Atargatis a match for Pound for Pound
Things were a mite blustery offshore this week, even though this month is often associated with flat calm seas and a dearth of activity as the heat malaise sets in, affecting both anglers and fish. Many boats often turn to looking for bits of flotsam in the hope of finding a school of dolphin or wahoo associated with the debris.
The boats, mostly diehard commercial operators, had little to report with the trolling being exceedingly slow, with just the odd wahoo or small tuna deigning to take anything on offer.
Chumming has been little better unless small game was the target; there is enough of this around to occupy just about anyone even though the real trophy species seemed to be in short supply. Nearer the shore, yellowtails and whitewater snappers have provided those putting in the time at the right places with some reward even though they were no panacea for those seeking some exciting action.
The last billfish-related tournament of the year, the Bermuda Marlin Release Challenge, was fished last Sunday. Although it was intended to be a showdown between local and foreign boats, its postponement meant that a lot of the foreign competition had already left the island and numbers weren’t quite what they might have been. As it turned out, at the shotgun start, 11 boats burst out onto rather choppy seas and proceeded to do whatever they could to rack up release points.
Captain Don Boys’ Game Changer was the first boat to hook-up although, as something of a surprise, the fish turned out to be a nice 140lb yellowfin tuna rather than a blue marlin. This was something of a consolation though, with points only awarded for billfish releases.
Things livened up shortly thereafter when Captain Chris Down’s Atargatis was the first boat to release a blue marlin. Mark Munt’s Pound For Pound followed suit. With both boats on the same number of points the afternoon saw them going head to head to try and eke out a clear advantage. Although the final decision might have come down to the time of the release, it would be preferable for there to be a clear winner.
Keeping things tight, both boats hooked up again in the afternoon and this time things turned out a bit differently with Atargatis releasing a second blue and Pound For Pound unfortunately pulling the hook on their fish. Things were then quiet until at the final bell, Captain Down and his mate aboard Atargatis laid claim to the not inconsiderable purse that had been up for grabs.
Although it is August and the overriding theme is heat, there is September to look forward to. In many anglers’ consideration, this was the best fishing month of all. While there may well be some less than calm days, hurricanes excepted, all the summer species would still be on the offshore grounds with many of the more migratory ones very definitely on the move and in feeding mode. Best of all, this month used to feature a massive wahoo run on a regular basis. This run was often made even better by having numerous schools of juvenile blackfin tuna and mackerel providing a huge food supply for the ravenous fish and acting as a ready source of live baits for the intrepid anglers wishing to partake of some fast action.
Something which has been reported and, if true, could be a very good sign of things to come is the presence of very small mackerel in the inshore waters.
Apparently schools of these very juvenile mackerel, aka little tunny, among other monikers; have been seen busting bait in some of the enclosed bays and harbours around the Great Sound. If this is indeed the case, it will only be a matter of time before they move offshore, where there is immense potential for some fantastic action. There is not a blue water predator species that would not delight in being able to feast on such tender morsels.
Although not a whole lot is known about the biology of the little tunny, they are known to grow very quickly and to move large distances in short periods of time, so it would not be unexpected to find the so-called “frigate” mackerel offshore within the next couple of weeks. Time to cross fingers and hope for the best and that includes the tropical systems staying down in the tropics where they belong rather than heading up in this direction.
Although there are a couple of internal club events on the schedule for this weekend, the main ring will be given over to the Annual Junior Fishing Tournament, sponsored by Bermuda Anglers Club. The weigh-in will take place in the vicinity of the Flagpole from 3pm.
This should be quite a spectacle as there will be a wide variety of species and sizes as the island’s youth show off the fruits of their Tight Lines!
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