Weather ensures late chance for good catch
The seasons, they are a-changing and it is now officially autumn, The sun’s focal point on Planet Earth has again crossed the Equator and a winter lies ahead for the northern hemisphere just as they look forward to summer Down Under.
The weather, for the most part, continues to be hot and humid, with plenty of Atlantic tropical activity stirring up bands of showers and bursts of windy weather, which are welcome, compared with the alternative.
But what is probably most noticeable is just how late in the morning it is before daylight reigns. This is due to the controversial practice known as Daylight Saving Time. By jumping the clocks ahead in the spring, daylight extends later into the evening although as the year wears on, the mornings stay dark later. The practice really doesn’t change anything but people’s habits and work hours are affected with many now having to go to work in the dark.
Anglers and boaters less familiar with the perils of the reefs often wait until daybreak before trying to negotiate the channel and inshore waters. Now, for many, that means arriving on the preferred fishing grounds well after the pros have worked them over. But even so, things are encouraging.
Offshore, the fishing has been really impressive. It really looks like there is an autumnal wahoo run as many boats report success. Although many fishermen are still concentrating on live-baiting, there has been some noticeable success with good, old-fashioned trolling. Rigged garfish, with or without colourful enhancements, are picking up some very nice wahoo. How nice, you might ask. The reply would be very nice, indeed, with several recently caught fish bettering the 100lb mark. In any language that is a big wahoo! Most of the rest are respectable fish in the 35lb and heavier bracket. Numbers are good, too with several hauls approaching the double figure mark. Obviously, the commercial fleet will be looking to get as much as they can out of present situation. In between hauling lobster traps, the thought of creating a stockpile of wahoo to last into the winter is very appealing.
Although regular trolling is working, live robins are also getting results although some problems arise when the location most suited at providing robins is some distance from where the concentrations of wahoo seem to be. Earlier this week, it was Argus that was the site of most of the action, but many boats had to catch their robins on Bermuda’s Edge or the shallower spots on Challenger Bank, still leaving them some distance from the bulk of the wahoo action.
While speaking about bait, just about any journey across the Great Sound or any of the numerous other harbours and bays will afford an encounter with schools of juvenile mackerel that are ripping up the inshore waters as they tear into schools of bait. For the angler, this is a great sign with the only question being just when these tasty morsels for predators will make it out to the deeper reef areas and onto the Edge where the wahoo and tuna await them. Unfortunately even if these blue-water species knew that the little mackerel were nothing short of abundant inshore, they are not going to come off the deep blue briny in search of them.
Basically, the longer this process takes the more likely the weather is to deteriorate into typical wintry conditions which weakens anglers resolve and ultimately keeps most weekenders home. The outcome might be of some advantage to the mackerel; they will be that much larger and the cooling of the offshore water might have seen some of the wahoo and tuna head to warmer climes, thus increasing the bait’s chance of survival.
Although still not the time of year where the best strategy is to work the bottom for hinds, coneys and barbers; there is reason to run lines down towards the bottom. Swimming mid-water or just above the actual bottom should be schools of yellowtails snappers and numbers of both amberjack and bonita. Many consider the autumn months on into December as the best time of year for these species and they are great game fish and important food species as well.
For the really large specimens, live baits are preferred; most use robins although live mackerel work surprisingly well, but cut bait or fresh anchovy work just fine. The trick is to keep the bait above the reef structure on the bottom. Less abundant and therefore less likely to bite but a species that inhabits the same sort of area is the monkey or flag rockfish. A few lucky fishermen trying out this technique have added the occasional monkey to their haul of bonita without complaint.
October is all but here and the winter gales cannot be far behind. Summer may linger but the hurricanes will have sucked a lot of the heat out of the ocean and that will mean dropping temperatures and departing fish. Between that and the weather which, at best, turns difficult during the off-season, right now might be a welcome late opportunity for some Tight Lines!
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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