Billfish action heating up summer
It is certainly hot enough to be summer, even if it doesn’t officially start until Thursday. Right now, there is another long weekend and one which may see the weather improving enough to make a venture offshore a realistic prospect. It won’t be lack of the fish that will keep anglers home. In fact, things are actually pretty good offshore.
Although things have been a bit spotty up until now, over the last few days there have been some nice catches of yellowfin tuna, particularly from Argus Bank and a few boats have continued to score well with wahoo even though many of these are looking like school-sized fish in the mid-teens, in terms of weight.
Small game is nothing short of numerous although there have been a few instances when robins have failed to please and this has put a damper on some anglers’ plans to go live-baiting. This is not exactly the disaster that some might think. Some excellent results have been had by traditional chumming and there are a few who have enjoyed a modicum of success by staying on the troll. Both wahoo and tuna, at the moment, at least will take a rigged trolling bait or lure.
As evidence of this, the Bacardi tournament weigh-in last Sunday turned out to be busier than expected with quite a variety of species weighed in. That, combined with the boat class format, made for interesting results.
In the “A” Class, the awards went to Kevin Mello (21lb wahoo), Tyler Mello (54lb yellowfin tuna) and Gene Correia who won the “Other Species” category with a 28.1lb. blackfin tuna.
There was no yellowfin entry in the ‘B’ Class but Peter Martin’s 31.8lb wahoo won that award and Paulo Sousa’s hefty 40lb blackfin won the third category.
In the professional Class “C”, competition was exceedingly tight. Jenni Estis won the wahoo category with a 42.6-pounder and Shelly Fubler’s 72.8lb yellowfin besting allcomers, even though there were several that came close. Jake Hines won the “other” category with a 21.1lb Almaco jack or bonita.
The Overall High Point Angler was Bacardi’s own Anne-Marie Hebert who amassed 159.8 points.
As expected the Overall High Point winner also came from the “C” Class with Captain Sinclair Lambe’s Mega Bucks earning 420.4 points ahead of Captain Peter Rans’s Overproof (199.5 points). “B” Class was won by Captain Larry Martin’s Ocean Mile (55.4 points) with runner-up Looney Tunes captained by Tony Cabral (28.1 points). As proof that some great things can be done with small boats, Captain Kevin Mello’s Bite Me (278.2 points) won the “A” Class handily ahead of Captain Paulo Sousa’s Paulo Filipe, with 40 points.
As is always the case, there were a few entries that failed to make the minimum weight; these included barracuda, numerous wahoo and some tuna, mainly blackfin which simply do not attain the size that the yellowfin do. Providing some idea of the species readily available at present was the total eligible catch which consisted of 24 yellowfin tuna, six wahoo, two blackfin tuna and a solo bonita.
Ineligible due to their lack of weight but a good indicator of what is happening were rainbow runners, small amberjack and bonitas and oceanic bonito, aka skipjack tuna. And, no, that is not a misprint; there is a significant difference between a bonita and a bonito. The former is a jack while the latter is a tuna.
With such species around it is not surprising that the billfish action is heating up even though the actual search for them is sporadic and not really directed as there is still enough in the way of wahoo and tuna to keep local boat along the edges of the drop-off rather than putting in time in the deep.
Having said that, there is nothing to stop a big blue marlin from coming into 40 fathoms or less to grab a bait which might just happen to be connected to a line.
Earlier this week Overproof was forced to boat a large blue that came up dead and another commercial operator also boated a marlin estimated at about 500lb.
Although the tendency nowadays is to release most billfish, the current shortage of suitable chum bait has made such windfalls most welcome. As most experienced anglers will have learnt, marlin meat makes extraordinary chum and even better hook bait. Yellowfin tuna, in particular, seem to be almost mesmerised by the stuff and will usually gobble it up.
The real billfish frenzy doesn’t set in for a few weeks yet and it is Bermuda Anglers Club’s International Light Tackle Tournament that dominates next weekend’s activity. For those less than enamoured with heavy tackle this is a golden opportunity and there is still time to enter a team. Check the BAC website for details and contacts.
So, plenty of opportunities offshore and the inshore is also buzzing with palometa, barracuda and bonefish. Maybe not the greatest of game fish but all capable of giving anyone some Tight Lines!
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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