‘Sea Monster’s’ escape keeps anglers guessing

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Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy! No one is going to catch any fish this week. And that is pretty much correct.

The weather was less than conducive to sport fishing and the fact that the commercial fishery has concentrated on lobsters with little trolling or chumming figuring in their pursuits, not many fish have been caught. Because of this, there is no point in going fishing, at least from a sportsman’s point of view, so the bottom line is no wahoo or tuna of any note were caught.

This may be a bit of an extreme analysis of the angling over the last week or so, but it is not far from the truth. And while the weather will continue to have its seasonal ups and downs, most amateurs are limited to weekends with most of these being on the receiving end of some of the nastier frontal passages. Throw in the month or so of festivities that is so nearly upon us, and there simply won’t be much fishing to report.

The lack of activity out there could lead one to suspect that there was indeed nothing in the local area but, as is so often the case, something happens that can suggest completely otherwise.

Even though the mainstream is keeping a low profile these days, the odd weekender or two does manage to slip out onto the briny in search of whatever there might be there and willing to please. Wahoo are usually available throughout the year and although numbers may leave something to be desired, some real trophy fish have been caught in both November and December.

For most of us, a single fish provides enough fresh fish to satisfy a family’s immediate wants, even if there isn’t enough left over to fill a freezer. Abbreviated days and limiting the effort to Bermuda’s Edge allow the angler to have a shot at a wahoo or tuna while still keep the time and fuel commitment to a minimum. Every once in a while someone gets really lucky but the plan should be to catch a decent fish and then to head for home.

In truth, even managing a single fish can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you allow for missed bites and pulled hooks in addition to the scarcity of strikes. Still, there is a lot to be said for adapting a philosophical approach and settling for whatever will be. The ocean can provide its share of surprises at any time.

One such boat had spent most of the day working the Banks with virtually no activity and, having given up and decided to head for home, left the trolls out as they traversed the Churn. About halfway across, a rod keeled over and something like 400 yards of top shot and some of the Spectra® disappeared into the abyss. A bit of frenetic activity saw some of the line regained and there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Without a doubt, something in the “sea monster” class had latched on and was providing the angler with a good workout. As things progressed, it looked as though the tide was turning in the favour of the angler; when, all of a sudden, the unseen denizen decided to put a stop to all the nonsense and proceeded to take back all the hard-won line along with most of the rest of the spool and disappearing forever into the depths. Game over!

Naturally, the speculation ran somewhat wild: after all, there are limits as to what sort of sea monster could be involved. Applying a bit of rational thought and the choices rapidly narrowed down. A large shark was a possibility but the nature of the “take” and the performance thereafter was inconsistent with a mako or even a great white; really the only sort of sharks likely to be found in local waters that would take a trolled offering and then have the weight to put a significant dent into reasonably heavy gear. Billfish could not be totally discounted either, even though the time of year was a bit against this and, even allowing for that, they generally have a tendency to put on some aerial acrobatics in an effort to shake a hook.

That left the tuna clan, and while a large yellowfin could be the culprit, fish of that size are uncommon at best and seldom, if ever, found in the Atlantic. That left the other, larger members of the family with most sages opting for a Bluefin. Known from local waters and certainly likely to have the bulk required, this was indeed a likely candidate. The fact that others have been seen, hooked and caught here at this time of the year, pretty much seals the deal.

There is another species which is often overlooked but which could also be involved in this particular account is the Atlantic bigeye tuna. The current all-tackle record is just shy of 400 pounds and the species is every bit as game as its relatives. Larger specimens do occur although the distribution of this particular tuna has it showing up more often in commercial landings in places like the Canary Islands and Madeira than as part of the recreational catch. Basically, because the commercial effort aimed at such fish tend to be deeper than other surface fisheries, not a lot of sport fishing is directed at the species in those locations.

In this part of the globe, big-eye tuna are routinely caught by the East Coast boats working the canyons and other oceanic pinnacles. The norm is big fish but for every big fish there are a whole lot of smaller ones, somewhere.

Although this species gets very little mention here, they have been caught from time to time. Part of the problem stems from the fact that they can easily be confused with the yellowfin tuna. They really shouldn’t be, but a cursory look will miss some of the salient features that distinguish the two. The larger than expected eye should be a giveaway but if a 60-pound tuna with orangey-yellow fins is slung into the fish box; it has probably irrevocably become an Allison.

While not noticeably abundant in this particular region, they do occur here and have been caught on occasion. This has probably happened more often that we think, simply because we are not on the look-out for them. We expect to catch either blackfin or yellowfin and so when we catch a tuna that is what we catch, taking us back to that idea of self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps, a thought worth bearing in mind, in case a slightly odd-looking tuna ever happens to take one of your rigs. If it is indeed a decent-sized big-eye, then you will experience some very Tight lines!!!

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Published Nov 17, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm)

‘Sea Monster’s’ escape keeps anglers guessing

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