Wahoo Tourney looms ever closer
So far having kept a low profile during the real heat of the tropical season, the anglers of Bermuda await that great fall flourish that so often makes for some of the finest angling on earth.
Some people may say it’s only true of light tackle, but while the yellowfin and wahoo provide the main stock in trade, billfish and other vagrants have their moments too. And some of those can put some serious question marks over anything even remotely considered “light”.
While the sportsman is still looking forward to some last-ditch action before the throes of winter start to manifest themselves, the commercial man has bigger fish to fry (pardon the pun!) September may mean the Labour Day holiday to some, the start of the wahoo run to others and to still others summer’s last fling but to the professionals (fishermen and restaurateurs) it means lobster season!!
Thus, much of the last week or so’s activity has not centred on trolling or chumming but on organising their gear and deploying it in advance of that magical day when spinys can legally be sold and many landlubbers herald this onset of the autumn by dining on the tasty crustaceans.
As a consequence, the offshore has not been worked as comprehensively as it might have been and there is less in the way of intelligence than would be wanted with the wahoo tournament barely a week away.
At the moment, the word is “slow” and while that is not exactly a welcome description, it can also be the prelude to the action suddenly bursting on to the scene.
Exactly why Bermuda has grown used to hosting an autumnal run of wahoo is unknown. It just happens, it seems. For probably getting on for a century (remember we did not always have boats powered by fossil fuels that could go where and whenever they wanted to try trolling without this advantage!) fishermen noted that wahoo were definitely more numerous during late August on into October. Scientists would suggest that maybe a migratory pattern would explain everything but, so far, oceanographers have been unable to pinpoint anything that really provides a reason for or accounts for the phenomenon. The usual arrival of “frigate” mackerel around about that time might be given as a reason; but, then again, why do they show up when they do? Where do they come from? Are they the young of the year from locally spawning little tunny (a more proper name for the mackerel) or do they also come from somewhere else? Do the wahoo come in expectation of a feeding frenzy as they feast themselves on bite-sized mackerel morsels?
One of the things that we don’t like to take into consideration but which we have all had experience of is, what happens if the wahoo don’t show up? There have been years when the frigates fail to arrive but the wahoo came in numbers. Other years have seem a huge influx of bait but no predators arrive; and every once, in a while, the two coincide perfectly and make for some of the best fishing to be had on this oceanic outpost.
So far this year, it hasn’t happened but it can suddenly show out of nowhere. There wasn’t too much of a spring wahoo run and the yellowfin kept a relatively low profile during the summer months when their presence normally dictated Bermuda fishing. The trend toward heavier tackle has also taken some of the lustre out of the scene; but so has the lack of real competitive angling. True anglers are now a bit of a dying breed for a bunch of reasons and much of the fishing relies on the industry while amateurs turn their interests elsewhere.
As usual, while the ever smaller mainstream remains obvious and is seemingly ever shrinking, there remains an interested undertone and it is events like the Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament that brings out the closet anglers and provides enough substance to keep the angling fraternity alive. Sadly, like many other avocations, sport fishing is in the doldrums with the computer, television and other pastimes taking precedence. And, no, it doesn’t help that the commercial interests have put a severe dent in the fish available. The good old days immortalised by Hemingway and Grey are, indeed, gone forever.
In the absence of trolling activity and little to be had in the chum from the yellowfin has led to anglers diversifying into hitherto largely ignored tactics. Those who have fished have taken to the newly re-invented tactic of deep jigging has been resurrected with ambers and bonitas the primary targets. Long neglected, this is actually more work than most of us are willing to admit to, deep jigging does work on both game species and the deep and delicious fish like hinds and even coneys. This is becoming so popular that spinning reels have now been developed that allow the jig to be worked at a high retrieve ration and then can be geered down to actually fight a deep water slogger like an amberjack.
Mind you, that sort of fishing is not for everyone and with the so-called “hind grounds” or seasonally protected areas about to open up to fishermen, there may well be a shift in effort away from the Banks to the Edge with a shorter run and a belief that there may be lots of fish there. There will be some who will be concentrating their effort on the bottom species that should have enjoyed a summer vacation from baited probes. Naturally enough, there may be little advantage to this inasmuch as no quantities of bait have been sunk by chummers and those wishing to cultivate their “spots”; but it are always worth trying your luck to see if there are giant hinds or some of the “floating” species awaiting your return.. If nothing else, it is a diversion that is likely to provide a mixed bag of fillets for the table. Some fishing with a bit of catching is better than no catching.
On a positive note, the tournament slated for next week allows all the stealth anglers and those to whom it is all a bit of a mystery to take part in a thrill that is as old as mankind itself. Don’t forget that the deadline is 5.00 pm Tuesday at Flybridge Tackle on Church Street.
Make no mistake, the anglers that persist into October are not numerous, although there will be a final few who even wet a line through the winter. Nature has ensured that there are always a few fish around and old habits die hard, for those few willing to survive the foulness of winter weather and always living on in the belief that tomorrow will be a day that will shine and provide them with Tight lines!!!
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