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We’re slow to the boil but the fish are out there

Yellowfin tuna are out there for the catching

For many, last week’s wake-up was not sufficient to get you moving, so let’s try this. In two weeks’ time, the May 24 holiday will have come and gone. At the very least, the boat needs to be ready for a picnicking excursion and that initial rite of summer, a dip overboard. It is later than you think.

While the calendar may say one thing, Nature has a schedule all its own and the fish have been on the move for some time now. While there isn’t much evidence of that here, that is mostly the result of a downturn in fishing effort. Face it, during the winter months, sportfishing drops off to the point of being negligible and the commercial industry tapers right off as well. As you move into this time of the year, it is the boatyards and haulage services that get busy as both the pros and keen amateurs look to get their vessels ready for another campaign.

Meanwhile, billfish have been running riot in the Bahamas, and North Carolina is continuing to enjoy good offshore runs of wahoo and school-sized yellowfin — both of which are being caught in good numbers.

In fact, the numbers are so good that boats sometimes have to stop catching them. While it is not applicable here or elsewhere, the state of North Carolina has a daily bag limit of three yellowfin per person. So, if a boat has only a couple of anglers, then it doesn’t take much tuna to send them fishing for other species or releasing all the rest of the yellowfin that they catch. And switching over to wahoo fishing might not be the greatest option, either, because there is a “two fish per person per day” limit for that species. As a result, fishing reports out of the major ports along the coast of that state often mention that the boats return earlier than usual — with happy anglers, no doubt.

The waters fished by the Carolinian boats are not all that different to those that surround us and, while there are always regional differences — and the real fact of the matter is that Bermudian-based boats do not cover as much water as they think they do — just remember that they all come back to the exact same port whence they came. It is not as if there is a coastline over 100 miles long along with the associated continental shelf. It is the nature of the drop-offs that tend to attract blue-water species to feed; hence, those structures are the preferred fishing spots. That is no different here, where Bermuda’s Edge around the island and the offshore banks are the go-to for anglers.

Not that those are producing spectacularly at the moment. Things remain slow, although there is sufficient variety to confirm that the season has indeed arrived. Wahoo catches tend to be in the few rather than the boatload, even though some boats have managed as many as eight. There is quite a lot of variation in the size with the occasional small fish, but the average is respectable with many going in excess of 40 pounds. Realistically, there is nothing to suggest that the spring run has already occurred, although this may well be wishful thinking.

Consistent with the season that has migratory species doing just that, the tuna are also on the move and this is one of the times of the year when it is not unusual to have a yellowfin take a trolled offering. These tend to be larger fish than those routinely encountered in the chum and are capable of giving a very good account of themselves, even on middle-class tackle. After all, they start off with a hundred or so yards of line, all of which has to be wound back in addition to whatever they manage to take off the reel.

For the next couple of weeks, trolling will be the preferred method of offshore fishing. Trolling a daisy chain is also not a bad idea. There are some small mackerel around as well juvenile blackfin tuna. Not as small as the late-season, so-called “frigates” but both species make prime live baits.

While not the target species at the moment, there are marlin of both varieties offshore. At least one blue marlin has been already caught and released and there are doubtless more out there — those numbers will only increase during the run-up to the July billfish tournaments.

There will be little in the way of offshore excursions this weekend owing to the Mother’s Day holiday, which has the effect of keeping would-be anglers rock-bound. Unlike previous years, the Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament saw fit not to compete with this and is slated for next week Sunday. That is when the island’s competitive anglers will challenge each other to a duel of Tight Lines!!!

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Published May 11, 2024 at 7:54 am (Updated May 11, 2024 at 7:39 am)

We’re slow to the boil but the fish are out there

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