Singing September’s praises as wahoo run riot
Oh, the wonders of September. A drop in humidity, slightly cooler mornings and breezes from the North and East — does this mean that summer is over?
Well, probably; but nothing ever happens quite that quickly and, for the angler, this has long been argued to be the best time of the year for fishing.
Now, given the relative disasters that the last couple of seasons have turned out to be, it wouldn't take much to make a marked improvement, but then again it is not fair to judge an entire month on one or two poor results.
What has probably led some anglers to extol the virtues of September are linked to the autumnal wahoo run which can be nothing short of fabulous, and the movement of other species; the combination of which means that trolling is the preferred modus operandi with the knowledge that just about anything might bite keeping the mystique alive.
While no one is going to say that this year's fall wahoo run is spectacular, it is sure better than a lot of what has been seen this year.
Catches of anything up to the mid-teens have been reported, with some of the fish quite large. While there are a few of the summertime school fish in the ‘teens around most of the fish are nearer 30lbs than 20 with the occasional real trophy latching on to the bait every so often. Catches of fish up to 70lbs or more have been reported.
While in recent years, it all seems to be about the numbers and the total poundage; hence the increased use of heavier tackle, something of the inherent magic has been lost. In essence, the wahoo is a truly beautiful creature, magnificent in its own right and one of Nature's perfections.
A veritable torpedo, colour camouflaged and so streamlined for speed that many of its features remain unseen by the casual observer; razor sharp teeth paired with keen eyesight combine to make this one of the pelagic ocean's great hunters. It may lack the power and stubbornness of the jacks and tunas, or the aerial abilities of the billfish, but its sheer sleekness and speed more than make up for it. The display afforded by a lit-up wahoo being brought to gaff rivals that of a marlin but, unlike the marlin, does little to encourage the victor to release it back into the deep.
The grey mass of a fish after an hour or so in the fish box recalls little of the verve and beauty so fleetingly lost. Some may be restored to diners savouring its sweet, mild flavour but sight should not be lost of the glory that it wielded in the depths of Mother Ocean.
Along with these highly desirable fish, variety has certainly been there as well. Several reports of tuna taking wire-leadered baits with impunity have surfaced and this enthusiasm on the part of the fish has led to hauls consisting of as many as 10 tunas. Although most have been school-sized yellowfins, it seems that the blackfin have also joined into the affray and some rather nice specimens have also been caught.
Another member of the tuna clan, and a species that has been conspicuous by its relative absence, is the skipjack or oceanic bonito (not bonita) and some of these have also been taken during the past week or so. Solidly built, this fish gives a very robust account of itself on anything but the heaviest tackle and is the source of much of the world's tinned tuna.
Into this general mix, dolphinfish have also joined in the proceedings. Not especially numerous and seldom of any great size in these waters, this species often shows up running with schools of other species or following any flotsam that might be encountered.
Because numbers of wahoo and dolphin are often associated with almost anything floating, no matter how small, an eye should be kept out for such things. Another straggler that often shows up in September is the sailfish. Far from its usual haunts, these often run with wahoo and can provide an angler with a bit of a surprise as it is so unexpected. But it is the time of year to expect the unexpected.
While things are definitely showing signs of cooling off and winter's approach, the tropics are still making their effects felt. Heat masses repeatedly come off the coast of North Africa and more than a few of them have given indications that they want to develop into something more substantial than a mere tropical wave. While the presence of an El Niño event in the Pacific is seen by scientists as a reason for a less active tropical season, we all know that it only takes one coming the right way to ruin our day or even week. The storms of last year are still well and truly in our collective short-term memory and even the words “tropical storm” ring alarm bells, especially for boat owners.
This often leads to boats being taken up and a reticence on the part of some anglers to even venture forth. But, face it, meteorology has come a long way and there is usually considerable advance warning of anything untoward. Take advantage of the lingering summer to slip out and indulge in some Tight Lines!