Thursday, May 25, 2017

More species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 2.

On day four after my mild hangover had gone, Nick had got some dressings for his badly blistered ankle and we'd had a siesta to avoid the hottest part of the day, we were ready to fish again and headed to the back of the ferry terminal in Playa Blanca for an evening session. When we arrived there were quite a lot of small baitfish around and we spotted a few small barracuda lurking around, picking the odd one off at the margins of the shoals. As I only had my light game setup with me a small 7g metal was quickly clipped on and I tried to tempt one of the streamlined toothy predators. After a while I eventually managed to get a barracuda to follow my metal but unfortunately couldn't induce a take. After a while the bait fish slowly dispersed and the hunters disappeared so I switched to good old angleworm on a dropshot rig. It soon became evident that there were a lot of axillary seabream around and I was catching one almost every cast. Nick, who had been fishing larger metals on his lure rod, switched to similar tactics too and we were soon both catching lots of fish.

Axillary seabream are also known as Spanish seabream. They have a dark spot at the base of their pectoral fin (covered by my fat thumb) and the inside of their mouth is bright red (not photographed).

As well as the steady stream of axillary seabream we also caught a load of puffers and ornate wrasse whenever our rigs got closer in without us getting a bit further out. I also caught a few annular seabream and a cleaver wrasse. Cleaver wrasse are a very cool fish, colourful and quite unusual in appearance being very thin and sporting some weird goofy fangs.

Most of the puffers we caught were the fairly drab brown Guinean variety but occasionally a Macronesian sharpnose puffer would get caught. They are quite nice to look at with their bright blue spots and yellow eyes. Still quite annoying when they're destroying your lure and line though.
Yet another seabream species was added to our trips tally with the annular seabream.
Cleaver wrasse are a very funky fish. They are also known as pearly razorfish and can bury themselves in sandy sea floors.

For a little while I tried fishing down in amongst the rocks to see if I could catch a hairy blenny. I didn't get one but after a few Madeira rockfish I caught a cardinalfish. Normally these are caught after dark so it was a good opportunity to get a good photo of one.

All head and mouth, Cardinalfish normally hide during the day and usually only come out into open water after dark.

As the sun got low in the sky I decided to clip on a metal jig again and see if I could tempt a barracuda. Having no luck after a while I decided to change to a different metal with a different action and I also added a dressed treble to it. It was a cheap lure but as the weight was distributed towards the back it wiggled nicely even on a slow retrieve. First cast with it and about half way in I felt a solid take. So aggressive that my rod was almost wrenched out of my hand in fact. My drag soon began screaming as something very powerful headed off on the first of many searing runs.

The fish heads towards Fuertaventura.

It was obviously a large fish, much bigger than the small barracuda that we had seen earlier so I was slightly worried that if whatever it was on the end had teeth it might cut through my 6lb leader but I managed to stay calm and resisted the temptation to apply too much pressure. Playing the fish cautiously it eventually began to tire but it was about fifteen minutes before an Atlantic bonito finally came into view. It still wasn't beaten though and it took another five minutes or so to get it in close enough to attempt landing it. Eventually the fish was beaten and I managed to get it in close enough to where Nick, who had scrambled some the slippery rocks into a landing position, did a superb job of grabbing it.

My first Atlantic bonito is a fish I'll never forget! It was 60cm long with an estimated weight of 7lb. What a powerhouse and it gave an absolutely awesome fight on my HTO Rock Rover.
The small metal that the fish took. I'm glad I swapped the treble out. It was stronger than the one it replaced but was still slightly bent out. The fish had been hooked in the upper jaw. Had it taken the lure inside its mouth my 6lb leader would been bitten through by its razor sharp teeth.

I was on quite a high having just caught easily the biggest and most powerful fish I've ever had on light game tackle. Keeping my cool, a huge slice of luck with the hook placement and Nick's fish landing skills had all played a part in successfully landing the fish and the fight it put up was incredibly exhilarating. My heart was still pounding as I sat on a huge volcanic boulder and as I tried to fully process what had just occurred it all felt a bit surreal if I'm honest. Nick fished on for a bit but after a while with no action we decided to head home to talk about what had happened over some food and a few celebratory drinks.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, May 22, 2017

More species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 1.

When my mate Nick asked me where he could go for a cheap break on his own I recommended the Canary Islands or Madeira. He ended up booking up a week's holiday on Lanzarote. I say holiday but between him booking up and me asking if I could join him a few months had passed and by that point his itinerary was shaping up into what sounded to me like some kind of "Tinder rampage". Anyway, once he said I could be his wingman and I booked up all thoughts of exotic birds were put on the back burner and we began planning what exotic fish we'd like to catch instead. We flew out on the 4th of May and after dumping our bags at our apartment in Puerto del Carmen we hit the nearest rocks. Lessons learnt from our trip to Fuertaventura about the dangers of the sun we slapped on plenty of factor fifty and braved the midday heat.

Blue sky, blue sea, fish biting and a cooling Atlantic breeze. It was good to be back on Lanzarote.

There was nothing fancy about our style of fishing. Angleworm and fish fry on drop shot rigs were soon catching all the usual species found at close range, damselfish, ornate wrasse and puffers being the main species fighting over our highly attractive offerings.

Shoals of Canary damselfish hug the rocks at close range.
Puffers soon started destroying our lures and damaging our line. Truth be told they are a bit of a nuisance although when they do this party trick it's quite amusing.
Azores damselfish were a slightly less common capture. The seem to be greatly outnumbered by their darker cousins. Another pretty little fish.
This saddled seabream was probably the biggest fish of our first session and was good fun on my light game setup.

Being quite tired from the early start, travel and fishing in the sun we had a reasonably sensible evening and in the morning we got up early and headed to a rock mark in Playa Blanca for first light. We started fishing with light lure gear in an attempt to catch bonito, bluefish or barracuda but after thrashing the water with a few different lures until the sun was up all we had managed to catch between us was a solitary greater weever that took my Savage Gear psycho sprat jig. Nick persisted fishing larger lures for a while but I switched to light game gear which soon had me catching a few smaller fish.

This Couch's seabream was amongst the fish I caught.

In the afternoon we headed to the back of Playa Blanca's ferry port to fish from the rocks on its outer breakwater. This produced a few ornate wrasse, damselfish, puffers and a few common pandora along with some axillary seabream and bogue. It was noticeable that the last species became much more active when ever the ferry passed by. No doubt the bottom being churned up by its propellers was producing some food for them and encouraging them to feed.

A small bogue.

On day three we headed along the coast to fish from the rocks into the mouth of Puerto Calero's large marina. Whilst I fishing angleworm on a drop shot rig Nick tried fishing a large bait under a float but this didn't interest anything so he tried ledgering a bait instead. This eventually produced a nice gilthead seabream. In the afternoon I decided to get smelly hands too and fished slivers of squid. We fished well into the afternoon and added a few more species to our tally including some nice seabream.

Striped seabream.
I caught a nice gilthead too.

Later on a small shoal of juvenile bass arrived that kept coming into close range. Freelining small chunks of squid proved an effective way to catch them. In amongst the bass were some other fish that I thought were salema but when I caught two of them I realised they were in fact a new species but I had no idea what they were. My knowledge of the fish species of the Canaries is now pretty good so this in itself was quite exciting!

I'd later discover that my first new species of the trip were Bermuda sea chub.

Heading back to the apartment for something to eat and without the wind cooling us it soon became apparent that Nick had missed a part of his ankle when applying his factor fifty and had burnt it qite badly. In the evening we headed up to Arrecife to check out a few spots and ended up walking all the way out to the end of a breakwater that extended quite far out to sea. Parking the car had proved difficult and the car park we eventually found closed at 22:00 so we didn't fish for long. Amongst all of the ornate wrasse and puffers Nick caught a nice white seabream. Once it got dark we caught a few saddled seabream as well before calling a night.

We were really racking up the seabream species.
The sun sets over the island.

As we walked back to the car Nick explained that his son Harry had asked him to try and catch a rare region specific Pokemon for him and as we drove out of Arrecife he spotted the one he'd been tasked with catching. We were driving along a one way street when he spotted it on the map though so we couldn't stop the car to get closer so we agreed to return to the spot where he'd seen it another day. Back at the apartment we overdid the cerveza and honey rum a little and had a lie in the next day. The start of the holiday had been great and we had caught a lot of fish. The best was still to come though.

Tight lines, Scott.