Yellowfin tuna offer some festive cheer

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As the carol goes, “fast away the old year passes” so does the fishing for this year. With just enough inclement weather on the weekends and plenty of diverse onshore distractions to keep the anglers home, there has not been much in the way of wet lines this past week or so.

Finding the time to go fishing is a challenge at most times of the year, especially if families are involved but that takes on an almost insurmountable problem for most now that December is here.

For many, a justification to head offshore is required and the rather quiet blue water these past few weeks has failed to provide any reason. But for those who may be a bit desperate, here is some good news.

While considered a tropical tuna by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and other scientific organisations, the yellowfin tuna is quite tolerant of temperature and has often been known to remain on Bermuda’s more temperate fishing ground throughout the year. Whether or not they choose to do so probably depends on a number of other factors including such obvious things as the availability of bait.

Whether such things will be obvious or not is doubtful. What is obvious is the presence of the tuna themselves and that, happily, is the present situation.

On the Banks, and presumably elsewhere there is a rather nice crop of yellowfin tuna that are well capable of providing some good action for both chummers and trollers.

While finding schoolies in the 15 — 25-pound bracket is not all that uncommon, these are really quite nice fish. Most of them are in the 50 — 80 — pound range; the sort of thing that can really enhance an angler’s scorecard for year-long club competitions. A couple of these on suitably light tackle will rack up the points quite quickly and can probably shift the standings around a bit, so this is a great opportunity for some last minute, come from behind-type action.

Thus far, most of the action has come from chumming but fish like that need to be on the move at this time of the year and that means that they will be amenable to the occasional trolled offering.

For some unknown reason, while natural rigged baits almost always seem to work on both wahoo and tuna, there are times when certain colours seem to get better results. Fish are said to be colour-blind but let’s not get into that argument. Hot pink often gets winter wahoo attention and red and white or plain red often works for tuna. The oft-disparaged cedar plug has its moments too, although this is usually when the squid are abundant and the fish tend to feed more on them than anything else. Best form of attack now is a rigged flyer on the long, long rigger; one natural on a deep troll, a red/white bait rig on the other and anything else your heart desires on the other rigger. Although tuna are the target species, no self-respecting wahoo will turn up his nose at those morsels and if all the day’s catch yields is one decent-sized wahoo, then there are unlikely to be too many complaints.

Something else that might be considered good luck by anglers is the fact that most of the commercial operators are ignoring the presence of these tuna. That means that they are pretty much there for the sportsman’s pleasure and taking. This is for a very simple, basic reason; namely, there isn’t a market for them. While normally the restaurants and supermarkets will soak up a fair bit of tuna, there just isn’t the demand at the moment. This is probably something to do with the festive fare required at present is generally low on seafood and high on traditional items such as turkey and ham. Still, if you think about it how traditional are those in Bermuda?

While Bermuda has been a colony for some 400 years, the traditional Christmas dinner for early settlers probably read something like roasted cahow and loads of bibby (the alcoholic beverage produced from palmetto sap). Beyond that some sort of fish must have figured in the proceedings until such time as European domestic geese were introduced here and then, later, the American domestic turkey made huge inroads into traditional dinners everywhere; to the point that enjoys a pretty much unchallenged position on the western world’s holiday menu.

While you may be dreaming of sugar plums or otherwise “micing”, you might need to give the boat a run to charge the batteries or to get rid of some water that has collected in the bilges. While you aren’t contemplating going any farther than the harbour, slip this into your thoughts: there is a great opportunity for some very fine very light tackle action within a hundred yards or less of the shoreline.

The species involved here is the mackerel. The very same species that has failed to please a juveniles or frigates but which are pretty constantly available offshore and which are probably one of the main foods for most pelagic predators.

Mackerel, for want of a better name and there are a few, come inshore during the cooler water months and often feed on little knots of fry or other bait fish. They can often be seen producing jets of water as they zoom in and out of bait aggregations and, if the school is big enough, there can be quite a mass of white water as they go wild.

To indulge in this bit of sport, all it takes is a trolled lure. While daisy chains will work, often better success is had with small silver spoons or some of the other commercially available lures that fit into the same general description. Single feather-type lures, once referred to as Japanese feathers, in the small version also work well with red being an effective colour. While moseying through the islands or along the shoreline, drag one or two of these along. Not only will they get the attention of any mackerel that are about but any jacks that have not yet headed out into deeper water might also express an interest. If you really are the lucky sort, even in the harbour a bonita might snatch a lure and give you a good workout. The nice thing about those, is that there are usually a couple more in the vicinity and so it should be possible to catch a few. Finally, if you sport a golden horseshoe, a rockfish may nail your troll. In such cases, my money will go on the fish for those sort of Tight lines!!!

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Published Dec 8, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm)

Yellowfin tuna offer some festive cheer

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