Historic abundance of activity on hold
The calendar does indeed zip along as yet another month is here.
From many points of view, especially in the days when light tackle was king, September was considered by many to be the single best fishing month of the year.
The reasoning for this was straightforward: all the summer game species were present on the fishing grounds, activity levels were up as the spawning season was over and migration was likely and the weather was still reliable enough to allow anglers to get out there.
Usually livening things up was the influx of juvenile little tunny, “frigate mackerel”, and these could sometimes be accompanied by schools of juvenile blackfin tuna and oceanic bonito, all of which make capital live baits.
Such a surfeit of food was more than enough to ensure heightened activity from the predators that cruised through the local area.
In the perfect situation, the autumnal wahoo migration would coincide, and the action was often unbelievable.
A failure of the bait to arrive was a disappointment but there were often plenty of wahoo willing to take more traditional bait offerings such as trolled garfish or flying fish. Thus far, this year, things seem to be on hold with no sudden bursts in activity. A few wahoo are pleasing from time to time as are yellowfin tuna.
Chumming for robins, for use as live baits, has been on and off, contributing to the lacklustre fishing that has been the hallmark of the last couple of weeks.
Commercial fishermen have not been a great source of information, either, largely because of the focus on lobsters.
The start of the lobster season is always a promising time for sales and it is an opportunity that won't be missed by any serious fishermen.
Working the bottom pretty much always ensures that a few fish will make their way into the fish box.
Coneys and barbers are still fairly numerous and make for decent fillets.
Red hinds are nowhere near as numerous as they used to be but they remain a sought-after member of the grouper family.
Flag or monkey rockfish are in a category with hen's teeth but a concerted effort along the drop-off on the Banks should eventually see some success.
The same tactics also catch other “floating” fish — fish which move around frequently — this category includes gwelly, horse-eye jacks, amberjack and Almaco jack.
Other jack species sometimes please as well, even though the names and descriptions can vary widely. Without a doubt they are game, giving a good account of themselves on any suitable tackle.
Although many think that the locally commonplace Almaco jack is only found in this part of the world, they are very much mistaken.
A further mistake assumes that the biggest specimens ever seen have come out of local waters, but that too is far from correct.
In fact, the all-tackle world record 132-pounder hailed from Baja California, Mexico for over 55 years before it was displaced recently by a 136-pound specimen caught off Japan in May, 2020.
While many think that large Almacos are caught here, they would really be wrong.
Nothing caught in recent years even comes close to this sort of class with the largest Bermuda record held by an 85-pound fish.
What probably contributes to the confusion is the local obsession for light tackle. Many of the local line class records are held by fish in the 60 to 70-pound bracket.
With the Bermuda Game Fish Association not accepting entries on line classes over 50-pound test, this could be the reason that larger fish fail to make it into the history books.
There is also the never-ending confusion between Almaco jacks, aka bonitas and the amberjack or amberfish.
They are closely related and, for reasons of simplicity probably, really large bonitas were usually classed as ambers with smaller fish also being given the wrong monikers on occasion.
Just about every fisherman will have their own method of deciding which is which — something that will not impress either the BGFA or IGFA.
From a weekender's point of view, this time of year is meant for wahoo and tuna and that is probably what most entrants in next weekend's Bacardi Tournament are thinking.
Given that the trolling has been slow, chumming or live-baiting for bonitas or ambers may be a wise move.
The tournament recognises the “other” category and with a 20-pound minimum weight, many smaller game species are excluded. Not so the larger jack species which are recognised game fish. Just a thought.
While this has not been a stellar year for fishing of any sort, the lack of effort and other issues posed by the pandemic may well have masked the quality available earlier in the season.
Now, at the tail end of the normally fishable period that anglers acknowledge, the limited remaining opportunities are presenting themselves.
That said, the next couple of weekends might be the only realistic shot at some Tight Lines!!!