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A weekend for making sure your boat is locked up tight

Running repairs: today may be for time of assessing storm damage (File photograph)

Tropical Storm Karl has put a damper on any plans anyone had for getting out onto the water this weekend, no that there has not been a whole lot of fishing effort this past week or so.

If the weather had been a bit more settled there is no doubt that there were some wahoo and tuna to be had with the blackfin particularly active at the present time.

The passage of a storm system has some effect on the ocean and its inhabitants, even though it is pretty hard to quantify. Most agree that fish tend to bite well just before a storm or drop of the barometric pressure, and low pressure usually sees less activity from the fish.

Improving weather following a storm, accompanied by a rise in pressure, often sees good fishing. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, once the heavy weather sets in, it just goes from tropical systems to winter gales in what seems like the twinkling of an eye. Both put a pretty decisive end to sport fishing.

Talking about things which seem conspicuous by their absence, late August and September was the time of year when large schools of what locals call “blue fry” made their way up the South Shore and into coastal bays and areas like Castle Harbour. Beds or aggregations (schools) of these fry would actually give an area of the water a blue or greenish tinge, accounting for their rather descriptive common name.

A member of the herring family, the species enjoys quite a wide range pretty much throughout the western Atlantic and Caribbean. Harvested in many places as a bait fish, it does have some economic importance. Here, it was very much a seasonal arrival during the late summer after which they just seem to spread out and disappear — who knows where they are the rest of the time.

As a bait fish these were particularly desirable because they had a high oil content and when used for chumming produced a nice, large oil slick that would attract most any fish that happened to be in the vicinity.

Usually following close behind their movement along the shore and into the bays were some large predators that many people do not associate with Bermuda at all. These are tarpon, generally bringing to mind Florida and Costa Rica and places like that with extensive mangroves and deep water passes that tarpon travel through. The fact that they are often caught at river mouths and in brackish water further diminishes the likelihood of any Island resident ever really thinking about the presence of tarpon in local waters. In fact, the lack of estuarine environments here precludes several species that are of value to the game fisherman.

Of course, Bermuda has nothing like the numbers of tarpon that are found in those other locations but the ones here are large and may well have been in the same fish school for decades. Where they were most noticeable was down around Ferry Reach when the schools of blue fry would be pushed up against the shore and the tarpon would cruise just outside of them, darting in occasionally for a feast. This could be clearly seen on those hot, flat calm days that happen at this time of the year. The whole scenario was short-lived; probably as a combination of the changing of the seasons, the passage of tropical storms and what had to be a general scattering of the fish.

The tarpon themselves can be seen fairly regularly in areas like Riddell’s Bay and Mill’s Creek, although it helps to be a skilled observer of nature and of fish and their habits. Birds can also be a giveaway because many species, including the omnipresent kiskadee, like a bit of fresh fish every now and again. They are not above grabbing a hapless fry that has landed on the rocks or is damaged enough to float on the surface, following an attack on the bait by a predator.

The sheer number of boats and underwater obstructions in most of the areas the tarpon favour make catching them a serious challenge; one that very few anglers have ever really attempted here. It has been done on occasion and there are photographs to prove it.

In any case, this is a bit academic because this is unlikely to be the weekend when anyone tries it simply because making sure that houses are secure and boats are safely moored will take priority over any Tight Lines!