Improved conditions for Bacardi Tournament
Waking to lightning, thunder, torrential rain and gusty winds last Sunday meant that postponing last weekend's Bacardi Tournament turned out to be a wise move. The tournament will now be held this Sunday in far more conducive circumstances.
While the fleet was homebound for a couple of days, when the weather eased the fishing resumed and continues to be nothing short of excellent.
Commercial boats have, predictably, done the best, but many of the charter boats were not far behind. Consider the handicaps: charter boats tend to leave later and arrive on the offshore grounds after the commercial fleet has had first crack at everything.
Second, the anglers are often inexperienced, and it takes a competent mate to make sure that the lines are re-rigged and baits checked on a regular basis.
The commercial operator may have several crew-members all of whom are competent mates and anglers; making for little or no downtime between strikes and catches. The edge certainly seems to be with the full-timers.
There are an amazing amount of yellowfin tuna on the Banks at present. It would seem that there are several classes or age groups of the fish with small school fish in the 15 to 25 pound range; larger, mid-size fish anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds and then some really large specimens that can better the 100 pound mark.
And not only are there tuna, but the wahoo are still around in fair numbers and they too are willing to please. A lot of effort has been put into using live baits, mostly robins but traditional trolling has also been getting results.
Sizes range from a nice average probably in the mid-twenties to larger fish that may weigh 50 pounds or more.
To give an idea of just how good it has been captain Brian Hines's Legasea had a haul of more than six wahoo, near on a dozen yellowfin, a dolphin and some smaller game — a veritable cockpit full of fish!
Most of the rest of the fleet has had catches that have been impressive. Quite apart from the attention-gathering wahoo, tuna and dolphin, the smaller game is abundant.
Rainbow runners, jacks, mackerel and other species can all give a decent account of themselves on light tackle and can provide loads of exciting action for even the neophyte.
And it is not just the blue-water species that are providing action. There have been some trophy-sized Almaco jacks (horse-eye bonita) taken recently. These include a 99.3 pound fish taken by captain Junior Bean's Paradise One. Fish like that are record material.
The largest Bermuda record is an 85.25lb Almaco caught on 20 pound test; the records on 8 pound test and 12 pound test are both around 65 pounds while the 30 pound test mark is held by a 73.5 pound fish.
The 50 pound test record is also a 65 pound fish. Amazingly, despite the quality of the Almaco jacks caught here, there aren't any IGFA. line class records held here. The only one currently held is the men's world record on 20 pound test fly tippet. Surely, there are opportunities here?
The foreign battle fleet is in the process of arriving. In dribs and drabs at the moment but there are indications that something like 40 boats will be here to contest the July billfish tournaments.
Factor in the days when there is no tournament, but the boats head offshore anyway, and it looks like the deep water around the isolated seamount we call home, is going to be well worked over.
One boat, Game Changer, has already been out testing the waters. Positive results were had, with the boat recently going one for two on marlin bites. As the water warms up and the seasonal migration continues, the billfishing is only going to get better.
Given the number and size of tuna already here, this is starting to look like what might be a bumper year for sport fishing.
Sharks continue to be active and this is rather surprising for this time of year. The month of August is usually when the Banks seem to be dominated by large tiger sharks and smaller, so-called “dusky” sharks.
So-called because science says that they are something else, but don't go there, for the time being. In any case, don't be surprised if a catch is “taxed” on its way to the boat.
While mutilated fish are disqualified for tournaments and record purposes, the remaining meat is still perfectly good. Just how many people can say that they shared dinner with a shark?
Looking ahead, the Bacardi Tournament weigh-in will be on Sunday at the Blue Waters Anglers Club from about 3pm.
Two weekends hence, the Bermuda Anglers Club International Light Tackle Tournament will see a variety of competitors competing on the light lines, just like in the good old days.
Not to worry, though, many of the anglers involved are quite capable of landing big fish on seemingly inadequate of gear. In fact, that is exactly what they seek when they go in search of Tight Lines!!!