Wahoo take back seat with yellowfin arrival
All good things come to those who wait — and local anglers have waited long enough! It is fair to say that the fishing season is now in full swing.
This week the wahoo definitely took a back seat to the arrival, in numbers, of yellowfin tuna. Better late than never, the yellowfin or popularly in Bermuda, the Allisons, are back on the Banks. Most of the attention has been focused on Argus Bank, but conventional wisdom says that if they are there then there will be some on Challenge Bank as well.
Among those hitting success with the tuna have been Captain James Robinson’s Wound Up and Captain Alan Card’s Challenger, just to name a couple. And what makes for success? Try a dozen or more prime yellowfin tuna. That sure meant some bent rods, that’s for sure.
The fish are mostly school fish up to about 40lb, but there are some larger tuna that will occasionally invade the chum slicks primarily intended for the school fish.
For those who have forgotten, it was this type of fishing that put Bermuda on the angler’s map back in the 1950s and 1960s. Light tackle chumming for large fish, relative to the line test being used, offered a challenge and nowhere could it be easier than to lure a willing tuna right up to a boat where it could be clearly seen before being hooked. The natural battling ability of tuna and their curious tendency to spiral made them most worthy opponents on light line. The benchmark tackle for serious anglers was 12lb test, but the eventual recognition by the IGFA of even lighter classes saw a foray by aficionados into 8lb line, 6lb line and a few elitists scaled down to 4lb or even 2lb test line.
While it is certain that this sudden influx of yellowfin will see the commercial market flooded, there is no reason why the amateurs should not have a field day and accrue lots of points by catching some yellowfin for use as fresh tuna and practicing catch and release which will also rack the club points up.
As an aside, the arrival of fresh local tuna may have proven to be something of a timely blessing for restaurateurs and other wholesale users of tuna.
This is because recently there have been major recalls of certain frozen yellowfin tuna that is favoured by sushi providers, among others.
With most of the visiting fleet that normally works over whatever billfish traverse the island’s waters still awaiting the end of the America’s Cup to free up some berth space, the amount of effort going into working the deep water has been less than usual.
Having said that, the few boats that have so indulged have not gone unrewarded. In one such instance, Alan DeSilva, fishing aboard his Treasure Isle, caught and released a blue marlin estimated at 800lb.
What is worth noting is something that crews that fish blue marlin are highly aware of.
This is that estimates can often be misleading. While it is fairly simple to guess or even actually measure the length of a big fish, the girth is another matter: the fish is not going to let you put a tape measure around its waist, so to speak.
There are also variations in just how a fish carries its girth; some taper off more rapidly than others and, again depending on condition of the fish (be it spawning time or simply well-fed), others may carry that girth for a greater length — sort of a “fat” fish as compared with more “normal” fish.
Those factors can markedly change weight estimates but they are often not immediately visible when a fish is alongside a boats and there is the hectic frenzy that accompanies some releases. When fish are boated and measured, a formula can be applied that is pretty accurate but even this can be off by about 10 per cent. Ten per cent on a 900lb fish can be the difference that makes a fish a grander. In practical terms, large fish often weigh more than estimated, so if the fish remains in the water and is released, will we ever know?
Trolling continues to produce some nice wahoo and Challenger picked up a bit of a rarity this past week — a sailfish. Never common in local waters, the odd sail is caught every now and then.
Virtually unmistakable when compared with the other billfish species that occur here, they do provide a bit of variety.
What is unfortunate is that almost invariably they are caught on tackle that is way too heavy for them to be able to put on any of the aerobatics that they are noted for. On the right tackle they can be a real handful of Tight Lines!
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