Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Species hunting adventures on Madeira : Part 2.

Last Monday morning the girls dropped us off at Machico and headed off to do their walk. Quickly surveying the area we decided to begin fishing from a concrete pier that jutted out into the sea beyond the heavily coloured water close to the shore. Fishing close to the end of the structure we were getting lots of bites from the start and I soon caught a few very small bastard grunt. Lee was keen to get one too so we carried on fishing there for a while.

Lee tries to add another new species to his tally. 

While Lee persisted with fishing down the side of the pier I began casting further out and while bites were few and far between I did manage a small striped seabream before Lee finally got a small bastard grunt and we decided to head over to try fishing from the harbour breakwater.

Another small but perfectly species added to my tally. 
Lee finally caught a little bastard!

Over on the breakwater a small group of locals were float fishing and catching a few bastard grunt. Lee and I fished along from them and caught a few ornate wrasse and canary damselfish before I caught a small diamond lizardfish and then my first Madeira rockfish of the trip.

A nasty fish with evil eyes. 
A little fish with lots of attitude.

We then ventured along to the end of the breakwater but apart from catching an Atlantic lizardfish the bites there were surprisingly sparse so we tried over the back of the breakwater, standing on top of it about half way along. This produced a few more ornate wrasse and then I caught a common two banded seabream.

Even small seabream put up a good fight.  

By this point a few hours had passed and as we were expecting the girls to return we headed around to the small rocky pier in the middle of the harbour. Fishing there was quite slow but I managed a couple of rock gobies before a striped red mullet took my Angleworm on the drop before my drop shot lead had reached the bottom.

Normally bottom feeders they can sometimes be tempted to take lures a little higher up in the water. 

It wasn't long before a rather tired looking Lillian and Sharon returned and we all headed back to the apartment. While they both wanted a shower and an afternoon snooze to recover from their walk Lee and I wanted to get some more fishing done before dinner. A short drive west took us to the picturesque port of Câmara de Lobos where we would fish from the large concrete landing pier and from the rocks at the back of it. Ornate wrasse again proved to be present in numbers and Lee also caught a few Madeira rockfish before I caught a tiny saddled seabream.

My eighteenth species of the trip.

The rocks at the back didn't produce many fish though so we decided to try from the beach nearby on the way back to the car.

Lee fishes from the rocks. The water was quite cloudy again though and we didn't catch anything.
Where are all the fish?

On the way to the beach we passed a boat with lots of bacalhau hanging from it.

Dried, salted cod is a mainstay of Portuguese cooking. 

The beach did produce a few fish but it also claimed a few more drop shot rigs. Lee was getting annoyed repeatedly having to tie on leaders so we called it a day and headed back for dinner.

Another Canary damselfish.

The next day Lee and I decided to head further west. We first stopped at Ribeira Brava's old harbour where we caught lots of ornate wrasse and Canary damselfish. Yearning for something else we visited Ponta do Sol a bit of a swell was running and we didn't catch anything. Both rather frustrated I suggested a change of plan. We had intended to carry on exploring further west still but we made the decision to head to the north coast instead despite knowing that the sea there would be very rough. Sure enough when we arrived a big swell was running and the coastline was taking a bit of a battering.

Waves crashing onto the rocks. Not ideal.

I new there was a large man made swimming pool in the rocks at Seixal though so we headed there. The odd big wave was pouring in over the sides of it but it was still relatively calm inside and it was full of small mullet. Fishing Angleworm on a drop shot rig I caught a few rock goby and we both had some ornate wrasse before Lee hooked a decent fish but after a short run it unfortunately came off. A few casts later though he hooked another fish that put up a spirited little scrap and Lee was pleased to land his first ever derbio. He was very happy as it was a species he was hopeful of catching.

Even small derbio are powerful fish.

I was hopeful that I could hook a derbio too for my species hunt but after a few more ornate wrasse we decided to head around onto the rocks at the other side of the swimming area. With the sea breaking over them we had to be careful.

We had to time our rock hopping to avoid getting soaked by sea spray. 
Lee had a go fishing in the white water and caught, you guessed it, an ornate wrasse.

Several ornate wrasse later we decided before leaving to have a go inside Seixal harbour. It had a black sandy beach inside it and there was a group of young surfers in the water. Almost straight away Lee caught a darkly coloured lesser weever. We fished on for a short while to see if I could get one too but despite getting several rattling little bites myself,  that I'm sure were from the little poisinous fish, I failed to hook one.

Much darker than its UK brethren no doubt due to the volcanic sand. 

Porto Moniz was our next stop but the large natural swimming pools there were hard to spot as the sea battered them.

No swimming today.

Inside the harbour however was fishable and very deep. I caught a few canary damselfish, a diamond lizardfish, a Guinean puffer and a common two banded seabream before we had to head back for dinner. Lee caught a few fish too and we both agreed that if the weather had been better then Porto Moniz had lots of potential.

Despite another tough day's fishing this Madeira rockfish brought a smile to Lee's face. 

Late in the evening after dinner Lee and I met up with Angelo Abreu and his wife Telma who are both fanatical anglers. Over a few small glasses of Poncha, the islands rather strong alcoholic drink, we talked about fishing on the island and arranged to meet up with Angelo on Saturday morning. They were a lovely couple and their passion for fishing was very clear so I was really looking forward to going fishing with Angelo.

In the morning Lee and I headed back to Doca do Cavacas again but the fishing was very poor. Again I resorted to messing around in the rockpools to catch anything.

Blank busting blennies. Not a phrase I thought I'd require on Madeira.

The girls were off on another walk in the afternoon so we were dropped in Lido so we could return to where we had our most productive session. The sea was slightly rougher than our first visit though as the wind had swung around to blow from a more easterly direction. We still caught a few fish though before we decided to head east to try Funchal harbour again.

Angelo told us the night before that Canary damselfish were very good to eat and fetched a premium price in local restaurants.
Another Madeira rockfish raises a smile.

Climbing back up to the coastal path we spotted a lot of lizards sunbathing on the wall of a small café and had a laugh trying to catch one. Eventually after being given the run around I managed to get one and put it on Lee. It ran all over him before leaping to the ground and running off again.

Lee's little reptilian friend. 

On the way to the harbour we passed the bronze statue of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo who is from the island.

A big fuss has been made about the statue's tackle. Bit on the heavy side maybe?

We soon found our way along to a spot we could fish from on some derelict ground but fishing was very slow. I had a small tub of raw prawns with me though and fishing with small chunks soon attracted a few small white and common two banded seabream.

These little white seabream are quite feisty little fish.

In the evening rather than eat in the apartment we headed out for a meal in a small restaurant nearby. The food was excellent and we all had espada (black scabbardfish). Afterwards we went to a couple of bars and had a few drinks. Some of us had more than others.

Myself and Lee having a laugh in the restaurant.
Lillian and Sharon look forward to some tasty seafood.
Cold local beer goes down nicely.
In the next bar we started drinking poncha. It was rather strong stuff, no where near as nice as the stuff Lee and I had enjoyed the previous night and the measures were twice the size too. After two I couldn't face any more. Lee had six!

Getting everyone back to the apartment was an adventure in itself with Lillian, who decided it was a good idea to have just as much poncha as Lee, being more than just a little worse for wear. In the morning the sea wasn't the only thing that was a little rough but based on some advice Angelo had given us I managed to get Lee up and we headed east to Canical to try our luck there. 

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Enjoying the read mate, as well as the fishy pics I'm liking the poncho drink photo. Nothing better than a tab and stiff drink after a days fishing.... lightweight :0)

    1. You wear a poncho. You only wear a poncha if your girlfriend vomits on you. :-P