Light Tackle Tournament in full flow
The second of the summer holidays has come and gone even though the official start to summer was yesterday when the sun had reached its northernmost at the Tropic of Cancer (23.44 Nº latitude). This is properly known as the summer solstice, a term which originates from the Latin that translates to the sun standing still or stopping.
Simply put, the sun now starts moving back southward to the equator and down to the winter solstice when it again stops and starts its northward journey again. That’s not as if the sun goes anywhere but it is our earth-based version of events. The days will start to shorten and although we have plenty of summer ahead, winter moves ever closer.
In serious layman’s terms, it is high summer and time to be taking advantage of some of the best salt water angling in the world, right here at home. All the seasonal species are now present and overall conditions are just about as good as they are going to get. It should be at least a few weeks before the first of the tropical systems start posing any threats this far north and in between you should be able to manage a bit of angling. It is certainly there for the taking.
The main topic amongst local anglers this week has been the proceedings of the Bermuda Anglers Club’s 48th International Light Tackle Tournament. This year’s competition, prestigious because apart from being one of the Island’s older tournaments it is also an IGFA Offshore World Championship Qualifying Event, saw seven teams representing local and overseas clubs take part.
The fishing started off quite well with the first two days accounting for 38 fish. The fish were primarily tuna with a large number of releases being recorded. Blackfin and yellowfin tuna releases as well score points according to a formula that sets a standard weight for both species. Larger fish have to be brought to the scale to score points. As of the mid-point of the tournament the largest fish was a 74.6 pound yellowfin on 12-lb test line.
The formula used to calculate points is one that was developed many years ago by the then really famous Miami Rod and Reel Club. It has been modified many times since by various clubs but the fundamental principle stays the same; to favour the use of lighter line classes.
Essentially, the weight of the fish is divided by the line test on which it is caught. The result is then squared (multiplied by itself) and that product multiplied by 100 to give the final points tally. Because a square is used, things can go up really quickly. Take, for example, fish caught on 12-lb test. A 24-pounder (if such were eligible) would score as follows: 24 divided by 12 equals 2; 2 squared is 4, and that times 100 equals 400 points. Now look at a 36-pound fish. That scores 900 points; a 48 pound fish scores 1,600 points and a 60-pound fish scores 2,500 points! Now think about that 74-pounder caught on 12 — that will take some catching.
Billfish also score release points and, at mid-week, one white marlin had been released, scoring points for Sea Horse Anglers Club. The nature of the fishing employed by participants in this tournament does not lend to the capture of billfish, so this was a bit unique.
After two days of fishing the top team was Three Reel Anglers with 12,844 points (27 fish) with clear leaders from Chix and Stix with 8,500 points (19 fish). Top angler was David Fingland with 7,622 points from 16 fish, 1,500 plus points clear of second place Scott Deal (both from Three Reel Anglers). In top place, boatwise, was Capt. Alan Card’s Challenger narrowly ahead of Capt. Kevin Winter’s Playmate.
As anyone who has followed this tournament over the years is well aware, a day can make a huge difference and it is more than likely that the final tally will be considerably different from the mid-point standings. To keep right up to date, the Bermuda Anglers Club maintains a great website with all the details on the internet at http://baciltt.shutterfly.com/2013.
Looking ahead, the departures of the Marion-Bermuda blow boats (nasty nautical slang for a sailboat) have cleared berths for the big game sport fishing fleet that is making its way here for the 4th July Blue Marlin World Cup and the Bermuda Triple Crown Series of billfish tournaments that pretty much dedicate the month of July to the pursuit of marlin.
Although there has been a fair amount of action from both blue and white marlin, the amount of effort dedicated to them has been far less than that which will be expended pretty much every day next month. While there have been reports of blues to about 500 pounds, which seems to be about the largest so far; because if there have been any giants, skippers are keeping mum about it, probably hoping to catch the fish when it is really worth something.
Apart from fish being encountered out in the deep blue briny, another encouraging sign has to be the abundance of school-sized tunas. Scientists and nature-observers alike have long concluded that tuna must form an important part of a marlin’s diet.
Think about it: they are pelagic species wandering the open sea and are most likely to encounter other pelagic species out there in the ocean desert where the apex predators will exert their influence and their size to dominate affairs. So, smaller pelagics like oceanic bonito are food for small tunas which, in turn, become food for even larger tunas, shark and billfish.
Out in the great ocean, size is a distinct advantage, even though even the largest fish will eat some of the smallest, if that is all that is on offer. Maybe that explains why a large marlin will chase a lure that is less than a foot long. To really round out the picture, it is not uncommon to have a small tuna or mackerel chase a fish virtually the same size as itself with consuming it the object of the exercise. And who said that we “live in a dog eat dog world”? And, yes, marlin do eat other marlin. The only limitation to the size of their meal seems to simply depend on if they can get their maws around it and suck it in. This has been seen often enough in different locales to prove the point.
So, summer time and the living is easy or so the song says. Really not too sure about that but the fishing is as easy as it is going to get. Both chumming and trolling are paying off and there are ways of combining live-baiting with both techniques.
Nearer shore, the reef is producing bonitas, ambers and yellowtails in fair numbers while the channels are home to white-water snappers that are almost always willing to please. And, off docks and rocks, grey snappers are ready to challenge your prowess just about any day. Just remember that there are certain regulations pertaining to the taking of snappers.
Bonefish and palometa (pompano) are plentiful provided that you seek them in the right places. Conditions are excellent for both. So whether it is the offshore, near shore or from the shore, now is the time for Tight lines!!!