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Shark’s tale gets the tongues wagging ahead of tournament time

The season moves on and nowhere is this more evident than in the fishing that is to be had. Certainly, all the offshore game species that arrive here in the summer are now on the grounds. Even the species that really prefer water with tropical temperatures are now locally available; these include the blue marlin. Blues are, for many, the ultimate game species available in the Atlantic, and some go to enormous expense to engage in their pursuit.

Sharp observers will note a slow but steady influx of large sportfishing craft making the journey from overseas to take part in the busy July billfish tournament scene here. Still a few weeks away, but they are arriving and the fish are here — maybe not numerous yet, but sure to be very shortly.

As the ocean surrounding the island continues to warm up, the wahoo ease off and become less active — at least for the trollers. For the moment, there still seem to be enough about to keep life interesting. Captain Alan Card’s Challenger had a trip this past week that boated something like eight wahoo, mostly in the 20 to 30lb range. There will be occasional larger fish, but these tend to take a back seat to the smaller fish during the warmer months. There is also the belief that the smaller fish are younger fish, maybe the products of a recent year’s breeding, and this is likely to make them more numerous as well.

But, as they say, when a door closes another one opens. The wahoo ease off, but the yellowfin and other tuna species come into their own. While large yellowfin have no problem inhaling a trolled offering, many of the school-sized fish prefer to visit chum slick where they can gorge themselves on free offerings. Blackfin tuna also indulge in such and really come into their own as the water is at its warmest. Another, less commonly seen species is the skipjack tuna. Also known as the oceanic bonito, this is another powerhouse tuna that can give a good account of itself.

There were a lot of people who were shocked and chagrined, to say the least, by a local video clip that went viral this week. The film showed a group of jet skiers in the Great Sound, between Dockyard and Spanish Point, being escorted by a largish hammerhead shark. There was no mistaking the identification: the shark was obvious when it came to making its presence known.

It has to be said that years ago, hammerhead sharks were commonplace in Bermuda. They were often seen offshore and were known to be disruptive to chumming efforts. In the past two or three decades, they seem to have become scarce, making this inshore encounter even more meaningful. The relatively recent change in the law prohibiting the harvest of many shark species is really a significant, positive move. Not that sharks were all that important to the sport fishery here. Although many places in the world promote shark or monster fishing, relying on the legacy of the blockbuster film Jaws and the fears that it created, anglers in Bermuda have been always a bit disdainful of sharks and really did not consider them to be game fish. Big sharks can provide a good pull on a line, but they were very definitely considered second-rate by most locals.

Unfortunately, sharks are generally not local populations, often crossing many miles of ocean in their travels. That lifestyle exposes them to multitudinous fisheries all over the world where, at the very least, their fins are a valuable commodity. The practice of finning sharks, although largely illegal, goes on and, many believe, contributed to the demise of world shark populations. Add that most sharks are slow breeders by fish standards and the problem is intensified. And while no one really wants to think about it, sharks are an important component of the natural cycles: quite apart from being predators, they are also responsible for a lot of the clean-up processes that go on in the oceans. Basically, they recycle dead things, turning things such as whale carcasses back into nutrients that can feed the plankton and the other natural cycles that keep the system going.

The bottom line here is no one should be surprised to see sharks in the sea; after all, that is their natural habitat, as it has been for a lot more years than mankind has graced this planet.

The less-than-conducive weather last week led to the postponement of both the Bermuda Regiment Tournament and the BWAC Open Tournament. Both are due to take place this weekend. With the forecast looking much more favourable, this is likely to be a go and should give a myriad of local anglers a shot at some Tight Lines!!

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Published June 08, 2024 at 7:54 am (Updated June 08, 2024 at 7:41 am)

Shark’s tale gets the tongues wagging ahead of tournament time

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