2014 BBC Seasonal Forecast
Season Fishing Forecast for 2014:
LOOKING GOOD ALREADY
Since 2003 we have been developing an objective method for forecasting the overall fishing action during the entire Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC) tournament season. The hypothesis for forecasting the seasonal marlin fishing action stems from the location and geographic extent of the bluer and often warmer water that occurs from the Cat Island – San Salvador Island area and south where it is presumed that the marlin concentrate before, during, and after spawning. We have been calling this water “blue marlin water.” From satellite data it is relatively easy to identify this water based on its signature optical characteristics and surface water temperature. Our working hypothesis is that the marlin are associated with this water and the more “blue marlin water” that exists in the Abaco Islands and Eleuthera Island areas, the greater the marlin relative apparent abundance will be in these areas. Also in recent years we have observed an association between this water and the yellowfin tuna action in the Bahamas, as well as, along the western side of the Gulf Stream between Jacksonville, Florida and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, as well as, in the canyon areas to Massachusetts. But as this article is focused on the blue marlin and the Bahamas, the discussion related to yellowfin tuna, the overfishing off west Africa, and catch rates off the United States east coast will have to wait for another article as we have time over the next few weeks.
Based on our observations of the fishing action and ocean conditions in the Bahamas, particularly from Eleuthera to the Abacos over the last 20+ years it appears that excellent fishing action overall occurs within the BBC tournament area when there is a substantial volume of the “blue marlin water” pushing over the 100 fathom (600 feet, 200 meters) and shallower ledges along the eastern side of Eleuthera and the Abacos. Relatively good fishing seasons occur when this water only occurs over the 500-1000 fathom depths, but does not reach the 100 fathom and shallower depths of both areas. Mediocre years occur when there is a lack of this water over these areas. It is also important to understand that good fishing action on a daily basis is linked to the favorable direction of these currents and when the water mass boundaries of these currents are stable for three to five consecutive days over good bottom topography that normally concentrate the prey fish. For the BBC tournament areas, the dissolved oxygen concentration does not appear to be a major factor at the present time compared with the temperature and clarity of the water. In other areas south, the dissolved oxygen has a greater controlling factor on fish distribution.
The working hypothesis is based on the hourly satellite observations of the ocean conditions derived by Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, Inc. – ROFFS™ (roffs.com) and catch reports provided by a variety of sources over 20+ years. The infrared (IR) satellite data are used to observe the sea surface temperature (SST) and the ocean color data are used for indices of phytoplankton (chlorophyll), water clarity, and colorized dissolved organic material are received from a variety of sources including NASA, NOAA, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP or JPSS), and the European Space Agency (ESA) satellites. ROFFS™ also uses data derived from drifting buoys, gliders, aircraft, private boats, and satellite altimeters. The altimeter data only provide a very coarse spatial and temporal resolution with a time delay (5-10 days to produce usable circulation models) that limits the data’s utility related to high resolution and real-time operational oceanography. While the ocean changes significantly over such short periods, the altimeter data can be used for an overall, albeit 5-10 day average view of the ocean’s surface circulation. It is not useful for evaluating small scale, short-term (daily and sub-daily) changes in the ocean currents or their boundaries.
During the last several years we had observed that the conditions over the BBC tournament area were particularly favorable as early as January to the first week in March in terms of the presence of “blue marlin” water off Abaco and Eleuthera as exemplified by the first week in March 2012 (Figures 1 & 2).
If you do not want to wait for our next Fishy Times newsletter, please visit us in the meantime to get all your fishing news on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on the web. Safe and successful fishing until next time!