Less equals more for successful wahoo tournament
It was with some trepidation that the organisers awaited the dawn on Sunday. Florence fears were abounding, and many boat owners had decided to be proactive and to remove their various craft from the water, concluding this year's boating season. Still the feedback from those who did decide to take part in the season's fishing finale — the 52nd annual Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament — was immediately positive, with calm seas and sunny skies proving to be the norm.
That took one mystery out of the equation and left only the second conundrum: would the fish co-operate.
Pretty much all the island's fishing grounds were searched. Some boats went as far afield as Argus; others confined their efforts to Challenger Bank and still others headed for their own particular patch of Bermuda's Edge.
Techniques included regular trolling, live baiting, fast trolling and just about everything imaginable. Amazingly, at the end of the day, when tactics were discussed, the successes varied considerably from boat to boat, technique to technique and place to place. It really was a bit of a lottery. But even lotteries have winners.
With fewer than 30 boats having entered the tournament, the expected 30 per cent duly reported to the weigh station at Dockyard, where a nice crowd of people had assembled to see the results of the day's angling.
For the first time in tournament memory, the 16lb test line class turned out to be the one of choice. This is usually the 30lb class, as most anglers seem to want to maximise their chances of actually catching the fish. This year more fish were caught and weighed-in in the 16lb test class than the rest of the line classes combined.
There were only three entries on 12lb test, eight on 20lb test and four on the 30lb test line category. The 16lb test category elicited 18 entries, including a single fish that was nearly, but not quite, the largest fish of the tournament.
That honour went to Price Smith, who used a 20lb test rig to subdue a fine 46lb wahoo, winning the Overall Largest Wahoo prize. The second-largest fish was the 43.6lb wahoo caught by Matthew Jones on 16lb test line and which won the award for the heaviest wahoo on that line test. Anglers may win only one prize.
The 12lb test category was won by Alex Dowling with a 21.2lb wahoo, while the winner of the 20lb test class was Chris Duperreault's 40.1-pounder. The 30lb test award went to a 39.1lb fish caught by Peter Martin. Interestingly enough, winners in both the 20lb and 30lb test categories came from catches made on Captain Larry Martin's Ocean Mile.
The High Point Boat award was also fairly closely contested. This is one category where the line test entries become critical. Lighter line generally scores more points per pound, and so there is a distinct advantage to using the lighter classes of line, even if the fish are not particularly big. So, although Captain Kevin Mello's Tantrum had caught nine fish, their point total was about 250 short of the winning boat. With seven fish amassing 2,556.78 points, Captain Niel Jones's Balancing Act claimed the tournament trophy.
All in all, a successful outcome to one of the island's oldest and most beloved tournaments — and, for many, the conclusion to this year's fishing.
One of the things about fishing is that you can put the bait on the hook, but you cannot guarantee what is going to take that bait or whether or not the fish will actually be caught. Although this was a wahoo tournament, that did not mean that other fish were not caught. In fact, there were some notable catches that earn a mention in their own right.
In one such instance, Roderick Nesbitt had set out a live robin expecting it to be taken by a wahoo. The 16lb test rod indeed keeled over, but he realised that he was in for more that he expected when the battle turned lengthy. The quarry turned out to be a yellowfin tuna that tipped the scales at an impressive 80.2lbs.
With the tournament being geared to light-tackle fishing, Sue Bean decided to attempt 8lb test and rapidly found out what a challenge this could be when she caught a 24.9lb Almaco jack to notch her first victory in this line class. A really nice haul that will certainly earn her plenty of points for her club competition.
Elsewhere in the week's offshore adventures have been blue marlin, dolphin and a surfeit of barracuda. These are seriously numerous, especially on top of the bank where they make short work of live robins and shred hooked mackerel.
Bottom line: there is still some good fishing to be had even if it is sporadic in nature. Wahoo are consistent, tuna are still present and one encouragement should stem from frigate mackerel being seen in increasing numbers on the inner bottom.
It may be just a matter of time before they happen out on to the deeper waters, where they will be welcomed by the predators that will miraculously appear in numbers. That most happy coincidence could make for a whole lot of Tight Lines!!!
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