Benevides claims honours at Sandys Boat Club tourney
June! Summer! Fishing season! Just a few weeks before the schools let out and the beaches become the Island’s playground. Anyone hoping to catch a bonefish off the beach shallows had better get on with it before the commotion drives them out into deeper water or you have to move in the early dawn to get there before the masses arrive.
This specialised angling is all but a thing of the past here in Bermuda where it was once very much part of the Island’s stock in trade. Bonefishing in particular was a main stay of the sport fishery but nowadays hardly merits a mention. In days gone by, this would have been peak time and some trophy bones would be caught. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder of simpler days gone by. The fish are still there even if the effort is not.
The offshore scene has come to life with wahoo and tuna providing the bulk of the activity although there have been enough dolphin to make them a reasonable expectation.
Trolling is the most prevalent strategy at this time of the year. The rationale is that the fish are on the move, arriving at their summer locations and, as such, they are feeding. Feeding fish are the sort that take trolled offerings and so that becomes the tactic of choice. This has always been a preferred method for catching wahoo and, at the moment, it is certainly paying off. Catches of half a dozen or more are not uncommon and the fish range from smaller ones in the low 20’s to quite spectacular wahoo that border on the hundred pound mark.
One commercial boat has pretty consistently racked up double figures of really nice wahoo by using live-baiting as a main tactic. A bit more work than just setting out a selection of baits in the spread and then going along waiting for a bite, live-baiting does tend to attract a larger class of fish. This is a bit difficult to explain because even a small wahoo has no problem slashing a robin into shreds.
Tuna are less frequent takers of trolls but both yellowfin and blackfin have inhaled baits. Light tackle specialists are just waiting for the currents (tides) to settle down and then it is likely that the schools of tuna will become much more predictable; to the point that chumming on Challenger’s south-eastern side or on the inside edge of the Bank will produce tuna day after day.
That will also indicate that there are plenty of tuna around and has to augur well for the billfishermen. Already there are several foreign sports fishing boats here and more to come. Even though the big game season is just over a month away, there is enough marlin activity to justify dragging suitable gear out in the deep and, as far as most foreign boats are concerned, there is little point to any other type of fishing. For them, blue marlin are the staff of life and the reason why they are here. Expect lots more on this facet of island angling over the next few weeks as the water continues to warm and their numbers swell.
The Sandys Boat Club tournament went off last weekend without a hitch and provides the first competitive results of the season. This event was fished using a slightly different scheme of amassing points. All fish scored one point per pound and the scores of each angler’s catches were aggregated. The outcome of this was as follows: High Point Angler went to Dennis Benevides with a total of 167 points gained from the total weight of four wahoo; High Point Female Angler was Lindsey Matthews with a total score of 111 points from two wahoo and the High Point Junior Angler was Tyler Card with 165 points from three wahoo and one barracuda. The Largest Fish Overall was won by Lindsey Matthews with a 62-pound wahoo. The High Point Angler for inshore fishing was Lorna Harney with 2 points (one each from a silk snapper and a turbot, while Carys Furtz (child) won the largest fish (inshore) with a one pound turbot. The High Point Boat was Capt. Alan Card’s Challenger.
This Sunday, the Bermuda will try to get the BFCAT tournament off on its first alternate date. The high pressure ridge that has been sitting over the Island for the past week or so should ensure fishable seas although the south-easterly breeze will be less than ideal for a lot of techniques. Trolling isn’t usually subject to the wind conditions; but chumming, a preferred tactic for light tackle anglers, needs a wind/tide combination that allows anchoring with a lie that will get the bait back to the fish. Wind from the southeast will give most anchoring points a chumslick that will be working back into the shallows of the Bank. Great conditions for getting small game up but less than ideal for attracting the yellowfin tuna and other deeper water roamers. Other options for the competitors will include trolling — always a bit of a challenge with really light line- and live-baiting. The latter often works well with chumming in a shallow lie because the robins often please quite quickly. With a promising weather forecast, there should be a pretty good assessment of the offshore scene after this weekend.
Looking further ahead, the first of the season’s big tournaments goes next Sunday and there is still a chance for the procrastinators to get their entries into the Bacardi Tournament.
Although it is the blue water that gets most of the attention, inshore fishermen will have noted that the grey snappers have almost magically appeared in their usual haunts. Commercial fishermen who know the old ways will already have put a dressing on the grey snapper population as it is known to aggregate early in the season at certain locations. This behaviour is short-lived and known only to a select few. The details are kept secret although it probably involves the full moon which is also a thing of the recent past.
The grey snapper, aka, grey dog, lawyer and other not so publishable epithets is well known to shore anglers. During the summer months, they can often be found on the shady side of docks or jetties or lurking in the shadow of a hull of a boat that is seldom, if ever, off its moorings. They reach a reasonable size quite quickly and there are plenty of 1-3 pounders around. In areas where fish is routinely cleaned there can be dome of the full-size variety, bettering ten pounds but it is with such candidates that the chance of getting one is somewhere between slim and none. They fully earn their moniker of “lawyer”. They are smart and quite handy at taking baits without becoming impaled on the hook. Many an angler has been driven to the point of frustration by this species and there is little doubt that others will fall victim to its pursuit. Night fishing, preferably by moonlight and with fresh bait can slant the odds a bit in favour of the angler but any capture of a decent snapper is worth celebrating. Apart from being challenging, they also make excellent eating and are the subject of lots of recipes in various fish cookbooks. So, if you have time on your hands and you like the outdoors and you are not easily frustrated then maybe this is will be the source of your Tight lines!!!