Auspicious times for island’s fishing
Is the ocean paved with marlin? That is how it has seemed for the last couple of weeks. Although these productive local waters were unable to come up with something for the Blue Marlin World Cup, the coincidentally fished Bermuda Billfish Blast was a record breaker.
The 38 teams participating released 109 billfish during the three days of fishing. This is pretty incredible by any standard, equating to 2.87 billfish per team. In layman’s terms, that is near enough three fish per team, or one a day for each boat. That is top-quality billfishing anywhere.
The top scoring and winning boat was Captain Edward Murray’s Auspicious, which was certainly that by amassing 3,400 points from six blues and two white marlin, all of which were released. In second place with 2,500 points was Just A Dog, skippered by Captain Michael Farrens with third place going to Captain Pat Kannon’s Waste Knot, which narrowly beat out local boat Reel Addiction (Captain Craigin Curtis) on time, with both boats logging 2,200 points.
Even better is that of the 109 billfish caught by the fleet, 91 were the coveted blue marlin, with just 17 white marlin and a solitary spearfish rounding out the numbers. This showing basically blew about all the previous years, stretching back to the original event in 2010 which had 43 billfish over the three days. The previous best year was 2017 when 89 billfish were caught with the average over the period 2010-2017 coming in at just over 63 fish. No question, this is certainly shaping up to be a remarkable year.
Something that has not escaped notice and which will be the subject of considerable investigation over the next couple of days as the Bermuda Big Game Classic is being fished, is the suggestion that none of all the fish caught was large enough to be boated. With a minimum weight of 500 pounds, in the normal course of things, most fish would be released but there would be a few biggies that might be brought to the scales.
Conventional wisdom; and when it comes to fishing that might not be worth anything at all, says that the larger fish are all females (this much is true) and that they are carrying roe with the intention of spawning soon. Thus they may not be in feeding mode and are going about their breeding business. The last full moon was on June 28 and the next will be on July 27, well after the last of the billfish events. Another moon-related theory relies on the dark moon which was on Thursday. All that aside, the supposition is that there can’t be loads of small fish around without some big ones also being present and the big ones are going to start biting soon. That puts the current Big Game Classic and the Sea Horse Billfish Tournament next week right into the mix. Given Bermuda’s history of big fish, it is probable that something is going to happen over this next week or so. Time will tell.
As anyone who has been out on the briny will tell, there is plenty of bait around. There are flying squid as well as other squid which are showing as stomach contents particularly in the really fat blackfin tuna that have been caught as of late. This is a really good class of fish and it is probably because they are not suited to heavier gear have been largely ignored as anglers seem to prefer to catch yellowfin tuna. They are great battlers and were partly responsible for making Bermuda a light tackle capital.
There are also enough yellowfin out there as well to make life interesting with some of the larger specimens attacking baits meant for billfish. Tuna will travel out into the deep waters where anglers prefer to look for marlin and sometimes prove to be a bit of as surprise. Along the edge of the drop-offs, the more traditional trolling area for locals, there are also tuna and a fair supply of summertime wahoo. These latter average about 22 pounds and while there will be the occasional larger fish, most will fit this description.
Also seen by many, including the big predatory fish, as bait, the skipjack tuna are nothing short of abundant. Once given the rather nasty nickname “the cockroaches of the oceans”, this species has been notably absent from local waters in recent years. Their return and that of large numbers of billfish and other species may bear some relation to each other, but for the moment such action is to be enjoyed.
So if the big time isn’t your fancy, just go back to doing what has always been done in the summer here; go offshore, drop the hook and toss some chum overboard. Whether this is just down off the oil docks on a calm summer’s evening where white water snapper are the target or the southeastern corner of Challenger, where tuna are the name of the game, the result will be some Tight Lines!
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