Autumn has arrived but don’t tell the fish just yet
Boom, it is autumn and slowly but surely, the weather is on the change. Cold fronts have started to blow on through, bringing a bit of thunder and lightning, and showers that were certainly well needed by most tanks and gardens. Does this mean that summer is over?
Well, not quite yet, but the signs that Old Man Winter is waking up are clearly there. Happily, at this latitude and in the splendid isolation of the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda will continue to enjoy summery conditions for a few weeks more.
And, for most of us, the less summery the better, as the tropical cyclone season yet has two months to run.
From that point of view, cooler sea temperatures are better. They are less conducive to feeding those systems with heat energy that translates into wind and even nastier variations of the same.
Rest assured there will still be sunny days with balmy breezes and a good dose of humidity. These are fishing days and there won’t be all that many of them that will coincide with weekends and other days that the otherwise employed angler can take advantage of.
In the past, many have observed that some of the best fishing is to be had in September as it shifts into October. It was the autumnal wahoo run that provided most of the action, but there was certainly a lot more going on, and those who were bent on top-class sport fishing knew how to take advantage of such things.
Part of this activity stemmed from the warm pelagic wanderers that ranged as far north as the canyons off New Jersey and farther feeling the change in season and making their way back to warmer climes where they will spend the winter. That means migration, and migration means that the fish will need to eat to provide the energy required for a long swim to the Caribbean or other lower latitudes.
Bermuda is definitely in the centre of the migratory southbound course and whether or not it will remain warm enough through a winter for them to stay does not preclude a visit.
Marlin of both persuasions, tuna, particularly yellowfin, wahoo, oceanic bonito and dolphin all fit this migratory profile. Should this all coincide with the arrival of bait species, then there are near-perfect conditions for anglers to find some truly fast action. At this time of the year, “bait” means juvenile little tunny or “frigate mackerel” in local parlance. But it may not be limited to that.
Juvenile blackfin tuna also make excellent, if not better, live bait and even tiny skipjack tuna sometimes put in an appearance. For these reasons, it is always wise to troll a daisy chain at this time of the year. If any such fish are caught, do not be in any doubt that the predators are feeding on them already.
It is also worth being on the lookout for flotsam. After Hurricane Florence ravaged the Carolinas, there is likely to be all sorts of stuff out on the high seas. Such material often takes virtually no time to acquire a following of a myriad of fish ranging from tiny bait species to full-sized predatory species.
Traditional trolling and keeping an eye open often leads to the best of autumnal fishing. Wahoo and yellowfin are the targets of choice, but barracuda can be relied on to trash a few of the carefully presented garfish. Ditto on some of the live offerings; it is just the time of year when they are most numerous. The bite may vary significantly from day to day, but perseverance usually pays off.
It is not just the offshore that might be at peak. Consider the inshore: although this generates little interest in the minds of most anglers, there is still plenty to be had. Unfortunately, these, too, in a few short weeks will be things of the past.
Along the South Shore, the palometa are at their best, with some large specimens just waiting to tear into a baited offering. The water along the beach is comfortable enough to allow for prolonged wading and it is possible to accumulate enough fresh fish in the matter of only a brief period.
Around docks and jetties, particularly where fish are cleaned, there will be numbers of grey snappers. Just how much longer they will be there is anyone’s guess because, suddenly, one day they will have almost magically departed.
Calm days over the grass flats and sandy bottoms will reveal world-class bonefish, a species that is almost forgotten by modern anglers. Bermuda bones are large and plentiful enough to allow multiple shots in the course of a single tide change.
Not normally encountered in Bermuda but making a name for themselves on social media recently are the resident tarpon. Ranging from about three feet long up to about six-footers, they are found in harbours and bays such as Mill Creek, Ely’s Harbour and elsewhere, often in the proximity of beds of fry.
Unsuitable for food, tarpon are released and usually easily handled by using one hand to hold the fish’s lower jaw.
Summer is rapidly becoming a memory, but there is still some decent fishing to be had; not to mention an opportunity to lay away some fillets or fish steaks for the months ahead.
It is expensive enough to buy and there is a certain satisfaction in knowing how your particular piece of fish has been handled, starting off with your own Tight Lines!!!