monofilament leader. Then if the undesirable latches onto your bait, its rough hide should very quickly put paid to your undesired Tight lines!!!
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