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Mello’s catch a more than worthy winner

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Photographs by Akil SimmonsSea monster: Brian Mello shows off his 58.5 pounder caught on 16-lb test from his boat Tantrum in the 49th Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament

For so many anglers the season came to an end on Sunday as the last major tournament of the year was fished.

Despite rather lumpy conditions, partly the result of several days of stiff breezes from the east and a running sea, the tournament took place and, as is so often the case with choppy conditions, the fish turned on.

The expected catch was wahoo as this is the time of the year when they are supposed to be most numerous around the Island, but there are other species on the move as well, so it was something of a surprise that most boats reported catching nothing other than the sought-after species.

Starting to show up in an increased proportion is that other species that favours live baits, the barracuda. Fortunately for tournament organisers and participants, this species generally becomes more commonplace as the month progresses. There were, however, some notably large ‘cudas caught on the day.

As predicted, many anglers decided to concentrate on the use of live baits and while this was not a “cure-all” solution, it certainly did pay off for some. The bait that most intended to use was juvenile mackerel but these proved elusive so that many ended up chumming for robins and then taking them to the selected fishing area.

A boat fishing off the East End hit real pay dirt when they caught a number of juvenile blackfin tuna. Very similar, size-wise, to a “frigate” mackerel, little blackfin seem to last a lot longer and are certainly every bit as popular with the predators as anything else.

Still others stuck with tried and proven trolling methods and, winning fish were the results of a wide selection of techniques. Also the areas selected by the various boats ranged from close to the land on Bermuda’s Edge, all the way out to Argus Bank which had to make for a really bumpy trip home as it required pounding into a head sea.

About one-third the number of boats entered actually arrived at the weighstation where there was a crowd of locals and visitors from the cruise ship observing the proceedings. There was a nice class of fish presented and, in all, 35 fish were entered.

The largest of these and the overall winner as the Heaviest Wahoo was a 58.5 pounder caught on 16-lb test by Brian Mello from his boat Tantrum. A fine catch on light tackle and worthy winner even though competition was close as evidenced by some of the other winners.

The Heaviest Wahoo on 12-lb test line was Martin Estis’ 28.2 pound fish, caught off Capt. Alan Card’s Challenger.

On 16-lb test, the winner was the 53.4 pound wahoo caught by Jack Bridges aboard Paradise One. Natalie Martin won the Heaviest Wahoo on 20-lb test with a 44-pound fish taken off Capt. Darius Martin’s Phuket.

No stranger to the winner’s circle was Kathryn Garcia fishing from her brother Andrew Card’s Reel Action, catching a 57.1-pound wahoo to win the 30-lb test category.

On an exceedingly positive note was just how many juniors entered fish. This category is arguably the most competitive because instead of being decided on overall size of the fish, the winner is the one who amasses the most points.

This makes tackle selection an important consideration because lighter tackle is definitely favoured by the system used to calculate the points. This year’s winner was a very commendable 45.1-pounder taken on 16-lb test (794.54 points) by Kyle Mello fishing from his father’s Tantrum.

That particular boat had a very good day, racking up 2,697.89 points but narrowly losing out on the High Point Boat honours to Capt. Bean’s Paradise One which amassed 2,875.71 points from eight fish.

The prize presentation will take place on Monday from 6.30pm at Spanish Point Boat Club.

In the days leading up to the tournament, some good wahoo catches were reported and just about every boat that fished reported numerous strikes that were almost certainly form wahoo whether they were successfully caught or not.

A number of cynics blame the use of light tackle for the lost fish but anyone who has put in any time wahoo fishing knows that the fish are adept at stealing baits and that the fish are equipped with jaws that can clamp down on a hook, preventing it from ever actually penetrating the fish’s jaw.

The fishing should continue to be reasonably good for the next few weeks, as long as one of the tropical systems doesn’t put paid to the effort.

There have been some nice blackfin tuna caught on the troll and there is no reason why there shouldn’t still be some yellowfin tuna on the move.

There will still be the odd billfish although the direction of effort away from marlin will probably see less action reported. Any influx of flotsam or seaweed may see an upsurge in the number of dolphin ion the local area, but even without such enhancement, there should be plenty of opportunities for Tight Lines!!!

No stranger to the winner’s circle: Kathryn Garcia fishing from her brother Andrew Card’s Reel Action caught a 57.1-pound wahoo to win the 30-lb test category
Tyler James and Keith Bernhard
Weighing in: Jacob Estis, Jenni Estis and Martin Estis with the wahoo they reeled in at Dockyard