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Sharks mess around with Weekender’s Dilemma

It's time to play that game again! Weekender's Dilemma swings into its full glory, pitting the amateurs who really only have one day a week to work with against the vagaries of Mother Nature.

The reason for this conundrum is that the offshore situation is so unpredictable that even the professionals who venture out day after day encounter ups, downs and everything in between. There seems to be no rhyme or reason in where the fish are or whether or not they will bite. One day will see the bite on Bermuda's Edge and the next day that area is reminiscent of a desert waste — only with water.

Similarly a trip to the banks may be rewarded handsomely one day but not the next. It is the uncertainty that has had boats which normally concentrate on the waters to the southwest of the island working their way along the South Shore or out on Long Point to the north.

So, one of the things that the weekender is up against is making a decision where to go. In the absence of any reliable intelligence, it comes down pretty much to guesswork or having a feeling about where best to go. It may be right and, if so, lucky but there is probably at least as much chance that it could be the wrong choice.

There seems to be plenty of variety available should the fishes and anglers paths cross. There are the wahoo, which one would expect, and a few yellowfin tuna, mostly of the school-sized version. Marlin are offshore as well as the occasional dolphin. The trouble is getting to a location where there are some of these fish and meeting up with them when they are in the mood to feed.

When the happy circumstances converge, there has been a rather nice class of wahoo. Numbers have varied from as many as nine for one lucky boat down to the fairly common single or pair. Not much to provide inspiration but some is better than none, although one should be aware that there have been a few blanks as well.

Having said that, there has been some quality. Fish in the 50lb-plus bracket have pleased, both on the Edge and down on Argus Bank. Pretty obviously, these are not the same bunch of fish and it has been unlikely to find the school in the same place again the next day. It all seems to be happenstance.

This is not what would be expected of a spring run which, although it might move quickly, exhibits a pattern that is, to some extent, predictable. So, it is probably fair to say that there is no spring run this year unless something major materialises over the next couple of weeks and it sure doesn't look like it will. When an early season run does occur it generally gives way fairly quickly to the warming water with the fish scattering over the entire Bermuda Platform and off-lying banks. This is characteristic of the summertime trolling with boats eliciting strikes hither and yon and, occasionally locating small concentrations of fish in more localised areas.

To add insult to injury, there are some fish that are suddenly really notable for all the wrong reasons. These are the sharks. Normally, they do not interfere with the fishing except when the water is really warm, like in August, when the big tiger sharks will munch down on your trophy tuna on light line without so much as a by-your-leave.

In recent days, catches have been lost to sharks and they seem to be way too numerous. Might this be a further indication that a lack of bait has fish employing desperate measures to find enough to eat? Who knows; but at least, Nature usually restores a balance. The question is, can it come soon enough to salvage this year's angling season?

The ambiguity raised by the fishing has led a number of commercial fishermen to try some techniques which may be deemed by some to be unseasonable. This includes fishing for snappers in the channel waters and working some of the other reef areas for porgies, bonitas and other bottom species.

Such fishing is usually reserved for the high summer months of July and August but right now such efforts are being rewarded and offer an alternative to burning a lot of fuel with no real promise of success.

Perhaps a cloud does have a silver lining. The weekend warrior may be spared the agony of decision-making this weekend because the weather forecast is grim enough to convince most anglers that their time could be better spent on land.

It's one thing to head offshore in grouchy conditions when the fish are definitely biting but another when the odds seemed stacked against any Tight Lines!

Showing its teeth: sharks are affecting anglers' weekends

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Published May 06, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 05, 2017 at 11:47 pm)

Sharks mess around with Weekender’s Dilemma

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