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It's official - the season has begun

Sticklers will be the first to acknowledge that spring has sprung. Last Tuesday, in the wee hours of the morning the sun crossed the equator and continued its northward movement toward the summer solstice, some three months hence. Not that the sun does any moving that we notice. Good old Galileo imparted a lot of wisdom but some of it has not been able to displace old habits and misconceptions.

Although now it is official, the weather pattern here has made it pretty apparent that the worst of the winter is over and while there will be blustery days ahead; it is time to focus on the season ahead.

Even though things may be on the quiet side at the moment, the season generally gets underway with trolling being the preferred modus operandi. As is the case in the autumn, the migratory species are on the move, just look at the passage of the whales, and they will come on through the local area as they have done for generations.

The real information won't start to flow until the lobster season has ended and the commercial fleet goes back to focusing on fish and their movements. Once that starts, there will be plenty of intelligence that the amateurs can benefit from. In the meantime, it is a bit hit or miss although success can be had.

Usually the first thing to look for is a wahoo run. So far, this has not occurred although there are a few rather nice wahoo available at the moment. A short interlude on the water last weekend gave one boat a nice 45-pounder and a bit more concerted effort might have produced a few more.

Just remember that the spring wahoo run is not as fast paced as the later one and the fish do move quickly around the Island. The average size tends to be a bit less as well although no one is likely to complain if the action is good. White marlin and, rarely, sailfish are sometimes mixed in with migrating schools of wahoo and these can add to the action, particularly if the tackle in use is suitable for these middleweight gamesters.

It is the light tackle trolling at this time of the year that went a long way to putting Bermuda on the angling map back in the 1950's and 1960's. Perhaps there were lessons to be learned from “back in the day”.

Tuna also often get involved in the proceedings with yellowfins on the move pretty much across the Atlantic. For some reason, red and white combinations seem to work well locally early in the year and naturally rigged flying fish or garfish also get their fair share of the fishes' attentions.

Dragging a daisy chain can also get interesting results. Although there shouldn't be frigate mackerel around, there may well be some smallish mackerel that will do as live baits and the locating of any concentration of those baits almost inevitably means that, sooner or later, the predators will show up. Just what the angler wants! This can be promising indeed. So, hopefully, there is a lot to look forward to.

For those who follow such things closely, the Great Marlin Race has a bit of news to report. Some will recall that a blue marlin was tagged with a satellite tag back in September 2011 off San Juan, Puerto Rico. Well, that tag has now popped up and downloaded its data for the benefit of the scientists conducting this research. Exciting as that data might be for them, the general findings are of far more interest to the layman and especially anglers. The fish in question travelled 4,776 miles from the Caribbean, crossing the Atlantic and the Equator only to have the tag release somewhere off the coast of Africa.

Two things become readily apparent: the fish can survive the capture and tagging processes and they do migrate long distances in relatively short periods of time. From the first glance at the data it is not possible to work out the route taken by fish: it could have been a zigzag course or might have involved heading south some distance before heading east across the Atlantic, or any one of a myriad of possible paths given that we only have the departure point and the release point.

Still, almost 5,000 miles in about six months is pretty impressive, bearing in mind that the fish had to eat, avoid predators and fish hooks as well as indulging in a variety of bodily functions to ensure its continued survival. As anglers, we love the pursuit and catching of marlin but we really do not know a whole lot about them.

Now for another much belaboured point. It is usually the media to blame but plenty of the public also suffer from this sweeping generality and government does not have a perfect track record either. This concerns the use of the term “fishermen”. Notwithstanding the coverage of last week's tragic event, it seems that anyone who goes amongst the missing in a boat is generally labeled as a “fisherman”.

As soon as that is uttered, the thought springs into many minds that the individual concerned is, in fact, a commercial fisherman; you know, the kind of guy who fishes from a boat with big numbers marked on the sides. Truth to tell, this may or may not be true.

Most dictionaries and usage guides suggest that a fisherman is someone who catches fish or shellfish for a living or as a means of sustenance. That fits in with the idea of a fisherman being a commercial fisherman. Someone who goes fishing on a recreational basis, especially as a sport fisherman is more correctly designated an “angler”. For those that want to argue, take it up with Izaak Walton who used the term back in the mid-1600's.

Just being out in a boat or fishing does not make one a fisherman, by any stretch of the imagination; neither does idly tending a line off a dock or bridge. Merely being engaged in the act of fishing does not make one a fisherman. Or would you say that the tourist who goes on a day charter down to the Banks has suddenly become a fisherman, instead of a banker or lawyer or whatever? Especially if he doesn't catch anything, then what?

Headlines and comments referring to “fishermen” have all too often referred to someone who no more resembles a fisherman than an air passenger resembles a pilot.

So, to be fair to those who really are fishermen, let us more carefully approach the terminology and apply the designation properly.

Not too much left of this month. The Bermuda Game Fishing Association has announced that it is awaiting confirmation from just one group of organisers before it releases this year's tournament schedule. There are a couple of notable changes, not least of which is the cancellation of the Bermuda Triangle Tournament. For various reasons, Capt. Loveland will not be able to travel to Bermuda this year and so hopes to revive the event in the future.

With just another week putting us into April and, then, the onset of the fishing season is upon us. It is high time to have both vessels and gear ready for proper deployment.

Stop procrastinating and waiting for the familial pressure that the 24th of May exerts to finally get you to make a move toward getting the boat ready. There may well be some exceptional fishing opportunities long before then and why would you want to pass up a shot at some spring trolling when the fish are on the move and more than willing to provide Tight lines!!!

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Published March 24, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 24, 2012 at 9:34 am)

It's official - the season has begun

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