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Oh my, the briny has gone to the birds

A great shearwater

Birds, birds, birds! Like it was straight out of a Hitchcock movie. A lovely calm day, nothing but the horizon and a few clouds to behold and then toss a handful of chum into the water. Seconds later, before there is even a mackerel in the slick, there are birds! Birds everywhere. Materialising from nowhere, the angler is besot with birds. And this pretty much summarised the situation on the offshore banks for the last week or so. So much so that it was almost impossible to fish because aside from feasting on all the chum, even a baited hook with a weight was not safe — the birds could easily dive to 20 or 30 feet and grab the baited hook.

While many expressed surprise at this sudden influx, it occurs as regularly as clockwork. The birds in question are shearwaters, named for their apparent ability to shear between waves, and they are on their annual migration from deep in the Southern Atlantic to the rich feeding grounds of the far North Atlantic. Bermuda sits almost directly on this pathway. The birds are very hungry at this point, simply because the open ocean is not exactly bubbling with bait sources and the limited bait around the island of Bermuda, well augmented by the handouts from people fishing on the offshore banks, offers a welcome respite. Happily, for fishermen and anglers alike, it is usually only a couple of weeks before they have all departed on their northward-bound migration.

Getting the best of a rather cheeky few hours before the onset on the season’s first named storm, the BWAC Open Tournament was a resounding success. More than half the boats registered actually weighed in and that, in and of itself, is a rare occurrence. There was plenty of quality in the fish and the general feeling was that the birds were less of a nuisance than they had been. Many put that down to them sensing the oncoming weather and deciding it was time to move on. In the final analysis, it seems that not all were able to escape the heavy weather associated with the tropical system.

The BWAC Open High Point Wahoo awards went to Danielle Gibbons (Class A) and Scott Barnes (Class C) for 25.1lb and 49.1lb fish respectively. There were no wahoo entries in Class B.

The High Point Yellowfin winners were Josh Graham in Class A with a 56.9-pounder; Ben Lines in Class B with a fine 91.3lb tuna and, in Class, C, Tyrell Simons with a 70.6lb yellowfin.

Given the dominance of yellowfin tuna on the offshore grounds at this time of the year and the reliable presence of wahoo pretty much throughout the year, it is usually the “Other” category that goes ignored. In this instance, there were two successful entries: one a quite remarkable catch. Among the Class A boats, Jack Bridges’s 22.3lb blackfin tuna was a winner, there was no eligible entry in the B Class, and heads were turned by Ray Bean’s award-winning 87.4lb amberjack.

In the boat awards, Class A winner was Blue Moon, skippered by Jack Bridges; the runner-up craft was Bloodline. Class B was won by Niel Jones’s Kia Kaha. There was no runner-up. Hakuna Matata with Captain Scott Barnes was the Class C High Boat while the runner-up was Captain Allan Bean’s Paradise One.

The Overall High Point Boat was Captain Bobby Lambe’s Last Chance with 303.8 points. The High Point Angler was Scott Barnes with 183.7 points and the High Point Lady Angler was Desirée Jones with 135.5 points.

Billfish were not an eligible species in the tournament, but that did not stop a white marlin from taking Fiona Beck’s 30lb test rig and putting up a performance before being released. Just lately there seem to have been a number of white marlin reports and big blues are starting to figure more prominently in the deep water.

This is only going to improve, especially as the foreign fleet starts to arrive and put in directed effort. The amount of tuna and other bait out there suggest that this might just be a bumper year for these big fish.

This weekend’s update is that the Royal Bermuda Regiment Annual Tournament has been put back a week to June 19. Details can be had from regimental headquarters and tackle shops.

Those looking even farther ahead to the big-money tournaments next month will be aware of the Blue Marlin World Cup, which is slated for July 4, as per usual. They may not be aware of a similar type of event which is scheduled to take place on the same day. This is under the auspices of Skip’s Tournaments and is called the Blue Marlin International. While this is every bit as financially attractive as the World Cup and less restrictive as to tackle type among other minor differences, anglers should be aware that the World Cup will not accept entries that have also been entered in the international. So just a word to the wise.

As it stands, local angling is near enough at peak. All the summer species are available both offshore and inshore. Plenty of jacks, snappers, pompano and bonefish in their preferred areas, and all it takes is a little effort to get the gear out and go in search of Tight Lines!!!

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Published June 11, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated June 10, 2022 at 4:45 pm)

Oh my, the briny has gone to the birds

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