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Unpredictable Idalia to put kibosh on offshore action

It is amazing that any fishing at all gets done at this time of the year.

With the entire North Atlantic basin home to numbers of tropical systems, second-guessing the weather becomes a full-time job.

Putting things into perspective, the passage of Franklin kept the fishing down to a bare minimum this week and the vagaries of Idalia have pretty much put the kibosh on any proceedings planned for this weekend. Fortunately, such interruptions are generally short-lived and with the onset of September, what is arguably the best fishing time of the year is about to swing into high gear.

The not-so-subtle change in the weather will soon put paid to the hot, hazy days of August locally and the onset of more winterlike conditions farther north will signal the seasonal migration of many of the species that head north in the spring and then reverse course as the northern hemisphere cools off.

Most prominent of these movements is that of the humpback whales but, rest assured, plenty of fish make the same trip each year.Included in these migrants are the billfish, and many of the tunas as both groups prefer the water on the warm side.

It must also be reckoned that moving great distances is hungry business and migrating fish are seriously on the rampage for bait; bait in any form.

While the offshore conditions may offer locals something of a challenge, the action should markedly pick up.

There are already significant numbers of yellowfin tuna and wahoo there; as well as dolphinfish and many of the smaller game species. Essentially, the foundation of good fishing is already set, what will kick it into high gear is the fish’s urge to move on, bringing to an end to their summer lethargy.

To make the fishing really fantastic it only takes a single event to kick things up several notches and to provide some of the fast action that the late summer, early autumn can bring.

What everyone who knows will be looking forward to and hoping that it does indeed come to pass, is the influx of what locals term “frigate mackerel”. What they really mean is the sudden appearance of large schools of juvenile little tunny (locally “mackerel”).

These are simply small versions of the common little tunny, yes, mackerel to most of us, that pleases both inshore and offshore and is a common component of the bait being used as slivers for hook bait or just plain chopped up for chum.

The real frigate mackerel, which is sometimes confused with yet another species, the bullet mackerel, is a wide-ranging tuna-like species that can be mistaken for a little tunny. Happily, they are rare in local waters; rare to the point that it is almost safe to say that they are absent from the local fishing scene

.Generally, the average mackerel is somewhere between two and four pounds and is usually too large for use as live bait.

They do get a lot larger, ranging up to 30 pounds or more. The largest Bermuda line class record and, coincidentally the 16 pound test world record, is one that weighed in at 32 pounds 4 ounces.

For some long-forgotten reason, the juveniles of this species were given the moniker “frigate” and it stuck. Generations of anglers and fishermen have referred to the influx of small mackerel as the arrival of the frigates. Go figure!What is great about these small fish which usually weigh up to about a pound, is that they make a wonderful live bait.

Properly rigged, so that they are trolled headfirst allowing them to breathe with water flowing over their gills, they can last for long periods. Not that is usually necessary.

Considering the predators out on the briny, the small mackerel fit perfectly into their dining plans. A species that they normally encounter on a regular basis only in bite-sized morsels.While such baits will elicit attacks from just about every predator out there, their autumnal arrival often coincides with the appearance of numbers of migrating wahoo.

Together they resemble what many an angler referred to as a perfect storm of events. Plentiful, easily accessible baits amid large numbers of hungry wahoo migrating through the area but more than willing to stop to gorge themselves on these little fish before moving on.Largely ignored, but worthy of a mention, the palometa off the South Shore are particularly numerous at this juncture and about as large as they are likely to be.

A spot of calm weather and a slight spinning rod can make for some productive sport that will quickly result in enough high-quality fresh fish for a meal. They may not be large but they are game and more than capable of giving an angler some surprisingly Tight Lines!!!

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Published September 02, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated September 02, 2023 at 8:19 am)

Unpredictable Idalia to put kibosh on offshore action

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