Only the diehards will head out to sea
A rather grim outlook for the next week or so, with all this weather making the news. Given that, the commercial fleet will be looking to make sure that their lobster gear is safe and this will further reduce the priority of seeking fin fish.
The few who stick to trolling are reporting variable results, with the odd wahoo proving to be the mainstay. There are other species around, but the lack of real effort means that not everything is being tried and certainly not all the locales have been visited.
Most every local angler has suspected that wahoo get to be a lot larger than the fish that are caught here with any regularity. Depending on the time of year, wahoo here are either young fish in the 15lbs to 30lbs bracket or the 30lbs to 60lbs bracket during the spring and autumn.
Anything larger, which can happen at any time given the wanderlust that this species exhibits, is considered a really nice specimen and several world records have been set here over the years.
Most have eventually been broken as new wahoo hotspots are located, or anglers tailor their gear to specific records. It is the record 115lbs fish caught on 20lbs test that has endured for decades.
The present all-tackle world record is a 184-pounder caught by Sara Hayward in 2005 off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Fairly obviously that is a women’s line class record as well. This July another large wahoo was caught and it has been duly entered for the men’s 130lb test class record. The fish weighed in at 182lbs 3oz.
The size of the fish is not that amazing given the present overall record, but what makes this stand out is the fact that it was caught off Cape Cod. That is not somewhere that is known for wahoo of any size, much less world-beaters. The charter boats fishing out of their usually run to the offshore canyons where the real ocean starts and the concentration has traditionally been on tuna.
With a wahoo this size turning up there raises a few questions. Did it reach its large size by staying in areas where wahoo are not common, possibly avoiding exposure to fishing pressure and normal predators? Or, is it an indication of something else — global warming, maybe — that is changing the fish’s migratory patterns? Time may well tell.
Looking ahead, although a tropical event is not really expected here this weekend, there is enough kerfuffle in the general vicinity to pretty much ensure a sloppy time out on the briny. There really does seem to be some correlation between inclement weather and weekends, at least for those who are restricted to the days that they can devote to the sport.
With more boats being taken out of the water or otherwise “mothballed”, sport fishing effort drops off markedly with only a very few diehards continuing to fish through the winter months.
With this in mind, a solution to the lack of fresh fish during the winter presents itself. While not exactly big game fishing, or even sport fishing, for the most part, doing some fishing over the deeper reef areas can be productive and lead to a stash of nice fillets in the freezer that will get you through the ham and turkey season, which is already rearing its head.
Part of the joy of this is that you don’t have to go out on the ocean per se. The deeper reefs are the place of choice but even the broken bottom areas can prove surprisingly productive.
The trick is to go prepared for what you are likely to encounter. Probably the most numerous species is the barber. Not to be the object of disdain, barbers are members of the same family as the hinds, conies and rockfish. As one might expect this means that they will produce a nice, white firm fillet. Also, because for some reason, just about all barbers are the same size — just about a pound — there are about five or six ounces of fillet on each one. Perfect for freezing flat and individually; which makes for great storage and later easy use.
To make this as efficient as possible, rig your bottom line with five or even six hooks. Use circle hooks — they let the fish hook themselves which is a real advantage with barbers that are so named because of their ability to “trim” off a bait.
Use a tough bait like squid or octopus. You might be able to get the latter from a commercial fisherman who will occasionally catch them in lobster traps. Octopus are the bane of the lobster fishermen because they can really dismantle a lobster and, almost invariably, will start with the largest one.
Working the bottom should produce good numbers of barbers along with the odd cony and very occasional red hind which will do much to enhance the catch. Don’t be afraid to move fairly frequently or even drift, if the conditions are conducive. By covering a lot of bottom, you maximise your opportunity for Tight lines!
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