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Still chance to land that wahoo whopper

It is indeed later than you think. The commercial operators are heavily into their lobster fishing and most of the sporting competitions are over. Should things come to an end?

Of course not, is the answer to that question.

With the weather still looking promising for the next few days at least and the lack of any real tropical threat, there is every reason to slip in a run or two offshore before the fish move on and the weather becomes unreliable.

There have certainly been some good hauls reported with the best news the apparent quality of the wahoo. It would appear that the “frigate” mackerel are more numerous on the Banks than they were and the class of fish that these baits are attracting is nothing short of excellent. Fish in the fifty-pound and better bracket are not uncommon while fish weighing in at less than 20 pounds are by far the exception. Given the quality and numbers, this must be the autumnal run, which has been long awaited.

Have you ever wondered why the run of wahoo that occurs in the late summer and lasts on into October is referred to as the “fall” or autumnal run? Well, the semantics are pretty simple. English English denotes this season between summer and winter as the autumn while North Americans often refer to the same phenomenon as the fall. This is because that is when the northern deciduous forests drop their leaves and that name seems to fit admirably.

The term “autumn” refers to the astronomical event that occurs when the sun's position relative to the earth appears to cross the Equator. That particular equinox, the technical term for this type of event, is the autumnal equinox. Although it is the earth that does the moving relative to the sun, there is a popular explanation that the sun moves northward after the vernal (spring) equinox, reaching the northernmost point at the summer solstice then moving southward, crossing the equator on the autumnal equinox then continuing southward, bringing summer to the southern hemisphere. The actual timing of the astronomical event varies a bit but is generally on or around September 23 each year.

As part of the season change, our days grow shorter and the periods of darkness longer in our part of the world with the opposite happening “Down Under”. The lack of solar input means a temperature drop and that along with other meteorological changes lead to what we call winter. For now, this equates to change and, as far as the fishing is concerned, this means that the water temperature is on the way down and that, in turn, sends a signal to migratory species.

Without trying to get too complicated, there are theories that suggest that some fish, notably tunas, use the light from the sun and the changing angles to navigate by but, common sense suggests that a cold-blooded organism like a fish will be more readily affected by the temperature of the water that surrounds it. So, it is probably fairly safe to say that the water temperature has a lot to do with migratory patterns.

For this reason, many have reckoned September to be the best single fishing month of the year. As the summer is over, all the species that make seasonal appearances here have arrived and some have even travelled farther north. With the change in the weather, they have taken Mother Nature's hints and have started to move with the destination being somewhere more conducive to their tropical lifestyles.

The whole business of moving is high energy business and energy means food. Food means eating and that is where the bait species come in. At the onset of a major migration across what could well be baitless tracts of ocean, the first strategy is to load up on food. Fish become more active feeders and, if they find the mother lode, they may actually increase their weight in the form of fat as food reserves.

Sushi aficionados will know that the Japanese market puts the highest value on the highest fat content bluefin tuna. These are the fish that have been gorging themselves on herring, menhaden or other bait before departing on a long journey that may well see those fat reserves depleted. Fish caught at the end of such migrations fetch considerably less in the marketplace.

The fish should be on the move and because they should be in feeding mode they should be biting. Not only will there be the wahoo but expect the yellowfin tuna and billfish to be making up for lost time as they take advantage of the bait that is currently available locally. There are enough juvenile mackerel out there to keep even the most voracious feeders happy. Anytime now, this year's crop of baby blackfins will show up and, on top of all that bait, there are the more resident species such as ocean robins.

Another species that is being encountered reasonably often and every bit welcome is the dolphin. Seldom particularly abundant at this location, there are times when there are more than expected on the offshore grounds. Now would seem to be one of those times. Most of the fish that have been caught or reported as hooked, but escaped have been respectably sized, unlike the sometimes numerous small dolphin that show up with bits of flotsam and jetsam. Although the small ones are not to be despised, there is a lot more sport, especially on reasonable tackle, to be had from a dolphin that has bettered 15 pounds. The other advantage is that mid to large-sized dolphin often occur in pairs and it is often possible to catch both. Double strikes are even fairly common and who is going to argue with two-for-one?

Do not discount the marlin. During the recent wahoo tournament, there were a few run-offs that might well have been billfish and some of the commercial boats are still catching marlin. The billfish mixed in with the wahoo along the edge of the drop-off will tend to be smaller but there may well be a giant or two out there still. Of course, the flip side of this is that although a grander might show up, the tackle is likely to be somewhat unsuited for such a match-up with the likely outcome being a pulled hook (which is probably better) or a fish that ends up being broken off and condemned to a death brought about by dragging the piece of line all over the ocean.

Still some chances to go out and stock up on some fresh fish, accumulate some club tournament points or just to have a late halcyon day out on the briny. It won't be too long before all such hopes will be dashed and the tackle returned to the closet to winter the next six months away. While you have the chance, get out there and grab some Tight lines!!!

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Published September 24, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated September 24, 2011 at 9:06 am)

Still chance to land that wahoo whopper

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