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July is around the corner – and that means big blue marlin

The Blue Marlin World Cup is on July 4 (File photograph)

If you have ever had the urge to try sportfishing, now is that time to indulge that urge. It is summer, the weather predictable, the seas complacent and the fish most willing. Given those parameters, it is time to head off to the blue briny, which is the open sea for what the brochures call deep-sea fishing.

Contrast that with inshore or reef fishing, which is accessible for much more of the year, and this is the exposure to the pelagic species that is the stuff of legend.

The tuna have been very reliable with any directed effort, most assuredly enjoying action from school-sized yellowfins. While not much trolling effort is intended for yellowfin tuna, this method will, on occasion, elicit a bite from a bigger version of the fish that seem to rule the chum slicks.

While there are some blackfin tuna around, these are somewhat thin on the ground, as it were. They prefer the water even warmer than it is now and are more likely to dominate chumming proceedings as August rolls around and the heat drives the yellowfin deeper. They also tend to hang a little shallower than the yellowfin, even though there is no reason that they cannot go where and when it might please them. A chum line that runs up on to the bank or edge usually leads to their appearance, often along with other smaller game species.

Although they have eased off very considerably from whatever spring run they might have had, the wahoo are still providing enough action to justify putting in some effort. This is often a preferred method for charter-boat operators who are faced with a half-day charter. Considering that it is almost an hour’s run to Bermuda’s Edge and Challenger Bank is even farther away, a four-hour trip does not really leave enough time to anchor up and establish a chum line. The logical choice, then, is to troll the drop-off for whatever might be willing to bite and, happily, so far the wahoo have been filling the bill.

Although a less reliable bet, sliding into the deep water can also provide diversion as the billfish are warming to their task of providing the big summer’s entertainment. Captain Alan Card’s Challenger caught one blue marlin on a half-day early in the week and then, on another trip, went on to catch two in a day. The latter pair were estimated at 250lb and 500lb, healthy indicators that the marlin are arriving on the scene and performing as they are expected to.

A few other local boats have recorded run-ins with marlin and the visiting boat Keep Dreaming caught and released two blue marlin this week.

Although it was felt that the somewhat cooler than normal water has slowed the influx of billfish, things are obviously starting to pick up. Certainly, the presence of schools of tuna is a good indicator that there is plenty of potential prey around for these apex predators. As in most natural systems, the predators generally show up just after the prey does, so this all makes sense, really.

What is a little scary to consider is that the sizeable yellowfin tuna, which are giving anglers so much pleasure, are nothing but a single mouthful for a big blue. That really puts things into perspective.

In any case, Bermuda is one of the places in this world that big blue marlin call home, even only temporarily, and that is why the month of July sees local angling almost exclusively focus on the billfish species. Even the white marlin, an outstanding game fish in its own right, takes a back seat to the main draw — the mighty blue marlin.

First off, the July 4 Blue Marlin World Cup takes place next week and is a popular big-money tournament that draws sportfishing boats from up and down the United States East Coast. In Bermuda, it is fished alongside the Bermuda Billfish Blast, which is also the first leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown.

The World Cup has a $5,000 entry fee and attracts anything up to 200 boats that are permitted to fish anywhere on the globe. The rules allow each entrant to fish eight hours in their respective time zones, with the largest fish over 500 pounds taking the entire money pot.

With Bermuda’s reputation for producing large fish, some of which have won the World Cup in previous years, there is an expected influx of sportfishing boats as soon as the “blow boats” — as the powerboat crowd derisively refer to the sailing fleet — have vacated the moorings and berths that they are occupying in connection with the Newport Bermuda Race.

While the World Cup is a single-day competition, the Blast is a three-day event that emphasises catch-and-release, but which also has a minimum eligible weight of 500lb. All points scored in the Blast accrue for the Triple Crown. With that taking up most of the rest of July, the whole month is devoted to the pursuit of the very tightest of Tight Lines!!!

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Published June 29, 2024 at 7:54 am (Updated June 29, 2024 at 7:44 am)

July is around the corner – and that means big blue marlin

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