Time to fill your boxes in calmest of conditions
Hard to believe, but it is suddenly that time of the year again: that pregnant pause when the weather is hot and calmer than imaginable. It is the hiatus between the next change of seasons; an almost illusory pause. Those old enough to have received classical educations will recall the descriptions in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner of “a painted ship in a painted ocean” and that so neatly sums up the appearance of the flat-calm, doldrum-like oceans that the calms of August bring to us.
A lack of wind means that there aren’t any waves per se; just the rolling groundswell that arrives here all the way from far-off continents. Some of the rollers that gently raise and lower a boat on the Bank have their beginnings thousands of miles away; normally benign and smooth, but just wait until a storm starts churning its way across the Atlantic and then those swells will develop in the most malevolent, menacing fashion.
For now, though, they offer even the fair-weather landlubber a chance to venture out on to the briny in search of some fishing action. And that should not be too challenging at the moment, unless the angler is on the picky side when it comes to what is caught.
Wahoo are available but by no means as numerous as they were in the early summer or as they are expected to be in a few weeks’ time. A few will take trolls and live baiting will get results, but watching out for them to show up in a chum slick may well be the best bet. Although they can be a bit clever in such circumstances, there are ways to trip them up and add them to the fish box.
The Banks seem to be home to plenty of tuna at the moment, although the hoped- for large yellowfin have yet to materialise. Strong tides or currents around these offshore seamounts make drifting a rather speedy proposition, so anchoring may be the preferred option. Blackfin tuna are at peak abundance at this time of year and this species offers some of the best light-tackle action that there is to be had. Try using spinning gear on this species and use it in the manner for which it was designed. When chumming, replace a hook festooned with a chunk of bait for a lure designed for casting and retrieval. For a change, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions and watch what happens. Surface-popping lures usually work well and there is plenty of excitement to be had when a tuna explodes on it.
And don’t discount everything else out there. Lots of small-game species will also hit artificial lures. Sometimes they will seemingly come out of nowhere and suddenly the rod keels over; then, surprise, surprise, the culprit is a rainbow runner or oceanic bonito that magically appeared.
If it is barracuda that are hanging around that funny-looking rubber-tube lures work really well. Hard to know what the barry sees in them, but, boy, do they get results!
Trolling will be slow but it will allow for plenty of observation of the situation as well as increasing the chances of happening on some productive flotsam. Keeping an eye open for schools of small mackerel is a must because, although it is a mite early, the arrival of “frigate” mackerel is always a most welcome event — and those who are the first to know often reap the greatest returns.
Working the deep water will get billfish action. Blue marlin are actually more numerous now than they have been, although there are two things to take into consideration here. One, there is a lot less effort now that the foreign boats are gone. Local anglers don’t see much point in chasing after these game fish unless there is a tournament for which they are eligible. As this is generally not the case, there is little reason to burn up fuel in pursuit of something that probably will be released anyway, leaving the angler nothing to show for the effort expended. Second, it seems that the later season is dominated by smaller blues mostly in the 150lb to 250lb class. Thought to be males, these are ideal for mid-weight tackle, but are most likely to end up on the wrong end of unlimited gear. Sad, but true, the whole concept of matching tackle to the quarry seems to have gone out of style, taking with it a lot of the mystique and skill that anglers of yesteryear appreciated.
Something else worth thinking about is that this is often a short-lived period. The tropical-weather patterns are starting to flex their cyclonic muscles and boaters throughout this region are preparing for the stormy season. Favourable conditions can be fleeting, so maybe now for Tight Lines!!!