Now could be the perfect time to enter the record books
Hot and humid. That accurately describes the state of mind at the moment, with the incentive to even venture outdoors at a minimum and even the keenest of anglers at a bit of a loss over what to do.
To be fair, it is that time of year when angling slows up markedly. Most of the major tournaments are now a thing of the past and it is awfully hot to spend the day on an open boat. The kids are enjoying their last days of summer vacation and clamouring for attention, the household chores continue to beckon and the added threat of tropical activity all combine to reduce interest and inclination.
However, there will be those who cannot resist a foray on to the briny in hopes of excitement, so what might be expected and what is the best course of action to pursue?
More than mere rhetoric, there are loads of options at this time of the year with each one faking some limitations.
The most obvious solution is probably the least attractive. Working the warm, deep water is likely to prove highly productive for billfish, particularly blue marlin. Spectacular, no doubt, but of little value beyond a thrill given the lack of organised competition and the nearly non-existent food value; not to mention the amount of fuel consumed in such a pursuit.
Next up is regular trolling of baits and artificial rigs. While this is the tried-and-true method for catching wahoo and tuna, it is also effective on dolphin and other species.
The problem here lies in the fact that the wahoo activity is at a low point and most of the tuna likely to take a troll are of the larger variety – something not suited to most of the lighter tackle classes.
Dolphin, unfortunately, are never so numerous as to be the target species. Also, with the water so warm, the barracuda population seems to bloom and are most likely to take a well-presented bait meant for more desirable species.
Chumming will see schools of small game that provide action on suitable tackle but, for the most part, offer little potential for filling the fish box. Dropping a line down deeper should provide a few of the more welcome bottom species like hind or coney, but if these are the fish that are most desired then simply drifting and working the bottom is the preferred method.
Of course, the lucky angler will come home with a bumper haul no matter which technique has been employed. Sadly, there are only a very few who fit into this category. Far better for most of us to be properly prepared and to make the most of what is on offer. To this end, it might be worth having a gander at the world-record book as there are some openings that might well be worth exploiting.
Some species of fish grow to larger sizes in Bermuda than elsewhere. For many years amberjack, blackfin tuna and snapper records were held here and it is only relatively recently that these have been broken
For amberjack, the new record is in Japan which, for weird reasons, has areas that have a lot in common with Bermuda conditions – northerly coral reefs being one. Some have suggested that the seasonally cooler water extends the fish’s life span and, as such, they have more growing time.
The huge blackfin in the Gulf come from these fish following the shrimp boats around and gorging themselves on whatever the boats discard – and that is a lot.
The key to breaking or setting a record is mostly catching a really big specimen of whatever species. There are, however, a few things worth knowing. One of these is where the vacancies are. In the line-test records there are a fair few vacancies usually on the lighter line classes, often things like 2lb or 4lb test, but there are others such as the 80lb category for African pompano. Black grouper (locally a rockfish) has the men’s 130lb and 8lb test categories free as well as the women’s 20lb test.
To keep things in perspective, the International Game Fish Association requires entries to weigh at least 50 percent of the line test, so there are some potential openings. Most of the yellowtail snapper records are held in Bermuda but several of these are readily assailable given the really large yellowtails that come off the Banks each year.
Even the palometa offers shore anglers a chance to get into the world-record book. The current all-tackle record is for a 1lb 12oz specimen caught in Texas. Given that 2lb fish are not uncommon here, that should be a worthy challenge for anyone willing to take it up.
Having said all of this, there may well be a rather major distraction this weekend that will have an impact on everyone’s plans. The need to secure homes and to batten down the hatches gives a new meaning to Tight Lines.