Your own fault if you missed out on bumper wahoo haul
Blame time! Is it going to be the weather, that all too often used and yet perennial scapegoat? Or the spouse insisting that the boat be ready for the picnic on Friday coming? Could it be the “nip and tuck” action in the English Premier League that is so distracting? Surely, it isn’t connected to the kids.
Whatever the excuse — and there really isn’t one — the fact of the matter is that some of the best early-season fishing has been missed. Gone, history; a thing of the past, and there are no guarantees that any of it will linger any longer. It might all be over; but then again, maybe not. Use this weekend to find out.
How good were things? In a word, good. Certainly, the commercial fleet and not just a few of the charter fleet, with or without clients, enjoyed some very productive action. It wasn’t just good numbers of wahoo and tuna that were caught, but the quality was excellent as well. Many of the wahoo caught were over 50 pounds and some of the yellowfin were even larger.
Many boats boasted double figures consisting of both wahoo and yellowfin tuna. Best of all, the action did not seem to be limited to any one area. Results were had from the East End, where the wahoo were available in good numbers; both Banks and the rest of the Edge suggested that the wahoo were nothing short of abundant and, while the Banks are the main prerogative of the tuna, a few also pleased along Bermuda’s Edge.
Anglers less in search of sporting action and more interested in something for the pot were also pleasantly surprised to find that even the red hinds were biting. Although the “hind grounds” or seasonally protected areas are closed, other deep-reef areas also yielded some quality bottom fish. Productive, yes, but, along with other species, there are strict limits on sizes and numbers that the amateur can take.
Although Bermuda has always been somewhat forward-thinking in terms of conservation rules and regulations, in recent years the numbers of restrictions have swelled and many of the amateur fishermen seem to have lost track of the applicable laws. Cognisant that ignorance of the law is no excuse, it may be worth noting that a handy, ready reckoner of most of the applicable rules can be quickly found at https://www.gov.bm/fishing-restrictions-and-catch-limits.
With rather halcyon weather forecast for the next couple of days, it seems certain that the BFCAT tournament will go ahead. This event is the only one of its kind in the Bermuda angling calendar, as it concentrates less on the catches made by individuals but looks at the total number of points scored on each line class by each of the local angling clubs. With each club limited to just three teams of up to four anglers each, the event is very competitive, especially in the lighter line classes. No heavy tackle is eligible, regardless of species.
Although possible, trolling with light line is a risky business. Not only can a sudden strike put significant pressure on the line, but it usually confers a lead of 100 yards or more on the fish — a distance that has to be cranked back a foot and a half or so at a time along with however many feet of line the fish took on its own.
Getting the hook to stick when the drag is light is another problem. It isn’t too hard with small sharp hooks, but as larger hooks are employed, more force is required, and that is something that is limited by using light line.
And there is one other kicker: trolling means running the boat, and that means fuel. At today’s prices, that translates into big bucks.
These issues strongly suggest that much of Sunday’s tournament effort will be going into chumming. This reduces fuel consumption, optimises the use of the light tackle and is more than likely to allow for live-baiting as robins and other suitable baits species are often drawn to chum slicks.
With yellowfin tuna the prime target for anglers working the chum, these should be the dominant species at the weigh-in on Sunday. Notably, the rules allow teams to score points for the release of tunas. Each release is treated as a catch with a fixed weight value for the calculation of the points scored.
A few wahoo will probably figure in the mix and beyond that just about anything is possible. All the usual summer species are now present off the offshore grounds and pretty much anything could put in an appearance, even billfish. While any blue marlin on light tackle is a significant accomplishment, the white marlin is ideally suited to light gear and a worthy challenge.
For the purposes of this tournament, either species, if released, also accrues an established number of points. On light line, any recognised species in excess of the minimum eligible weight can score points quickly and that, in this sort of tournament, is a real good reason for Tight Lines!!!