Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Light game fun on Tenerife : Part 2.

On day four of our holiday I got up early again and drove back down the coast to San Juan. I arrived before sunrise again but this time the end of the breakwater was already very busy with anglers so I found myself a spot in between two locals who were float fishing on the inside of the breakwater and started fishing down the side. It didn't take too long before I got a few small bites on my Angleworm and landed a few odd looking little red fish.

Cardinalfish have huge eyes and even bigger mouths for their small size. They seem to feed more during darkness. At least that's my experience of catching them.

Once the sun had risen the ornate wrasse, Canary damselfish and puffers became active and it was hard to get through them. I tried small metals for a while but they didn't draw any bites so back on went the Angleworm. The puffers munched it rapidly but eventually a Madeira rockfish beat them to a fresh piece.

I don't think their poison is as nasty as that of a weever but the Madeira rockfish is still another venomous fish to handle with care. I prefer a firm lip grip before unhooking then just drop them back in. 

I had hoped that some of the anglers at the end would maybe leave or move so I could have a go at the spot where I observed the Atlantic trumpetfish but they didn't. I was about to return to Los Gigantes when I had a text from the girls to say that they were going for a walk so I decided to head down the coast to try a new spot.

El Puertito is a tiny secluded village with a small sandy beach and rocks either side.

Sadly this new spot whilst very pretty wasn't very productive and was also relatively shallow and very tackle hungry too. I persevered but after catching a solitary ornate wrasse I drove back up the coast to meet the girls at Playa de Arena. I got there before they did so fished off of the rocks on the southern side of the beach until they arrived.

When they did arrive they found me hiding in the shade.

By this point it was approaching midday and with hardly any cloud cover it was getting rather hot. I think most of the fish were struggling with the heat as well as bites were few and far between although I did catch a couple of lesser weevers. They were very dark in colouration compared to those caught from the golden sandy beaches in the UK. 

Yet another poisonous fish to carefully unhook. They thrash about a lot when you touch them so I usually don't risk a lip grip. Luckily I carry forceps to shake them off the hook. 

The girls had enjoyed their morning stroll and wanted to carry on further down the coast so off they went. I told them just to double back or text me if they wanted me to pick them up and carried on fishing. Things continued to be slow in the afternoon sun but a switch to metals eventually paid off when I caught a couple of fairly big diamond lizardfish.

Toothy but at least they aren't poisonous! It's the teeth on their tongue that I find most bizarre.

Before too long the girls had returned and we headed back to the hotel. Once back they wanted to relax in the pool and use the Spa so I headed out again for an hour or so heading to the rocks at the back of the Barcelo Santiago hotel again. Things were slow there so I wandered along to the tiny harbour next to Santiago-El Puertito. This saw me catch a few ornate wrasse, Canary damselfish, diamond lizardfish and Macronesian sharpnose puffers but nothing new.

On Saturday we decided to visit Santa Cruz in the evening to go to the CD Tenerife v RCD Mallorca football match. Driving along the southern side of the island late that morning we stopped at El Medano so I could have an hour fishing from the end of the small stone pier there whilst the girls had a wander around and a coffee.

Montana Roja in the distance from the end of the pier.

The sea surrounding the pier was fairly shallow, the bottom was rocky and all I caught was a procession of ornate wrasse and a few Canary damselfish. Further east we stopped again at Candelaria where the girls wanted to visit the Basillica to see the Virgin of Candelaria statue inside. Not really something that I was interested in so I fished metal jigs from the rocks at the back of the town's harbour for thirty minutes or so and was rewarded with a single Atlantic lizardfish. The water was quite deep and I was surprised by the lack of action but it was the hottest part of the day so maybe that had something to do with it. 

The only fish interested in my metals. Still another species added to my tally. 

Back on the road again we stopped in Santa Cruz at the stadium and bought our tickets for the evening's match before heading up through the mountains to visit a few picturesque spots on the north coast. Once again the drive and some of the scenery was amazing.

That's me having a few casts from the rocks on the right.

Heading back to the capital we took our seats in the stadium and enjoyed a reasonably good game. The visitors took an early lead but late in the second half after a couple of substitutions CD Tenerife scored twice in quick succession to win the game. 

The game didn't draw a big crowd but the passion displayed by the supporters in attendance was clear to see and listening to their colourful language was also very entertaining. My Spanish is pretty basic but apparently the linesman were very fond of goats!

Despite not getting back to Los Gigantes until fairly late that night the following morning I headed back to San Juan for another dawn session. This time I had the place to myself almost but didn't manage to catch anything I hadn't caught already during the trip before heading back. Over breakfast the girls told me they wanted to do more walking, this time up in a pine forest high up towards the centre of the island. I got them to drop me off near a rocky outcrop at the southern outskirts of Los Cristianos so I could have a few hours fishing. I started off on a small rocky pier. Standing at the edge looking down to see if I could spot some red lip or hairy blennies a few land crabs that were sunbathing down below me hastily made their retreat. 

These land loving crustaceans are very common and very fast making getting a photo quite hard.

Exploring the area I caught the usual suspects for a while and had a load of lures eaten and rigs damaged by the resident pufferfish. Eventually I caught a few of the little buggers including a few Guinean puffers. 

It's hard to exaggerate just how many puffers there were.
Their teeth are razor sharp and most of the time you don't even feel them biting. They make short work of destroying soft plastics and in short they are a pain in the rear if you want to fish light game.

By the time the girls returned I was feeling a little frustrated by the lack of variety in the species I was catching and the fact that I'd caught nothing new throughout the entire holiday. I think I also caught a little too much sun as well which didn't help matters. In the evening when it was cooler I had a wander around the marina in Los Gigantes and spotted some red lip blennies on the marina walls around near the mouth. I decided that the next day I was going to be a little bit naughty. In the afternoon Lillian and I went for a walk around the marina again and this time I was armed with a spool of fluorocarbon, a few split shot, hooks, a jar of Angleworm and wearing my lucky pirate cap. Lillian kept an eye on the movements of the marina's security guards and I began looking for red lip blennies.

I locate my target down the marina wall.
Illegal activity underway.

I stealthily caught three ornate wrasse and a couple of canary damselfish but sadly the rid lip blennies just weren't interested. Every time I presented a lure they just got annoyed and swam off which was quite frustrating. Slightly disappointed that my law breaking antics hadn't produced a new blenny species for me we headed back up to the hotel. On the way however we passed a concrete basin that was full of water. I'm not sure what it was exactly but the water had a green tinge to it and it was full of fish. I couldn't resist finding out what they were and finding a hole in the fence at the side dropped my split shot rig in. Immediately the fish went berserk attacking the Angleworm and four of them were hooked one after another and hoisted up in quick succession.

The biggest fish of the trip. Not much fun on my improvised hand line but it was still nice to catch something new.
I recognised the fish as tilapia but at the time I had no idea which particular species.
I now suspect they are blue tilpaia also known as Israeli tilapia.

Pleased to have finally caught something new we laughed about the day's mischief and headed back up the hill to the hotel for the last time, stopping briefly to catch our breath and to get a photo of "The Giants" to the north of the town.

Imposing.

That evening was our last of the holiday so we had a nice meal in the hotel restaurant and a few beers. It had been an enjoyable, relaxing break and it had also been great to get away from the winter weather back home. The fishing had been fun although I was slightly disappointed not to catch anything new from the sea especially as I saw a couple of species that I've never caught before and couldn't catch either of them. I didn't reach my species hunting targets for the trip of twenty species including three new ones either, ending up on seventeen species including one new one, but to be honest having spent all year chasing species around Scotland I wasn't too bothered. It was nice just to be in the sun, enjoying the island and catching a few fish when the opportunity was there. Landing back in Edinburgh the weather was rather horrible and served as a quick reminder that winter here can be tough. Luckily I don't have to wait too long before I'm back down in the Canary Islands again, I visit Fuertaventura at the end of February next year with two of my mates for a week of non stop fishing. Something to cheer me up on cold, wet and windy winter days to come.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Light game fun on Tenerife : Part 1.

After a two week long self imposed fishing ban, which to be fair was quite easy to observe due to horrible weather, I was looking forward to relaxing for a week and enjoying a bit of light game fishing in the sun on Tenerife when I flew out there with my girlfriend, sister and her partner on Tuesday the 8th December.

El Teide, the tallest mountain on Spanish soil, pokes up through the clouds. 

Arriving at our hotel in Los Gigantes on the west coast in the middle of the afternoon it was nice and warm despite being overcast and rather windy. From our balcony I could see the large marina down below that I had looked at on Google Maps before travelling and was planning to fish around early in the mornings. There was a bit of a swell slowly rolling in and breaking around the outside of it. 

I knew fishing on the inside of the marina wouldn't be permitted but I was hopeful that I'd be able to fish from the back of it or perhaps the end of its outer breakwater. 

Once we got unpacked we took a walk down to get our bearings and have a look around Los Gigantes. Unfortunately a quick walk round the marina soon revealed that as a fishing venue it was a non starter. There was no way to access the sea defences on the outside of its outer breakwater and the end of it was walled off too. Fishing from Playa de los Guios, the black volcanic beach to the right of its entrance, was also not permitted. 

Off limits as well.

I was a bit disappointed but we went for a walk following the coast so I could find a place to fish from in the mornings. This proved to be rather difficult with most of the coastline as we headed south being built upon and no obvious way to get to the shoreline. In an area called Crab Island I finally found two alleyways leading to the coastal rocks but at the end of both I found a set of metal gates which were locked. Walking further south still we finally found a stretch of coast that was easily accessible just past the Barcelo Santiago hotel. It looked promising and despite some waves breaking over the rocks someone was fishing from them. 

A local float fishing. 

The next morning I didn't do any fishing and after picking up our hire car we headed into the island's interior to visit El Teide and take a cable car up to it's summit. After driving up undulating roads through stunning scenery and several distinct areas of different vegetation as our altitude increased, we drove along the road which passes through the barren lava fields that surround the mountain. 

Typical of the Canary Islands these lava landscapes are quite strange and look a bit like ploughed up rocks. They always make me think of the planet Mars. 
Strange twisted rock formations are dotted around, formed by various volcanic processes and weathered over time. Some of them have been given names like the one above which is called "God's Finger". The softer rock at the bottom of the warped column has eroded faster than the harder rock at the top. It looks very odd and will eventually collapse under its own weight.

Back at the hotel by the middle of the afternoon, I grabbed my light game gear and headed down to the mark I had found the night before to fish for a couple of hours. Climbing down to the rocks below the coastal path I couldn't pass some nice big rockpools without quickly finding out what was hiding in them. 

Rockpool blennies were the first fish to appear from the weed to attack my Gulp! Angleworm.
They were quickly followed by a few much more aggressive Madeira gobies. 

Turning my attention to the Eastern Atlantic I clambered around the rocks exploring various gullies and more open areas. I started of with Angleworm on a drop shot rig and soon added two more species to my tally.

The small stretch of coast I fished offered access to lots of spots on the various lumps of black volcanic rock. 
I wasn't at all surprised to catch the first of many ornate wrasse. Like on the islands of Lanzarote and Madeira they are found in great numbers at close range amongst the rocks and attack with a lot of aggression. 
Canary damselfish were also common. They have very small mouths but I still caught a few on my #10 hooks. 

I then began casting further out. The rocky sea floor was a bit snaggy but loosing the odd drop shot lead wasn't what prompted a change of method. My lures were being rapidly munched by what I suspected were pufferfish so I switched to fishing metal jigs and vibe baits. These didn't attract as much interest as I'd have liked and when I finally got a positive take and hooked the culprit the fish was only on briefly before it threw the vibe bait's hook. As the sun began to set my two hours were up and I headed back up to the hotel. 

The sun disappears behind the nearby island of La Gomera. 

The next morning I got up early before sunrise and drove down the coast to San Juan to fish from the end of its harbour's breakwater. It is a popular mark with local and visiting anglers alike and there were already a few people fishing when I arrived. The locals mainly fished bread paste under floats for bream species whilst the main target for the visiting anglers and their heavy beachcasting tackle seemed to be shark species. Not many fish were caught whilst I was there but I did see a a few white seabream being caught and a couple of small stingrays. Fishing down the harbour wall I was hoping to catch a red lip blenny or a hairy blenny but once the sun rose the chances of anything beating the ornate wrasse and Canary damselfish to my angleworm were slim to say the least. As the sun got further up above the hills to the east and illuminated the water I spotted an Atlantic trumpetfish swimming around in the submerged boulders but couldn't tempt it. I tried fishing paddletials on jigheads but the pufferfish were again being a nuisance, quickly biting the tails off of them and ruining their action. To nullify their destructive assaults I tried metals again with little interest so went back to a drop shot rig, casting it out away from the end of the breakwater onto cleaner ground. This produced fewer bites but I added two more species to my tally when I caught a greater weever and a bastard grunt. 

Handle with care or not at all if possible. 
A bastard grunt. I'm not sure why they are bastards but they do make a grunting noise.

After heading back to the hotel and having breakfast we set off for Masca, a remote mountain village. The drive there was something else along narrow winding roads through the mountains and we enjoyed a relaxing walk around it before sitting down to enjoy a very tasty lunch. In the shade eating our rustic rabbit stew we watched a few lizards running around.

Masca has less than one hundred inhabitants and is way up in the Macizo de Teno moutains in the north west of the island. 
There were lots of these lizards running around. Pretty cool. 

We then headed north and again the drive was spectacular, winding back down through the mountains to the coast. Eventually we arrived in Garachico where the girls wanted to see an old church. I took the opportunity to fish while they did so and quickly found a nice looking spot at the end of a concrete pier close to where we had parked the car. The fishing was very good and I caught a few fish although the puffers were again a problem, quickly destroying my pieces of Angleworm and also damaging my line meaning I had to repeatedly tie on a new drop shot rig. 

My first cast produced my first ever male parrotfish. Much more colourful than the drab, all grey females.
An impressive set of teeth.
A switch to a slightly smaller hook eventually saw one of the lure chomping pufferfish get caught. This one is a Macronesian sharpnose puffer.

Just before the girls returned I tried a second spot which held a lot of canary damselfish. It also produced my first wrasse and my first seabream species of the trip.

I pretty confident this is a male emerald wrasse.
This saddled seabream took my species tally for the trip to ten.

Before heading back to the hotel we visited El Drago, a very old tree, in the nearby town of Icod de los Vinos.

El Drago is over one thousand years old.

A couple of days into the trip and I was was thoroughly enjoying the holiday. My short fishing sessions were good fun apart from the onslaught of the pufferfish which were a bit of a nightmare. With a few more excursions planned over the rest of the holiday I was excited about stealing an hour or two where possible and perhaps catching a few more species. I also planned to return to San Juan harbour breakwater again early in the mornings to try and tempt an Atlantic trumpetfish, a new species of blenny or maybe something else from the deeper water there. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Click here for Part 2.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everything clicking into place.

Last Wednesday despite a pretty grim weather forecast I drove across the country to Loch Linnhe and had an evening session targeting conger eels. Driving up through Glencoe the colours of Autumn were very evident and there was snow on the mountain peaks. 

Winter is on its way.
The imposing Buachaille Etive Mor never fails to impress.

Sure enough once I got to Loch Linnhe conditions were far from ideal but I gave it a go from a small stone pier on the eastern shore of a small bay. Five hours soldiering on in very strong wind and moderately heavy rain showers only produced a single dogfish and I left questioning my decision to leave the house to fish on such a horrible night.

On Sunday there was a break in the weather and it turned out to be a lovely sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. I headed south west to a rock mark north of Port Logan with my mate Martin to have another go for a conger eel with three bearded rockling also being a possible catch. It was our first time visiting the mark and after parking the car we discovered that to reach the grassy clifftop above the rocky shoreline we had to negotiate a few stone walls, a field that had a bull in it and as I would discover a few live electric fences as well. Ouch! Once we finally got along to the mark we clambered down and started fishing two rods each, one with a big bait for conger eels and the other with smaller baits for three bearded rockling. There was a slight swell breaking on the rocks but apart from that it was a lovely evening and as we waited on darkness we caught a few small pollock and coalfish. 

As the sun set we were both hopeful that our two targets would start feeding.

As it got dark I got a bite pretty much as soon as I cast out after rebaiting and reeling in I had a double shot of fish on my rig. A shore rockling and a mackerel, possibly the oddest double shot I've ever caught. It was even odder because I had literally just said to Martin that visiting in the summer and catching some fresh mackerel would perhaps make a difference to the success of a conger eel trip. The fishing gods having heard my comment and delivered me some I was keen to take advantage so the mackerel was dispatched and a nice fresh fillet was used along with a whole squid for my next conger bait. It was out for a while when my reel's ratchet clicked rapidly in short bursts twice in fairly quick succession. Martin said it was an eel straight away and I picket up the rod and put it into gear. Waiting a little longer I struck into the fish and feeling the weight of it began winding in quickly to get it up away from the bottom. The fish felt small though, was no match for my rough ground setup and was quickly wound in. Coming into view Martin was proved correct and we made our way down the rocks closer to the water to land it. Martin was ready to lift it out but as it was so small and it looked like it had the bait far enough inside its mouth I took a risk and just quickly lifted it up with my rod. Luckily it stayed on and was swung up behind us where it couldn't fall off and make an escape.

Scottish saltwater species number sixty this year.
Yes!

My heart was pounding and as well as being very happy I also felt a great sense of relief. Relief that I had reached a milestone that I may never get the opportunity to reach again. We fished on for a couple of hours more and I switched my attention to fishing smaller baits closer in to try and tempt a three bearded rockling but things went rather quiet so we called it a night and headed back to the car, thankfully avoiding any nasty shocks or angry bulls. This year's Scottish saltwater species hunt has been an epic adventure but I now plan on having a short break until I go to Tenerife next month on holiday. Switching off might be tough though and I may find this difficult! In the back of my mind I'm wondering if I could add any more saltwater species to my Scottish 2015 tally between now and the end of the year. The list of potential targets is now very short so it would be tough but if the conditions are right and an opportunity to do so presents itself I'll no doubt abandon my self imposed fishing ban and give it a bash.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The sweet smelt of success.

I drove up to Dundee yesterday to have another session fishing the Tay Estuary in the hope that I would get lucky and catch a smelt. I decided to fish a bit further up the river than my last visit, mainly so I could fish out of the boot of my car and quickly pack up and head to a second spot should the first not prove productive. In contrast to my last session things were very slow, perhaps because the water was a bit more coloured, and it took quite a while before I got any bites. I missed the first few but on my third cast my rod tip nodded a couple of times and I wound in to find a double shot of a small flounder and a smelt on my rig. Needless to say both were quickly swung up the wall.

Only my second ever European smelt, known in Scotland as a sparling. My fifty ninth species from Scottish saltwater this year.

To say I was over the moon would be a massive understatement and I felt like jumping around shouting like an idiot, but didn't want to startle a nearby dog walker. After putting the fish back I took a moment to compose myself before rebaiting and casting out again. I carried on fishing but after a while with no more interest shown in my small cocktail baits, having caught my target, with rain beginning to fall and more dark clouds heading towards me, I decided to end the session prematurely, quickly packed up and headed back down the road. Only one more species stands between me and a tally of sixty saltwater species from Scottish waters. A conger eel seems the most likely species to see me achieve this but a three bearded rockling, black mouthed dogfish or fifteen spined stickleback are also possible targets over the next few weeks that might also get me there. I can't see myself being in this position again so will be going all out to get the final species. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fishing flat out.

On Tuesday evening, taking advantage of a drop in the wind, I had another go for a conger eel from an Eyemouth rock mark. This unfortunately only resulted in lots of lost gear and a blank so the following day I headed up to Dundee to fish the Tay estuary. I've been told that a few European smelt were caught recently during a match so I was hoping to get lucky and catch one myself. To increase my chances I fished two rods. Three hook flappers were my rig of choice and I went with light snoods and Nordic bend hooks baited with black lug and tipped with a mackerel sliver. My first rod tip was going before I had finished baiting up the rig on my second and the first fish of a hectic session was a dab. This was soon followed by a sea trout and then more dab and flounder. More flatfish followed and I was kept busy unhooking dabs and flounders, the rod still in the rest often registering interest as I was rebaiting the other one.

The first dab of many. 
A nice looking fish. 
Lots of flounder were around too. 

As the tide picked up weed and debris building up on my line became a pain and I began to wish I had mono mainline as removing it from my braid was a real chore. I ended up cutting off my rig, sliding the weed off from my braid and tying my rig back on again repeatedly to speed up removal. As the tide dropped off this became less of a problem again and I caught a second sea trout. As high tide approached it started raining and did so constantly for an hour or so. Looking like a drowned rat I fished away and had caught just short of fifty flatfish by the time I eventually run out of bait. This was no big deal as by that point the tide was ebbing and combined with the flow of the river had produced a down stream current that was gradually becoming too strong to fish effectively so I packed up and headed off. It had been an enjoyable session despite not catching any smelt. I might return and try from Broughty Ferry or from the Fife side at Tayport. I might also try a night time session as well. The Estuary offers reasonably sheltered fishing in windy weather and looking at the forecast there's plenty more of that over the next few days.

Tight lines, Scott.