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Adverse conditions call rest of season into question

Another blown-out weekend, by the looks of it.

On the one hand, the fact that the island was spared a direct hit should engender gratitude, but the negative impacts of tropical storm-force winds and the associated high seas and tidal flows continue to affect fishing conditions long after the passage of the storm itself.

Even the presence of other storm systems in the North Atlantic have far-reaching effects on sea conditions. This is simply illustrated by tossing a pebble into a pond where the ripples extend to even the farthest reaches of the water body. The same happens when tropical systems start sloshing the Atlantic’s water around.

The way things are transpiring, much of the fishing community has or are on the verge of giving up any hope of angling this year. Quite a few boats have been taken out of the water and there are more owners contemplating the very same.

And with good reason. Beyond some good bill fishing during the high summer, the overall fishing scene has been slow. It got off to a slow start with all that rainy weather in May and June.

By the time, normalcy was restored, the wahoo run was petering out and the marlin were coming into their own. Fast forward to August and everything always slows up. That brings us to the here and now where the passage of tropical systems has pretty much ruled out any activity from the weekend warriors for weeks now.

That same weather has also reduced the effort put in by the commercial fishery and their take on things is “mostly slow”. Sure, there have been, and continue to be, sporadic bursts of activity but these tend to be few and far between, both in the geographic and temporal senses.

Added to this, is the lack of competitive events. Normally there were one or two wahoo tournaments that usually enjoyed good participation levels and it would now seem that those are no longer on the agenda. With this sporting incentive removed from the equation, a decision to pack up the boat and gear until the spring starts to make a lot of sense.

Despite the doom and gloom that has painted the background for the last week or so, there has continued to be some fishing and putting in effort generally gets results. Some days are obviously better than others, but the fleet has managed to catch enough fish to allow the commercial and charter fisheries to survive, if not thrive.

One of these better days was a recent trip on captain Alan Card’s Challenger, that was posted on Facebook. It featured a photo of a nice haul of wahoo and another brownish fish that could easily be mistaken for an amberjack or bonita.

Closer examination of the picture, though, would reveal that it was neither. In actuality it was a barrelfish, a species not commonly encountered locally.

Actually, despite their range – they are found on both sides of the North Atlantic – and value as a food fish, they have largely escaped commercial exploitation because they are hard to catch in numbers.

Mostly a deepwater dweller, references will suggest that they are most often caught while dropping deep lines for grouper or swordfish.

Some will recollect when vertical longlining was quite an industry with many of the commercial operators gearing up for this type of fishing.

The main catches were of misty grouper (John Paw), wreckfish and a variety of deepwater snapper species. Other species occasionally found themselves in the mix and, for a while, there was money to be made by working the deep.

Naturally this type of fishing turned up some oddities and just went to show that fishing can indeed be surprising. A barrelfish catch would be just such an occasion. Not common here by any matter of means.

The present world record for barrelfish came from the Wilmington Canyon off New Jersey and weighed in at 38.5 pounds. It is not considered a line-class gamefish by the IGFA nor does the species qualify for local records under the Bermuda Game Fishing Association. Not that it is likely that any local is ever going to go in search of such an unlikely record.

With the fishiest thing this weekend likely to be either undo the extra ropes securing a boat or securing it for the season, there will be those whose desire to indulge in angling will go unsatiated.

Perhaps now is the time to grab a book ― for the older set — or to jump on the computer and to search for knots that are uncommon locally.

Over the years, there have been a few masters of such things, but they are now a rarity with most local anglers relying on just two or three different knots to address all their needs.

There are actually many methods of tying that suit just about every situation perfectly and some that might make a difference between a poorly selected connection and Tight Lines!!!

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Published September 16, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated September 16, 2023 at 7:47 am)

Adverse conditions call rest of season into question

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