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Slowly but surely, things are getting better

Finally, there has been a bit of an upturn on the offshore scene. Not the greatest or the most exciting but a huge improvement on previous outcomes.

A burst of unspring-like weather earlier in the week kept the fleet home but as the sea conditions improved, boats working the southwest saw a marked improvement with the wahoo ultimately providing the action that has been craved by so many for so long.

Numbers of wahoo being taken on the troll showed a definite upswing with catches of eight to ten suddenly becoming more commonplace. And about time too.

The real positive is the quality of the fish. Many are 50-pounders or better and it doesn't take many of them to justify a day's fuel and effort. The main technique is traditional trolling of baits and bait/artificial combinations. As usual, the deep trolls tend to get the bulk of the attention, but marauding wahoo will take baits fished from outriggers quite handily as well.

To try something a bit different sometimes reverting back to one or more of the “olden days” techniques can pay off as well. Way back when, it was customary to troll a mackerel line or daisy chain while trolling in the springtime. When a mackerel of suitable size; not as small as a juvenile or “frigate” mackerel but not a giant, either, was caught it was rigged up with a pair of hooks on a wire leader and trolled immediately behind the boat. This would mean right up close, maybe 30 or 40 feet behind; just enough to keep it in the water. Its purpose was to promote strikes from large wahoo that would not mind smashing right through the white water to get to the bait.

When, back in the day, the line was light these strikes could be fantastic with the fish skyrocketing into the air. The use of heavier lines seems to have precluded such antics although there is no doubt that a live or near-live fresh mackerel will provoke a strike from any wahoo in the area.

In terms of variety offshore, things are still a work in progress. There are a few dolphinfish around and although so far the fish have been on the small side, they are nevertheless welcome in the fish box at any time.

The big question seems to lurk over the yellowfin tuna. Although a few have been caught, there really haven't been any numbers of fish around. This contrasts rather sharply with the reports emanating from the sport-fishing fleet based in North Carolina, just across the Stream from us. Just lately they have enjoyed a good run of yellowfin tuna and fairly reliable dolphin action. Is this a case of the fish coming north and staying on the western side of the Gulf Stream for some reason or is it simply that the fish to the east of it just haven't made it this far north yet. Certainly the island needs a quantity of tuna around if it expects to attract and hold a decent population of blue marlin in the coming months. We shall have to wait and see.

Smaller game has been the focus of some commercial fishermen with species like bonitas and yellowtail snappers their primary quarries. Sharks apparently continue to be a bit of a problem but this can sometimes be circumvented by shifting venues. The crown on the Bank can produce some really large yellowtails but is also known for attracting attention from sharks so this might not be the best strategy just yet but, on the other hand, it might be worth a try.

The first large interclub light tackle tournament is slated for tomorrow but already the forecast is looking like putting a damper on that. The light breezes today are supposed to give way to a blow out of the southwest which will pretty much ensure an uncomfortable day riding at anchor on the Banks or Bermuda's Edge. The seas are going to build, giving rise to a suspicion that the tide might be of the windward variety, something also looked upon very disparagingly by most anglers.

The event in question is the Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament, best known as the BFCAT. It is a light tackle tournament between the recognised clubs with a bit of a twist. Rather than there being a high-point fish on each of the line classes (all less than 30lb test), all the points scored on a given class are tallied up by club and the club garnering the most wins that line class. In contrast to most tournaments that single out individual winning entries this is truly a team effort.

Using light tackle to troll has become rather more challenging than it was. This is due, in part to the baits and lures used, but also to the higher speeds at which most boats troll. The combination seems to lower the success rate but, in any case, most light tackle aficionados would prefer to be able to chum for their Tight Lines!

The big question seems to lurk over the yellowfin tuna

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Published May 13, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2017 at 12:04 am)

Slowly but surely, things are getting better

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