Commercial fishermen are an intrepid bunch
Itís December and yet winter really has yet to take a bite of this part of the world. Not a complaint but an observation.
We are overdue a winter gale with howling winds that lasts for three days and is punctuated by hard downpours just when it looked like it was clearing up. So, with better than expected conditions might oneís mind wander into the realms of angling? Maybe.
What really keeps the angling public and interested parties apprised of the marine environment is the commercial fishing industry.
Although the reaction to this section of the community can range from disdain to pride, there can be no denying that these are the intrepid people who regularly leave the relative safety of the land and travel out onto the waters to reap natureís bounty on good days or to try to glean a living out of a seeming desert. Certainly the last few weeks have reinforced that take on things. The idea of travelling the best part of 100 miles and spending six or eight hours staring at blue water and white froth with precious little reward can be demoralising and it is that that deters the amateurs from venturing out.
Throw in the distractions that are rampant at this time of the year and it is easy to see why sports fishing becomes almost non-existent.
So, although the weekend warriors stay ashore, the full time fishermen put in the lionís share of the work, providing the bulk of the intelligence that is ultimately shared with everyone else, even if that wasnít really their intention.
On the calmer days this past week, a number of boats have concentrated on catching robins on Bermudaís Edge and then hauling them down to the Banks with the focus being on Argus, making for a long trip.
There the robins have been traded in for big, hopefully better things although, as always there are no guarantees. But when that much water is being covered there have to be a few predators lurking and if the bait is really all that scarce out on the Banks then they will take a shot at just about anything that is offered. As a result, a few wahoo have pleased although it would be an exaggeration to say that anyone has hit the jackpot. About the biggest haul has consisted of about five wahoo and the only saving grace is that the fish are averaging somewhere not far short of 50 pounds.
Another problem stems from the fact that it is not just wahoo that will avail themselves of a live bait. The bottom line is most pelagic fish are predators and will take just about anything that will fit into their respective maws.
Not all of them have the luxury of being able to chop the bait fish into bite-size morsels but some fish which lack teeth can really open their mouths.
This goes to the extent that even a rainbow runner can swallow a live robin whole.
While that would be a large rainbow runner, it is not uncommon to see a mackerel or small tuna desperately trying to fit its mouth around a bait that is too big to fit. Greed or desperation? Something else worth bearing in mind is that the offshore is not a static situation.
It is by far one of the most dynamic ecosystems in the world and we really only get to see a tiny part of it through an even tinier time window. As proof of this, a part-time fisherman who was recently trying his luck the old-fashioned way on Challenger Bank suddenly encountered schools of tuna busting the water near the southern side of the bank.
Even though he was prepared for wahoo and was using baits rigged on wire leaders, he trolled though them and was duly rewarded with several yellowfin tuna in the 40-pound bracket.
A complete departure from the situation just a few days before and one which has undoubtedly shifted yet again and which remains unpredictable. Presumably in the absence of any concentration of bait, the tuna have departed; but one can never be sure what tomorrow might bring.
That yellowfin can still be present should come as no surprise. Although the species is thought of as a tropical tuna, it can be found in a fairly wide range of temperature waters with the high 60ísįF being more than acceptable.
In fact, years ago, some of the premier charter fishermen on the island used to say that chumming for yellowfin was pretty reliable right up until the end of the year.
In some of the milder winters that the Island has endured, yellowfin have been caught in January and February, so their recent presence should not be startling.
Not exactly the most tempting of circumstances but with the possibilities of some good days ahead, there may be a brave soul or two who will take a break from the vexations of the season and seek some solace in the quest for Tight Lines!!!
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