Fishing not easy when weather won’t cooperate
There are those of us who are beginning to think that angling has become a thing of the past. Winter is expected to be the down time for most but this year has even seen the commercial operators finding fairly desperate conditions for any sort of offshore activity. With the lobster season over until the autumn, fishing for finfish becomes the basis of their livelihoods and it isn’t easy when the weather won’t cooperate.
Despite the fact that we are now into April, the weather is showing little signs of moderating, at least wind-wise. This is certain true for the amateurs who pretty much rely on the weekend weather for their angling. On a more positive note, there are signs that the Bermuda high is trying to establish itself but it looks like that is going to have a hard time of it and it may be well into June before we get those calm, sunny Bermuda-ful days.
What fishing there has been confirms that there are, as always, a few wahoo around. What most are hoping is that the level of activity for that species will suddenly increase markedly — to the point that it earns the title “spring run”. Some years it really does not come to pass and in other years, it has been all over by the end of March. So far this year there hasn’t been anything to grab anyone’s attention, so maybe we have it to look forward to.
No one knows what triggers it; whether it is a sudden influx of schools of fish as part of a migration or is it because suddenly there is the arrival of quantities of bait that any passing wahoo simply can’t say no to. That would, in a relatively short period, fuel an increase in the number of feeding wahoo which, in turn, becomes the run.
Tuna are school fish and the yellowfin generally take up residence on the Banks s the summer starts to progress. They, in turn, become the bait for the apex predators: larger tuna, great sharks and billfish.
The smaller game fish like rainbow runners show up in numbers as the water warms and again, their abundance probably has to do with migratory patterns. An interesting thing about the tropical game fish is that they tend to be found in a large number of places, giving credence to their widespread movements.
Most anglers will be waiting for hard evidence of the presence of good numbers of fish from the commercial sector and that will only come from observing their levels of success over the next few weeks. One thing is for sure and that is the offshore picture can change markedly overnight,
In the mean time those looking for some good eating fish but who are loathe to venture too far offshore should consider putting in a bit of an effort on the inner bottom, specifically in that are referred to as the “porgy holes”. They are called that for a reason and the porgy is a good firm white-fleshed fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways with the fish’s rack being an ideal chowder ingredient.
There are basically two ways to catch porgies: the “drop a line and hope to get lucky” method or a more educated approach to the project. Details relating to the latter are presented here.
Anchoring over the selected hole is the preferred option although, if conditions allow, drifting can work too. A water glass for scoping out the bottom is a good idea but not a total necessity.
To improve the pickings, a bit of chum can make a world of difference. The trick is to get it down onto one of the sandy “roadways” between the reefs. The usual bits of chopped fish and fry work but so does something like cat food. A net bag on a line can make a fine chum delivery device. The trick is to attach sufficient weight to it so that it can be steered to the desired location on the bottom. Then jerk it around a bit to spill the bait out and await the arrival of Mr. Porgy.
Porgies travel the sandy bottom between the coral heads picking up whatever they can find. Occasionally they will pick at things that are growing on the reef but the proper presentation of a piece of bait, preferably something tough like squid, should result in the porgy latching on. Although by no means a game fish, they do provide a decent pull on their way to the top. It is their size that can make a fish box look fairly respectable in a relatively brief period of time. Half a dozen eight to ten-pound porgies is a really nice haul!
The blue-boned porgy, a Bermuda moniker for what elsewhere is the jolthead porgy, is the large silver and blue fish that most identify as a porgy. This is the main target when the fishing takes to the porgy holes and is the object of this exercise.
What most people don’t know is that there are a whole bunch of different types of porgy. Back in the days when fish pots were used, this was more obvious because there were different species of porgy that could be caught in the same trap. Some of the differences were subtle; like the saucer-eye porgy which topped out at a couple of pounds but which displayed some yellow colouration. This species is apparently never caught on hook and line, for whatever reason. Other small porgies which were often caught in the traps were juveniles of several of the larger species which occur here.
Another porgy (is this getting confusing yet?) that can be caught on hook and line is the pluma porgy. This usually shows some brownish-yellow colours and while similar to the blue bone is generally smaller and will look different when placed alongside the blue-boned.
Guide books will include the sheepshead porgy which as well as the silver porgy which we know as bream. The sheepshead, as it is known elsewhere, is an important sport fish along the American east coast and quite often figures in regional fishing magazines and in ads for charter boats and head boats. Other porgy relatives in the world, of which there seems to be no shortage, include dentex and numerous sea breams.
The tournament purists and those who limit themselves to the deep blue briny should be making sure that their gear is ready to go because while April showers might bring May flowers, the fish arrive when they are good and ready and that could be anytime now. As soon as the fish are there, even if you have to put up with some sloppy weather, there will be opportunities for Tight lines!!!
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