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Island’s unique geology has impact on our fish

Barracuda are more numerous than usual

If one is in any doubt as to what time of year it is, a quick glance at the RBYC basin will reveal that there is an increasing number of foreign sport fishing boats coming to the island with big game on their minds.

Even though the big billfish events don’t really get started until the beginning of July, that is not to say that there aren’t some big blues cruising the deep water around the Bermuda seamount.

People forget the geology that created this island that is pretty much in the midst of nowhere. Those same processes also gave rise to other geographic structures which, for one reason and another, failed to keep ahead of the changes in sea level, leaving the two best-known offshore banks: Challenger and Argus.

In addition there are several other such features in proximity to Bermuda but these largely go unspoken of and almost entirely unfished. The best known of these lesser formations is a tiny one, known as Ariadne, off the East End.

Also reputed to exist is a small peak located to the east of Challenger Bank. Many doubt its existence, even though it is shown on some charts, but with all the modern technology that boats carry today, the fact that no one has claimed to have found it in any recent time strongly suggests that it is, indeed, not there.

Rather less important if we actually know about such structures is that they attract fish. Obviously there are reefs on those that approach the surface which are home to the coneys, barbers, hinds and other bottom species that have long supplied the local fishery.

In turn, baitfish like robins are attracted to such ecological features; these, in turn, attract larger predators. The physical presence of seamounts, drop-offs, pinnacles and other geological features means that the water is forced around, up and down in myriad ways. That induces mixing which helps supply microscopic creatures with nutrients. These become food for slightly larger organisms, and so on and so forth all the way up to the wahoo, tuna and billfish that congregate fairly consistently at certain locations that are well known as good spots.

When you consider that most of the ocean in this part of the world is a desert, the presence of some aggregating locations have a multiplier effect that attracts and holds pelagic fish. Simply put, hungry fish, and warm-water species are going to be hungry, naturally want to stay where there is a food supply. This drive accounts for most of the migratory patterns over the years, starting with the humpback whales moving north to the rich feeding grounds off New England and eastern Canada.

Right now, all the summertime species are present on the offshore grounds and the reef species that are associated with the warmer months of the year are also active. Strangely enough, when it gets really hot, like in August, a lot of the activity does down. This may be because the spawning season is over or the fish might simply become lethargic when things reach a certain temperature. The shift in water temperature associated with cooling, usually around September, kicks them back into active mode and they start to move to warmer climes, feeding in order to be able to fuel the energy required for such a journey.

Although there do not seem to have been any stellar catches reported, many boats are concentrating their efforts on chumming for yellowfin tuna. These have been pleasing, although not in the numbers that many would expect. Live baits, in the form of robins, are proving elusive and they may not be the best bait at the moment, as traditional chumming seems to be getting results. Although still early in the season, barracuda are more numerous than normally expected and this may, in part, account for the dearth of robins.

Some good sport is to be had with the smaller game species and dropping a line down or deep jigging is paying off with ambers, bonitas and hinds. This mode of fishing may be hard work but just about every species will take a well-worked jig; even tunas.

Trolling is producing wahoo for the most part with the occasional dolphin adding colour to the fish box. Rarely a tuna will crash a bait and there should be enough white marlin around to provide some aerial activity. Working the deep water will see a build-up in the number of billfish strikes even though the moon is on the wane. So plenty of opportunities to wet a line.

The first of the popular tournaments open to the general public, the Bacardi Tournament originally slated for tomorrow, has been pushed back to Sunday week, June 10, to enhance participation. With the long-term forecasts currently available and online resources such as Windguru, it does not take much to dissuade potential entrants from ensuring themselves a most uncomfortable bouncy day on a rough sea.

Entry forms remain available and should be submitted as soon as possible if the plan is to compete for some glory along with Tight Lines!