Weekend warriors seeking their fortunes
The season runs on, despite a bit of weather earlier this week that put a temporary end to proceedings. The return to more seasonable conditions again has the commercial fleet and the weekend warriors putting to sea in search of their fortunes.
Things move with alacrity particularly as there are tournaments almost every week. Most recently, the organised angling clubs successfully held their Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament.
This particular tournament is the only one of its kind in Bermuda and there are not many examples elsewhere either.
Originally, the format was to challenge the various clubs, of which there are three although at one point there were arguably five or six, to display their prowess on light tackle.
So, rather than have luck being a major factor in that a single fish caught by an angler could dominate any particular line class, which is the norm in most other tournaments, this event was to be decided on the aggregate number of points scored by each club on each of the recognised line classes.
Thus, even if there was a spectacular catch in a given line class, the total points scored by another club in that line class might well overshadow it.
Last Sunday the three recognised angling clubs competed for the honours at stake. The weather started off a bit lumpy but everything gradually calmed down and conditions were conducive to fishing, if not to catching.
Chumming, the preferred method for fishing with light tackle and attracting tuna, the preferred species for this sport, essentially failed to pay off. The main reason for this was the apparent lack of yellowfin tuna.
Although a fair few blackfin showed up, only three were presented at the weigh station. Of these, one failed to qualify as it was not at least 50 per cent of the line test used to catch it.
Once again, the species captured were wahoo, with live baiting proving the best method for catching them. Seven wahoo, ranging from just under 13lbs to over 35lbs, were weighed in. All accruing points for their respective teams.
Probably as a result of the live-baiting, but still something of a surprise for their numbers so early in the season, were barracuda. Usually most numerous and large during the late summer, there were also seven brought in, weighing from 11lbs to 26lbs.
The yellowfin tuna also proved scarce although a few were encountered. A nice 37.9lbs specimen was weighed in and one was caught and released. Releases score points in this tournament with an average weight being attributed to each release and the points calculated.
The weights of all fish weighed in or released are then calculated by what is called the factor system. This mathematical formula divides the weight by the line test used, then the result is squared and multiplied by 100.
So, the lighter the line or the heavier the fish, the more points are scored.
When the calculator had done its job the honours were pretty well shared out. There were no entries on 8-lb test so that cup was not awarded. The 12-lb and 16-lb test cups were won by Bermuda Anglers Club with 740.81 and 164.16 points, respectively.
The Blue Waters Anglers Club won the 20-lb test category with 890.09 points accumulated from six fish, while it was the Sea Horse Anglers Club that was the 30-lb test class wining team with 196.06 points.
The overall winning team, awarded the BFCAT Shield, was Blue Waters Anglers Club with 1500.3 points. The High Point Angler, based on a single fish, was Blue Waters' Delton Outerbridge whose 24.8lbs barracuda on 12-lb test scored 427.11 points.
The High Point Boat award was won by Niel Jones' Maverick with 946.57 points.
Returning to the dearth of yellowfin, there are some indications that there are more out there than have been accounted for. A very few boats have had some luck with them, so it may be that the schools are small, or they are still on the move before settling on one part or another of the Banks.
It is likely as the water continues to warm, and bait becomes more apparent, that they will start to please in the chum more consistently.
With the limited number of foreign boats already here, and an entire fleet due in after the Newport Bermuda Race, the billfish will be much more actively sought. Reports from trips taken so far have been very quiet, with just a couple of white marlin reportedly being raised.
With a relatively quiet weekend on the competitive front ahead, this is a great opportunity for those who have still landlocked to consider heading offshore and wetting a line.
It isn't hot enough yet to be uncomfortable, and there are enough fish out there to pose challenges for almost any angler whether wanting to troll, chum or bottom fish.
After all, staying on the couch isn't going to get you any Tight Lines!