Weather has not been fishermen’s friend
Another weekend beckons and the question in every angler's mind is whether or not the weather will allow for fishing.
Certainly, the last few have not and it is getting rather late in the year to even be considering an offshore excursion.
In fact, most of the commercial operators start to shift to concentrating on bottom fishing for species that are readily marketable, and which can augment their lobster catches.
Drifting on the Banks or chumming for yellowtail snappers or bottom fishing for bonitas and porgies conserves fuel and keeps the operating costs down.
At the moment, though, the regular summer modes of fishing seem to be holding up and the mixed bag seems to be what most boats are getting, on the occasions that the weather actually lets them get offshore.
The wahoo don't seem to be as numerous as they were a few weeks ago, but the quality has improved significantly. One haul this week only had three among a selection of tuna, barracuda and other species, but they ranged from about 45 to 70 pounds. Previously the average fish was around twenty pounds.
To reflect on the annual wahoo tournament that takes place at this time of the year, the winning fish have usually been in the 55 to 75-pound range.
On the assumption that the tournament will get off the ground, the eventual overall winner would be expected to be a fish in that sort of size range.
Another interesting take on the offshore situation is that most of the successful wahoo fishing; well, fishing in general, has come from the time-honoured trolling baits and lure combinations.
To be sure, a natural bait has its place as well but the use of a Sea Witch® or similar not only makes a bait standout more, they extend the life of the bait and sometimes improve the swimming action. Live-baiting was often the technique of choice at this time of the year with robins and “frigate” mackerel taking pride of place as anglers looked to trade them in for trophy-sized wahoo. Although there are small mackerel on the Banks and Bermuda's Edge, the preference has been for trolling, so the efficacy of this alternative tactic is a bit of a mystery at the moment.
Undoubtedly someone will give it a shot and it may well pay off in spades.
Very little effort has gone into chumming although even that has shown that there are yellowfin tuna out there that are willing to please.
But, again, why bother if the tuna will take the trolled offerings? Barracuda are also at their most numerous at this time of the year and taking trolled baits with regularity. With any luck this will continue for a few more weeks before the regular passage of cold fronts sends the more tropical gamesters packing.
With all the talk about the environment making the news; it is a main point of contention in the Canadian election, green movements seem to be everywhere and there is endless speculation over climate change with that particular topic making headlines on a regular basis, there is some evidence that some of the seemingly lost causes can indeed be corrected.
Around 60 years ago the Thames River in England was horribly polluted and there was little positive to say about it. It became the subject of a clean-up with new regulations including restrictions on dumping and so forth.
It was actually amazing how nature is able to heal herself. After about a decade, salmon were once again running upstream, past the Houses of Parliament and onward.
More recently, dolphin (mammal) have been seen in the river and, just last week, there was a report of a humpback whale making a foray into the river.
These are clear indications of the river water quality, so is a positive outcome that many would never have foreseen back in the day.
This all just goes to show that taking even small steps to remove the factors that impact natural systems can be significant conservation measures.
There are probably some things that can be done locally that may eventually have a global impact. One of the things that comes to mind relates to the massive incursion of seaweed that made trolling impossible earlier this year.
Reports from many locations in the Atlantic and Caribbean concerned massive amounts of the seaweed washing up on shores making them totally unsuitable for beach-based tourism. Suggested causes of this influx ranged from global warming to pollutants and possible changes to the oceanic circulation.
Might something be done to try to alleviate this problem or is it simply a part of a natural cycle that had gone unnoticed. It can be hard to separate natural processes from man-made influences.
Whether or not anything significant can be done by local anglers and fishermen to improve the salt water world will remain to be seen.
Although every little bit counts, it is hard to think that Bermuda has much of an effect on the state of the Atlantic fisheries.
But, for this weekend at least, following a rather long hiatus for the angler, hopefully there will be some Tight Lines!!!