We’re back ... and the fish are still waiting
Here we go again — sort of! After a seemingly interminable off-season, the sportfishing season is ready to swing back into action. This timing hearkens straight back to the day when the recognised fishing season commenced on May 1 and pretty much all anglers respected the rigidity of the bureaucratically defined season. Things have come a long way.
For one, fishing is now a year-round sport. Much is not made of it in the winter months, but it sure goes on; both commercially and recreationally. These months recently past have seen plenty of action. There were bluefin tuna landed along with more than just a few stories of almosts that weren’t. The number of wahoo caught in March had many thinking that the spring run had already begun and even during February when the weather is most unfriendly, there were enough yellowfin around to make a fisherman’s life interesting.
Now, as the weather slowly slides into summer mode and many start to contemplate a return to a something more akin to that which was taken for normal, it is time to focus on the months ahead.
The tournament calendar was all but done and dusted before the Covid precautions injected a healthy dose of confusion and forced uncertainty to the forefront. Blue Waters Anglers Club had a members’ event slated for early April but that went among the missing, as has the Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament originally slated for tomorrow. There will be lots of changes in the weeks ahead, no doubt.
It is not as if the present restrictions keep anglers home. They can and some do go fishing; it is just that tournaments almost always involve some mixing of households and that is the ultimate no-no. As a result, all tournament organisers are merely biding their time and awaiting developments before committing to any courses of action.
A broad look at the pending calendar sees a couple of deviations from the normal expectations. Quite obviously, a number of club-related events will not be able to adhere to their originally scheduled dates but these are far more flexible than the major tournaments that are tied to specific times that coincide with events or with the abundance of certain species.
A big omission is the BAC International Light Tackle Tournament, a mainstay of many years standing, while the Invitational Fly Tournament has been moved back to September. Still in place subject to circumstances are the Bacardi Tournament in June, The Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament in September and the newly successful Wahoo Tournament aimed for the late September-October run of that species.
The billfish events remain on the calendar for the month of July with a substantial number of boats hoping to be able to fish the Fourth of July Blue Marlin World Cup here. This forms a tiny part of the Bermuda Triple Crown series of events that highlights the quality blue-marlin fishing that there is to be had here. Last year saw a dozen or so foreign boats gracing local waters, and the word on the street is that it will be almost three times that number if all goes well.
But that is all down the road and subject to whatever the next few weeks may bring Covid-wise. As it is, as long as households are not mixed, it is possible to head offshore and, right about now, a bit of blue-water activity might be the very solution to the stay-at-home ritual.
The weather simmering down the past week or so has allowed boats to get offshore and there are plenty of signs that things are in full swing. Most of the whales have departed as have the boats dedicated to pursuing these leviathans, leaving the seas clear for those wishing to catch fish. And catch fish they have.
Numbers may not be great but the quality of the wahoo being taken by traditional trolling methods is nothing short of top-shelf. Fish in the 40lbs-plus range are the norm with some considerably larger. Hauls generally consist of between two and four, but reports are that there are a lot of misses. What this means is that the fish are there, and they are willing. Multiple strikes are commonplace, and it is a matter of making the hooks stick that seems to be the problem.
On the Banks, there are also numbers of yellowfin tuna that are quite willing to inhale trolled offerings. Baits fished on outriggers a long way back used to be the trick to eliciting such action, but at the moment even a deep troll rig intended for wahoo will not escape the attentions of a marauding tuna. The tuna caught recently have all been respectable, ranging from 70lbs to about 100lbs. This sort of action probably will not last because as the weather settles into summertime, so will the fish and things will gradually slide away from the preferred method of trolling to chumming in order to get results.
Those doing a bit of chumming or bottom fishing will find bonitas and ambers are still around. These are mostly smaller, but if you haven’t been fishing for a while, who cares? Coneys, barbers and hinds will also please those dropping a line to the bottom. Those sticking to the surface will have some action from jacks, robins and mackerel. As the water continues to warm, more of the summer species will put in an appearance and in any case, it won’t be long now before something you fancy supplies the Tight Lines!!!