Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Menorca : Part 1.

Well it had been booked for almost a year and with excitement reaching fever pitch finally my much anticipated week long fishing trip to Menorca with my mate Lee began last Monday. I drove down to pick up Lee from his home in Harlech, Wales the day before we flew out and at 02:30 we left there for Manchester airport. Arriving at our hotel about ten hours later we were both a bit tired, glad the journey was over but were excited to get fishing. There were strong winds blowing from the south west however and our hotel being situated at the western end of the island meant there was a bit of a swell running. Ideally we should have headed to the north east coast but I had trouble getting connected to the Internet on my phone and couldn't get directions to any of the marks I had saved on my maps app. After dumping the bags in our room we decided to give fishing at the back of our hotel in Cala'n Forcat a go. In the cliff lined gully there was a swell running and the water was heavily coloured. To give us an advantage we fished the pungently scented Gulp! Angleworm on drop shot rigs. Bites were few and far between and after a while we had only managed one fish each.

A saddled seabream was the first fish we both caught.

Not the epic start to our adventure that we had both been anticipating so I suggested we head east along the coast to the former capital of the island, Ciutadella. Still with no navigational aid I just followed road signs and once in the city tried to find the long channel that runs up into it. After getting a little lost we finally reached it and driving along a road that runs along above its northern side we spotted a nice looking concrete breakwater. Parking the car we soon figured out how to get onto it and once down there it looked like a good spot. It didn't take us too long to catch a few fish from around the submerged concrete blocks surrounding it.

I added a few more seabream to my account including this white one.
There were plenty of small female rainbow wrasse there too.
I caught a couple of East Atlantic peacock wrasse as well.
Another nice saddled seabream for Lee.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky I increased the size of lead I was using from 7g to 14g and started casting out my rig a fair distance into deeper water. This soon produced some fish including this nice little red porgy. Lee had a few species he wanted to catch during the trip and when he saw this one it was added to them. 

A very pretty fish.

As it got dark I started fishing around the wooden pontoons that led out to the concrete platform. I thought this might produce some blenny and goby species but it was another mini species that I caught a couple of instead.

Black scorpionfish are pretty cool. This was another species on Lee's "Most Wanted" list so it was good to locate some although he didn't get one on this occasion.

Then some kids turned up to target barracuda. We saw a couple of them cruising around but they didn't seem to be interested in anything we cast in their direction. By now we were totally shattered and headed back to our hotel for some food and an early night so we would hopefully feel a bit more refreshed the next day ready for the rest of the trip. In the morning I managed to get my Internet access sorted so after breakfast we decided to head north to fish from the rocks near Cala Binimel-La, an area that Lee thought might produce some groupers.

Mounds of dead sea grass covered the shore but we were more interested in seeing if the rocky seafloor would produce any groupers.

Bites and fish started coming from the first cast and it quickly became apparent that the area held large numbers of rainbow wrasse which my Angleworm drop shot tactics successfully caught. Lee who was fishing on the drop with various soft plastics on jigheads was instead catching lots of another common Mediterranean species.

Lee had never caught a painted comber before but was soon catching loads.

As the water clarity was great I was keen to experiment with other lures on my drop shot rig. Fishing with Gulp is very effective and it's easy to get a bit lazy in that respect. In truth it almost feels like fishing with bait at times such is its effectiveness. In the warm crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean there's no excuse not to try different things however and I was soon catching a few fish.

I got my first painted comber of the trip on an Aquawave Jaco Nail.
The incredibly long and  thin IMA Shirasu Snake didn't stay whole for long and I went through a few before this wrasse found the hook.
Just like its bigger brothers the Savage Gear mini Sandeel proved irresistible to predatory fish like this Atlantic lizardfish.

As we worked our way along the rocks we could see the picturesque Cala Pregonda over the bay. It is reputedly one of the best beaches on the island but it looked deserted. No doubt due to the time of year and I'd guess it would be packed in the height of summer. We soon reached a point where we could not go any further. Fishing here Lee carried on catching painted combers and I landed a particularly nice male rainbow wrasse.

Cala Pregonda. Maybe I'll visit it if I return to the island in the summer with Lillian.
Lee feels for bites as he works his jighead along close to the rocky seafloor.
Perhaps the most colourful example of a male rainbow wrasse I have ever caught. Stunning.

Heading back to the car we stopped for a nice cold Lemonade in the small restaurant in Binimel-La before heading east to the beautiful village of Fornells. Arriving there we started fishing from the rocks to the north of the harbour. It was immediately apparent that there were lots of wrasse and seabream species around and I hadn't even finished setting up when Lee hooked a big Atlantic lizardfish on his first cast. It was grabbed by a second even bigger one as he reeled it in though and both fish escaped in the ensuing chaos. The exact same thing has happened to me before and such behaviour illustrates the aggressive, sometimes cannibalistic nature of the species. I caught a large one shortly afterwards that I successfully landed without it becoming a meal.

Atlantic lizardfish are nasty pieces of work.

Lee was very keen to catch one but instead all his efforts produced was an interrupted procession of painted combers. I managed to add a few more species to my tally as we worked our way along the rocks towards the rocky harbour breakwater.

He wanted to be the lizard king but was instead the undisputed painted comber king.
Ornate Wrasse seem to play second fiddle to rainbow wrasse around Menorca. This is the opposite to what I've found in the past where both species are found. Normally I find it's ornate wrasse that outnumber rainbow wrasse.
A five spotted wrasse was a nice addition to my tally. They seem to be fairly uncommon. Out competed by its more aggressive cousins perhaps?
Common two banded seabream are nice looking fish with a subtle blue sheen on their heads and golden striping on their flanks.

Once we reached the breakwater and its fairly deep water Lee changed tactics and fished a Breaden Metalmaru, a cool shrimp like metal with a small blade at the back of it for extra attraction. This saw him get his first Atlantic lizardfish which was followed by several more.

Lee loves this unusual metal lure, it proved to be quite effective and soon the novelty of catching Atlantic lizardfish had worn off a bit for him I think as they don't fight at all really.

We soon saw a few larger fish cruising around the breakwater most of which we thought were mullet but when a darker fish took a bait fish off of the top right in front of us we didn't know what it was. This saw us switch to various small plugs and metals but we failed to connect with any thing larger. It then started raining but to be honest it was quite pleasant and the sun dried us off almost as quickly as we were getting wet. When it looked like it was going to get heavier we headed back to the car and drove back to the hotel.

After dinner we popped along to Ciutadella to fish from the concrete platform again for a couple of hours. This saw us catch a few fish, mainly different seabream species. I also caught a couple of small black scorpionfish and then a couple of cardinalfish. They are very odd looking little fish.

All out of proportion. A quite bizarre little fish.

Quite pleased with the way the first whole day's fishing had gone, having found some bigger fish that perhaps we could return to Fornells and target and having visited some lovely places in the process we headed back to the hotel. In the morning we were going to have our first go for pelagic species from a mark on the south coast of the island. Hard fighting fish were something we were both keen to catch more of so we were both excited by the prospect of potentially coming into contact with them.


  1. Great stuff Scott, looking forward to part 2.

    1. I concur! Love the ornate wrasse.

    2. Thanks Brian. Really is worth packing some gear when your go on holiday in the Med. :-)

    3. They are beautiful fish Russell. They do get quite annoying when you want to catch other species though. :-)