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We would welcome run of wahoo on the Banks

Time marches on and soon the first month of the year will be consigned to history. Funny to think that it seems like only yesterday, we were ringing in a new year with all the festivities that normally accompany such events. A lack of interest, inclement weather and a lack of reports of fishing success have kept most of the recreational fleet at home and it certainly doesn’t look like the next few weeks are going to see much change.

Just about the only thing that might see a change of heart would be a sudden run of wahoo on the offshore Banks. This has happened in the past when the hordes of wahoo that invaded Argus Bank stayed there along enough to allow just about everyone and their brother, cousin and other relatives to manage to at least have a crack at them. Never mind steady southwesterlies that meant punching into a head sea all the way down there: the bite was too good to be true.

It seems to be wahoo that can make the difference. On several occasions, schools of yellowfin tuna have wintered in local waters and they stayed available to chummers throughout the so-called “off season”. Calm days saw some fairly respectable catches of school-sized Allisons by the limited number of boats that availed themselves of the opportunity. Even the commercial fleet showed little interest although that could be more a reflection of the market demand for tuna than actual interest. Sport fishermen did have some success although most individuals are limited to a day or two a week when they can manage a trip out and even then, that has to coincide with the weather.

The latest reports, and they are very few and very far between, indicate that there are some tuna on the offshore grounds. Blackfin tuna are known to spend all year here even though they are at their most active during the summer months. Line test records have been set in Bermuda for both wahoo and blackfin tuna during the “winter” months although there really isn’t much effort put in at all and very little of that effort is designed in a sporting manner. The object of the exercise for most is some fresh fish, regardless of tactics.

Bottom fishing on Argus and Challenger will produce fish even though most of this is unlikely to provide much in the way of excitement. Hinds are a lot scarcer than they used to be but the other white fillet fish like coney and barber will supply the need for most in search of fresh fish. A problem associated with this is the longish run to the Banks and an option might be to work the inner bottom, an area often ignored by sportsmen who tear over it at a great rate of knots in a mad rush to get to Challenger or beyond.

In the 12 to 18-fathom water, where the “porgy holes” are characteristic, there are fish waiting to be caught. And they are not all small fish. This is the home to everything from cow pollies to rockfish and greater amberjack. Some species that are actually common there have been ignored by amateurs for years even though they might be quite desirable food fish. In other words, the inhabitants range from a few ounces to over a hundred pounds and many of these are considered choice for the table.

The coneys and barbers that are found deeper are regularly encountered here as are hinds and the exceedingly occasional other grouper, just about all of which are protected. One exception is the monkey rockfish which also occurs here but is more correctly called a yellowmouth grouper. They are readily distinguished by the bright yellow colouration around the mouth even though the rest of the fish may be anything from a mottled brownish-looking grouper to a fairly colourful fish showing yellow trim on its fins. The law allows you to catch one a day, provided that it is over 20 inches (50cm) in length. Actually, you would want one that was considerably bigger if you really want to get some decent fillets of it.

Inasmuch as most probably won’t have the opportunity to have to identify such a creature, and will concentrate on the better known “minor” groupers, you probably should know that there are other fish that offer substantial white fillets. While there is a ban on all parrotfish landings, there are other fish that many call parrotfish that are, in fact, wrasses. Catching these is not illegal and, when filleted, can be considered choice. Just in case you are making a face at such a thought, remember that the hogfish is a wrasse as are slippery dicks, Spanish hogfish among others. If you feel a bit “scornful”, just remember that 30 years ago, the thought of eating parrotfish was anathema to most people. That was before it became the backbone of the fillet industry that ultimately led to the 1990 fish pot ban.

At this time of the year any edible fish will provide fillet and help ease the food budget as well as providing a healthy alternative. Such fishing is also close to land and reduces fuel costs and allows for more hours spent fishing than travelling. Just a thought when the winds ease but the seas offshore are still rather more than you want to subject yourself to.

Those not wishing to lower themselves to such artisanal fishing may well be travelling abroad to the Miami Boat Show (February 14-18) will not only showcase hundreds of boats but also loads of marine equipment, gear and just about everything else that can be imagined. Perhaps not so much for boaters but likely to be of special interest to anglers is the Big Game Room. This will again be the centre for meeting anglers, captains and crews from all the world’s tournament circuits with story swapping very much the name of the game. In addition to the camaraderie engendered by this section of the show, there will again be bait rigging demonstrations along with tackle sales that apparently offer gear at reduced prices. Doubtless, there will be a parade of Bermudians making their presence known at this event and even more assuredly do a great job of promoting the Island’s seasonally nothing short of excellent opportunity for world class tight lines!!!

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Published January 26, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm)

We would welcome run of wahoo on the Banks

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