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.

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