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Hefty haul sees Niel Jones reel in wahoo tournament title

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Impressive haul: Niel Jones reels in a 65.8 pound fish on a 12 pound test to clinch his third straight RG Wahoo Tournament title (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Overall winners: Kia Kaha weighs in at the Wahoo Tournament (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Paradise One weighs in at the Wahoo Tournament (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Ocean Mile weighs in at the Wahoo Tournament (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

At the third time of asking, the weather finally co-operated, and Sunday dawned bright and calm with no appreciable seas to speak off.

Ideal conditions for the wahoo tournament which took its place as one of the most popular angling events of the year and one which attracts participation from all walks of life.

The weigh-in took place at Dockyard and drew a small crowd of about a dozen observers looking to see what the fleet was going to bring in. They were not disappointed, as the wahoo weighed in were all quality specimens in fine condition.

Although it was a wahoo tournament with only that species eligible for entry, most boats boasted catches that made for mixed bags including barracuda and dolphin along with the target species.The Overall Largest Wahoo of the tournament was won by Niel Jones, a wahoo specialist, who caught a 65.8-pounder on 12-pound test line, a very credible performance on light tackle.

This fish would accrue over 3,000 points that made a major contribution to the total of 6,413.28 points that made Niel’s Kia Kaha the Overall High Point Boat winner.

The Heaviest Wahoo on 12-pound test line also came off Kia Kaha with Wayne Jones’s 47.3-pound fish (1,553.67 points), winning that category.

Mark Outerbridge, fishing aboard Paradise One, won the 16-pound test category with a 23.8-pound wahoo, scoring 221.27 points.

Also fishing on board Paradise One was David Patterson whose 35.2 pound wahoo (309.76 points) was the 20-pound test line category winner.

The Heaviest Wahoo on 30-pound test line went to Bertie Horsefield who caught a 43.3-pounder from Ocean Mile, scoring 208.32 points.

An analysis of the methods used showed that both traditional trolling and live-baiting paid off for the anglers employing those techniques. The live-baiters were split between those who relied on freshly caught “frigate” mackerel and those who used ocean robins.

Both met with success although there were plenty of stories of lost fish and much complaining as to the inadequacies of light tackle.

That latter note just goes to show how out of touch with light tackle locals have become. Years ago, all sports fishermen and even some commercial fishermen relied on 20 and 30-pound rigs with a 50-pound test outfit being the heaviest thing that they carried.

Presumably as the market for pelagic species increased, the tendency to move to stronger lines became apparent. First, it was a few putting 60-pound test line on 50-pound reels then it was not long before boats started carrying 80-pound test rigs.

Both of these were intended for wahoo fishing with the rationale being by going from 50 to 60, you could increase hooking power by 20 per cent and so on. Heavier line rarely broke and, in many cases, it was simply a matter of winding the fish in.

It did not take long until the standard gear for wahoo became at least 50-pound test and most of the light tackle excitement was a memory. While this made some sense for professionals, the amateurs rapidly followed suit.

Back then it was not uncommon to see a wahoo skyrocket into the air on striking a bait but with heavier tackle this is now rarely seen. With the average wahoo weighing something like 30 pounds there simply isn’t a whole lot most of the fish can do on the heavier gear.

This has become so commonplace that reverting to light tackle, even 30-pound test, is a bit of a novelty for most anglers.

Lighter line requires a bit more finesse on the angler’s part and the fish is able to put on a better performance being better matched to the gear.

A bit of a romantic’s point of view perhaps and one which has all but been overcome by the need for efficiency. History moves on.

Through the week, the fishing has continued to be reasonably good. The wahoo continue to be larger than their summer cousins and they are taking both rigged baits and live offerings.

The quality seems to be making up for the lack of real quantity with no boat posting huge numbers. Of course, this can change in a single outing, probably when the schools of live-baits are close to the schools of predators, allowing one to be taken to the other in short order.

And it isn’t just the wahoo that are feeding on the small mackerel and schools of robins. There are some nice middleweight yellowfin tuna that are not averse to taking either. Most of these are in the 60 to 70-pound bracket.

Their presence suggests that there are probably also some billfish lurking around, making forays into the shallower regions to help themselves to the smorgasbord.

Probably not massive numbers of them as they will have started to move southward towards warmer climes but definitely some are still around.

With a tropical system yet again hogging the limelight, conditions this weekend are unlikely to be conducive to heading offshore but it, too, will pass and the fish will still be ripe for picking.

Not long until the true onset of winter weather precludes offshore angling most days and the fish decide to head elsewhere. The autumnal run can be short-lived but is a wonderful time for Tight Lines!!!

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Published October 02, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated October 02, 2021 at 7:57 am)

Hefty haul sees Niel Jones reel in wahoo tournament title

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