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Time is running out to catch some high-quality bonefish

Shelly Bay and Somerset Long Bay are prime spots for bonefish at this time of year

It is summer and the season for boating and fishing, despite the rainy start and unseasonable weather. If one is ever to go fishing, then now is the time, and while offshore grabs all the glamour and glory, there is plenty of good inshore fishing to be had.

Even though it lacks plenty of hype or interest, Bermuda boasts some really high-quality bonefishing. Decades ago, many world records were set here and while Bermuda no longer appears in the record books, the fish here are still worthy opponents on suitable tackle. Most of the present world records are between 12 to 15lb andm while those are all pretty exceptional examples of bonefish, a Bermuda bonefish weighing more than 10lb is a very realistic target for an angler.

Shore-based anglers looking to pursue such game should note that two of the most likely locations, Shelly Bay and Somerset Long Bay, will shortly cease to be secluded, peaceful venues once school is out and they become popular sites for summer camps with enough activity to discourage bonefish.

Also readily available right off the South Shore are palometa, an exceedingly game species, especially if their size is brought into the equation. The average fish is probably something like 2lb but can pull awfully hard for something that size. A recognised game fish that will take both bait and artificial lures, it is also a fine food fish.

Now, on to the offshore scene. Last weekend featured the postponement of the BWAC Open tournament. This decision was made in the face of a less than desirable forecast and concerns that some of the smaller entries might be unable to take part if the conditions were other than fair.

As it turned out, the next morning dawned sunny and calm with just the lightest of breezes. Naturally, this brought about some complaints from would-be participants although, to be fair, most of these were from anglers who would be fishing on larger craft.

Those with any experience will acknowledge that organising a fishing tournament can be a thankless task and full or potential pitfalls.

Making the go/no go call is fraught with difficulty as weather forecasts are notoriously fickle and even the best predicted changes can be hours early or hours late, often making the difference between fishable and difficult conditions.

There is also a fundamental that all too often gets overlooked in the frenzy to assign blame. This is that the object of the exercise is for all the participants to have fun regardless of their individual levels of success.

In addition to this being a concern for organisers, it is of even greater concern to sponsors who, quite naturally, are looking for positive exposure for their products. With such matters necessarily taken into consideration, there is also the value of having an alternative date or even several alternatives. This almost ensures the organisers that their event will take place and, hopefully, live up to everyone’s expectations.

It is on this basis then that the BWAC Open is expected to go ahead this weekend as will the Royal Bermuda Regiment Tournament, which was also scheduled for this Sunday. Both events may benefit from an improvement in the fishing activity reported by boats that did head offshore last weekend, not to mention the fact that both events accept late entries. This may be of interest to those for whom last weekend was a non-starter.

Much of the offshore effort has been concentrating on trolling and there are still a fair number of prime wahoo to be had. So far, the usual “young of the year” crop of fish between 10 to 20lb have not made much of a showing and it is the larger fish, up to 60lb or more, that comprise most catches.

The presence of this class of fish also opens up possibilities for live baiting. Many light-tackle anglers would rather fish a live bait while drifting than troll because of the initial impact of a strike while trolling.

Robins make perfect live baits on any class of tackle and should be readily available along Bermuda’s Edge or on the crown of the Bank. They are also pretty hardy and will survive for a while in a bucket if a live well is not available. Best of all, they are a natural food for all the predatory species, so it is not just wahoo that will take them but most species of tuna and some of the deeper-dwelling game fish such as amberjack or bonita.

All the blue-water species that make Bermuda their summer home should be on the offshore grounds now. Yellowfin tuna schools are around the Banks while blackfin tuna and other small game species will also please chummers.

Any effort put into the deepwater between the Edge and between the Banks will invite billfish into the spread and, every so often, a marlin will cruise up on to the drop-off and provide some unsuspecting angler with some very Tight Lines.

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Published June 10, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated June 10, 2023 at 7:56 am)

Time is running out to catch some high-quality bonefish

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