Now is the time to beware the birds

  • It could be like a Hitchcock movie out there this weekend (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

    It could be like a Hitchcock movie out there this weekend (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

It is a simply gorgeous Bermudaful day, ideal for a spot of fishing. The seas are calm, the breezes are light; it is all so inviting.

You arrive at the southeastern corner of Challenger Bank having trolled most of the length of the inside edge without so much as a nibble. Convinced that this is the home to myriad yellowfin and other denizens of the deep, you fire the anchor overboard and wait for it to take hold. It eventually does and there you are happily riding at anchor in 38 fathoms with a most clement tide running off the stern.

You cut the engine and settle down to enjoy some peace and quiet, knowing that the fish will come. You stare down into the near purple depths, seeing the shafts of sunlight from a cloudless sky make their way into the chasm that is the ocean. The silence is almost deafening after the throbbing of the engine. A first handful of fry goes overboard; the silvery sparkles reflect the light as they move away from the stern and sink deeper into the ocean.

It is at that moment that you find yourself cast in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. First there is one, then another and then who knows how many birds.

They have appeared from nowhere and are determined that no fish will ever sample any of your bait. They wolf down the chum before it even starts to make a slick. Even at depth the hook bait is all too apparent to these voracious winged creatures who have no fear of gobbling it down, often hooking themselves in the process. It is a nightmare, one from which there is seemingly no relief. It is June and the shearwaters are here.

Although they are a right nuisance, spare a thought for them. Probably fortunately for all concerned they are not here long, merely stopping off to rest and hopefully feed before continuing on their long migratory journey. By the time they reach this latitude, they are pretty much starving and the island acts as something of an oasis especially when fishermen are making fish and other treats readily available.

One of the funny things about these birds is their inability to fly unless they can get a starting “run” or swim. Normally they paddle vigorously with their feet to get up speed and then their wings take them airborne. From a standing start they simply cannot take off. Because of this quirk some fishermen overcome the problem presented by these hungry demons by catching the normally docile birds and stowing them in the boat’s cockpit until the fishing is over. Then the birds are put back into the water so that they can start paddling and take off to further their quest.

Although the birds have been putting a bit of a damper on the chumming, there are still enough fish to make life interesting. Thus far, the bulk of the tuna action in the form of yellowfins has come from Argus Bank but it is hard to think that the fish will not soon be cruising around Challenger Bank, making themselves far more accessible to the more casual angler.

Even if the yellowfin haven’t found Challenger yet, the blackfin make it their home and there are some fair numbers to be made. Most of the fish are in the ten to twenty-pound range and are ideally suited to light tackle. Blackfin this size are also exceptionally good as table fare, as many can attest to.

As may be expected, the wahoo are settling into summer mode with a few school-size fish being taken on the troll with larger ones taking a fancy to chum lines where they can have a field day with baits fished on monofilament leaders. Short of hooking the fish right in the corner of the mouth, most times these tooth critters will successfully part the leader taking hook and bait with them.

The deep water is starting to live up to its reputation as a marlin hotspot. Now that there are some of the foreign billfish specialists working the offshore almost exclusively for marlin, reports of good-sized fish are starting to mount up. Apart from some maybe trophy-sized blues there have been a few white marlin caught and released as well.

Something that most local boats don’t do but the foreign boats almost always do is to carry a smaller bait or lure in their spreads. The locals work on the theory: big bait for big fish but this often leaves the smaller, but no less pleasing, white marlin out of the equation. In fact, it is not uncommon to see a white come up on a large lure and to look it over and even pull on it but be incapable of actually taking it and getting hooked.

With the America’s Cup reaching its exciting conclusion, anglers will be looking for the next major event which will be the Royal Bermuda Regiment Tournament set for July 2. The big fish, blue water people will be focusing on the 4th of July when the Blue Marlin World Cup is fished. That’s the day, a lot of anglers all over the world will be hoping for some heavyweight super Tight Lines!

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Published Jun 24, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm)

Now is the time to beware the birds

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