Saturday, January 13, 2018

Species hunting on Gran Canaria : Part 2.

Having reached the midway point of our holiday and having only explored the coast we were keen to see a bit more of the island. We decided to chance our luck with half a day fishing in a dam without the required licenses. Given the license only costs €3.22 for tourists we figured it was hardly crime of the century and really if had been a lot easier to obtain one we would have happily paid for them. Anyway, off up into the island's interior we went and the scenery as we drove was breathtaking. 

The drive was enjoyable until I noticed how much fuel the ascent was using and got a little worried that we might run out before being able get more petrol!
We pulled over and whilst I tried to find out where the nearest petrol station was Ross and Lee photographed this woodpecker that was battering a hole in a roadside tree.

After successfully locating a small town with a petrol station and filling the tank we headed to our chosen dam to target largemouth bass. Things were slow but making our way around it we eventually started getting a few hits on various types of lures. After hooking and loosing a couple of fish Lee and I managed to land a few small largemouth bass. Unfortunately Ross, who'd never caught one before, didn't manage to get one before we left.

My only largemouth bass of the session took a small Salmo plug.

Having successfully avoided the authorities we headed back down out of the mountains to fish legally only to find it was quite windy with a bit of a swell running on the coast. We visited a few new marks that I thought might be potentially more sheltered but couldn't figure out how access some of them and at the last one the fishing was pretty poor so we threw in the towel and headed back to the apartment to relax and have an early night in preparation for another sunrise session the following day.

Returning to Puerto Rico again early in the morning armed with lure gear we had another go for barracuda and bonito but after a few hours nothing had shown any interest in our lures.

Ross casts out a jig as the sun rises.

Whilst Lee persevered with his lure gear once the sun had risen, Ross and I switched to much lighter tackle. We quickly caught some rockpool blenny and madeira goby to add to our tally before switching our attention to a parrotfish that we spotted swimming in and out of the submerged boulders at close range. While we were trying to catch it Ross looked up to see Lee was into a fish. It turned out to be a barracuda but sadly it managed to escape when it thrashed on the surface just as Lee was about to lift it up onto the rocks. He was gutted and understandably so, Lee and I have a pretty poor record when it comes to barracuda with neither of us having successfully landed one of any size. Shortly afterwards we headed back to the apartment and later in the day we headed back out again, returning to Puerto de Sardina taking both our ultra light tackle and our heavy bait gear. Upon arrival we had some fun with the smaller fish and I set about catching a few more Molly Miller. After catching them the day before I had bought a box of Ferrero Rocher and the contents had been devoured so I could use it to get some better photos of their funky "hair".  

Molly Miller has a punk hair style.

Fishing away we spotted some Zebra seabream in amongst the canary damselfish and ornate wrasse, a species none of us had caught before. The other species around them were much more aggressive however and getting through them proved difficult but eventually we managed to catch a few zebra seabream.

The aptly named Zebra seabream. My third new species of the trip.

As darkness fell we packed up the ultra light tackle, got out the heavy gear and fished large fish baits for shark species. After less than an hour the ratchet on Ross's reel started to click and after letting the bite develop a little he wound down and hooked into a nice fish. After a few runs a nice spiny butterfly stingray came to the surface and after making several attempts to get back to the bottom it was eventually beaten and was successfully landed with help from Lee on the pier's nearby slipway. 

Ross's first cast saw him catch his first spiny butterfly ray and also saw Lee get a little wet.

All excited by this capture we were hopeful this would just be the first of a few but sadly it turned out to be the only fish of the session with the only other brief bit of excitement coming when my rod registered some interest but that turned out just to be an octopus. Pretty tired from a fairly long day we headed back to the apartment.

On the seventh and final full day of the trip we headed to Las Palmas to see if there was anywhere inside its massive harbour area where we could fish. The areas we wanted to fish were all sadly out of bounds but eventually we found a marina where a fishing competition was taking place, located a nice shady spot and began fishing, enjoying a few cold beers. Apart from the zebra seabream the lack of seabream species during the trip had been was noticeable but at this spot we caught a few over a couple of hours in the shape of common pandora, black seabream and common two banded seabream.

It was nice to catch a few more bream species. I caught this black seabream.
Ross and Lee caught a few common two banded seabream.

Feeling hungry we then had a break and enjoyed some tasty Paella, Canarian potatoes and a few more cold beers in a nearby restaurant before having a couple more hours fishing into darkness. Lee and Ross fished heavier tackle in the hope of catching a larger predatory species but didn't have any luck. I fished small baits on ultra light gear and once the sun set I caught lots of bastard grunt.

Our last day on the island had arrived and we got up early and visited a nearby harbour for one last go for larger stuff at sunrise. Sadly the mark was a lot shallower than we had anticipated and we had no luck so we headed back to the apartment to pack and load our cases into the car. As we still had a bit of time to kill we decided to drive all the way back to Puerto de Sardina again for a few final hour's fishing. A bit of groundbait soon drew in several shoals of small fish and we caught loads of bogue, derbio, white trevelly, a few garfish and some puffers.

The puffers, whilst not as prolific as previous trips to Canaries, were still quite annoying, destroying lures and damaging line with their sharp teeth. This Macronesian sharpnose puffer did have some lovely blue markings on it.

Below the shoals of smaller fish there were a few parrotfish moving around so I dropped down a bigger chunk of prawn to try and tempt one. My bait was barely on the bottom when something came out of the rocks, grabbed it and tried to get back into it's ambush position. It put a a decent scrap but hopes of a nice parrotfish were dashed when a nice black scorpionfish appeared.

Scorpionfishes rock so I wasn't too upset that it wasn't a nice parrotfish.

We were having lots of fun but soon it was time to put the gear into the cases and head to the airport bringing another fishing trip on foreign soil to an end. We'd caught lots of fish using a variety of methods and had a great time on the island.

Here's a quick summary of what was caught...

I caught the following species with new ones in bold...
  1. Atlantic Lizardfish
  2. Bass
  3. Bastard Grunt
  4. Black Scorpionfish
  5. Black Seabream
  6. Bogue
  7. Canary Damselfish
  8. Cardinalfish
  9. Cleaver Wrasse
  10. Derbio
  11. Diamond Lizardfish
  12. Garfish
  13. Greater Weever
  14. Guinean Puffer
  15. Large Mouth Bass
  16. Macronesian Puffer
  17. Madeira Goby
  18. Madeira Rockfish
  19. Molly Miller
  20. Ornate Wrasse
  21. Pandora
  22. Rockpool Blenny
  23. Thick Lipped Mullet
  24. Wide Eyed Flounder
  25. White Trevally
  26. Zebra Seabream
Lee and Ross also caught...

  1. Black Tailed Comber
  2. Common Two Banded Seabream
  3. Gilthead Seabream
  4. Salema
  5. Spanish Sardine
  6. Spiny Butterfly Ray
  7. White Seabream
More importantly though the three of us had really enjoyed each others company and hopefully it won't be too long before the three of us are fishing together again. We've all agreed that we need to meet up more often and later this year the three of us are planning a week's fishing on a Greek island, most likely Crete. I'm really looking forward to another fishing adventure with these two lads.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Species hunting on Gran Canaria : Part 1.

At the beginning of December I flew out to Gran Canaria with two of my mates. It had been a while since myself, Lee and Ross had fished together so we were all really looking forward to the trip. Arriving at our apartment in the early evening we grabbed our light game gear from our luggage, jumped back into our hire  car and headed to nearby Arinaga to fish on a small pier there. Someone was already fishing on it when we arrived.

As the tide was out it didn't look like a great spot he'd chosen so we fished along from him.

It was good to be fishing together again and as light faded we got our species hunt started with a few greater weevers, Atlantic lizardfish and the odd Madeira rockfish. Once it was dark we began catching lots of bastard grunt and a few cardinalfish. It was a good start to our species hunting but as we were quite tired from the day's travelling we didn't stay out too long and headed back to our apartment, stopping at the supermarket on the way to get some food and the ingredients needed to make a few litres of sangria.

The next morning we headed to Puerto Rico and fished from the rocks on the outside of Playa de Amadores' southern breakwater. This saw us add a few more species to our tally as we caught two species of puffers and the first of many ornate wrasse and Canary damselfish. Fishing over a sandy area further out amongst some greater weevers and Atlantic lizardfish I also caught a solitary cleaver wrasse. It looked like a promising spot for predatory species and there were plenty baitfish around. Ross managed to catch a couple of them and they turned out to be Spanish sardines. As another angler left he told us that he'd caught an Atlantic bonito earlier that morning so we'd found somewhere for sunrise sessions.

Canary damselfish are pretty little things. Aggressive too but usually the ornate wrasse beat them to the angleworm.
This cleaver wrasse made a nice change from the other more prolific sand dwelling species.

Things slowed down a bit so in the afternoon so we decided to check out Puerto de Mogán a little further along the coast. Things were pretty slow there too though and the wind had also picked up restricting where we could fish. We still managed to add a few more species to our tally in the shape of a small bass and a wide eyed flounder.

Wide eyed flounder are such cool little floral patterned flatfish.

On the way back to our apartment we stopped in Maspalomas to check out a lake that supposedly had tilapia in it but as there were no fishing signs every few metres we opted to fish over a shallow reef near the town's imposing lighthouse. We didn't stay too long but we managed to catch some bastard grunt, derbio and gilthead seabream before we called it a day and headed back to the apartment for some food and a few glasses of sangria.

Derbio are pretty cool fish. I'd love to catch some bigger ones.

On day three we got up early and headed to Puerto Rico again before sunrise to have a go for larger species with lure gear on the outside of Playa de Amadores' southern breakwater. We thrashed the water for a few hours but had no luck tempting anything on our metals, plugs and soft plastics. In the afternoon we headed all the way around to the north west of the island and after a spot of lunch fished from the huge concrete blocks at the back of Puerto de las Nieves' harbour. Lee and I weren't as comfortable clambering around on them as Ross was but eventually we found a couple of reasonably flat spots to fish from. I spent a fair bit of time trying to catch a redlip blenny but as usual despite there being a few sitting on the submerged blocks they were not interested in anything I put in front of them. Ross caught his first cleaver wrasse and Lee caught his first black tailed comber before we decided to call it a day.

Lee's first ever blacktail comber took an Ami shrimp lure fished on a drop shot rig.

On day four we headed to Las Palmas to try and sort out freshwater licences so we could fish in the island's dams. We knew the process was going to be time consuming and generally a bit of pain but after visiting the first government building it became a farce when after waiting forty minutes in a bank to pay for our licenses we were then told they could not process our forms due to a problem with their computers. We visited a second bank but it was extremely busy and fearing we'd wait there for ages only to be told they couldn't process the payment either we decided to give up and headed back to the car. After a quick look on Google Maps we headed to some nearby rocks on the coast. We'd taken some bread with us so Ross quickly made up some groundbait and it didn't take long for a shoal of mullet to arrive. We soon established which species they were by catching some of them on freelined bread.

What a fat little thick lipped mullet!

After an hour or so we decided to head west again this time to check out a mark that we could potentially return to and fish with heavy bait gear for shark species. On the way we stopped at a supermarket for some lunch and bought a packet of frozen raw prawns. Down at Puerto de Sardina we fished from a small stone pier and it looked like a promising spot for a night time session. We had some bread left over so Ross quickly added some water to the bag to make up some more groundbait. Several shoals of fish soon arrived and we added a few more species to our tally in the shape of bogue, garfish, salema, white seabream and diamond lizardfish. I also got a nice surprise in the shape of a small white trevally, my first new species of the trip.

I've seen Lee catch one of these when we fished together on Madeira back in 2015.

I then decided to frustrate myself pestering the redlip blennies again. As ever there were loads of them just sitting on submerged rocks but as they graze on algae from the rocks getting them to eat anything else is tough work. I couldn't tempt one but whilst trying I did catch another blenny that I didn't recognise. It had quite distinctive "hair" though so identifying it later was pretty easy. Don't ask me where the name comes form though!

Meet Molly Miller. Yes this species of blenny is simply called Molly Miller. I can't find out why though and if you know I'd be interested to here the origin of this blenny's name.

Before we left we moved and tried fishing into darkness from some rocks on a nearby beach but all this produced after a couple of hours was a endless greater weevers so we packed up and headed back to the apartment. We'd reached the halfway point of our trip and apart from wasting a morning on our failed attempts to obtain a fishing license for the island's dams we were having a good time. Hard not to when you're catching a few fish in the sunshine and ending each day with a homemade sangria or two.

Tight lines, Scott.

Click here for the second part.