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The ideal time to chase that monster catch

Big blue: teams are searching for that one fish that will win it all

High summer and it’s hot, flat, and humid with the air just hanging there, and while this forces most people into air-conditioning or under a fan on shore, better offshore billfishing conditions probably don’t exist.

Things don’t even get much better on Hawaii’s Kona Coast where flat seas are the norm and the billfish action is pretty hot all year long.

Without a doubt the organisers of the Bermuda Big Game Classic have really got it right this year as the 36 teams that the tournament has attracted battle it out, each searching for that ultimate fish that will beat all the competition.

And there is plenty of that out there. Of the boats involved many have previously graced the limelight in this event and there is no shortage of expertise and experience with big fish. Factoring those in and it could be anyone’s game, even at this late stage.

Quite aside from the weather, there is even more that makes for a great tournament.

While not vital, even the average landlubber will have noted the state of the moon. Although it is not astronomically “full” until Monday evening, it is still very impressive and must be a source of inspiration for a lot of the skippers taking part in the tournament.

Although many local captains don’t really hold with the various moon theories that exist, some participants are incredibly close adherents to the lunar calendar. The belief is that blue marlin and other billfish are most active around the time of the full moon.

In the Virgin Islands there is such belief in the phases of the moon that the major tournaments are scheduled just before, on and immediately after the full moon.

Whether or not there is any truth to the state of the moon, the weather is hot, sea conditions are calm and conducive to the fast trolling which is now the preferred marlin tactic, because it allows a boat to cover a lot of water in the course of the fishing day.

In Bermuda there are a few things to be considered. First off, it has long been thought that marlin spawn somewhere around here in July. The evidence for this comes from the fact that many of the large fish that are landed either have large, developed roes or ones that have been very recently spent.

In addition, many commercial fishermen have observed that the full moon does seem to affect the movements and spawning behaviours of groupers, snappers and other species such as grunts. The logic is that if it works for them perhaps it also works for the big pelagic species as well.

Although the Classic is primarily a release tournament there are jackpots to be won for the biggest fish on the dock on each day and for the overall largest fish. Early on the first day, captain Brian Rabbitt’s Big Deal threw down the gauntlet by weighing in a 520lbs blue marlin caught by Ed Russo.

That wasn’t going to last long as captain Paul Rodrigues’s Pink Impression brought a 703-pounder caught by Tony Cabral to the dock later that afternoon. This aspect of the tournament is highly likely to go until the last dying moment, simply because no one knows when a real sea monster is going to latch on.

The tally on the first day was impressive with a total of 23 billfish caught — 20 blue marlin and three white marlin. All but two of these fish were released, scoring points for the competitors and keeping things tight with three boats tied on points at the top.

In the minor prize categories for other game fish two boats got the ball rolling on the first day by boating wahoo. So, with some hours still to go, pretty much anything can happen and the final results will not be known until the tournament is completely done and dusted this evening.

Although all the focus appears to be on billfish, the rest of the game fishing should not be ignored. Wahoo continue to be available and although they are nowhere near as numerous, or as likely to be taken on the troll as they were a couple of months ago, a little directed effort can get results.

Wahoo will lurk around chum lines and occasionally take bait intended for tuna, often cutting the leader with their sharp teeth. Using plastic covered metal leaders or certain creative baits can get them to take cut offerings but, for near sure-fire shots, not much beats a live robin.

Tuna are pretty much as they should be. A bit of concerted chumming should get them up, on the Banks, at least and there should be plenty of small game to provide action throughout the day.

Soon now the increasing heat will make the tuna prefer to be active either early or late in the day to avoid the worst of the sunlight, and anglers should be guided accordingly.

With the placid seas that are called for this weekend it would be a shame to miss out on such a golden opportunity for some Tight Lines!