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Sea of change as weather warms up

It is a bit of a change but, why not? A bit of a blustery start to the month; should mean that things quiet down and that nature will change the Island from wintry pall to summer splendour.

There will be storms and rain but they won't last; just watch the flowers as they start to put out buds and come into bloom.

The same sort of changes occur in the sea as well: expect the humpback whales to be offshore any day now and for the bait to become more prevalent inshore. And no matter what the weather might seem to do in the short term, just don't expect the water to suddenly start cooling off again — it is just not going to happen!

The reasons for this should be obvious but, all too often, such things are lost because they are a bit like forests and trees.

The days have lengthened out considerably since December and that means that the sun's energy has been doing its job warming the surface waters.

With most of the recent weather flow coming from the south it means that it brings with it a warming trend both in terms of air temperature and warmer waters from the tropical regions. Even rain can warm seawater if there is a temperature difference that favours such an exchange.

Water, fresh or salt, is a huge reservoir for energy. To put it in perspective, it is what ultimately powers hurricanes and that is a vast amount of energy.

To change the temperature of a body of water, be it an ocean or an ice cube, takes the input or loss of energy that is seemingly disproportional. Normally the sea around here cools off more in the winter so it will take longer to heat up as summer approaches. That did not happen this year and with the heating currently taking place it will achieve what we take as “summer temperature” a lot sooner and then, maybe, get even warmer than usual.

Not that such things are much of a factor now that it is March.

As the commercial fisherman knows, now is the time to start making the shift from the lobster fishery to the finfish fishery. Although this is more a process than a sudden shift, the likes of net fishermen will be looking for the first showings of jacks in the inshore waters while the offshore trollers will be keeping an eye out for schools of small mackerel that might make suitable live baits while relying on traditional trolls for what is hoped to be an early run of wahoo.

The one thing about the so-called “spring” wahoo run is that it is very short-lived and the fish move quickly around Bermuda's Edge and then onto the Banks where they disperse to spend the summer in small groups or even as singles or pairs. Trolling red and red/white lures around now often gets the attention of tuna on the move.

This probably matches the hatch in terms of some bait creature that often leaves the tuna's guts stained red, so they are feeding on whatever it is.

Smaller tuna-like species including mackerel also feed on this organism, so dragging a daisy chin armed with red or orangeish feathers can also be a useful tool.

If you are lucky enough to catch some small mackerel or, better yet, juvenile blackfin tuna, don't be afraid to try them as live baits.

Even 2-3lb mackerel can be inhaled by a 50lb yellowfin and a wahoo's jaws can saw through just about anything in the sea.

Down deeper, large ambers and bonitas are often inclined to take whole mackerel as well. Just use suitable tackle; 50lb or better, because you never know what might latch on!

As it is, there are both wahoo and tuna on the offshore grounds at the moment. Both are willing to please but the seaweed makes trolling difficult.

Difficult but not impossible; deep trolls escape much of the floating stuff and very simple lightweight lures like just a plastic skirt on a hook can skip along the surface from a flat line or rigger in relative safety from snags.

There is a chance that a good blow like that predicted for this weekend might clear some of this off and that would allow fishermen to try a variety of rigs to see what really works best.

Even so, there hasn't been much to complain about.

The wahoo have been a respectable average size, close to 40lb with some fish bettering the 50lb mark. The yellowfin are school fish so they should be there in numbers and there are some blackfin around as well, a further indication of the water temperature.

Despite the abundant weed, catches have mostly been mixed bags of tuna and wahoo, four or five fish of varying sizes, so it is probably worth a try, given decent weather conditions.

The reef areas are still good for bottom bouncing while chumming should produce some turbots (triggerfish) which, although a nuisance to clean, do produce a good, firm, white flesh.

There should also be some yellowtails around. It may be a bit early for them but the numbers of undersized fish around last year must mean that at least some of them are now legal candidates.

Usually responding well to a chumslick and some sinking bait, the yellowtail is an excellent fish in its own right, good eating, and certainly game enough to provide a light tackle angler with some Tight Lines!!!

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Published March 01, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 01, 2014 at 8:22 am)

Sea of change as weather warms up

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