Circumstances conspire against Wahoo tournament
The doldrums continue, but for how much longer?
As the weather authorities warn, complacency is to be avoided as the conditions for tropical activity are ideal throughout the North Atlantic and this Island is on the verge of a month that has seen its fair share over the years.
For the foreseeable future, high pressure, balmy breezes and calm conditions dominate, making for ideal, if not desirable, boating weather.
There has been a fair amount of media attention directed at the masses of so-called “coral spawn” over the last week or so.
While it has been fundamentally correct in that it refers to the corals breeding simultaneously and this being a frequent late August occurrence with large orangey-pink coloured slicks lying on the surface of the calm South Shore waters, it is not the whole story.
Spawn conjures up thoughts of eggs as everyone knows that fish spawn or lay eggs. The salmon is the classic example of this with plenty of television programmes highlighting the fish’s battle to get upstream to its place of origin only to lay its eggs and then to die.
In the coral situation, the slicks are actually not eggs at all but huge masses of planular larvae; basically miniature versions of the living polyps that make up corals and eventually create the hard coral skeletons that most actually consider to be coral.
People tend to forget the living element of coral, preferring to see the skeletal remnants that are commonly exhibited as white-bleached pieces of rocklike material, often in spectacular form.
These larvae are actually mobile although in the context of the ocean, they are more planktonic having little say in where they go, travelling instead at the whims of the tides and winds.
At least until a certain amount of time passes at which point, the larvae start to settle out. Those fortunate to encounter a set of circumstances that are suitable start to form new colonies, ultimately becoming new corals.
Unfortunately, as in the case of the countless numbers of eggs spawned by fish, a tiny proportion proves successful. Thus the strategy of numbers, if enough eggs or larvae are produced, a tiny minority will survive to propagate the species. Nature’s biggest game: the survival of species not individuals.
While this phenomenon has gained that attention of many boaters, the serious fishermen have concentrated on trying to catch something even though the conditions are really not that conducive to angling.
The commercial fishermen have realised this and instead of trying to eke out a day’s pay are instead concentrating their efforts in collecting their lobster traps and their plans for deploying their gear.
With the season merely days away, this lucrative aspect of the fishing industry merits their attention whilst a watchful eye is kept out for any more promising developments in the more traditional pursuit of fish.
Those restricting themselves to such pursuit have made do with mixed bags of wahoo and tuna. Most of the wahoo are in the 18 to 24 pound range with the yellowfin also being school-sized specimens.
Numbers of both have been modest and there continues to be some excitement to be had from billfish even though they have faded from popular interest.
The calm conditions also have skippers keeping a look out for any floating debris. Often common at this time of the year, the calm conditions have often allowed such flotsam to collect a following in the shape of schools of wahoo and dolphinfish.
Such situations often allow an enterprising, or lucky, fisherman to catch numbers of either or both species and this can really make for a successful outing.
Otherwise, it is a hard slog of putting in the time and covering the distance in the hope of crossing paths with hungry fish.
The present dark moon has also kept more casual anglers from fishing the channel waters for the white-water snappers that are often plentiful during the late summer.
Moonlit nights are preferable although any concerted effort will pay off as this type of fishing typically comes to an end over the next few weeks.
A number of logistical circumstances have conspired to ensure that the 2022 Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament will not be fished this year.
This is particularly disappointing because it is one of the ever-diminishing number of tournaments that appeal to locals who are not of the ilk that wish to indulge in the expensive and highly specialised billfish tournament circuit.
Organisers have let it be known that this is merely a hiatus and that a new and improved tournament will be back on the calendar next season.
Wahoo will be the watchword, tournament or no tournament, over the next few weeks. The autumnal run of larger fish is expected and fingers are crossed that this will coincide with the influx of juvenile little tunny, a.k.a. frigate mackerel. The two events do not always combine but when they do the angling is spectacular.
The arrival of this preferred bait is not essential to a good wahoo haul and many will be hoping for a decent crop of larger fish to ensure a winter’s supply for the deep freezer.
Sadly, there are no guarantees that both, or either, event will occur. Rather a trusting reliance on the consistency of seasons and suitable weather are the fundamental provisos that characterise this time of year.
As is always the case, fish and good weather are essential requirements for Tight Lines!!!