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Anglers begin to get spring in their step

Spring has indeed sprung; this year it came a mite early on March 20th rather than the more customary 21st. At least that is how most people remember the dates of the solstices and equinoxes. In actuality, this occurrence can vary over a couple of days and the exact time of its occurrence would depend on location and would need looking up in an almanac or online if the exact time was required.

Suffice to say that the sun has now crossed the equator on its northward movement. Not that the sun goes anywhere; rather the earth in its orbit around the sun focuses it at various latitudes. It helps to think of the earth's orbit around the sun in three dimensions rather than the two that flat diagrams usually show.

In any case, the northern hemisphere should be moving into its warmer time of the year and eventually it will be summer.

Other signs of spring include the migration of the humpback whales, sightings of long-tailed tropic birds and an end to the spiny lobster season. The latter will have most of the commercial operators bringing in their gear in compliance with their licences.

With that season over, there will be renewed focus on the finfish; both the pelagic species that are of interest to sportsmen as well as the demersal or reef species that are the traditional food fish that have fed this island for generations. With the increased effort, a much clearer picture of the offshore scene will become apparent and anglers will start to come alive and pursue their avocations.

Considering that most weekenders stay home during the offseason, in a rather rare amateur outing last weekend, Mark James's Angler Management had a good day when they encountered a mass of floating seaweed. In so many locations, masses of floating seaweed are considered a bonus usually because they are associated with dolphin, wahoo and other species. For the most part, here, the situation is the opposite. Masses of weed usually mean problems trolling with the deep troll balls amassing wads of the brown stuff and rigs hooking pieces that results in outriggers giving the impression that there has been a strike when it only means having to crank up the weed-fouled bait. In many instances, such an action results in a damaged or destroyed bait that will have to be replaced.

Happily, for Angler Management this was not the case. The upshot was four prime specimens of wahoo ranging from about 35 to over 50 pounds. Throw in that it was a glorious, calm and sunny day and it pretty much paints the picture that anyone promoting sports fishing would love to see.

As experienced anglers will know, the season can get off to an early start with the emphasis on trolling. Traditionally, rigged baits get the most attention, although, in recent years, more experimentation with lures and combinations has also paid off.

The rationale is that by trolling more water is covered and the theory is that the fish will be on the move. The supposition is that the more tropical species will move northward as the water warms up and high summer starts to shape up. This is thought to affect the bait species as well; bearing in mind that mackerel, rainbow runner and other species constitute bait for some of the larger predators.

The spring wahoo run is the first “event” although often other species can figure as well. Normally by May everything is in full swing with each strike having the potential to be just about anything at all. To try to take advantage of this situation, the usual modus operandi is to troll a selection of baits, mostly intended for wahoo or tuna. Unadorned naturals are preferred by yellowfin although red and white combinations work as well. Some boats troll small daisy chains in the hope of catching some small mackerel; not really “frigate” size but small enough to be sued as a live bait. Fished up close to the boat, large wahoo often answer this supper bell.

Of the few other boats trolling at present, their catches are all pretty much the same: a few wahoo which tend to be of respectable size punctuated with some small yellowfin tuna. Numbers range from a single fish to about five or six and while this isn't exactly something to write home about, it usually covers the cost of the expedition and provides a modicum of profit. Given the present state of the market, a sudden mass influx of fish would pose difficulties on the sale side of the operation for commercial fishermen. This will improve markedly as the tourist season starts to pick up, which it will do in fine fashion as the America's Cup becomes imminent.

Then, if everything goes right, the name of the game will be Tight Lines!

Spring heralds the end of the spiny lobster season (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published March 25, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated March 25, 2017 at 12:13 am)

Anglers begin to get spring in their step

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