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Wahoo tourney sure to be a success

The lull that followed the passage of Tropical Storm Jose saw pretty much what was left of the visiting foreign boats head for the mainland.

Despite some gusty breezes, intermittent showers and a touch or two of thunder and lightning conditions were good enough to make the crossing and with the likes of Katia brewing in the mid-Atlantic, probably a really good time to make oneself scarce.

The actual state of the fishing offshore is a bit of a question at the moment. Although the weather has been a bit “iffy”, boats have gone out but when they did fishing was not exactly their priority.

In case you have forgotten, we are into the “r” months and it is lobster season. With fishermen having to take a day or two to deploy their lobster gear and the importance of the onset of this fishery, most hook and line fishing took a back seat to lobstering operations this past week.

Now that we are into the season, most fishermen will be hauling their gear at least twice a week and that will cut into the fishing effort as well. Perhaps this is the first sign of the onset of the winter season and shift in overall strategy.

The offshore fishing that has been going on has continued to produce blue marlin in reasonable numbers with some larger fish still putting in an appearance.

Numbers aren't quite what they were but with the conditions starting to change and the overcast days contributing to a decline in water temperature, many of the marlin have probably reacted to their migratory programmes and started to move away.

Do remember that there are probably many marlin that moved north beyond Bermuda in the summer and will now be working their way past us, thus exposing themselves to local fishing effort. Large blues have been caught as late as October and a check of historical records will show that they can be caught any month of the year.

There are still some yellowfin tuna pleasing from time to time. Chumming conditions have been less than ideal and effort has been low. With most of the commercial fleet otherwise occupied, it is hard to get a handle on just how things are.

Small game is abundant and these can provide enough entertainment and fillets to make a day afloat a success. It is just when quality action from bigger game fish is needed that things can become more difficult.

Blackfin tuna can take up some of the slack and working the bottom for ambers and bonita are also viable alternatives with both providing good tests for even experienced anglers..

Traditional trolling is producing wahoo and the odd barracuda. This tends to be a bit of a transition time when summer chumming phases out and the emphasis switches back to trolling.

But it does take something in the way of circumstances to effect this change and it really hasn't happened yet.

Now is the time of the year when the wahoo usually become the focus of attention. They are commonplace, even abundant and often of very good size quality indeed.

The word “usually” is used because there are times when this simply does not happen and things continue virtually unchanged from the rest of the summer.

There are no proven indicators of the autumnal run but it has often coincided with the arrival of what locals call a “frigate mackerel”.

There are a couple of points that need to be cleared up. First off, these bait fish have nothing to do with what is called frigate tuna or frigate mackerel elsewhere.

Those are a separate species of tuna quite different from anything that normally occurs here.

The “frigate” fish referred to in Bermuda are, in fact, juvenile little tunny or mackerel.

Now, since even those names are fraught with difficulty; let it be agreed that the smallish tuna family member that is commonly found both offshore and inshore here is generally referred to as mackerel.

Their offspring are the fish that come under the mis-applied moniker “frigate mackerel”.

The value of the little mackerel is that they are prime baits for most other predators and when they arrive around about the same time as the influx of wahoo, they give the wahoo every reason to stay around and move into voracious feeding mode, all of which makes the fisherman's task all that much easier.

There are other things too. Many times the presence of small mackerel will mean that fisherman concentrate on live-baiting for what tend to be larger wahoo and the odd tuna.

The more traditional bait trolling is neglected and sometimes there are schools of school-sized wahoo in the 18 to 25 pound range that are more susceptible to that type of angling.

What will develop this year remains to be seen, but there is time yet and the offshore situation can change very quickly indeed.

Thus far there haven't been any signs of the small mackerel inshore or offshore and the wahoo action is not what most people are looking forward to.

This doesn't mean that it is going to happen but as the season winds down most anglers and commercial fishermen are hoping for a late season bonanza that will allow freezers to be stocked for the wintry months ahead and those not so far in the future either.

The next couple of weeks will probably tell the tale. Some years are nothing short of spectacular, some runs are short-lived and sometimes, it simply doesn't happen.

On the positive side of things, there are almost always some wahoo around and while numbers may not be huge, there have always been enough to make a tournament a success.

So, anyone figuring on fishing in

The Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament had better hasten to get their entry form in.

The event is scheduled for next Sunday, the 11th September and, rest assured, would-be participants and organisers will all be keeping a close watch on the weather as the latest tropical activity in the form of Katia churns her way across the Atlantic picking her target.

As the weekend progresses, more decisions will be made regarding the hauling of boats and the addition of storm lines and considerably less thought will be given to organising baits and rigs.

While no one wants a hurricane of any size, they are an aspect of life that this Island's people have lived with for hundreds of years, taking whatever precautions become necessary. Fishing tournaments lose significance when something of this nature takes centre stage.

Sight is not lost of such and this is one of the reasons why there are multiple alternatives for this particular tournament.

Better safe than sorry and, at the end of the day, it is in everyone's best interest to have competitors enjoy a day on the briny with at least a few wahoo providing the Tight lines!!!

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Published September 03, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated September 03, 2011 at 8:47 am)

Wahoo tourney sure to be a success

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