Still time to enter rescheduled Wahoo tournament
O.B.E. - overcome by events – that would summarise the situation nicely.
The circumstances that conspired to move The Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament back to the first of its alternate dates, now September 19. There will be the naysayers who will be quick to point out that the forecast for this weekend is for calm seas and fair winds and while that may be true those are not the only things taken into consideration by organisers.
Bad enough that at the midweek deadline for entries there was major hurricane in the general vicinity and the government was urging everyone not to be too complacent given the storm’s forecast track and the Island’s location.
Suggestions that it would track east of the Island were welcomed but there continued to be a note of caution in most analyses.
There are enough boaters around to recall Emily in 1987 that suddenly changed track and sped up during the wee hours and caught Bermuda napping. Therein lies a lesson well learnt.
Tournament entries tend to fade into obscurity when anxiety from rising Covid cases, changes to an already stressful start to a new education year and the weather all have their impact on the public psyche.
To be sure, entries were few and far between and the organisers realised that a calmer, less panic-driven time would be more conducive to drawing weekend anglers out and into the last major competition of the angling season.
Not to mention relief, if not gratitude, at having been spared from the potential disaster that a major storm can wreak.
As to the angling situation, the wahoo have not yet made their presence known beyond the odd fish taken on the troll or occasionally plucked from a chum slick.
Even lie baits seem to have failed to entice whatever wahoo there may be lying low awaiting some signal from Mother Nature that will lead to the movement and frenzied feeding of the species that so often amounts to the autumnal run.
The lack of wahoo activity has prompted anglers to look for other species and there has been a variety of those until very recently.
Yellowfin tuna respond to chumming and some have been taken on the troll. Blackfin tuna, rainbow runners, mackerel and barracuda can be had by chumming on the bank proper – yellowfin prefer to come out of deeper water although there are no hard and fast rules. Dolphin are, as usual, sporadic but nonetheless pleasing when they make an appearance.
While waiting for the wahoo to make their move, other anglers are turning their interest to other species that can also make for fish for winter storage.
Accepting that most seasonal fishermen pretty much pack it in come the end of September or mid-October at the latest, now is a good time to ensure that each fishing trip results in some fillets or steaks that can be carefully packaged and stowed away in the freezer.
Prime fillets come from white fish like yellowtail snappers. This is considered by many to be the best time of the year to go in search of this species.
Chumming over the deeper reefs is a preferred method and doing the same on the crown of the banks can produce some huge beauties although the shark population often puts a serious dent into the pickings.
Unlike some species, yellowtails are very picky about the sort of tide or current that they will feed in. An ideal tide off the stern of a boat will often results in a school or even schools of yellowtails staying for hours, taking baits.
This allows the savvy fishermen to fill the fish box with quality fish. On the other hand, just a slight tendency for the tide to be to windward and the snappers will either not appear at all or if they were present disappear almost as if by magic.
Although it can be really nice to load up on yellowtails, just remember that they are notorious for spoiling quickly and even now the offshore water temperature is high enough to promote decay.
Lots of ice is the simplest solution and remember not to catch more than can be adequately iced down. Bonitas and amberfish are also likely to put in appearances while working the bottom and mid-water for snappers and these are also welcome.
Don’t feel limited to “game” species, either. Triggerfish or “turbots” can be caught in good numbers both over the reefs and in the channels and, while a right pain to clean, yield up a fine white fillet suitable for storage. So do barbers and coneys.
Ever hopeful that the end of year highlight, the wahoo run, is about to commence will keep the fleet on standby as the seas start to settle down over the next few days.
With some of the more immediate sources of turmoil alleviated at least for now, it should be possible to make way to enter the season tournament finale – with the deadline this Wednesday, there is time left to submit an entry and to strategise a plan for some Tight Lines!!!