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‘Lawyer’ drives even determined anglers insane

Blackfin tuna like even warmer than yellowfin

The doldrums have set in. This is the month where those oil-calm seas set in and the fish seem to turn off. For many, bent on trolling, the best strategy is to go in search of flotsam in the hope that it will harbour wahoo and dolphin.

Trolling along the edges has been quiet and although this might provide surprises, the bright sun and general heat isn’t encouraging for the anglers or the fish. Better action is likely early or late in the day. The thinking is that fish are hungry at first light, feed like fury and then go and sulk off the rest of the day, conserving energy.

Chumming on the Banks recently has produced a nice crop of yellowfin tuna with some of the fish ranging between 50 and 60 pounds. Again, it seems that avoiding the sun directly overhead is an advantage, although if blackfin are the target then anchoring up near the crown of the Bank should get results. Blackfin tuna like the water warm, even warmer than the yellowfin do.

Also starting to come into their best time of the year are the amberjack and bonita. Usually taken on live baits, including both robins and mackerel, both species will also take large chunks of cut bait with fresh mackerel getting the nod over other types. Whole squid also boast some success when fished down deep, but above the actual bottom.

With the hullabaloo that surrounds the billfish tournaments now cooled right off, it might be a good time to take a look at some of the alternative forms of angling that are to be had. Too many times everyone seems to focus on the big fish and to ignore some of what is to be had closer to home. The species in question are all game fish in their own right and line test records are held should anyone want to pursue some notoriety.

One thing for sure, is that it will cost a lot less to go in pursuit of these fish than any billfish or even wahoo or tuna. These species call the reef areas home and have a bonus in that not only are they game but they are right up there in table quality as well.

The grey snapper is a challenge no matter how you look at it. Whether it is a single fish that has taken up residence underneath a boat or in the shadow of a dock, any large grey or mangrove snapper (different names, same fish) will go a long way to driving even the most determined angler insane. Once referred to as “lawyer”, this species certainly uses its head to survive and large ones boast plenty of experience.

Having said that, over certain reef areas, they are a little more gullible and fresh fry seems to have an effect on them. Down at the East End, some really nice catches have been reported and although the time when they are most vulnerable is nearing its end there is another snapper that should just be coming into its own.

This is the yellowtail snapper and is well suited to even casual anglers. They respond readily to chum, especially if it is mixed with sand to form balls that sink and then spread out over the bottom. Since they are a schooling fish, they often show up in large numbers and, as long as conditions remain good, they will continue to bite. Best of all, they will continue biting even after the sun has set making this an ideal species to go after once the heat of the day is over.

Naturally, fresh chum is best for getting their attention but other baits work as well. The ideal hook bait is an anchovy but, given the apparent lack of them this year, these snappers will take bits of cut bait and even squid.

The only negative about catching these beautiful fish is that they will spoil incredibly quickly and therefore a lot of ice needs to be on hand when they turn on. Even the water in a fish well is going to be in the mid-eighties at this time of the year and that isn’t exactly refrigeration.

There is no question that they grow big here, bigger than elsewhere it seems. Fish have been said to weigh as much as 14lb; but that is indeed rumour. The all-tackle IGFA world record is a Bermuda 11-pounder while the largest Bermuda record is nearly a pound heavier at 11lb 12oz. This discrepancy is because it was only in the early Noughties that it was recognised as a game fish at the world level. Since then, nine of the fourteen line class records are held by Bermuda-caught fish. Without a doubt, there is plenty of potential here.

Speaking of potential, just a final reminder that the deadline for the Bermuda Anglers Club Junior Tournament is fast approaching. This event is open to all juniors, under the age of 16 years. Sign up can be done at C-Mart, Robinson’s Marina or Dowling’s Service Station; alternatively it can all be done online at www.bermudaanglersclub.com. The deadline is on Friday, so make sure that the entry gets in on time. After all, it isn’t only grown-ups who get a thrill out of Tight Lines!