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Forecast produces sad but realistic state of affairs

Another weekend blown out! What is it with weekends?

It is almost as if Nature conspires to keep weekend anglers home for much of the year.

As any tournament organiser will tell you, the most difficult call is that of the weather. So many small craft are involved in competitions that trying to make the playing field as level as possible is a never-ending trial that is very difficult to get right.

Weather forecasts are the key element in making such a decision and, quite simply, sometimes these are not right.

The weather, by definition, is an unpredictable phenomenon, but tournament organisers must be guided by the predictions of those best suited to making them.

It doesn’t matter if it is a favourable forecast that turns nasty or a foul forecast that turns out to be far calmer than expected, the tournament organiser can expect a barrage of criticism.

After an entire month that did not allow for the Wahoo Tournament to take place, the organisers have now wisely decided to cancel the event for this year.

The reasoning is eminently clear: a less than halcyon forecast for this weekend, the lacklustre level of offshore action and the difficulty holding people’s focus as the time comes around to take boats out of water and to leave the things of summer behind. A sad but realistic state of affairs.

The few boats that have taken advantage of the rare fishable days that there have been report catches of wahoo, tuna and still an odd dolphin or so. Barracuda will also take trolled offerings, but the quality and quantity of catches make it hard to justify a trip out.

The now rapidly cooling inshore waters are seeing the game fish that frequent the shoreline during the warmer months move out to deeper quarters.

This means inshore fishing is really not an option any more. A sunny day might see a few palometa zipping among the South Shore waves, but chances are the conditions will be less than conducive to an angler trying their luck.

With the hook and line fishing taking a bit of a back seat, many anglers completely forget that theirs is not the only recognised form of sportfishing.

While a speciality in its own right with its own set of rules and regulations, spearfishing enjoys a following as keen on their version of the sport as any angler might be.

While there are not many practitioners of the sport here, there have been some notable captures over the years. Just this past week, Josh Crockwell speared a magnificent specimen of hogfish.

This particular fish weighed 23 pounds and was nothing short of huge, considering that most local “hoggies” weigh in at significantly less. By way of comparison, the existing International Game Fish Association all-tackle record for the species is 21lb 15oz, a critter indeed, caught off South Carolina.

There has always been some acrimony between the devotees of the two piscatorial disciplines. There are also aspects that offer some interesting challenges to fisheries management authorities.

Probably the most obvious of these is that the spearfisherman has the luxury of being highly selective when it comes to targets. This may mean picking out the largest fish in a school or a longtime resident of a certain section of reef rather than waiting for whichever fish chooses to take the bait.

Of course, the counter-argument is that, just like the line angler, there is an element of chance whether a true trophy specimen will even be in the vicinity of the hunter, be it with hook or spear.

Spearfishermen will also point out that because they are often limited to where they can swim, there are areas where some fish exist that are beyond their swimming capabilities.

Fisheries managers maintain that the selectivity of a spear fishery usually means that the largest which are most likely to be the biggest breeders get taken out disproportionately.

The counter to this is that the numbers taken are relatively small. It is probably comparable to the lobster diver situation. They might catch big ones but they only catch a few, thus limiting the negative population effects.

Anyone interested in seeing the wide variety of sizes and species for which world spearfishing records are held can access such on the computer at www.freedive.net/ibsrc/fram_rec.htm.

Well, welcome to the end of yet another season on the water. Not the best in memory but by no means the worst, either. Remember the heavy spring wahoo run and then the hefty yellowfin showing in July. Such memories will get the angler through the coming months.

There will be long winter nights ahead when the howling wind and driving rain will keep all thoughts of boating well on the horizon, but further ahead will be a return to sunny skies and calm seas.

With those will come new forays out on to the ocean in search of Tight Lines!!!

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Published November 04, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated November 04, 2023 at 7:32 am)

Forecast produces sad but realistic state of affairs

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