It may be back to school but summer is not quite done yet
OK, it is decision time! For many the conundrum starts now and the fate of domestic bliss may hang in the balance. To fish or not to fish or, more accurately, to put the boat into mothballs for yet another year.
Whether you believe it or not, the best angling takes place through the month coming up. This doesn’t just apply to the offshore scene where wahoo and tuna dominate, but the inshore sees monster-sized palometa cruising the skinny waters off the South Shore and several species of snapper making their presence known over the reefs, in the channels and off jetties and docks. An angler’s dream come true? Maybe.
First off, it’s not going to help that it is back-to-school time and, for most, the real end of summer. Yes, there is a holiday but one that is likely to have people chasing children’s missing uniform socks, putting school lunches together and suddenly remembering myriad things that should have been dealt with the day after school got out. A bit hard to say that a boat trip that will be scheduled for a few hours, but everyone knows that means he won’t be back until the dark hours in something less than desirable condition. Not exactly a formula for a family-friendly weekend.
Then again, there is some splendid fishing to be had. The Banks are nothing short of a happening, particularly as numbers of full-sized yellowfin have put in an appearance. As expected, and more than just hoped for, the quality and quantity of wahoo are improving with the cognoscenti hoping for the bonanza that comes when huge numbers show up coincident with the influx of juvenile little tunny. A veritable feast for the fish, but also a ready supply of prime live baits for the angler.
The biggest story for now has to be the yellowfin tuna on the Banks. There have been some really nice fish on the offshore grounds that seem willing to please. While the school-sized fish in the 20lb to 40lb range have become the norm through the summer, just lately a crop of significantly larger fish have arrived and seem to be sticking around. Captain Alan Card’s Challenger has been doing a rather good job of making the most of the situation, catching quite a few of these larger fish over the past few days. How nice are these fish? Well, that particular boat has had fish in the 100lb category — and that is a lot of yellowfin on any tackle!
Although the juvenile baits are not yet to be found in any numbers, the wahoo have definitely upped things a notch or two over the past week. Where a good haul consisted of one or two fish in the 20lb bracket, now numbers are more like half a dozen with fish sometimes bettering the 50lb mark.
When conditions are ideal, the baits arrive and serve to hold the arriving wahoo in the area for several weeks at least. Usually, the “frigate” mackerel arrive and then some baby blackfin follow with the combination extending the stay of the schools of wahoo on the move. Such halcyon conditions can mean that anglers can enjoy a real bonanza. If the baits don’t arrive coincidentally with the wahoo, then there is usually a heightened period of wahoo action that is short-lived as the fish move along the path of their migration.
As it stands, there is fairly reliable wahoo and tuna action that will grab the headlines, although there are still billfish cruising the depths and fish such as dolphin will occasionally make their presence known. Don’t discount the deeper dwellers, either. Now is a good time to run a live bait deep; there are some trophy amberjack and bonitas patrolling the deeper reef areas. Leave no stone unturned, as it were.
The commercial fishery, all so often a great source of information on the sport fishing, becomes less reliable as the lobster fishery starts to occupy most of their attention. That leaves the charter industry as the best indicator of the offshore situation and even that will not be perfect. Despite many efforts to increase tourism and to promote the island, the number of visitors looking to charter boats remains a minority. The upshot of this is that many charter boats tend to operate intermittently, and the truth of the matter is that the conditions offshore and fish movements can change radically within hours, much less days. So if a boat is only getting out every second or third day, there is plenty of opportunity for vital signs to be missed.
The same can be said for any period of inclement weather. Just because it is too rough to sally forth does not mean that the fish won’t be doing their thing, whatever that may be. It pays to keep an eye on the situation and to be ready to adjust at short notice; things can change fast and go from blah to red-hot overnight. That can make a difference as to the likelihood of a trip offshore encountering the desired Tight Lines!!!