White and blue marlins making an appearance
Bright blue skies, calm seas and light southerly breezes: the Bermuda — Azores high pressure system must be making for Bermuda-full days and plenty of heat.
This is the time of year that anglers await but unfortunately it does coincide with the so-called “tropical season” and there has already been a named storm in the Gulf of Mexico that got Florida back into the hurricane mode.
There is a need for a sense of caution and to keep abreast of oceanic developments which, happily, in this day and age are well covered by television and the rest of the media. Hurricanes have little chance of sneaking up on anyone although they might well catch a few unprepared for their onslaught. Just a word of advice.
Although it is still early in the season, the focus is moving toward billfish, especially as yet more foreign boats plan on arriving for the July tournaments. Make no mistake, both blue and white marlin are already on the offshore grounds with a few having surprised fishermen who were actually angling for something else.
Capt. Alan Card’s
Challenger caught a white last week as part of a mixed bag that included ten wahoo, tuna and dolphin. The boat,
Foxy, also jumped off a white while trolling on the outside edge of Challenger. Earlier in the week, the charter boat
Mako dropped a couple of whites but came good through the week with both a white and a blue on Thursday.
Whites are often encountered while trolling for wahoo and sometimes a multiple strike will combine the two species. Although blue will invade shallower water over the Bank, they seem to prefer the deeper regions, so give it some directed effort off the drop-off and blue marlin will show up in your spread.
In almost perfect conditions, the BFCAT tournament involving the local IGFA-affiliated clubs went off on its reserve date following a postponement a fortnight earlier. Can looks be deceptive? Well, they sure can! The fishing that had been plenty productive up until just the day before went off and the kindest description anyone could come up with for the day was “slow”.
The main tactic for the last week or so had been to stop just inside of Bermuda’s Edge and to chum for robins. They usually put in an appearance after a few minutes’ chumming and then, having secured a supply of live baits, it would be off to the Banks or other areas where they could be traded in for wahoo or tuna. The problem on Sunday was that the baits failed to cooperate and, for the few boats that managed to get any, the sought-after predators had seemingly lost their appetites.
When the fishing day ended, the participating boats brought a total of 16 fish to the weigh station with three of these being disqualified for not making the minimum weights. The minimums were based on a weight one-half of the line test used with the exception of certain fixed values for blackfin and yellowfin tuna.
In the final analysis:
The 8-lb test category went to Bermuda Anglers Club whose Jeff Patterson, fishing aboard
Kittiwake, who caught a steelhead jack (aka horse-eye jack) that qualified on the line test.
The Blue Waters Anglers Club took the 12-lb test category with Kirk Dill’s contribution of a 51-pound and 42-pound wahoo on that line class making a major difference.
The other line test categories, 16, 20 and 30-lb test all went to Sea Horse Anglers Club.
George Powell used the less frequently fished line class of 16-lb test to good effect, catching two yellowfins and amassing enough points to win that category for Sea Horse.
The High Point Fish overall was Sea Horse Anglers’ Nitin Aggarwal with his 52.6 lbs yellowfin tuna on 12-lb test and the High Point Boat award went to Capt. Bobby Lambe’s
Last Chance that amassed a total of 3,267.4 points for his Blue Waters team.
With the weekend ahead looking really promising for the season’s first “big” tournament, something like 50 boats will be heading offshore in pursuit of the prizes on offer thanks to sponsors Bacardi International.
Although criticised by the light tackle aficionados, this tournament does not specify any particular classes of line and the fish are assessed on their weights. This makes for a very level playing feel for both the veteran angler and the novice or first-timer. All the eligible species have the potential to be winners; the only trick is to try and catch a big one!
In all likelihood, many boats will try to use the live bait strategy and this could well pay off. No one really knows why the fish weren’t in evidence last week but suggestions that a bit of east in the wind or the impending minor low pressure system were enough to dissuade them might be accurate. Neither of those conditions threaten tomorrow, so the fish should cooperate.
Certainly, the live-baiting technique works. Recent catches have included wahoo hulas in the double figures with the average weight of those fish being close to 40 pounds. A few fish pushing the 100-pound mark have also been caught and with the effort that is likely to be expended this weekend there is every chance of a real trophy ‘hoo gracing the scales.
Good old-fashioned chumming will have its adherents and this will pay off. After all, isn’t chumming a tried and true method of obtaining live baits? And don’t schools of tuna invade chumslicks and gorge themselves on the offered food.
Trolling works as well and is, for many the preferred method of catching wahoo. Some very nice wahoo have been taken this way and it does make travel from one chumming spot to another active fishing rather than wasting the limited fishing day. The Sunday weigh-in at the Fairmont in Hamilton will reveal all.
Elsewhere in the world, the media in the forms of radio, television, newsprint and on the Internet, has been having a field day with a whopper of a mako shark caught off Southern California by an angler from Texas. The fish, which weighed in at 1323.5 pounds, is being touted as a new record even though there is plenty of paperwork to be done and the IGFA which keeps such records has numerous requirements that must be met.
For the general public big is the only qualification needed. Not so for those involved in sport fishing, so it may be some time before the fish is recognised as a record, if, indeed it ever is.
The current all-tackle record is 1221 pounds, caught off Massachusetts. One notable thing that has long been known is that the mako is found pretty much wherever it wants to be and the fact that this latest contender has come out of the Pacific rather than the Atlantic is proof that such denizens of the deep can go whenever and wherever they like and at any time or place can produce some rather incredibly Tight lines!!!