Log In

Reset Password

Attention turns to snapper as billfish chapter concludes

Yellowtail snapper

They say some like it hot, but just for now, that does not include most sports fishermen.

The seas are calm, the sun relentless and the fish are behaving accordingly.

Trips out to the Banks are either looking for billfish, a much-diminished occupation these days after the heady days of July or looking for some excitement from a massive tiger shark.

Even the bottom fishing has slowed up with almost everyone sharply aware that a vast amount of ice is needed to chill any catch and to keep it from spoiling.

Last Sunday, ten boats took part in the Marlin Release Challenge. The conditions were nothing short of ideal but the hum of the engines, the heat of the day and the motion of the ocean combined to provide somnolent conditions that enabled more than a few marlin to sneak up on anglers, pull on a lure and then dart off into the depths.

Three boats were a little more vigilant than others and each managed to catch and release at least one blue marlin but it was Andrew Dias’s Triple Play that won the event by successfully catching and releasing two blue marlin in short order.

That tournament is the final chapter in the billfish saga for 2022 as local interest drops off to almost nil. It is really only the charter operators who will put in any effort as they seek to set up clients with the ultimate game fish in this ocean.

Many commercial fishermen turn to species like yellowtail snapper that please at this time of the year. They can be caught in quantity and this makes them particularly valuable to the domestic market.

Amateurs often try to get in on the action but it is a bit specialised and a huge volume of ice is required. It is a sad observation that many anglers who know how to catch decent numbers of yellowtails all too often fail to carry enough ice and end up with a poor-quality product.

Barracuda also start to come into their own as the heat starts to dominate the scene. These often start hanging around chum slicks intended for the other fish which usually remain active on the offshore grounds during warm weather.

Even though they limit their movements to very early and very late in the day some good action can be had from yellowfin tuna.

Yellowfin tuna, that perennial favourite with local anglers and commercial fishermen alike, so commonplace and yet so poorly understood.

They come in all sorts of sizes, ranging from just under ten pounds to leviathans pushing the 200-plus pound mark.

This is the species that put Bermuda on the angling map with chumming for them during the summer months making headlines in the late 1950s and 1960s when American anglers were starting to move farther afield as air travel became more commonplace.

The mid-range fish running to about 60 pounds were abundant on the Banks and almost always willing to please, making a sports fishing writer’s job a simple project. Great battlers, especially on the lighter class of tackle, made them legendary in magazine articles and then on television programmes.

There are a few mysteries that surround this species even though it has been of sporting and commercial importance in all the major oceans and have been the subject of considerable scientific study.

Quite early on, it was learnt that there were significant differences between the Atlantic and Pacific populations. With this separation in place, the next mystery was where they came from.

Early knowledge limited the Atlantic spawning population to a single breeding site off the coast of Africa. More recently, other breeding sites in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean have been identified.

But where do the Bermuda tuna come from? The jury remains out on this.

One would have thought that the number of Allisons (a local name for yellowfin) tagged and released here especially in the 1990s would have shed some light on this. Not so. In fact, there has been just one recorded tag recovery and this was from a fish tagged on the Banks and then recaptured down off Puerto Rico.

Occasionally, there seems to be an influx of really small, barely legal yellowfin and while it seems a bit unreasonable to think that they have managed a near trans-Atlantic crossing, there is nothing to suggest that they herald from the Caribbean or anywhere else.

The usual early spring and summer fish seem to be 25 to 45-pound fish that probably become resident here.

Later in the season, in some years, some really large fish arrive and there is no accounting for their origin either. So, there is a rather compelling mystery that remains to be solved.

This is a big weekend for the island’s juniors. The Bermuda Anglers Club Junior Tournament invites all registered youth to submit their catches on Sunday.

Rain or shine, this event proves to be an education for many as the youngsters manage to bring in fish that are hitherto unseen by most people. They fish in all sorts of unlikely places and post intriguing results.

A trip to the flagpole Sunday afternoon can enlighten many as to just what can constitute Tight Lines!!!

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published August 13, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated August 13, 2022 at 7:48 am)

Attention turns to snapper as billfish chapter concludes

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon