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.

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