Prime time for porgying playground
It is pretty hard not to notice that the days are getting longer as daylight persists to about six in the evening. Mornings still tend to be dark but with a return to Daylight Savings Time coming into force in just four weeks' time, we should stay used to dark mornings. As the spring progresses into summer we expect near endless days with relatively brief periods of darkness. It is actually surprising how quick we adjust to changes that would disconcert other diurnal creatures for much longer periods. Having said that, there are some things that we are slow to adjust to. For instance, there have been some more than acceptable fishing opportunities over the last couple of weeks but, for a variety of reasons, anglers have simply not taken advantage of them. The offshore has been sporadic with most commercial operators opting to look after their lobster gear but there are still some yellowfin tuna willing to please and it is usually possible to scrounge up a wahoo or two. As February cruises by and March is on the horizon, the time is prime for a species that is largely ignored by sportsman. The blue-boned porgy is a species that can contribute significantly to the galley both as fillet and as the makings of a rich chowder, that can be so welcome on winter's colder days. The traditional 'porgying ground' is the inner bottom with the blue porgy holes. Actually the holes are areas of sandy bottom that appear to be a lighter shade of blue against the darker reef areas. Basically, porgy travel between the reefs, using the sandy channels are roadways sooner or later a porgy will come nosing around the corner. The fact that these routes are obvious makes porgy fishing a pretty certain tactic to ensuring a haul of fish just about every time. To really maximize the excitement a water glass comes in handy, although all too often the thrill of seeing a big porgy happen on your bait will cause you to jerk on the line before the porgy has actually grabbed hold, often causing you to miss the fish. Remember to wait for the tug that is a sure sign of the fish having grabbed hold. For once, put your faith in what you feel rather than what you see. All the usual baits: bits of fish, squid octopus or anchovy will work but there are a few things that will improve your chances of success. For one, use circle hooks. Fish really do a good job of hooking themselves on these clever innovations and, once you hook them, you do want them to stay on for their brief trip to the surface rather than coming off and floating away on the tide. Don't be afraid to sink some bait. It need not be fry or anchovy or cut up bits of fish. Cat food works fine and don't splurge on the fancy brands. Use a weighted mesh bag on a line so that it can be retrieved and restocked and try to maneuver it into the sandy areas of the bottom. Coneys, barbers and the odd hind will also find their way to the feast and they too can be rewarded with an uplifting experience should they latch on to your baited offering. None of these are sport fish but they can supply some good eating and there might be the odd amberjack yellowtail or bonita that will show up and provide a bit of sporting action. It is winter and you do have to take what you can get. The International Game Fish Association, as the governing body of sports fishing for both fresh water and salt water and everything in between, has recently codified (put into the rules) a new set of Release Rules to clarify and support the ideals of ethical recreational angling. For many of us, the changes are minimal but they may have some impact on how some release tournaments recognize catches. These new developments may lead to changes to the regulations applied to things like the Big Game Classic. Some of the 'new' accepted practices may well have already been the case in certain other events such as the Virgin Islands Boy Scout Tournament. So, to make things as straightforward as possible: IGFA will consider a fish officially released when one of the following actions is completed: A. The mate is able to grab the leader B. The swivel hits the rod tip C. The connection (knot, splice, etc.) between the leader and the mainline/double line/fly line passes through the rod tip For the avoidance of doubt, all leader lengths must conform to current IGFA tackle requirements. Specifically, for line up to and including 10 kg (20 lb) the leader may not exceed 15 feet. In lines over 10 kg (20 lb), the leader may not be in excess of 30 feet. All leader measurements are inclusive of the lure or hook arrangement and are measured to the bend of the last hook. Maybe some of us should take a closer look at the rigs and leaders that we use because, just maybe, we are not in compliance with the letter of the law. In fact, for a lot of local tournaments, there are numerous interpretations, some a bit dodgy, of what is acceptable and what isn't. Although of very limited application to Bermuda anglers, the IGFA tackle requirements for fly fishing also undertake a few minor changes. For instance, the IGFA tackle requirements for fly fishing do not stipulate a maximum overall length for fly leaders so the organization will adopt the convention of allowing a maximum fly leader length of 15 feet in keeping in accordance with the regulations for conventional tackle. Changes are also made to the measurement of fly tippet length and to the acceptable lengths of shock and class tippets. While adopting this rules change, the IGFA Board of Trustees has also taken the opportunity to create recommendations for the best practices for the safe and ethical release of fish: Ÿ Circle hooks are encouraged when fishing with live or dead natural baits. Ÿ The hook should be removed if possible and will not cause additional harm to the angler or the fish. Ÿ If the hook cannot be removed, the leader should be cut as close to the hook as possible. Ÿ Mates should refrain from manually breaking or 'popping' leaders because this can cause additional harm to fish, especially those not hooked in the jaw. Ÿ Ample time should be taken to revive exhausted fish by gently moving them forward in the water to get water flowing over the gills. Ÿ Knotless, rubber coated nets should be used on fish that are netted. What the IGFA is trying to accomplish is to recognise that the tendency to release fish is an important conservation measure and that steps should be taken to enhance not just the release process but also to increase the chances of the fish's survival. A release is not just a matter of points or bragging rights because; after all, we do need fish if we want to have Tight lines!!!