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Weather gods continue to conspire against Wahoo tournament

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Just what is the weather going to do?

After almost a week of calm seas and blue skies, it seems that the gods are conspiring to again force a postponement of the wahoo tournament.

Doubtless the decision will be pretty last minute although any seasoned boaters will have a pretty good inkling of what is going to happen. Organisers are bound by the forecast and bear some responsibility for the safety and comfort of participants. For now, though, it is wait and see.

The delay resulting from last week’s postponement has paid dividends. Quite apart from a significant increase in the number of entries, the offshore situation has undergone a renaissance and is now most promising.

In short, the long-awaited “frigate” mackerel have arrived. They are present in numbers on the Banks and will soon be popping up throughout the local marine area.

Highly regarded as a live bait fish, the term “frigate” mackerel is a total misnomer.

There is a frigate mackerel or frigate tuna which enjoys a wide geographic range but that is a species which, basically, does not occur here.

What does occur here are juveniles of the little tunny or, locally, “mackerel”.

Nothing more than the small version of the very commonly encountered small game fish. And what makes them so attractive is the fact that most every pelagic predator feeds on them and their arrival very often coincides with the autumnal wahoo run when seemingly countless numbers of large wahoo congregate in local waters.

Anglers troll daisy chains of small lures or what the Japanese call sabiki.

Schools of baitfish go after the lures and it is not uncommon to catch them four or five at a time.

Then these small (maybe half-pound) fish are used as live baits on heavier rigs to catch wahoo, tuna and other blue-water species.

Rigging up live mackerel is something else that varies widely. Some just hook a double-hook rig into the body of the fish and hope for the best.

This can work but often leads to the rapid demise of the bait. This reduces the effectiveness of a live bait to that of a rigged dead bait.

Some of the professionals use a technique developed in Hawaii that uses a needle to pass a piece of line through the front of the fish’s eye socket.

This is then tied or double-looped over a hook so that the hook is actually in front of the bait. This has a minimal effect on the fish’s ability to swim but will probably never catch a wahoo.

Wahoo are known for cutting baits and seem to specialise in “just behind the hook”.

For this reason a second hook is usually attached to the lead hook by a piece of wire and is embedded in the side of the fish towards its tail.

Some use elastic bands to attach this hook to the tail stump. Again, this minimises damage to the bait, making it last longer while still keeping a hook in readiness for any wahoo looking to strike short.

Duration is important because, on some occasions, the bait fish will be concentrated in one area while the predators will be elsewhere.

This is part of the survival plan for the quarry; stay ahead of the hunters and some will eventually live to grow up and carry on the species. Thus, the trick is to catch the baits where they are common and then take them to where the wahoo are concentrated and this might take a bit of time.

There is no doubt that live baiting is effective especially when the predators are in feeding mode. When that is the case, it often does not matter what the bait is.

Just this past week, Captain Alan Card’s Challenger was live-baiting with robins down on Argus Bank and managed a nice haul of 17 wahoo. Many other boats also posted respectable tallies of wahoo with a wide variety of sizes represented. All of which portend for a good tournament.

While the wahoo have come into their own, other hauls this week continued to include nice specimens of yellowfin tuna and although the really large ones do not seem to be around, the middleweights are desirable both in terms of sporting value and for market. Dolphin have played a part, too, although numbers are seldom large.

There are some fat blackfin around and even these will try to gorge themselves on a live bait. It is actually surprising just how large a fish a hungry tuna can and will inhale.

While these blackfins will happily feed in a chum slick offering lots of light tackle action; a live robin or even mackerel will also get their attention.

And, as for barracuda, the flashing light off a frigate mackerel is tantamount to a red rag to a bull. Definitely not the intended target, live baits are often lost to marauding barriers. So much so that many will actually troll deeper to keep their live baits away from the ‘cudas.

Lots of action and the weather looks to deteriorate and disappoint. Must be something about it being the weekend. So often the late season fishing is excellent, and the conditions approach horrendous.

Let’s hope for a little break so there may be Tight Lines!!!

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Published September 18, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated September 18, 2021 at 12:08 am)

Weather gods continue to conspire against Wahoo tournament

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