Trying to figure out November
There is something about November and angling that simply does not go together. Perhaps it is the belief, not totally grounded on misinformation, that there will be no fishing weather until the spring or it may be that people who fish in the summer simply switch to another hobby in winter.
Whatever the reason, there is no doubting that the amount of effort from both sportsmen and even the commercial operators takes a marked downturn around about now. Maybe it shouldn’t.
For one thing, with the clocks changing again this weekend, the early morning will be lighter and fisherman moving at their usual times will actually be able to start fishing by the time they reach the drop-off. This is unlike the situation a week or so ago when many arrived on Bermuda’s Edge in the dark and carried on to the Banks. Although going straight across to Challenger Bank was a viable option, there just seemed to be something wrong with going past an area that has often been an incredibly productive strip of bottom. Still fishing in the dark has not been known to be a source of success. Fish do feed by sight, mostly. Still, going past the Edge raises the suspicion that there is not much worse than going past fish only to have to come back and find out that is where they were all the time. A return to daylight coinciding with arrival on the drop-off will be ever so welcome.
With the calm weather that has dominated recent days, a few such excursions have met with interesting results. Not much in the way of fish but, interesting, nonetheless.
For the first time in quite some years, there are large schools of juvenile mackerel pretty much everywhere. This simply has not happened for some time and although it normally hailed the onset of some of the fastest live-baiting activity, things are not going that way at the moment. In fact, traditional rigged bait trolling seems to be outproducing live baits.
A possible explanation is that there is simply so much bait out there that the predators can feed at will and are, basically, well-satiated.
It may also be that there just aren’t that many fish out there. Cooler water and the seasonal migrations that occur probably mean that many of the fish have moved on. Sometimes, some fish arrive here and spend the winter which accounts for some of the schools of yellowfin that have persisted over the winter months in some years but if, for whatever reason, they don’t show up, then nothing will come of it.
Boats that have varied their tactics and techniques have managed to catch a variety of fish including wahoo, as normally expected and hoped for along with barracuda, dolphin and blackfin tuna. The barracuda are as numerous as ever and are most likely to attack a live bait offering. While many anglers decry the species, there are those who swear by the quality of its white meat fillet. The dolphin have been few and far between although those caught have been of a nice size.
Finally, the blackfin tuna have all been small; some rivalling the frigate mackerel with which they often run. Slightly larger blackfin make for excellent table fare as attested to by anyone who has had the good fortune to try some. These smaller fish do not have the dark meat that is so characteristic of larger blackfin and is often a turn-off for fish aficionados.
At least for the moment, the overall reading is that putting in the effort should reap something in the way of rewards. It probably won’t be safe to say this in another month or so; not to mention just about everyone staying ashore.
While one might think that the warm water gamesters have all headed south, it must be remembered that this is a natural system and not everything happens all at once as it would if it were computer-based. In part, this might help to explain why, just a couple of days ago, when a boat fishing down north put out a live mackerel in hopes of enticing a wahoo to bite they were well surprised a few minutes later when all came tight and a blue marlin exploded out of the briny. Nature always keeps surprises up her sleeve.
In keeping with surprises, these could come as bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, African pompano or things which are seldom imagined. Many such weird, for want of a better word, catches have been made in the so-called “off-season”. If for no other reason, this might just be the incentive that is needed to slip offshore while conditions remain benign and see whatever might give you some Tight Lines!