Last chance before wind sets in
Slowly but ever so surely, the angling season is coming to an end. It happens gradually and many a landlubber will fail to notice the telltale signs that autumn is short-lived and then the winter will be upon us. Days are often pleasant enough on land but they tend to be disappointing for anyone interested in pursuing any offshore sport.
Some will have noted that there is a marked increase in the amount of easterly wind that has prevailed over the past couple of weeks. This is a sure sign that the weather is transitioning from the summertime Bermuda-Azores high domination, bringing one Bermudaful day after another to the wintry situation that sees calm days inserted ever so fleetingly between successive bouts of gales and generally inclement weather; not to mention lower temperatures. The angler’s fishing season closes and the boat is put away for the winter and maybe even until they are told that it will be required, in good shape, for the May 24 holiday now so far into the future.
After postponement very early in the season, the recognised Bermuda fishing clubs were finally able to hold their annual BFCAT tournament. Although calmer conditions would have been welcome, the weather was well within the realm of fishable and the various teams headed out to seek their respective fortunes.
Fishing was good and a nice variety of species were caught with the yellowfin tuna really the only notable absence. Wahoo and barracuda dominated proceedings with some representation from dolphin and blackfin tuna. There were 33 fish entered. Four of these were blackfin tuna; of these two scored release points and one failed to make the minimum weight, with the other scoring points based on weight and line class. There were 11 barracuda weighed in along with five dolphin (one ineligible) and 13 wahoo.
The cumulative scoring system meant that each club’s anglers amassed points on the various light tackle line classes. Each club was allowed up to three boats with a maximum of four anglers per team. After the weigh-in, the numbers were tallied with the following results.
The 8-lb test line category was won by Bermuda Anglers Club; the 12 and 16-lb test line classes were won by Sea Horse Anglers Club and the 20 and 30-lb test line classes were won by Blue Waters Anglers Club. The overall winning club was Sea Horse Anglers Club who will be awarded the BFCAT Shield and who will enjoy bragging rights until the tournament is next fished.
The High Point Angler of the tournament was Sea Horse’s David Barber who amassed 2281.43 points by catching four eligible fish including a 40.7 pound wahoo on 12-lb test that was the High Point Fish.
The High Point Boat was Captain Craigin Curtis’s Reel Addiction with a total of 4607.89 points scored by four anglers fishing for Sea Horse Anglers Club.
Many of the fish caught in the tournament were caught on live baits. There really seems to be no shortage of theses on the Banks and, presumably, on Bermuda’s Edge. Large numbers of mackerel are to be seen and these can be readily caught on daisy chains or small lures. The daisy chain or sabiki (Japanese name for the same sort of rig) is useful for catching numbers of the smaller mackerel. Not always small enough to be classified as “frigate” mackerel, many of these will be of a size that makes a nice live bait that can be trolled on a downrigger or from an outrigger. Those are the preferred methods as they tend to get tangled in the other lines if trolled immediately in the boat’s wake.
An old trick, which many have forgotten, is to attach a short wire leader with a larger lure or even a spoon to the end of the daisy chain. Once in a while, a wahoo or other toothy critter will try to pick off the last lure, especially if it stands out a bit. Leaving a few mackerel on the chain while trolling is asking for a fish to come and rip one off. If it is a wahoo, expect to lose a portion of the daisy chain; maybe all of it.
Small tuna, usually blackfin but occasionally skipjack, will also attack the daisy chain and like mackerel they make fine baits. Normally, the yellowfin that occur here are too big to indulge in that sort of activity but if it happens remember that there is a legal minimum weight for yellowfin.
For anyone who wonders why really small yellowfin do not seem to frequent the area, the likely answer is that they are believed to spawn either in the eastern Atlantic off Africa or down around the Caribbean. This means that they would have to travel quite some way to get here and the fact that they are a rapidly growing species makes it unlikely that small one will arrive here.
So, not much time left. The onset of gales and the inclement weather that keeps anglers home is nearly here. Now is the time to make some time to get offshore while conditions are still favourable for Tight Lines!