End-of-season bounty as wahoo aim to please
Wahoo! What a tournament. After a couple of postponements, last weekend’s The Wahoo Tournament, based out of Robinson’s Marina, was a rousing success. Near perfect weather conditions combined with some of the season’s best angling action to make for some fine catches.
Given that the event was staged rather late in the season, simply because that is when the wahoo seem to be at their best, there was some satisfaction in having almost 30 boats enter the tournament.
Although live-baiting is a highly effective way of catching large wahoo, it was interesting to see the variety of techniques employed by the boats. Some of the more notable catches were made from boats that engaged in traditional trolling of baits and rigs while others got their results from high-speed trolling. The live-baiters showed some divergence as well, with some preferring robins to the now common “frigate” mackerel.
A dozen boats actually weighed in, which is about the usual percentage expected in a tournament. Word travels fast on the water and if a boat lacks a fish that might be a contender for a prize, skippers often opt to head for home and bypass the weigh-in. Most cases involving local anglers see the same people who fished also responsible for cleaning the fish, washing down the boat and putting it back on its moorings — all of which is time-consuming. Time saved by not attending the weigh station means that the work will be over sooner.
What was most impressive was the quality of the fish brought in. There was a total of 36 entered and of these 23 of them were in excess of 30 pounds. This made for a higher-than-most-places average weight.
Further broken down, there were six fish in the 30 to 40-pound bracket; five in the 40 to-50-pound range; then four fish between 50 and 60 pounds. Topping off the selection were eight fish over 60 pounds with three of these bettering the 70-pound mark. An impressive haul.
The largest fish in the tournament was a fine 78.5-pound specimen caught by Marco Almeida on board captain Scott Barnes’s Hakuna Matata. The second-largest fish was a 75.1-pounder caught by Lee Simmons on Wahoo Express and in third and close contention was Jen Young’s 74.2-pound wahoo taken on board captain Russell Young’s Sea Wolfe.
While many of the fish were caught on what is classified as heavy tackle, there were some notable catches on lighter line that will doubtless find their way into the competitions run by the various angling clubs.
And although the focus was obviously on the wahoo, there was plenty of action from other species as well. While it was almost exclusively wahoo that were brought to the scales, many boats boasted mixed bags featuring some quality tuna and dolphin in addition to the target species.
One boat enjoyed some fast action when it encountered a school of dolphinfish, now popularly referred to by the Hawaiian name, mahi-mahi, to avoid confusion with the mammal. By either moniker, an even dozen made for a delightful addition to the fish box.
Yellowfin tuna also figured prominently in some catches. The individual fish were nice middleweights in the 60-pound bracket; capable of providing excellent sport on most tackle and still valuable as a foodstuff.
Other species were also evident, although barracuda were noted by their absence. Frequently caught by anglers more intent on wahoo, many fishermen see barracuda as a nuisance, even though they do make for a firm white fillet that is often offered for sale.
The conclusion of Sunday’s event brings an end to the competitive season here in Bermuda. Some of the angling clubs may have internal tourneys planned, but angling pretty much comes to a standstill after October. Quite apart from approaching the acknowledged end of the tourist angler’s season, the fish start to ease off as their migrations continue and it is inevitable that the blustery weather will set in at any time now.
The strategy to adopt at this point is to stock up on some fresh fish. Fresh is for now and, if properly cared for, it can be frozen and will literally last for months. So doing can prove very rewarding come mid-February when the carefully frozen fish becomes a choice dinner item to be savoured while the gales howl.
The best bet for accomplishing such is to put in a bit of trolling effort, hoping for a wahoo and then to spend a couple of hours working the bottom. Not exactly exciting unless something unexpected latches on, but a cooler of hinds, coneys and barbers translates into nice white fillets that can be laid flat and quick-frozen. Then it is easy to store them in plastic bags to avoid freezer burn. If this is done properly, then weeks later, they will bring back the thrill of Tight lines!!!