There’s something fishy going on by the smell of it
Have you noticed anything? The calm weather and blisteringly warm days have had a profound effect on the inshore waters although most people drive by such phenomenon day after day without even realising it; certainly not seeing it.
Something that they probably do notice is the unhealthy odour that permeates from areas like Warwick Pond and Seymour Pond.
Partly a result of the lack of rain or other fresh water input and partly from the warm weather and powerful sunlight that stimulates such things, the bacteria and other micro-organisms in the ponds are growing and multiplying at a terrific rate.
This raises the biological oxygen demand to support such growth. Warm temperatures mean that less oxygen is dissolved so there is less available.
Simply stated, the demand for oxygen exceeds the supply. When that happens, the various chemical systems turn to other sources to drive the myriad reactions that are ongoing.
Next on the agenda are the sulphates. These are a chemical combination of oxygen and sulphur. Metabolism of this material which is exceedingly common in salt water (remember fresh water seems to be in short supply as well) leads to production of hydrogen sulphide. Most know this as the gas that gives us the “rotten egg” smell. It is also highly toxic and, surprisingly, the human nose is one of the best detectors of its presence. That is why it is so noticed.
A similar mechanism is at work in areas like Jew’s Bay and Riddell’s Bay and elsewhere. Here, the outcome is much more visual although there is that sort of foetid, sea-weedy smell as well, which is sometimes barely noticeable.
When the light is right the water seems to have a sort of electric sheen to it; kind of a fluorescent greenish-blue tinge. This is also due to the wild growth of plankton which is taking advantage of the bright sun and warm temperatures. In areas where they get significant inputs of fresh water from rivers and streams this often leads to what is referred to as a “red tide”.
These particular organisms can be toxic and this can build up in shellfish rendering them poisonous for human consumption. Fortunately, this is not really an issue here as shellfish like clams or oysters are not harvested. Elsewhere this sort of thing can significantly affect local economies.
These conditions do not extend to the offshore; at least not here and the food fish that are caught on the Banks and elsewhere are deemed to be safe. Apart from the obvious value to everyone, this is the time of year when the greatest variety of fish are being caught and both fishermen and anglers are mixing and matching all sorts of fillets in addition to whole fish, so any indication of contamination could be disastrous.
Right now, large numbers of barracuda are being caught. In most places they are avoided for fear of ciguatera, a fish-based disease but one which has had little impact here over the years. Lots of barracuda fillets have been consumed in the last century or so and there is no apparent reason to discontinue the practice.
Rainbow runners are also numerous on the offshore grounds and readily please chummers looking for some fast light-tackle action.
Although there are still some yellowfin tuna around, the fishing emphasis is steadily shifting towards wahoo as the much anticipated autumnal run should not be too far off.
Anglers have used a variety of techniques with success often coming from the unlikely. Many assume that live baits will outproduce traditional trolling but this seems to differ from locale to locale and from time to time. There have been times when a live bait could not grab anything’s attention and yet trolling a garfish a hundred feet away elicited a strike. Go figure!
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any notable concentration of wahoo as catches have been had on the Edge, both Banks, down north and from the East End.
It is a matter of taking your chances and hoping to hit the Mother Lode. Dragging out in the deep is also likely to result in a blue marlin taking an interest, so be warned.
There are some photos and a lot of gossip doing the rounds that involve a tarpon being hooked in the Ely’s Harbour area.
Most years, this warm and usually calm month sees small schools of tarpon cruising though harbours like Mills Creek, Ely’s Harbour and even along Ferry Reach. Often close to beds of fry, they are often willing to take whatever may be on offer; but it is the catching that can prove challenging. It has been done on a few occasions but the species is a noted battler and in some of the areas that they frequent the amount of underwater debris is likely to guarantee a parted line. It is easy to see why they are such a popular game fish in many places where they are more numerous.
Weather permitting, next weekend should see the season’s last major tournament take place. Always a popular event, this will be the 52nd Wahoo Tournament and anyone wanting to get in a bit of fishing and maybe a bit of something for the freezer should make plans to spend next Sunday on the briny in search of Tight Lines!!!
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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