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Plenty of action if cricket is not for you

Bear with us: Marlin mania is almost over for another year (File photograph)

What a spectacular billfish tournament the Bermuda Big Game Classic was! Well expected to be a good event as it has been for years now, there was really no indication or precedent for this year’s record-shattering performance.

Whether it was closely coinciding with the July full moon, the lack of an El Niño effect, or just plain good luck, the “bite” during the Bermuda Big Game Classic was nothing short of outstanding.

The Classic is summarised most simply by its numbers. Thirty-six teams, 68 blue marlin and ten white marlin, a total of 78 billfish along with a solo wahoo weighed in. And there was no shortage of quality.

A 520lbs blue weighed in early on the first day was quickly eclipsed by a 703lbs fish, followed next day by a 538lbs effort which was pipped by a 583lbs blue and finally, what would be the largest fish of the tournament, a 934lbs blue marlin weighed in by Jake Estis, a junior angler.

Quite apart from the fish that were landed, winning various daily jackpots, the real take-home message was an awesome 2.17 billfish per team. Compare this with just 0.87 in 2015 and 1.08 in 2014 and that gives an idea just how good it was.

The award for high point team in the tournament went to Seamaster, captained by Nick Verture, which amassed 2,700 points ahead of Big Deal on 2,020 points with three boats deadlocked on 2,000 points apiece.

Jason Friedman, sailing in Overproof, was high point angler, while Amy Hagedoorn, on Challenger, was high point lady, and Estis was high point junior. The largest gamefish was a 48.3lbs wahoo caught by Tony Cabral aboard Pink Impression.

If any evidence is needed that local boats can compete on an equal footing with even the best of the visiting battlewagons, consider the fact that the Classic’s biggest fish came from captain Andrew Dias’s Triple Play and the leader in the Bermuda Triple Crown is Reel Addiction, and captain Cragin Curtis, with a total of 3,725 points from some concerted efforts in the two tournaments thus far.

While this lead would have seemed unsurmountable in previous years that is far from the truth today, with Chasin Tail breathing down their neck in second with 3,500 points and Seamaster not all that far away in third.

With the final leg of the Triple Crown, the dowager event, Sea Horse Anglers Billfish Tournament, presently under way, Lady Luck is getting ready to decide which boat will wear the accolades and bear the honours that have been so hotly contested.

A final fleet of 26 teams are looking to sort out the standings between themselves and, not surprisingly, it is too close to call. In the early stages it was veterans Fa-La-Me and No Vacancy that released the first two blue marlin but there is plenty to follow. Until the final weigh-in down at Barr’s Bay this afternoon, nothing will be sure.

As the month winds down and the Cup Match holiday starts to take precedence in the lives of most locals, the angling scene shifts from the deep blue and billfish to chumming and the deep reef areas. That is, as long as the picnicking and cruising doesn’t take precedence.

On the Banks, blackfin and yellowfin tuna will be the preferred targets although there will be enough wahoo to provide a bit of diversion. For lighter tackle, or things such as spinning rods, there is plenty of small game to entertain even the youngest anglers.

Mackerel and rainbow runners will take most any bait, and both are ideal candidates for many of the artificial lures that adorn tackle shop shelves and are so attractive to anglers. They do work, especially the surface poppers, and even tuna will occasionally swirl and strike at such.

Those strange looking tube lures also work wonders on barracuda and there is no shortage of them out there at the moment. Normally most numerous in the late summer, they are almost ubiquitous and their aggressive nature virtually ensures an attack on a well-presented lure.

Dropping a line down deeper, should find the ambers and bonitas. Both species are not much short of being considered abundant at the moment and while they may not always be visible in a chum line, they are very likely to be lurking just out of view.

While a live robin is an ideal bait, they are really not all that fussy. A big chunk of squid or a slice of freshly caught mackerel usually proves attractive enough to ensure a strike.

So, if the celebrations or the cricket fail to take your fancy, it is likely to be quieter than usual offshore next weekend and this makes for a good opportunity for some low key Tight Lines!