Tuna haul makes up for lack of Wahoo action
Last Sunday sure wasn’t a day for wahoo fishing; especially not in a small boat!
Conditions saw the Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament postponed yet again with a small craft warning keeping much of the fleet at home.
Leaving that aside, it really looks like it was a grand day for tuna fishing with Captain Peter Rans’ Overproof literally catching a boatful.
Trolling is generally not the most successful way for fishing for tuna here in Bermuda.
The real aficionados of yellowfin and blackfin tuna concentrate their effort of the fine art of chumming, using a variety of baits to get a school of tuna into a feeding mode that will see them literally come to the boat to gorge themselves on the bits on offer.
Trolling does indeed catch tuna, but it is the chumming that seems to have been the preferred Bermuda way. Up until last weekend, it would seem.
That day, Captain Rans’ haul consisted of 70; yes, as in seven-oh, tuna ranging from small schoolies right on up to respectable middleweights.
And before there are those who will claim that this was a senseless waste of a valuable living commodity, let it be known that many of the smaller fish were returned to the sea where they will continue to live, feed and grow.
This is the height of responsible fishing and something that should be noted by many amateurs who, on rare occasions, can be the worst offenders when it comes to irresponsible fishing.
Looking at the positives, the reasons behind this incredible success story could be manifold.
Obviously, Captain Rans and his crew know what they are doing. Their past successes in tournaments are proof of this, as are their consistent catch rates.
It is not likely that they have stumbled upon some miracle bait that attracts hordes of tuna who cannot resist taking baited hooks. It is not some form of black magic or obeah that they have suddenly invoked.
It is much more likely to be a result of the old adage that has always dogged anglers and fishermen; “the right time and the right place”. Being in that position has always been a large part of any piscatorial success and here is a glorious example of what can happen when everything comes right.
Oh, it probably helped that the poor weather conditions contributed to the fact that there were very few boats out there that could take advantage of the schools of tuna that had happened to be on the Banks.
Schools as a plural because tuna tend to travel in groups where most of the fish are pretty much the same size; so, to have multiple size classes strongly suggests multiple schools.
That would fit in rather well with the largely accepted migration patterns of yellowfin tuna. First off, they are considered to be one of the tropical tuna species.
This means that they prefer warmer waters even though they can be found in a range of temperatures. The logic would say that the fish move northward in the late spring and early summer. This ties in well with the expected season for this species along the United States east Coast.
Early May sees them moving up past North Carolina and Virginia, eventually making it as far north as the canyons off New York and New Jersey. When the first winter winds start to blow and the temperature starts to drop, they move southward, trying to stay within their preferred temperature range.
Eventually this movement will take them past our area although there have been winters that have seen yellowfin tuna spend the entire period here.
Presumably those are years where the temperature does to drop down below about 65°F and there is enough natural bait around the Edge and Banks to allow them to stay in the general area.
The question is: is there enough bait and will current conditions persist to allow the offshore grounds to hold the present schools of tuna for any length of time or will the current influx just keep on moving, putting paid to any more bumper hauls.
There ae plenty of reports of “frigate mackerel” offshore and that will probably keep any wahoo in the area as this is one of their favourite food items.
What is amazing is just how fast the little mackerel grow. The size difference between just a couple of weeks is more than noticeable and the fish eventually stop being bait and become predators in their own right.
There will be those who will be hoping to use the present “frigates” as baits for wahoo should the tournament go off as planned this weekend.
Once again, the weather will be the deciding factor with the organisers having to keep safety considerations foremost with small craft warnings pre-emptive of such an event.
As is so often the case at this time of the year, it will be the weather rather than the fish that decides whether or not there are going to be any Tight Lines!!!
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