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If you fancy a workout tackle a tiger

A Tiger Shark more than 12 feet long wrestles with a 45lbs marlin head during the filming of the “Ocean Vet” television series in Bermuda waters. (File photograph by Choy Aming)

The excitement of tournaments and Cup Match has now subsided; it is hot, people are laid-back, schools remain closed, beaches are busy and many locals are off-island on vacation. Although this makes for a somewhat exceptional month, there is no compelling reason to give up angling as an avocation.

The month of August is characteristically hot and calm, sometimes the water is almost like glass with hardly a ripple even though there may be a huge, long swell that seems to come all the way from Africa or from tropical activity somewhere far to our south.

While this can make a day out a real proposition for sunstroke and sunburn, it also offers optimum chumming conditions because the lack of wind means the tides tend to settle and move in more predicable patterns.

While there should be no shortage of small game — rainbow runners, mackerel and jacks will flit through almost any chum slick and those that make up towards the top of the Banks will probably lure some prime specimens of blackfin tuna into catching range — these are not the preferred targets.

Where the focus should be is on big yellowfin tuna. While the real giants don’t always travel thorough the area, there are usually some hefty candidates in the 50lbs to 80lbs range hanging around the Banks that are willing to please chummers.

Getting the slick to head off the Bank is the best way to draw the tuna in, and the kite technique can really come into its own here. Live baits fished from a kite are the best bet, but a rigged flyer may get results as well.

It seems that the flying fish are just not as common as they usually are, so the fish may not be as willing to take a rigged offering.

Now, should the tuna fail to put in an appearance, there is another species that isn’t too difficult to elicit a bite from and which will guarantee a serious pull. Best of all, you don’t have to kill the fish and, in fact, you probably won’t want anything to do with it once you get it to the boat.

But if it is a pull you want, look no farther than one of the big tiger sharks that make the Banks their stomping ground this month.

One thing for certain, they are big. Big, as in hundreds of pounds and maybe even thousands of pounds. They are distinctively striped although sometimes these markings appear to more like spots, giving rise to the name, leopard shark.

With their willingness to take almost any chunk of fish for bait, they will provide an angler with a darned good long pull on almost any tackle. If it is just a basic workout that is wanted, this fish will definitely provide it.

Tiger sharks are known to be most active at night and, to anyone who spends time on the water in the shallows, it is some sort of mystery that they seem to be totally absent from the waters over the northern reef areas during the day, but they are commonly caught there on lines set overnight.

In fact, they can be so common as to make one wonder where they are during the day. In any case, during the warmest of the summer months they become commonplace in areas such as Challenger and Argus Bank and can often be seen cruising along before being chummed to take a bait.

Considered a man-eater, this is something of a misnomer as amply demonstrated by the late Dr Neil Burnie with his work in shark studies. The expression is really quite old and conjures up all sorts of myths, calculated to terrify people from the ocean.

Although this species has been documented as attacking and eating people, this is probably less to do with the aggressive nature of the fish and more to do with the occasions when they encounter people.

Truly omnivorous creatures, any research will reveal that they have had all sorts of junk found in their stomachs. Basically, they will swallow pretty much anything that they happen on, living or dead, natural or artificial, animal, vegetable or mineral.

They are drawn to sewage outfalls, trash discharges, sinking ships, spills, flotsam and jetsam.

Although not really applicable to Bermuda, tigers will move into brackish waters at river mouths and that is where they are most likely to come across people. They are big, boast a hefty set of chompers and are pretty indiscriminate so are best avoided.

From an angling standpoint they can provide an hour or so of pull and then be released from the relative safety of a boat. Using a very light wire leader or a heavy monofilament leader will mean that the fish will break off in due course, bringing the action to an end without having to do any sort of handling.

If the small game isn’t challenging enough and the Allisons don’t want to come out and play, then a good, old tiger will give you a hefty dose of Tight Lines!