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Billfish on centre stage on glorious weekend

This looks to be a glorious weekend. The proverbial “Bermudaful” days with bright sunshine, calm seas and azure water attracting attention from the burgeoning number of people that the island is drawing together.

While it is the sail craft, and some mighty nice ones too, getting most of the press at the moment, sight is being lost of some of the sport fishing machines that are also arriving. Although some are undoubtedly coming for the America's Cup events, they are also arriving with fishing on their mind. May and springtime are quickly giving way to June and summer and that means that billfish start to take centre stage.

One boat, skippered by Mako's own captain Allen DeSilva, enjoyed some mid-ocean action while en route from the Bahamas. On one day they caught and released not one, but two blue marlin, both thought to be in excess of 900lb. If that is the sort of quality that is on its way here, then the island should probably see a grander or two over the next couple of months.

Several other boats are expected over the next week or so and once they commence working the deep water, marlin sightings and catches will become commonplace. If previous years are anything to go by, the first fish to arrive tend to be large fish, usually over 400lb. Although these fish are true oceanic wanderers, spending most of their lives away from continental land masses, they do follow food supplies around. In this respect, it would be nice for some tuna to take up residence on the Banks or elsewhere because that would help keep the predatory marlin in the area.

Things have gotten off to a slow start this season, but it is coming to rights now. Reports of catches of eight or more wahoo are becoming more persistent and although this probably won't last long it will provide the impetus for the weekenders to get their acts together and to head offshore. Unfortunately, the fish have picked a very difficult week. Not only is the summer ritual of the 24th upon us but the America's Cup will also put boat use at a premium.

Sandwiched in between all this activity is this weekend's Bacardi Rum Angling Tournament. This ever popular tournament is being fished earlier than usual this year, again due to the main sail event. The nature of the competition will have entrants looking for the largest wahoo, largest tuna and largest “other” game fish with the latter category excluding the billfish species and sharks.

As a result, there are several options in terms of techniques. The wahoo being caught at present are nice fish with many bettering the 50lb mark. While trolling will attract such specimens, the use of live baits may well be the key to success. Live robins or mackerel are preferred although chumming for the former can take up some valuable time. An alternative is trolling which not only covers the looking for a suitable candidate but also allows a daisy chin or “mackerel line” to be dragged with the possibility of a catching a live bait that can be traded up.

Trolling will be looking primarily for wahoo although the occasional tuna will take an offering. Fishing a natural bait a long way back can be productive with both wahoo and tuna. Not very exciting but often effective when nothing else seems to work are those old-fashioned wooden cedar plugs. In either natural wood colour or sprayed some hue, these unlikely lures most likely mimic squid and tuna are almost always a sucker for those.

Dolphin are also best sought after on the troll and there have been a few around. Fitting in to the “other” category, it is unfortunate that most of the dolphin caught locally don't make the minimum 20lb weight requirement. Still no one is going to put one back even if it is not eligible.

Concentrating on chumming would seem to be a risky business given the lack of schools of tuna. Good tidal conditions and some luck might see the tuna in the area come to please but thus far just about all the yellowfin that have been caught have been school-sized fish, ranging up to about 25lb. Not exactly the making of a winner. Conversely, chumming can also lure potential live baits that can be set out on the surface from an anchored boat or fished from a kite.

Another option would be to send a live bait down deep. While this might attract the unwanted attention of any shark in the area, it might also pay off with a trophy amberjack or bonita (Almaco jack), either of which could prove to be a tournament winner.

The prospects for action this weekend are excellent and the increase in effort will go a long way to sorting out just what is out there and where they might be. Many will head to the southwest and the Banks but don't discount down north or the East End. Both areas have had their moments and are well capable of producing some winning Tight Lines!

Marlin have been on the agenda of late, as well as billfish

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Published May 20, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 19, 2017 at 11:27 pm)

Billfish on centre stage on glorious weekend

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