Challenging offshore conditions set to persist
Whoa! Bouncy, bouncy. The weather has not been too kind to the angler this past week.
Things are made even worse because most amateurs are limited to weekends and even those with the supposed luxury of being able to work from home have not yet mastered the art of working from a boat.
When the winds were not simply howling, the offshore currents made for a nasty cross chop with surges making it difficult to chart a course to the various choice fishing spots. This unhappy state of affairs is unlikely to change any time soon.
Fans of the WindGuru weather website will have noted that the next week or so is predicted to have winds and sea conditions unconducive to sport fishing and it is likely that some of the professionals may be deterred as well.Some of the local fleet has made it offshore this week where they were greeted with masses of brown seaweed.
The makings of a nightmare for trollers, for once, it has had a benefit, bringing with it numbers of dolphinfish or mahimahi.
As an aside, it is funny how the Hawaiian name for the dolphin (fish) seems to have caught the imagination of the whole world.
None of these fish were particularly huge; it seems that warmer climes are needed for the really large ones, but numbers are always welcome and while dolphin are not especially rare here, they are not usually as abundant as they are right now.
Their association with floating seaweed masses is well known and it would seem that the current influx of plant material has indeed been accompanied by the fish.
Most boats sticking to trolling on the Edge and banks have concentrated on the wahoo with varying degrees of success although there is no question that the fish are there and they are, for the most part, willing to please.
Catches have consisted of mostly mixed bags with wahoo dominating and a dolphin or two adding colour.
Small blackfin tuna are also pleasing and there are enough yellowfin around to make them realistic prospects as well.
Captain Russell Young’s Sea Wolfe somehow managed to avoid most of the wahoo and wound up with a nice haul of dolphin, every bit as appetising as wahoo. Grouchy, but rewarding!
The marine environment is never static and there are always changes going on before our very eyes.
Older fishermen and those closer to nature will note these changes; some for the better, most for the worse and some which are just one of those things.
Look at the abundance or lack thereof, of different species. Years are often remembered as having had fantastic wahoo runs or maybe they never showed up at all.
In some years the yellowfin tuna were plentiful for chummers and the market got clogged or; maybe you hear, “Haven’t seen an Allison in months”!
The billfish tournaments are almost wholly rated on the abundance of the fish with quality, although important, having a relatively minor impact. These shifts are marked and noteworthy, but what about some of the subtler ones?
Some years ago, it was not at all uncommon to see schools of round robins churning up the surface in inshore bays or off docks.
Tossing in a bit of bread or just about anything would elicit a reaction and there would be plenty of splashing and surface turmoil.
It was often a pastime for children to work them up and then to try to catch them with tiny hooks.
Although most were not aware of it, this cousin of the ocean robin also made an excellent live bait and some fishermen actually caught them inshore and took them offshore for that purpose.
Dead they also made a good hook bait, again being very similar to ocean robin.
This species has been conspicuous by its absence for the most part for the last decade or so and while they were not the victim of overfishing or any other obvious development, there are those who anxiously await their return.
Similarly, the goggle-eye jack, another fish bearing similarity to the ocean robin although with a very noteworthy large eye were once a commonly taken bait fish.
Netters used to capture schools of goggle-eyes in the sounds and some of the other bays and harbours. Then for some time, they, too, disappeared.
Now there are indications that they are back with local fishermen hauling bait catching numbers of them.
Where have they been in the interim?
Who knows, but they are back and while never a favourite here are a mainstay to the Florida live bait industry where countless numbers of goggle-eyes are sold daily to anglers headed offshore in search of bigger game.
Maybe it is the ease with which ocean robin can be obtained on the offshore grounds that has kept anglers and fishermen from taking live fish from the inshore to the offshore for use as bait.
As the adage goes, “better days are coming” and the weather must settle down as high pressure becomes the dominant feature of the central Atlantic.
Further relaxation of the rules will also make it easier to arrange an excursion abroad and, somehow slipped into the organisational mêlée, is the traditional start to the Bermudian summer.
It will take someone rather clever to somehow work into the customary celebrations some Tight Lines!