Wahoo take centre stage at Bacardi tournament
Despite what the astronomical calendar says, for Bermudians, it is already summer. That brings with it the usual seasonal pastimes like beaching, boating, barbecuing and fishing. What is different this year is the backdrop of the America’s Cup, which is causing all sorts of people to rearrange schedules and to try to save some time to take part in the seemingly endless festivities that are on tap.
Heavily affected by these changes in plans is this summer’s tournament schedule, so it was noteworthy that the first major event of the year went off in near perfect conditions last weekend.
Although there were not as many entrants in this year’s Bacardi Rum Angling Tournament as in other years, a higher-than-expected percentage of boats actually arrived at the weigh station, bringing a nice assortment of fish.
The main species entered was the wahoo. This was to be expected, although the mode of catching them varied widely. Some boats concentrated on using live baits while other used more traditional trolling methods. All told, everything seemed to work although the results differed quite widely. Best of all, most of the wahoo were a nice class of fish with only four narrowly failing to make the minimum weight.
In Class A, it was Nick Martin who took wahoo honours with a 54.5lb fish. In Class B, Colin Jones’s 64.7lb wahoo was the winner while in the commercial boat class the award went to Jake Hines with a nice 53.9lb specimen.
Tuna proved to be very thin on the ground, possibly because the bulk of the effort went into trolling. Live baiting would also attract tuna and although there was no entry in the small boat class, Cindy Mitchell produced a fine 59.7lb yellowfin to win the Class B category while in Class C it was Blake Horseman’s 30.9-pounder that took the limelight.
As predicted, the “other” category was one that proved difficult to fill. Most of the tactics in use favoured the capture of wahoo and tuna but were less likely to catch a suitable amberjack or bonita. As is usually the case at this early stage of the season any dolphin that are around tend to be a bit smaller than the eligible weight; no less desirable but not exactly tournament targets. As it turned out, it was on a Class A boat, Live Action, that Nelson Arruda enticed a strike from a large barracuda that tipped the scale at 24.5lb. A recognised game fish and weighing more than the minimum gave him the only win in the “other” category.
The runners-up boats in each class were: Bite Me, Capt Brian Mello (88.7 points) Class A, Lady Fox, Capt Gary Burnet (28.7 points) Class B and in Class C Legasea, Capt Brian Hines (221.9 points).
The High Point Boats, respectively, were: in Class A Live Action, Capt Joshua Crockwell (101.4 points); in Class B Ocean Mile, Capt Larry Martin (111.2 points) and in Class C it was Hakuna Matata, Capt Scott Barnes (223.7 points).
The Overall High Point Boat and winner of the Bacardi Rum Trophy was Cindy Mitchell’s Maverick, ably captained by Niel Jones, a Class B entry that amassed 244.1 points and provided both the largest wahoo in the tournament and the largest tuna in addition to securing the High Point Lady Angler award for Fiona Beck, who had 69 points.
Judging by the outcome of that tournament and some of the commercial results through the week, it is still probably a safe a bet to go out armed for wahoo.
Conventional trolling can pay off although some of the less patient may want to opt for chumming up some live robins and then live baiting in the hope of catching some of the larger predators that might be cruising around.
Chumming on the top of the Banks should produce robins but this is also likely to lure up some of the monster-sized yellowtail snappers that call the crown home. Although still a bit early on in the season, there may be some ambers or bonitas willing to please as well.
If conditions allow, chumming at the edge of the drop-off is the way to lure any tuna into the slick even if they are not apparent they may be cruising the deep around the Banks. A stream of bait out into the deep will soon have them swimming upstream as it were to find the source of all this largesse. Given that there have been some tuna caught, there must be others out there and clement conditions might be all that is needed to get them into feeding mode.
Sliding out into the deep water may well have unanticipated consequences because, beyond all doubt, there are billfish on the offshore grounds. It is all well and good if they are the target species but something else entirely when a blue behemoth comes up behind a small bait on light line intended for a wahoo or tuna. That could give new meaning to the term Tight Lines!
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