The heat is on, so back to the grind
It is so hot that even the fish seem to be taking a bit of a break. With the foreign marlin fleet almost completely departed, the thought of trolling in air conditions is largely out of style and it is back to the old hot and sweaty grind.
The trolling is exceptionally slow, and while that is normal for this time of the year, many pros are concentrating on live baiting with robins for wahoo and tuna. Unfortunately, the heat malaise often extends to the robins as well and just getting enough to justify putting them out can take a while. The adage being where the bait is plentiful the fish probably aren’t; at least not yet.
Drifting while chumming should still get up tuna and other small game, with less desirable species, such as barracuda, making their presence pretty obvious in the warm water. Another warm-water species and one that is capable of providing a real pull is the oceanic bonito or skipjack tuna and there have been a few nice specimens taken over the last week or so. Strong, on a pound-for-pound basis, the oceanic has to be one of the more challenging light tackle species.
Now is, or at least in the “old days” was one of the best times to concentrate on light tackle angling. The fish may not be at their biggest, but there is certainly plenty of variety and conditions lend themselves to using many different techniques that are good for taking larger fish on light line. High on this list is live baiting. Sending a live robin or mackerel down deep is likely to elicit an attack by an amberjack, Almaco jack or even a horse-eye jack of superior proportions. Although many believe that a large fish calls for heavy tackle, this is not necessarily the case. A fish that has just ingested a large bait usually has it stuck in its throat, thereby reducing the flow rate of water through its gills. This is like trying to run a marathon on a full stomach — not exactly the best strategy. Also some of the effectiveness from the lighter classes of tackle comes from the fact that the fish feels less of a pulling or dragging in one direction. That constant, relatively gentle, tugging often gets the fish to swim in that direction, adapting a line of least resistance. This sort of pressure is often the result of the bend in the rod which should keep the pressure constant even though it is not necessarily much in the way of foot-pounds or pulling power.
This physical action was even noted as long ago as Isaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (mid-1600’s) where the long wand or fly rod was a most effective fishing tool even though the line was very thin indeed. Many of the other small game species are also suited to anchovies or cut bait served up on the lighter classes of tackle; even some of the notoriously difficult ones to fish.
Try 2lb test, for instance. Hard to tie, tough to see and extremely vulnerable to even the tiniest bit of abrasion. Eight-pound test, on the other hand, isn’t much more difficult to fish than 12lb test, a feat regularly carried out by club anglers in Bermuda. Rainbow runners, some of the hefty oceanic bonitos that are coming off the Banks at the present time and the seemingly omnipresent blackfin tuna are all suitable candidates. Even if live baits are employed, it can be mind-boggling what will try (often successfully) to swallow a serious mouthful!
Much of the key to angling pleasure is the pursuit rather than the capture; hence the vital role that light tackle played when sport fishing became something of a highlight to a visit to Bermuda. In recent years, whether a result of increased costs or the desire to stock the freezer the emphasis has shifted to putting fish in the boat. Understandable for commercial fishermen but less so for so-called sportsmen and women. And, just to point out that the whole world has not given up on light tackle comes the unlikely recent entry for a potential new 20lb test IGFA line class record. This comes in the form of an 808lb blue marlin caught off Madeira aboard the Silver-Rod-O, a boat with a Colorado registry that is destined to confuse. No doubt a great catch, if this feat were translated into points on the factor system, they would add up to a cool 163,216 points — not a bad day’s angling. It sort of dwarfs the 1,000 points that a 37.947lb tuna would score on 12lb test line for many a local angler indulging in club competition fishing.
Just a final reminder that the annual Junior Fishing Tournament organised by Bermuda Anglers Club will take place tomorrow, rain, blow or shine. The weigh-in will take place at the flagpole on Front Street from 3pm. Even armchair anglers are welcome to come along and see what unlikely candidates the young anglers have come up to show for their Tight Lines!
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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