Crowds gather for Wahoo feast
After a week of dodgy weather, a promising forecast gave organisers the go-ahead to call the 2011 Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament 'on'. As it turned out, the call was right as the sea conditions moderated through the day and after a slow start by the fish then picked up and some nice catches were made.
Most reports from the boats that arrived at the Dockyard weigh station were positive and there weren't many complaints or other observations. For some unknown reason, there was steady parade of boats to the weigh-in with the result that there was virtually no waiting. As each boat arrived, the catch was landed, weighed and displayed in a matter of minutes with the event photographer quickly framing the photos and letting the crew return the fish to the boat in quick time.
The weigh-in drew a fairly large crowd of locals and visitors alike and the fish provided them with something of a spectacle as the number and size quality was good. This is especially true when you consider that many visitors have never fished for anything that might weigh more than a couple of pounds. The wahoo must have looked gargantuan!
When the weigh-in deadline had come and passed with the last boat having been accommodated, the final tally was 43 anglers on 17 boats weighing in 73 fish.
In the winner's circle were the following: in the 12-lb test class, it was Shaun Outerbridge's 43.3 pound wahoo caught aboard
Paradise One that took the honours.
One of last year's winners returned to centre stage when Paige Allen presented her 54.2 pound wahoo caught on 16-lb test while aboard the boat
Phuket. For her this was no mean feat as she actually qualified as a junior angler but left no doubt in anyone's mind that she can rule the fish just as well as most other anglers.
The largest wahoo caught on 20-lb test was a 41.7 pounder that gave Brian Amaro the win, ever so closely with several other entries also bettering the 41-pound mark. But a winner is a winner and Brian's fish caught on
Reel Nauti was just that fraction bigger to claim the award.
In the ever-popular 30-lb test class, the winning fish was R. Kromer's 54.4 pound wahoo caught aboard the
Taking top honours with the tournament's largest fish, regardless of line class, was a 56.4 pound wahoo caught by Steven Correia from the aptly named
The Junior Angler winner was Blake Horseman with a wahoo that tipped the scale at 40.5 pounds. His catch had been made on 20 -pound test line and came while fishing aboard the
Perhaps not so surprisingly, the overall High Point Boat award went to Capt. Andrew Card's
Reel Action. With his sister, Kathryn Garcia, the lone angler and exclusively using 12-lb test, the team amassed 4,548.63 points; well clear of the nearest competition.
The statistically minded people will want to know that, of the fish actually weighed in, 14 were caught on 12-lb test with a like number being caught on 20-lb test. The 16-lb test class was all but abandoned with only four entries. As expected, it was the 30-lb test class that led the way with 41 entries. As has been the case, amateurs feel that 30-lb gear gives them their best chance against the fish and there is the general notion that using the heavier classes is more likely to guarantee some fish for the larder. A theory that is not really true by any means but widely enough accepted to bear itself out.
In terms of the fish themselves, there was a really nice distribution. Not quite what would be expected at other times of the year but one that was quite commensurate with what the autumnal run should bring. Of the fish weighed in; and we will never know how many fish were caught but not weighed in for whatever reason, there were eleven between ten and twenty pounds. The twenty to thirty pound range was the largest group with 29 fish fitting into this category. There were 19 fish between 30 and 40 pounds while another teen bettered the 40-lb mark but failed to break 50. In the size class with the tournament's largest fish, there were four that weighed in at in excess of 50 pounds. Nice fish to be sure, but not the 60-pounders plus that have been needed to win in many previous years.
Although that was noted at the scale, there were several experienced fishermen who stated that they had lost significantly larger fish and there was no reason to doubt their claims that there were some real trophy fish out there. Perhaps that is why they are so big they know how to avoid being caught!
Quite a number of techniques were used, all of which got results one way or another. Some boats stayed on Bermuda's Edge where there seemed to be a ready supply of “frigate” mackerel and slow trolling these paid off with a variety of species. While many were the sought-after wahoo, there were a few yellowfin tuna, some less desirable barracuda and the odd dolphin.
In fact, there were a few mentions of dolphin that were on the largish size; apparently not very many were caught but they would have made a nice bonus.
On the Banks, some excellent action was had by some boats by sticking to conventional trolling of rigged garfish or assorted bits of plastic and wood. At least one boat exhibited a nice haul of wahoo that covered most of the size classes and were all caught by normal trolling.
There were a few departures from the normal trolling. A very few boats that can manage it, caught mackerel on the edge and transported them over to the Bank in the hope of trading them in for something better. A few other boats eventually gave up traditional trolling and resorted to chumming for robins and then using them as live baits.
A few of the onethatgotaway tales that were attributed to a mighty wahoo crashing a long rigger might actually have been marlin strikes because one should not be duped into thinking that they have all departed the local area. Not just yet, that's for sure!
Given the fish entered in the tournament, the ancillary catches made and the smiles on the vast majority of the participants, it is fair to say that this was yet another success in the history of this tournament that has always been a local favourite.
Although this year's larger tournaments are now all a thing of the past, there are a few intra-club events still left to be fished. Some of these are fun events, but, for the most part entry is restricted to club members and their guests. Each club usually has some in-house competitions that collect points from various catches. Now should be one of the very best times to get offshore and to rack up some points.
The fish are on the move; the wahoo are here as are the best of the live baits (there are even some juvenile blackfins around), so there should be some opportunities for some good fishing. Yes, the weather will deteriorate but maybe not all that quickly and there will be some eminently fishable days that will give you a chance to scoe some points by indulging in a few Tight lines!!!
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