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Time and tide wait for no man

Christmas in rapidly being lost in the mists of time and 2011 is greyhounding towards us. The old adage about time and tide waiting for no man is so true and so unrelenting. So, before we leave 2010 in the annals of times past, let us ever so briefly look back on the highs and lows that was the angling season just past.

Things got off to a rather slow start and it was blamed on the colder than usual water that surrounded the Island. There was also a dearth of visible bait and this too was taken as sign that things weren't about to break loose just yet. This continued into June with a good day usually consisting of a few wahoo but nothing like the spring run that is usually expected.

The yellowfin tuna were also not present in the numbers that they were expected and although there was a flurry of activity from small fish, the main action came on an intermittent basis from fish in the 40- to 60-pound weight category. For many chummers, blackfin tuna and assorted fish caught while chumming when conditions allowed like rainbow runners provided the bulk of the action.

The poor pickings had many boats putting in more time in the deep water and when the thermometer finally started to inch upwards and some bait showed up, so did the billfish with a surprising number of white marlin putting in an appearance.

As the summer progressed, blue marlin were again the focus of attention; from the 4th of July World Cup in which Bermuda-based anglers failed to come up with anything that would displace the grander caught off the Cape Verde islands to the Bermuda Triple Crown which saw large number of billfish caught and released. The three events that comprise the Triple Crown accounted for 188 releases (139 blues, 48 whites and a lone spearfish). Six other blue marlin that were caught made the qualifying weight even though the really large fish, three granders, were caught outside the tournaments.

With the onset of August, a lot of the foreign effort made tracks out of harm's way and it was left to the local charter fleet to pursue the billfish. The general downturn in tourism and specifically in fishing charters meant that a lot of fish swam past the Island without fear of being interfered with. Commercial operators concentrated on fishing the Banks for a variety of saleable fish in anticipation of the autumnal wahoo run.

Sadly, this was not really to be. Once again there were virtually no frigate mackerel and although the Royal Gazette annual wahoo tournament enjoyed good results, the massive run never materialised. The arrival of Hurricane Igor put the kibosh on much of the sporting angling effort and boats once taken up in advance of the hurricane have remained up ever since.

Despite the downturn in effort, there were fish, mostly wahoo, taken on a fairly regular basis but lobsters soon got the attention of the commercial fishermen, much to the exclusion of other forms of fishing.

Late in the year, the seaweed came in droves and there were quite a few dolphin around. These provided great variety, not to mention quality and they were caught fairly consistently up until just a couple of weeks ago.

As is sometimes the case, Mother Nature holds surprises for last and this year has seen a good winter run of yellowfin. Just over the last week or so, boats have reported quite some success with the Allisons on both Banks. Double figures were not uncommon and although the recent heavy weather probably hasn't improved things, it is quite likely that they are still out there and willing to please should anyone make the run.

Although the yellowfin are being taken both on the troll and by chumming or drifting, the problem this time of the year is to get the conditions that will allow for the most judicious use of bait. The long-range forecast doesn't look too promising but it may be possible to manage a trip offshore over the long holiday weekend. Other distractions excepted, of course. A good day on the water would be a fine way to end a year or to start out a brand new one.

It may be a sign of our complacency but one record set in Bermuda has very recently come tumbling down in Japan, of all places! The species in question was one that had Bermuda fish often occupying the higher line classes and all-tackle marks and there was never any serious question that the world record would always be held here. Well, guess that is not to be. And getting it back might be a bit of a challenge.

The new men's 30-lb test line class and all-tackle record amberjack is a 156 lb 13 oz fish caught by Hideyuki Nemoto off Iki Island, Nagasaki, Japan. It defeats the existing Bermuda record jointly held by Joseph Dawson (155 lb 10 0z) and Larry Trott (155 lb 12 oz). The reason that it was held jointly was, under IGFA rules, there is a stipulation that an existing record must be bettered by a certain amount of weight. In this case, it would have been eight ounces, so it was considered a tie.

Joseph Dawson's record was set back m June, 1981 while Trott's was set eleven years later in 1992. Now, it will likely be some time before the all-tackle record returns to Bermuda. But who would have thought of Japan,? Who would have thought that the same species of amberjack would be found so widely throughout the world? Especially as everyone thinks of Japan as a cold (as in winter and snow) rather than a tropical venue.

What everyone forgets or does not know is that Japan is bathed in the waters of the Kuroshio current which is for the Pacific what the Gulf Stream is to the Atlantic. It is a warm current that emanates from the tropics and transports warm waters northward. In part, this accounts for the rich sea life that there is to be found in and around the Japanese archipelago.

So, another year gone by and another one beckoning. What will 2011 hold? Although no one knows for sure, we can make some educated guesses at what the fish will do and, if the history is any thing to go by, yellowfin wintering here is a good sign suggesting an early spring and hopefully a respectable wahoo run. Don't forget the so-called spring run has been known to start as early as February and that is not all that far away either.

On a final note, here's all best wishes for a safe and happy New Year for everyone along with the promise of a future full of Tight lines!!!

Charles Whitehead, Blake Horseman, Thomas Whitehead, the Royal Gazette wahoo tournament.

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Published December 31, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 31, 2010 at 7:34 am)

Time and tide wait for no man

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