Fishing to take back seat as winter looms
It is almost over. Again. One would have to be oblivious to the decorations in the shops and on the streets that not just the fishing season, but the year is drawing to a close.
The passage of cold fronts, lowered temperatures and drearier days accentuated by darkness falling so much earlier, all tells the tale.
The fact that the hurricane season has but a couple of weeks left to run should make it obvious that fishing and boating will take a back seat to other more seasonable pastimes.
So, although things are winding down, it takes a bit longer for the offshore to shift into winter mode.
There are still some wahoo out there and, as the pros know, there will be wahoo available throughout the year.
It is just that the numbers thin out and the conditions for trolling offshore become less favourable as the winter progresses.
Similarly, yellowfin tuna may or may not spend the winter. A tropical species, they are more likely to continue heading south or at least remaining in those packets of water that are warmer than the areas surrounding them.
Sometimes such packets coincide with the local area, and some years not. Whatever did fishermen do before satellite imagery!
Sports fishing does peter out at this time of the year. This is partly due to the lack or organised angling which, in turn, is related to the reduction in the number of fish at this time of the year and the seriously reduced likelihood of being able to stage a scheduled event on time.
Difficult enough during the recognised season and near enough impossible in the off-season.
But just because the sporting masses take the boat out of water or stow the gear into a garage or shed doesn’t mean that there isn’t potential for action.
It has been in the off-season that most now agree that the bluefin tuna make a run through the local area.
Doubtless, inspired by the programme Wicked Tuna, there will be a few commercial fishermen and maybe an amateur or two who will be trying their luck at stopping one of these behemoths. Just don’t believe everything you see on television.
One of the best indicators of the state of the fishing is the commercial fishery. With much of their effort now being directed towards lobsters and less towards finfish, what can be gleaned from the industry that might be beneficial to the weekend warrior?
What are the commercial fishermen getting into? Well, they know that there is an almost insatiable market for white meat fillet on this island.
Born of the fancy for grouper and similar sides that were readily available in the good old days, it is highly unlikely that any hind or rockfish is going to be turned into fillet in today’s market.
They are simply worth too much as whole fish. With casual anglers also thinking about the end to the season and the need to stash some nice white fish away for the winter that is now at hand, there is a solution. Admittedly not a very pretty one, but one which is readily accessible and usually easy to amass a good stock of the desired fish.
The species in question is the grey triggerfish. Often termed “turbot” by locals, this is huge misnomer. The European turbot although a desirable fish is actually a flatfish that dwells on the bottom.
The triggerfish is a midwater species that swims upright, unlike the flatfish. Perhaps there is a very basic similarity in general body shape, but that its where any resemblances end.
There are other, more colourful triggerfish species, but it is the grey, or common, triggerfish that offers the angler the best return on effort.
Not really recognised as a game fish, they can put up a reasonable battle for their size which seldom exceeds a couple of pounds even though they can grow considerably larger.
Triggerfish, of a school size, are often nothing short of abundant in the channel waters and it is possible to literally catch a cooler full.
The downside is having to clean them. Filleting works, but be prepared to sharpen the knife repeatedly.
Triggerfish skin is very tough and sandpaper-like, quickly dulling even the sharpest blades. On the other side of the balance sheet is the fact that the fillets are pure white, firm and exactly what most people want.
Fishing these waters will also probably turn up a few snappers which are also prime fillet material and if the area being worked is over reefs then coneys and barbers might also please.
Not exactly game fish but certainly a welcome addition to the larder and unlikely to meet with disdain from the casual fisherman.
So, this season draws to a conclusion and for the next few months, this old bear will lay his pen aside and hibernate the winter away; waiting for spring and the return of the fishing season.
During this period some may slumber, dreaming of sugar plums, but his dreams will be of screaming reels and Tight lines!!!
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