Misty morning, don’t see no sun
Fair winds and calm seas have been the dominant feature of the past week or so, but this can be misleading and while many have taken advantage of it, there are others who are more perceptive and who see the signs of a change of seasons and the patterns that go with them.
Sometimes Nature can be very subtle in the signs that she presents for all to see. That was the case this week when the island seemed to be shrouded by mist or haze. Generally, an uncommon sight here, this left many a bit mystified. The explanation, courtesy of the weather service, was that the warm, humid air had come over cooler water and that allowed the moisture to come out of the air. Hmm. Generally the water around here is good and warm, but obviously not at this time.
The good news is that seawater below a certain temperature is not conducive to tropical systems, as it would tend to suck energy out of a storm system rather than feed energy into it. So, maybe thinking that it is too late for a hurricane may not be unreasonable. All very positive, but, of course, there is also a flipside to this.
The summer or tropical season is over so now must be winter, right? The time for gales, which are almost as powerful as some summer storms but usually last for days rather than hours. The prevalence of such systems during the so-called “winter months” is a major deterrent to sports fishermen and has a serious restraining effect on the commercial operators who often focus on their lobster gear and boat maintenance as they await the return of more halcyon conditions in the spring.
The weather may be making a change, but, for the moment at least, the offshore remains productive and inviting. The fair conditions have seen many weekenders take advantage of what appears to be the autumnal wahoo run and numbers of tuna that are calling the Banks home for now.
Commercial fishermen have been taking advantage of this and more than just a few amateurs have also tried to catch their share of this late bonanza. Naturally, results have been mixed although there is no denying that there is plenty of potential for anyone who knows what he is doing.
One angler from Blue Waters Anglers Club had a really nice mixed bag with something like five wahoo, five tuna and a couple of dolphin. All prime eating fish as well as being noted for their sporting value. The wahoo were all nice-sized as seems to be the norm at present, with the occasional fish moving upwards of the 70-pound mark.
The choice of techniques has been widespread. Probably first and foremost, and definitely the hallmark for this time of the year, is live baiting. There are still plenty of small mackerel and even some small blackfin tuna about, both of which make wonderful live baits. Then there are the omnipresent ocean robins that must be a mainstay of ever so many predators’ diets.
For many, it is the “frigate” mackerel as bait that makes reaping the benefits of a late wahoo run. To this end, they will be the bait of choice and, while they are usually trolled, they can also be fished off kites or from a dead or anchored boat. While there is no question that these will bring results, the culprit may not always be a wahoo. Barracuda, which are strongly attracted to anything that flashes, can seldom resist slashing and destroying such baits while a hefty yellowfin would not think twice about inhaling such a bite-sized morsel. Thus, one might be “wahoo” fishing but could very well catch something else instead.
More traditionally, robins are used to catch anything from a wahoo to a rampaging tuna. Fished down deep, they are often the preferred choice of bonita and amberjack. What fewer anglers know is that a small mackerel fished down deep while chumming is also a tasty treat for a hefty amber or bonita. On really slow chumming days, some anglers are surprised to find that what was put out as a live robin comes back dead with a few teeth marks about its head. Perplexed by that line not being pulled off the reel and no other evidence of a strike, few will figure out that an ocean triggerfish, one of several species, is probably responsible. A disappointing return for a prime bait but something which happens not that infrequently.
Then there is just plain trolling — almost always effective for just about everything. Sometimes this is practised with a variation on speed. At lower speeds, it is practical to pull rigged baits: garfish or flying fish either naked or behind a SeaWitch® or other lure. When conditions allow and it is possible to move faster, it is more likely that lures alone will be pulled giving rise to the phenomenon know as “high-speed trolling”. A bit of a misnomer because while moving at 12 to 15 knots may be perceived as fast, there isn’t a blue-water fish that can’t quite easily outrun any such bait. It does, however, allow the angler to cover a lot of water and can be useful for locating concentrations of fish.
What really should be of the essence of speed is that it is high time to get offshore. The weather will not hold and there are not too many weekends in the immediate future that will allow for offshore excursions. And offshore is the only place to indulge in truly Tight Lines!!!
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