Entry forms at the ready for season-ending Wahoo tournament
It may not seem like it, but the summer is all but over. Oh, it’s still hot and humid but all the signs are there.
For the doubters, it is football season of both variations, school is about to go back in, the traffic at rush hour is building up and the offshore is swinging into what many have argued is the best month of the year for angling.
This final assessment is based on the old days when chumming for tuna was king but even that gave way to trolling and the influx of juvenile mackerel and blackfin tuna.
Although it never entered most people’s minds, the truth of the matter is that the impending change of seasons has considerably more far-reaching effects than the obvious.
Most of the species of interest to anglers fall into the category that scientists describe as “highly migratory”. These fish undertake huge travels, usually clocking thousands of miles every year.
Although it is not always clear, there is a pattern to their movements which can broadly be described as northward as the summer progresses and southward as the autumn approaches.
The seasonality of these game fish is much more pronounced along the United States East Coast where high summer sees boats running out to the canyons in search of the same marlin, tuna and wahoo that are the mainstay of the Bermuda fishery.
This season is very short-lived with the tropical wanderers making it as far north as New York and New Jersey before making an about turn and running back towards the equator. This gives the states like the Carolinas a distinct advantage, catching the run of fish on their way up the coast and then again on their way back.
In any case, the season is short but, make no mistake, it is often of very high quality with grander marlin and yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds figuring in the catch statistics each year. In addition to the offshore these locales are also the stamping grounds for bluefish, striped bass, redfish and other species that inhabit coastal waters.
These species can extend the angler’s season, but once winter sets in earnest, there is not much fishing until longer days and warming seas signal the renewal of the angler’s year.
Here, in Bermuda the seasons are a little less pronounced with the major impact being on the anglers rather than the fish. Once the autumn winds start to blow, most weekenders pack it all in until the spring.
The fish, on the other hand, often persist through the winter months, even though there are few fishers to take advantage of them.
At the moment though, variety is the norm; the different species of fish are on the move and therefore just about anything is likely to please.
With trolling currently the preferred method, a surprisingly number of yellowfin tuna are pleasing with many of the fish bettering the 100-pound mark.
One such catch was actually made earlier this week by an angler who had to handline the fish after his reel packed up, a feat not many would like to attempt.
Blackfin tuna are also hitting trolled offerings and there are a few dolphinfish around although these are probably the ultimate in happenstance rather than directed fishing.
Blue marlin are still around and anyone putting in the effort should be rewarded. Many of the fish will be in the 100 to 200-pound bracket, offering something close to the ultimate thrill on light tackle, even though the normal standard of gear will preclude this. The fact is that there are not many boats putting in any directed effort for marlin.
Most boats are sticking to the edge of the drop off with sights set on wahoo and more traditional species but it is not uncommon for billfish to invade these depths and a strike could really be anything. It is that time of the year when the expected could well be unexpected.
But what everyone is really hoping for is to find the schools of small mackerel which will usually herald the arrival of numbers of wahoo that gorge themselves on these prime bait fish and provide some of the best live-baiting to be had anywhere.
The jury is still out on this and the major wahoo run has yet to materialise. Happily there are enough wahoo around to justify a day’s trolling effort with the prospect of stocking up on some nice white fish for the winter so clearly in the future.
Looking ahead, what is regarded as the season’s swansong is just ahead in the form of The Royal Gazette Wahoo tournament on September 12. The deadline for entry is September 8 and, as usual, some great prizes – on offer from Lyle Douglas, of Marine Locker and Wayne Correia – are there for taking. As title sponsor, The Royal Gazette will also be offering cash prizes for a number of category winners.
Also on the immediate horizon is another fishing tournament, this time organised by the St George’s Dinghy and Sports Club as a fund raiser. Slated for September 5, this offers would-be anglers another shot at what can only be described as season-ending Tight Lines!!!