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Blue marlin can and will take any old bait

Even sand eels have ended up in the stoamchs of blue marlin (File photograph)

Funny how wintry conditions can suddenly disappear and summery weather becomes the norm. That is what is happening right now.

Things are now settling down quite quickly; there are even high pressure ridges over the central Atlantic, a forerunner of the Bermuda-Azores highs that will be such a dominant feature of summer.

With the winds moderating, more and more fishing effort is being made and a much clearer picture of the offshore situation is emerging. Most of this has come from the commercial fleet as the amateurs and even the avid weekenders are usually a bit slow out of the starting blocks.

May was always seen as the start to the sport-fishing season and with good reason. The rising offshore water temperatures generally coincide with the seasonal migrations of many pelagic species, notably the wahoo and several of the tuna species. Blackfin tuna, which are believed to be largely resident, usually become more active as the water warms up and have provided good sport for decades for those choosing to chum.

Boats working the Banks have started to produce wahoo fairly consistently and some of the fish have been of a respectable size. Given the time of year, school-sized fish are expected and it is not uncommon to catch several wahoo that are as alike as peas in a pod. Bigger fish tend to be loners or in small groups with catching a double being a real result.

Covering a fair amount of water will probably offer shots at both the more numerous schoolies and the occasional larger fish. Recent catches have been rounded out by the odd dolphinfish or tuna as both species will readily take the same sort of rigs as a wahoo would.

Although June, July and August are seen as the months to pursue blue marlin, that species has been caught during every month. Perhaps obviously, those caught in winter have been stragglers or maybe even lost but blue marlin are major pelagic wanderers that truly come and go where and when they want. Whether or not fishermen are looking for them and carrying appropriate gear and bait rigs is another matter. Thus it was no real surprise for Bobby Lambe to follow up his recent capture of a bluefin tuna with an all but 500lb blue marlin last week.

Dragging virtually any lure or bait over the deep water will eventually get the attention of a blue cruising in the depths. The old adage “elephants eat peanuts” could never be truer. Blue marlin have been known to take baits intended for wahoo or tuna on a fairly regular basis and it is not unheard of for them to go after tiny lures intended for mackerel or other bait species.

In the world ocean, feeding is largely opportunist. Bait is not always available and when it is the predators will take advantage of it, whatever it may be. Examinations of marlin stomachs have even turned up things like sand eels which are normally found on the seabed, proving that marlin can be quite adaptive when things like flying fish or tuna are in short supply.

The preferred target species at this time of the year is the wahoo and most fishermen will be concentrating on trolling traditional rigs. Although modern plastics and other materials have led to a profusion of lures, most experienced anglers will opt for rigged garfish. What some people forget, and beginners may not know, is that there is a bit of a knack to running a bait.

It is important to look at a trolled bait while it is in the water. Of course, everyone knows that a bait should swim and not spin but things go further than just covering this base. Sea conditions and even the direction relative to the wind and tide can make a difference. For instance, look at a bait being fished from an outrigger. Does it slip smoothly across the surface or does it burst out of a wave and then tumble over itself? It just won’t look natural; things that live in the ocean are mostly streamlined and act that way. Try running the errant bait back a little further or move the clip up or down a bit on the halyard. That will change the angle that the bait is being pulled at and will alter the action. When it looks nice and smooth, then it is probably working at its best.

This weekend Bermuda Anglers Club gets their in-house competitions under way and, in two weeks’ time, the angling season gets into full swing with the Bermuda Fishing Clubs Annual Tournament.

The weather predicted suggests that this will be a decent weekend for fishing although the truth of it is that many would-be anglers need to get a few more things in order before they can go in search of Tight Lines!