Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Most Wanted : Redlip Blenny.

Whilst fishing on my recent holiday to the Canary Island of Lanzarote I spotted through the crystal clear water a rather big chunky blenny sitting on a rock on the bottom. I tried to catch it but despite a concerted effort I failed to do so. It was a bit of a brute, was very dark and had a red tinge to its pectoral fins. Some research when I got home has led me to believe that the fish in question was a redlip blenny.

Playing hard to get with those sexy red lips certainly got my attention.
It would seem that the redlip blenny can adopt a mottled colouration too.

Having caught and released a couple of my "Most Wanted" targets while there I need to add a couple more and the redlip blenny is going to be the first. Its stubborn refusal to take a Gulp! Angleworm had me perplexed and I've decided that I want to catch one. Perhaps a different lure or presentation would fool this seemingly fussy blenny or maybe some bait would be required to tempt one? Of course in order to find out I'll have to return to the Canary Islands and I'm considering a visit during winter early next year. Whichever island I visit I've no doubt it'll provide some species hunting adventures I can look forward to.

Tight lines, Scott.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 4.

On Saturday the girls wanted to go and watch some of the Ironman triathlon that was taking place on the island in the morning and were booked into a spa for the afternoon for some pampering. This meant I was free to fish from early morning until late afternoon. I also had arranged to meet up with self exiled Dutchman now Lanzarote resident and avid lure angler Jeroen Timmers to have another go for larger species at the back of the harbour in the evening into dusk. With three species and one new species still required to achieve my goals I decided to set off early and explore some new ground I had looked at on Google Maps the night before. Up before first light I headed off with my ultra light gear and briefly stopped at the small pier to see if there were any parrotfish around and also to try for a blacktail comber from amongst the boulders. No sign of any parrotfish so I began working paddletails and grubs through the rocky ground.

First cast and my Ecogear Paramax was attacked. The neat teeth marks of a puffer I think.
My curly tailed grub was also attractive to this scorpionfish which took a bigger mouthful and got hooked.

A second scorpionfish soon followed but after a few more casts with no sign of my desired target I decided to move from the pier and fish from the rocky sea defences to the west of it. Sticking with small soft plastics on jigheads after a few casts I got a take on the drop from something decent and my rod had a nice bend in it. Conscious of the rocks and the ropes of a moored diving platform nearby causing problems landing the fish I applied some pressure but the fish had other ideas and made a few fairly short but powerful runs. I tightened up my drag slightly and kept my rod high winding in quickly when the drag fell silent. A nice saddled seabream soon came into view from beneath the surface. For the second time during the trip I really wished I had a net with me but after a nervous moment I hand lined it up onto the rocks. It was a lovely looking fish but unfortunately when I tried to take a photo it flapped out of my hand, landed in the water and shot off. Quite disappointed I had a few more casts to see if it had been part of a shoal but had no further takes.

Aware that the long session during the day was my best chance of reaching my targets I decided to keep moving and headed off to fish the ground to the west of Puerto Del Carmen Harbour. As I walked along the wooden walkway on the northern side of the harbour though I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. A huge ray slowly swimming around the rocky bottom of the harbour. I stopped to watch and took a few photos and a second one appeared.

A pair of these round stingray were cruising around in the harbour. What a sight.

Feeling quite privileged to have seen them I carried on and headed up onto the clifftop path that leads along the coast to Puerto Calero about two miles to the west.

The coast between Puerto Del Carmen and Puerto Calero has a path along the clifftops and as I would discover several fairly easily accessible marks down below.
I liked the look of the reefy mixed ground at this spot and access was pretty easy too. I think there are a few wrecks offshore here and there was a clear path down made by divers no doubt.

Down on the rocks at the waters edge I started fishing Gulp! Angleworm on a drop shot rig. This produced immediate results when a big lizardfish appeared from behind a submerged rocky finger and grabbed my lure aggressively. As I reeled it in I thought it was quite dark in colouration and when I landed it I was pleased to discover that it was in fact my first ever diamond lizardfish.

This diamond lizardfish was my tenth new species of the trip meaning I had reached my new species goal. It also took my overall tally to twenty three species leaving me with just two additional species to catch to reach my overall goal of twenty five species.
A vicious predator with a mouth most prey will not escape. Note the teeth all over its tongue too!
Lizardfish also possess an adipose fin similar to members of the trout family.

I then caught a few more diamond lizardfish which seemed to suggest they prefer the type of rougher ground I was fishing over. They are very aggressive too! When reeling one in another attacked it, holding on briefly before letting go! I also caught a few ornate wrasse, Canary damselfish and scorpionfish before switching to paddletails on a jighead. This had predictable results!

Reins Rockvibe paddletail minus tail.
An IMA trilobite gets mauled as well.

I decided to climb back up and find another mark to fish, one with access to deeper water. After a short walk along the clifftop path I spotted a rocky outcrop down below that seemed to fit the bill nicely and again it was fairly straightforward to get down to it.

Deep water close in. Maybe I could locate some groupers or a blacktail comber?

On the way down I got a bit of a surprise however when I turned to find a man in a cave making himself some breakfast! He had a fair amount of stuff in there and looked quite comfortable with a few cats and dogs to keep him company. Hundreds of people must pass him every day walking along the cliffs and be completely oblivious to his being there.

The chance you take when you book a holiday and choose accommodation that is allocated on arrival!

Down on the rocks and not keen on my supply of soft plastics being diminished further I tied up another drop shot rig. Most people use a palomar knot to attach the hook but I have a different method that works well in conjunction with Gulp! Angleworm or any other worm shaped lure.

I pass the end of the line through the eye of the hook from back to front and slide it up the line. Then I form a loop with the hook in it. The hook will now be the correct way up. I tie a blood loop passing the hook through the twists I've made. I use four twists. Pulling the knot tight after lubricating with saliva and taking care to get the size of the loop just right for the length of lure I'm using.
I feed the lure onto the hook until the hookpoint is half way down. It bunches up a bit. Pushing it up over the eye of the hook onto the loop the eye of the hook will help stop fish pulling the lure round the bend of the hook. Small toothy fish will still make light work of the lure and if you don't hook a fish it won't last long so you'll get plenty of practice rigging them. I keep an eye on the line forming the loop too as it will also get bitten and damaged.

Unfortunately despite my neat presentation I did not locate any groupers, blacktail combers or any other species that I had not already caught during the trip. A lot of ornate wrasse, Canary damselfish and scorpionfish were all that seemed to be present so I decided to move again. Walking along the path the ground all seemed fairly shallow and many spots now had people sunbathing and swimming around them so I carried on until I reached Puerto Calero Marina. Now aware that I could not fish inside it I walked through it to fish from a small pier just past its mouth. Seeing me with my fishing gear, security were quick to approach me and politely reminded me that I could not fish inside the marina. I asked if the very small pier outside the harbour mouth was OK and was told it was so I made my way along to it.

When I arrived a young boy was already fishing there and was busy trying to pull his gear from a snag on the bottom. The water was fairly deep so I decided to start fishing a small casting jig. I quickly caught a bogue and a tiny mackerel before I had a follow from a small barracuda. I paused my retrieve to try and induce a take and the barracuda paused too. I slowly started to work the lure again and the fish shot forward and grabbed it. All hell broke loose and the barracuda launched itself out of the water. This had the young boy rather excited and as the fish charged around taking line I found myself again longing for a net! After a minute or so I thought the fish was finally played out and edged backwards to the left side of the pier where I thought it would be easier to land it. The fish had other ideas though and found the energy to run again, going around the corner of the pier and snapping my braid on the rough rocky edge of it in the process. I was gutted to say the least but hoping to tempt another barracuda and successfully land it I tied on another leader and casting jig. A second chance didn't materialise however and after a while I spotted a rather large blenny sitting on the bottom. He looked quite chunky like a tompot but was a dark fish with red pectoral fins. I decided to switch to a drop shot rig and concentrate on targeting the big blenny for a while but it didn't seem interested in my lure at all, unlike all the other fish in the area. They kept attacking it and the big blenny would swim off to another spot before eventually returning to his favourite perch. After catching a few ornate wrasse and rock-pool blennies I did however catch a different blenny though leaving me just one more species to hit my goal of twenty five.

Whilst trying to catch the big dark blenny I ended up catching three of these. I knew they were a new species taking my tally to eleven but I really struggled later on to find out which and it would take a fair bit of research to identify them as ringneck blennies.

By now it was mid afternoon and the heat was becoming a bit of a problem so I moved to below some overhanging rocks and sought shelter in their shadows. Sticking with the drop shot rig I cast it around the area and after a succession of ornate wrasse, damselfish and rock-pool blennies I hooked a small fish at range that put up a decent little scrap for its size. As it came into view I knew what it was and quickly hoisted it up to my hand.

This small derbio was my 25th species of the trip and meant I had reached my target.

Very pleased to have achieved my goals for the trip I carried on fishing and caught a Macronesian sharpnose puffer, a few more ornate wrasse and some more rock-pool blennies before hooking another fish at range that gave a good account of itself. It was a small red porgy.

One more for good measure. I caught these last year on Crete and thought they were common pandora. They are in fact red porgy, known in the UK as Couch's seabream.
Like the golden facial band on a gilthead seabream this red porgy had a lovely blue marking across its face and around its eyes.

This was the last fish of the session and I walked back along the clifftop path to Puerto Del Carmen with a big smile on my face. After a quick bite to eat with the girls I grabbed my Argento Compatto and headed down to the harbour to meet up with Jeroen hopeful that I might add a bonito or a bluefish to my tally. 

We met up at about quarter past six and headed along the back of the harbour's outer breakwater. There were a few other anglers already fishing. Jeroen had brought along a heavier outfit for me to use that could cast up to 100g but I opted to use my own setup as my heaviest lure only weighed 28g. We both started fishing away casting out metal jigs as far as we could. While we fished we had a chat about fishing on the island. Suddenly we saw some surface activity over to our left. A shoal of bonito attacking baitfish and breaching the surface. It was an impressive sight but unfortunately they were well out of range so only the seabirds were able to take advantage, picking off baitfish from above. This activity was over fairly quickly and we hoped that the fish would swim towards us but unfortunately they did not and shortly after the sun set we admitted defeat. It was nice to meet Jeroen and if I'm ever back on Lanzarote he's told me to get in touch which I'll be sure to do. If conditions are suitable I'd love to fish the west coast with him where good sport can be had. A similar invitation was of course extended should Jeroen every visit sunny Scotland! Rather tired from a fairly long days fishing I thanked Jeroen for meeting up with me and said goodbye before heading back to the apartment. My efforts throughout the day's fishing would certainly ensure a good night's sleep.

The last day of our holiday had arrived and I wasn't expecting to do any fishing but our trip to the famous Sunday market in Teguise didn't last as long as we expected and was a bit disappointing if I'm honest. Obviously set up specifically with tourists in mind much of what was for sale was what I would describe as "tat". Lillian and Sharon did somehow manage to find some nice things however and seemed quite happy. Finished up at the market we were no longer sure what we were doing in the afternoon. A visit to the Lanzarote Aquarium in Costa Teguise had been on the cards but a look at the mixed reviews on trip advisor the previous evening had me wondering if it would be worth going. In the end we tossed a coin and that led to us paying it a visit which I was glad we did. It was €12.50 each to enter which may have been a little expensive and perhaps some more information on the fishes on display in various languages would have been good but I still felt it was quite good with lots of interesting fish to see, a large tank with sharks, a round stingray and a sea turtle that had lost both rear flippers to watch cruising around. The visit also gave me a chance to speak to someone about some of the fish I had been catching. This conversation took place in front of the scorpionfish tank and looking at the specimens inside I realised that all of the scorpionfish I had caught during the trip were probably Madeira rockfish and not black scorpionfish both of which were on show. This revelation might have taken my new species tally up to twelve for the trip except for the fact I now think that some of the small scorpions I caught on Crete last year may also have been Madeira rockfish so I shall call it eleven new species and may have to do a bit more research on scorpionfish species. The girls enjoyed the aquarium too but it didn't take that long to go round it and getting back at the apartment early I got permission to go for one last fishing session in the late afternoon. I headed around to the rocks opposite the mouth of the harbour after seeking confirmation from the harbour security guard that this was an OK place to fish from.

The rocks at the mouth of Puerto Del Carmen Harbour are OK to fish from. The end of the breakwater opposite is not.

I started off fishing a small metal so I could try and get into the deeper water beyond the rocks but this didn't produce anything so I switched to a drop shot rig and Angleworm. Casting this around I found that the area to the right was slightly deeper and seemed to hold more fish with a few ornate wrasse and damselfish first to be caught followed by three Macronesian sharpnose puffers. Then I hooked a decent fish at range that made a few short sharp line stripping bursts that felt quite familiar and sure enough a nice saddled seabream was soon landed. This time I took no chances and moved away from the water to take a photo.

This one was maybe half the size of the one that was camera shy.

A couple more ornate wrasse followed and as I was reeling in the second, a big diamond lizardfish came up and swallowed it right in front of me. Slowly reeling in I managed to land it and it promptly regurgitated the poor wrasse. It had a few missing scales from its flanks so I unhooked it quickly, popped it back and it swam off quickly seemingly none the worse for the experience.

A very aggressive, ruthless predator. Not too clever though.

Putting the lizardfish back it was soon time to pack up but I did catch one more fish before I did. Quite apt perhaps that my last species from the Canary Islands should be a Canary damselfish.

A fitting final fish of a fabulous holiday.

In the evening the three of us headed back down to the harbour for a nice seafood meal washed down with some beer and wine. I tried limpets for the first time and they were superb. For my main course I had fried grouper and it was very tasty indeed. Some cheesecake and a Cortado finished it off nicely. It was a lovely way to end our holiday and feeling rather full we headed back to the apartment for the last time.

Limpets. Not a shellfish I've eaten before but I would again. They were excellent in a garlic and herb sauce.
My only grouper of the trip. It was very tasty.

Well we all had a wonderful holiday. As well as spending quality time with Lillian and Sharon visiting most of the main attractions on the island and having a couple of really excellent meals I'd managed to fit in a fair bit of fishing too. I love fishing abroad, it's a lot of fun especially using ultra light tackle. Scaling up and targeting bigger fish can be quite frustrating though so if that's the style of fishing you prefer be prepared to blank, although I'm sure when the larger fish species do show up the effort and patience required would be well worth it! Below is a summary of the twenty six species of fish I caught, the eleven which were new to me are highlighted in bold.
  1. Atlantic Chub Mackerel x 1
  2. Atlantic Horse Mackerel x 1
  3. Atlantic Lizardfish x 9
  4. Azores Damselfish x 13
  5. Black Seabream x 1
  6. Bogue x 6
  7. Canary Damselfish x 25
  8. Common Comber x 3
  9. Derbio x 1
  10. Diamond Lizardfish x 7
  11. Gilthead Seabream x 1
  12. Greater Weever x 1
  13. Guinean Puffer x 2
  14. Macaronesian Sharpnose Puffer x 8
  15. Mackerel x 8
  16. Madeira Goby x 10
  17. Madeira Rockfish x 11
  18. Ornate Wrasse x 60
  19. Painted Comber x 4
  20. Planehead Filefish x 1
  21. Red Porgy x 1
  22. Ringneck Blenny x 3
  23. Rockpool Blenny x 10
  24. Saddled Seabream x 3
  25. White Seabream x 1
  26. Wide Eyed Flounder x 3
Catching the flight home on Monday morning I was sad to leave but with two trips to the Mediterranean booked later in the year I've got more ultra light species hunting fun to look forward to. Lanzarote was great though and I definitely think I'll return to it or one of the other Canary Islands in the future for sure. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 3.

Not normally an early riser but now into a bit of a routine, early on Thursday morning I headed down to the small pier again. Sticking with Gulp! Angleworm fished on a dropshot rig but using #6 hooks to try and avoid catching lots of damselfish the first few fish I caught were painted combers followed by an Atlantic lizardfish.

My first painted comber of the trip. I was still hopeful that his black tailed cousin might show up.
A nice big chunky Atlantic lizardfish. He has a cousin too that I've never caught before, the diamond lizardfish.
Careful unhooking is required due to those sharp needle like teeth. A firm grip too as they tend to roll around a bit like a crocodile doing a "death roll"!

I then watched as some fairly big silvery/grey fish turned up and proceeded to graze on the rocks on the sea floor. Try as I might I could not tempt them from their rock scraping patrols and then I realised that they were male parrrotfish, another species I caught last year on Crete. I persevered and my efforts were rewarded when a small group of white seabream arrived and one of them took my lure.

This white seabream was another species added to my tally taking me to twenty one for the trip.

I kept trying to tempt the parrotfish but eventually they moved off again so I turned my attention to the boulders to the right of the pier closer to the rocky sea defences to see if there were any blacktail combers hiding in them. Dropping my rig down in between them my rod tip soon arched over as a scorpionfish shot out, grabbed my lure and made a dash for cover. Quickly applying a little pressure I kept the small feisty fish out of snags and hoisted it up. Unhooked and returned I immediately repeated the feat in the next gap I tried.

Scorpionfish are poisonous. Handle them with care. I prefer a lip grip and a supporting finger but watch out for the two sharp venom delivering spines at the front of their anal fin!
Scorpionfish are also pretty cool. These ones had nice brown and white fine spotting over their heads and bodies and a pink tinge to their lips and lower body.
Again we had a trip planned for the late morning and early afternoon so after a couple of hours I headed back to meet the girls. Off we went to the Timanfaya National Park to see more the Island's volcanic landscape and also enjoy a spot of lunch. On the way we stopped at the Timanfaya Interpretation and Visitors’ Centre where we looked at some excellent displays explaining the geological processes behind the formation of the island. After taking a look at the many excellent multimedia exhibits on offer we were back on the road and driving a couple more miles into the "Mountains of Fire" soon arrived at the Timanfaya Nation Park visitor centre. The park is strictly controlled and to see it you have to do so by coach so we did just that and were soon travelling through some very strange landscapes.

Due to lack of rain on the island the area haven't changed much since it was formed by volcanic eruptions almost two centuries ago.
Strange irregularly shaped lumps of molten rock ejected from the volcanoes form lava fields.
Other areas are made up of what looks like red dust. This looks like it could be a landscape from Mars.

After just under an hour we arrived back at the visitor centre and popped into the El Diablo restaurant located there for lunch. Most of the meat and fish dishes there are prepared on metal grills over an open pit using rising geothermal heat, a quite unique way to cook and we were all looking forward to some rare steak.

The Timanfaya El Diablo logo. Designed by César Manrique.
Chicken is cooked at lava mark 7.

Thoroughly satisfied with what we all agreed were some of the best steaks we have ever had we headed back to Puerto Del Carmen for a siesta. In the evening I headed to the harbour breakwater rocks armed with my Argento Compatto to try for some larger fish on metals again. Before I did that though I rigged up a running ledger with a 15lb hook length and a #2 hook to use up the remainder of my fish baits. Things were surprisingly slow apart from my rod tip twitching away as small fish slowly removed my mackerel strips from my hook in small mouthfuls. The cessation of these rhythmic movements signalling that my bait was gone. This meant my bait ran out fairly quickly with a couple of bogue and a single black seabream being the only fish caught in just over an hour.

A nice little black seabream. My twenty second species of the trip. My first black seabream from the shore too.

By the time light began to fade my bait had run out so I tied on a 20lb wire trace and clipped on a casting jig to see if there were any bigger fish around but an hour or so thrashing the water, trying various depths and retrieves sadly produced nothing again.

On Friday I decided to have a lie in and late in the morning the three of us jumped in the car and headed off to explore the north of the island. I put my Finezza Compatto in the boot but no opportunities to fish arose. First up on our mini tour was the Jardin de Cactus.

There are no prizes for guessing who designed the cactus gardens. That's right it was César Manrique. They contain an impressive selection of succulents from all over the world. There were goldfish in the ponds but I thought better of it.

We then continued north to visit the Jameos del Agua, a cavernous complex that is used as a natural concert hall and contains a subterranean lagoon that is home to a rare albino crabs.

Visitors are told not to throw coins into the water as their corrosion in the water harms the rare tiny white crabs that live there. Sadly some either do not understand the signs or chose to ignore them so they can make a wish.

After that we visited the La Cueva de los Verdes, a section of underground tunnels formed during the eruptions of the La Corona volcano three thousand years ago. The tour took just under an hour and the lower part of the cave is also used as a music venue.

Outside the Green Caves we spotted a lizard sunbathing. Lizards are cool. Not as cool as fish though.
The caves were very impressive and low ceilings in places made things interesting as did an unusual optical illusion.

Safely back above ground we then headed west to Mirador Del Rio to enjoy the spectacular views of the nearby island of La Graciosa that the high altitude affords.

La Graciosa is situated off the northern tip of Lanzarote and the island and its surrounding waters are a marine reserve. With fishing strictly controlled I guess I won't be wetting a line should I ever visit.

Finally we headed south again to visit the last place on our itinerary, the Castillo de Santa Bárbara which is built upon the lip of the crater of Mount Guanapay overlooking the old capital of Lanzarote, Teguise. It has stood there for hundreds of years and is in remarkably good condition. I guess the lack of rain has helped preserve its stonework.

You can drive right up and have a look around the very old castle.

That concluded a very enjoyable little tour of the north of the island and we headed home for a something to eat and a little nap. Having not fished yet I was also keen to get out in the evening for an hour or two.

In the evening I fished the small pier for a couple of hours but I must say the day's excursion had left me feeling rather tired. Taking it easy I lazily employed a few different methods. I fished Angleworm on a drop shot, paddletails and grubs on jigheads and small metals. It was quite relaxing and nothing new was caught but I did catch a lizardfish from just under the surface on a metal, a rock-pool blenny from straight down the pier wall and a few more Macronesian sharpnose puffers.

A partially inflated Macronesian sharpnose puffer. They are weird little fish.

I headed back up to the apartment, treated myself to a few beers and had a think about what my plan of attack would be over the last couple of days of the holiday. With a full day's activities planned for Sunday and packing up to do for an early flight home on Monday morning if I was going to catch the remaining three species to hit my target then in all likelihood I'd have to do it the following day. I thought my best chance would be to find new types of ground to fish as I couldn't see the ones I'd fished regularly producing any more species than they had already. I had a quick look on Google Maps, a plan was formulated and off to bed I went with a renewed sense of optimism.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 2.

On Tuesday after visiting the Castillo de San Jose near Arrecife to see an abstract art exhibition in the morning we headed inland to visit the César Manrique Foundation and see the Monumento al Campesino.

Lillian and I in front of the Castillo de San Jose. The old military fortress is now an art gallery and restaurant.

Lanzarote rose from the sea in violent acts of volcanism. Much of its weird, alien landscape is evidence of this. Black basalt and lava fields are everywhere.
The late and highly influential artist and architect César Manrique's former studio is now a visitor centre and the main hub of the Foundation bearing his name. Manrique belived that archtecture should be in harmony with the natural environment. His one time home is built into the ground and has lower levels that are built in large empty spaces that were created by huge bubbles in the lava. Volcanic rock, plants and smooth plain white surfaces are used throughout.
Examples of César Manrique's work are found all over the island. The Monumento al Campesino is a monument in memorial to the hard working peasant farmers of Lanzarote.

Sightseeing done for the day we headed back to Puerto Del Carmen. The girls went to the shops to get some supplies for the apartment and I was given the green light to have a quick look around in Puerto Del Carmen Harbour. There were lots of bream and mullet swimming around but I headed along to the deep water at the end of the outer breakwater. Fishing a drop shot rig I caught a trio of ornate wrasse and a small bogue dropping it straight down the side.

Ornate wrasse are aptly named. Very colourful fish indeed and most fond of Gulp! Angleworm too.
Bogue are a popular livebait used by locals for barracuda. I'm told they can also be fried whole and are supposed to be rather tasty.

I then decided to switch to a paddletail on a jighead again and cast it out a bit to see if there were any groupers or combers hiding in amongst the rocks on the bottom. I missed a few takes on the drop before connecting with one. My Finezza Compatto soon had a proper bend in it and then the fish went on a powerful run, quickly stripping line from my reel. I gained some back before it went off like a rocket again. My heart was pounding and I wasn't sure what I had on. It made one more run before I managed to get a look at it. At first glance I thought it was maybe a small bonito. Off it went again. With no net I was worried about losing the fish lifting it up so I let it go on a couple more runs. The fish was obviously tiring but the power of its runs was still very impressive indeed. With the fish now well beaten I finally got it on the surface and quickly hand lined it up the few feet from water to my hand.

An Atlantic chub mackerel. Awesome fun on ultralight tackle.

Before I had left them I'd jokingly told the girls I'd try and catch dinner but honestly didn't expect to do so. The fish was certainly big enough to keep so I quickly dispatched it and headed back to the apartment.

In the evening after enjoying the oven cooked fish Lillian and Sharon went for a run along the beach. Not being the athletic type I opted to have a couple of hours fishing of the rocks on the sea side of Puerto Del Carmen Harbour's outer breakwater with my ultra light setup. The water was quite deep and with large black volcanic boulders making up the sea defences I thought that combers and groupers might be a possibility at close range so I gave the small paddletails a go again. The result was the same as before though with toothy fish nipping the tails off in rapid fashion so I switched to a drop shot rig and soon caught an ornate wrasse. This was followed by half a dozen tiny mackerel that all hit the lure as the rig fell through the water column on its way to the bottom.

I think they were all just juvenile Atlantic mackerel. The smallest joey mackerel I've ever seen though and a few shoals of them might attract a few predators I thought.

Fishing away I then hooked something that put up a decent scrap. I thought it might be a grouper and bullied it up fairly quickly to prevent it getting into the rocks but was delighted when a small trigger fish appeared from the depths.

Due to its colouration and single dorsal spike I knew it wasn't the grey trigger fish that frequents UK waters. I'd later find out it was a planehead filefish. Who names fish anyway?

Very pleased with this surprise capture I carried on fishing and caught a scorpionfish and a common comber before the girls arrived and we headed back to the apartment.

A common comber. I caught some on Crete last year. Its cousin, the blacktail comber would have been a new species for me and I knew they were present at this spot so I would return to have another go for them later in the week.

On Wednesday morning I decided to go back to the breakwater to fish it with my light lure setup. Up at half past six again I headed along to find a few other anglers already fishing as day broke. I decided to fish metals so I could cover a bit of water at various depths. I thrashed the water for two hours from two different spots but I didn't have any luck. I witnessed one of the other anglers catch a single barracuda before I headed back for breakfast. Our itinerary for the day was a tour of the south west coast to a few tourist spots. First on our little excursion was the picturesque Playa Papagayo, a nice little beach flanked be rocky cliffs. While the girls relaxed on beach I fished from rocks to the right of the golden sandy beach.

Such a beautiful beach and I didn't even set foot on it.

It was fairly windy which made fishing ultra light tricky so I fished a drop shot rig at close range to make line management and bite detection easier and quickly caught a small saddled seabream.

Small but perfectly formed and another species added to my tally.

This was followed by a trio of ornate wrasse before I spotted the girls getting up and heading back along the beach so I climbed back over the rocks to meet them. We then headed west to Playa Blanca to the Puerto Deportivo Marina Rubicon for a tasty lunch of grilled and fried squid which was lovely. We then went for a walk around the marina. As you would expect there were lots of large mullet swimming around but I was also surprised to see some big white seabream, salema and best of all some gilthead seabream too. Grabbing my Finezza out of the car I decided to try and catch one. Incredibly on only my second cast I hooked one and despite being concerned about it running under or around snags I quickly landed my first ever gilthead seabream.

I didn't realise at the time but I was breaking the law and I'm not talking about the shirt!
I have to say that given the reputation the gilthead has as a superb fighter I was very disappointed. Perhaps living in the marina and eating bread being thrown in by tourists all day makes the marina fish a bit lazy?

No sooner than I had put the fish back I was approached by a fellow Brit who politely pointed out to me that it was illegal to fish inside harbours and marinas in Spain and that if the police caught me I would be fined and may also lose my fishing tackle. Oops! I thanked him for pointing this out and stopped fishing straight away returning my gear to the car. I was relieved to say the least and having paid for a fishing licence I was a bit annoyed with myself for breaking the law and making what luckily didn't end up being a very costly mistake. Anyway, lesson learnt, we left the scene of the crime and headed north to quickly visited one of the island's main salt producing areas.

Something salty going on.

Next up we visited the sea caves at Los Hervideros. I had a quick fish off the cliffs, there was a slight swell running and the currents were quite strong but I persevered and caught a couple of bogue.

Rustic.
The caves here are cut into the rocks by the power of the sea.
I clambered down onto a ledge and had twenty minutes fishing while the girls explored the area.
A little silver reward for my efforts.

We then finished off our little tour of the south west with a visit to the green lake, Charco de los Ciclos near to the village of El Golfo before driving back to Puerto Del Carmen.

Algae in the water give the lake its colour. It sits in the remnants of a volcanic crater one side of which has been eroded away by the sea and replaced by a black beach. A very odd place indeed!

Later that day after tea I went down to the small pier again and fished off the rocks at the end of it as the tide was out. Gulp! Angleworm on a drop shot rig once again was getting attacked constantly as soon as it went into the water. I caught loads of ornate wrasse, a couple of scorpionfish and a couple of damselfish before I decided to mess about in the rockpools where I caught a few more blennies and gobies before returning to the pier.

I caught over a dozen ornate wrasse from the rocks. You can't really tire of catching such pretty fish.
These rockpool blennies were so much more docile than their UK cousins. Maybe too hot for nasty behaviour.
These Madeira gobies can be seen in almost every rockpool.

A nice Irish gent was fishing on the pier too and we had a chat as we fished. When he packed up he left me a handful of prawns he had been using as bait. Not wanting to see perfectly good bait go to waste I started fishing small chunks of it down the side and whilst it was being quickly stripped I caught a couple of damselfish and an ornate wrasse before setting up a running ledger using a small cone weight. Casting it out onto the sand beyond the rocks bites were less frequent at this range and I was expecting lizardfish and weevers to be caught when bites came. When I did connect with a fish I was surprised when a small flat fish appeared and I lifted it up to find it was a wide eyed flounder.

A bit bigger than the one I caught last year on Crete.
Wide eyed indeed. You could swim a bogue through those!

Rebaiting and casting my rig back to roughly the same place two more wide eyed flounder about the same size followed in quick succession and then I caught a lizard fish. Funnily enough I had planned on fishing bait and had with me the chub mackerel's belly sections in a small tub. I decided to scale up to a #2 hook and baited it with a two inch strip of that. It wasn't out long when I had a solid bite, struck quickly hooking the culprit and started reeling in. My rod had a nice bend in it and the fish felt decent without putting up a great scrap. No runs were made against my lightly set drag but the fish was thumping away as it came closer. After about twenty seconds everything went slack though. Reeling in I discovered my 6lb snood had been bitten off. Not sure what I had lost I carried on fishing and caught a couple of common combers but by now it was getting dark. Thinks slowed right down and when a large group of divers arrived and started entering the water to my right with powerful torches lighting up the water as they moved around I figured it was time to go. Reeling in however my fishy sliver was grabbed by something that proceeded to tear about from left to right and I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a horse mackerel.

This horse mackerel was a nice bonus catch. I guess it pays to retrieve your bait slowly especially when it has the profile of a small baitfish.

Running low on mackerel belly I decided to keep it to use as bait the following evening and dispatched it quickly. Heavier hook lengths would need to be employed though to hopefully prevent anything biting me off again!

So, another few productive short sessions had produced a few more species including a few nice surprises and had taken my tally to nineteen species for the trip including nine new ones. The gilthead seabream was also on my "Most Wanted" list but I would like to catch another one from the open sea to see how well they can fight. With plenty of time left I was fairly confident that I would achieve my species targets but the more species you catch the harder it is to catch new ones so luck would no doubt also play its part!