A little creativity can go a long way with winter approaching
We have been spoilt! It has been awfully nice weather for early October, and it is not likely to last. Granted, at this time of the year the tropical activity in these latitudes eases up considerably but at anytime now, the winter lows that the North Atlantic is famed for will start to exert their influence on the local scene.
The calm seas saw plenty of activity this past week and although most of it was of the commercial nature, there is always something to be gleaned from the professionals’ exploits. These have been a bit subdued owing to it being lobster season, and their lobster gear has to be worked regularly leaving less time for more traditional fishing.
Taking advantage of the presence of live baits on the offshore grounds has seen most concentrating on wahoo. But, as most have seen, there is no exclusivity to the wahoo taking the live robins or frigate mackerel. Yellowfin tuns will suddenly materialise under a bait and make a spectacular pass at it. Still, there is no guarantee that such action will result in a tuna being caught. On more than one occasion, an angler has seen a tuna attack a bait, only to find out that he has caught a wahoo that somehow beat the tuna to the punch.
Trolling rigged baits will also continue to produce and, again, it is the season for mixed bags. Wahoo are the mainstay, but tuna will also take trolls and there still are a few dolphin around to provide variety. Slipping slightly into the shallower sections of the drop-off usually gets the unwanted attention of barracuda that almost inevitably disappoint the angler. And don’t be too surprised if a sailfish or spearfish takes a bait. These uncommonly encountered species tend to run with the schools of wahoo and are sometimes caught incidentally along with wahoo.
Everyone will have noticed how all the costs of just about everything are rising and it will come as no surprise that many are looking to take advantage of the present fair weather to get some use out of their boats and to put aside a bit of fish. Fresh is good but there is nothing wrong with having a stock of fillet in the deep freezer. What amounts to a free supply of fish can help ease the grocery bills, especially as winter approaches.
The holidays always prove more costly than expected and the winter weather makes it all but impossible for the weekender to actually venture offshore; not to mention the fish are less plentiful and far less willing to co-operate.
And it does not all have to be wahoo and tuna or even game fish, for that matter. A little creativity can go a long way.
The reef areas that come before the Edge and the crown of the Banks all offer opportunities to catch yellowtail snapper, amberjack and bonita. While these are recognised as game species, they are also food fish of the first order. Best of all, a bit of chumming effort usually evokes some activity and, every so often, a larger specimen will offer a challenge.
If things in the chum are slow then some action might be had by working some of the bottom. Jigging lures up from the bottom can work but is tiring work and nowhere near as effective as a nice piece of freshly cut squid or fish.
Hinds and coneys are the preferred bottom fish these days and while it may not be always possible to catch more than a few of each, it can help to set sights on some of the other lesser sought-after species.
Barbers, for instance. Actually, closely related to the grouper clan, the average barber weighs almost exactly one pound and yields about five ounces of good white fillet. While this does not sound like much, remember that it is not all that difficult to catch reasonable numbers of barbers. The trick is to use small hooks — never underestimate circle hooks — and strike repeatedly when nibbles are felt.
Over the deeper reefs, there are also fish such as porgies — another fish largely ignored by anglers, who are caught up in the mindset of the sporting species. Porgies are rather large and still have some culinary potential once the sides are removed.
In the channel waters and just about everywhere else, there are triggerfish or turbot usually willing to please. These can be voracious at times and, while a right nuisance to clean, are again good sources of white fillet.
Those obsessed with the blue-water species will be aware that there is another wahoo tournament slated for this weekend, although the long-range forecast is less than encouraging. Titled “The Wahoo Tournament”, entry is free and, apart from the listed prizes, there is an opportunity to participate in a rather attractive Calcutta with the winner taking all. Entry is by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and communications are by WhatsApp.
Sunny days may still see a bit of inshore fishing, although the slowly falling water temperature will soon see the departure of the snappers and jacks from the harbours and bays. There are still some palometa along the South Shore beaches, but even they tend to take a back seat during the cooler months. Not much quality time left for anywhere; a final call for Tight Lines!!!