Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 2.

On Tuesday after visiting the Castillo de San Jose near Arrecife to see an abstract art exhibition in the morning we headed inland to visit the César Manrique Foundation and see the Monumento al Campesino.

Lillian and I in front of the Castillo de San Jose. The old military fortress is now an art gallery and restaurant.

Lanzarote rose from the sea in violent acts of volcanism. Much of its weird, alien landscape is evidence of this. Black basalt and lava fields are everywhere.
The late and highly influential artist and architect César Manrique's former studio is now a visitor centre and the main hub of the Foundation bearing his name. Manrique belived that archtecture should be in harmony with the natural environment. His one time home is built into the ground and has lower levels that are built in large empty spaces that were created by huge bubbles in the lava. Volcanic rock, plants and smooth plain white surfaces are used throughout.
Examples of César Manrique's work are found all over the island. The Monumento al Campesino is a monument in memorial to the hard working peasant farmers of Lanzarote.

Sightseeing done for the day we headed back to Puerto Del Carmen. The girls went to the shops to get some supplies for the apartment and I was given the green light to have a quick look around in Puerto Del Carmen Harbour. There were lots of bream and mullet swimming around but I headed along to the deep water at the end of the outer breakwater. Fishing a drop shot rig I caught a trio of ornate wrasse and a small bogue dropping it straight down the side.

Ornate wrasse are aptly named. Very colourful fish indeed and most fond of Gulp! Angleworm too.
Bogue are a popular livebait used by locals for barracuda. I'm told they can also be fried whole and are supposed to be rather tasty.

I then decided to switch to a paddletail on a jighead again and cast it out a bit to see if there were any groupers or combers hiding in amongst the rocks on the bottom. I missed a few takes on the drop before connecting with one. My Finezza Compatto soon had a proper bend in it and then the fish went on a powerful run, quickly stripping line from my reel. I gained some back before it went off like a rocket again. My heart was pounding and I wasn't sure what I had on. It made one more run before I managed to get a look at it. At first glance I thought it was maybe a small bonito. Off it went again. With no net I was worried about losing the fish lifting it up so I let it go on a couple more runs. The fish was obviously tiring but the power of its runs was still very impressive indeed. With the fish now well beaten I finally got it on the surface and quickly hand lined it up the few feet from water to my hand.

An Atlantic chub mackerel. Awesome fun on ultralight tackle.

Before I had left them I'd jokingly told the girls I'd try and catch dinner but honestly didn't expect to do so. The fish was certainly big enough to keep so I quickly dispatched it and headed back to the apartment.

In the evening after enjoying the oven cooked fish Lillian and Sharon went for a run along the beach. Not being the athletic type I opted to have a couple of hours fishing of the rocks on the sea side of Puerto Del Carmen Harbour's outer breakwater with my ultra light setup. The water was quite deep and with large black volcanic boulders making up the sea defences I thought that combers and groupers might be a possibility at close range so I gave the small paddletails a go again. The result was the same as before though with toothy fish nipping the tails off in rapid fashion so I switched to a drop shot rig and soon caught an ornate wrasse. This was followed by half a dozen tiny mackerel that all hit the lure as the rig fell through the water column on its way to the bottom.

I think they were all just juvenile Atlantic mackerel. The smallest joey mackerel I've ever seen though and a few shoals of them might attract a few predators I thought.

Fishing away I then hooked something that put up a decent scrap. I thought it might be a grouper and bullied it up fairly quickly to prevent it getting into the rocks but was delighted when a small trigger fish appeared from the depths.

Due to its colouration and single dorsal spike I knew it wasn't the grey trigger fish that frequents UK waters. I'd later find out it was a planehead filefish. Who names fish anyway?

Very pleased with this surprise capture I carried on fishing and caught a scorpionfish and a common comber before the girls arrived and we headed back to the apartment.

A common comber. I caught some on Crete last year. Its cousin, the blacktail comber would have been a new species for me and I knew they were present at this spot so I would return to have another go for them later in the week.

On Wednesday morning I decided to go back to the breakwater to fish it with my light lure setup. Up at half past six again I headed along to find a few other anglers already fishing as day broke. I decided to fish metals so I could cover a bit of water at various depths. I thrashed the water for two hours from two different spots but I didn't have any luck. I witnessed one of the other anglers catch a single barracuda before I headed back for breakfast. Our itinerary for the day was a tour of the south west coast to a few tourist spots. First on our little excursion was the picturesque Playa Papagayo, a nice little beach flanked be rocky cliffs. While the girls relaxed on beach I fished from rocks to the right of the golden sandy beach.

Such a beautiful beach and I didn't even set foot on it.

It was fairly windy which made fishing ultra light tricky so I fished a drop shot rig at close range to make line management and bite detection easier and quickly caught a small saddled seabream.

Small but perfectly formed and another species added to my tally.

This was followed by a trio of ornate wrasse before I spotted the girls getting up and heading back along the beach so I climbed back over the rocks to meet them. We then headed west to Playa Blanca to the Puerto Deportivo Marina Rubicon for a tasty lunch of grilled and fried squid which was lovely. We then went for a walk around the marina. As you would expect there were lots of large mullet swimming around but I was also surprised to see some big white seabream, salema and best of all some gilthead seabream too. Grabbing my Finezza out of the car I decided to try and catch one. Incredibly on only my second cast I hooked one and despite being concerned about it running under or around snags I quickly landed my first ever gilthead seabream.

I didn't realise at the time but I was breaking the law and I'm not talking about the shirt!
I have to say that given the reputation the gilthead has as a superb fighter I was very disappointed. Perhaps living in the marina and eating bread being thrown in by tourists all day makes the marina fish a bit lazy?

No sooner than I had put the fish back I was approached by a fellow Brit who politely pointed out to me that it was illegal to fish inside harbours and marinas in Spain and that if the police caught me I would be fined and may also lose my fishing tackle. Oops! I thanked him for pointing this out and stopped fishing straight away returning my gear to the car. I was relieved to say the least and having paid for a fishing licence I was a bit annoyed with myself for breaking the law and making what luckily didn't end up being a very costly mistake. Anyway, lesson learnt, we left the scene of the crime and headed north to quickly visited one of the island's main salt producing areas.

Something salty going on.

Next up we visited the sea caves at Los Hervideros. I had a quick fish off the cliffs, there was a slight swell running and the currents were quite strong but I persevered and caught a couple of bogue.

The caves here are cut into the rocks by the power of the sea.
I clambered down onto a ledge and had twenty minutes fishing while the girls explored the area.
A little silver reward for my efforts.

We then finished off our little tour of the south west with a visit to the green lake, Charco de los Ciclos near to the village of El Golfo before driving back to Puerto Del Carmen.

Algae in the water give the lake its colour. It sits in the remnants of a volcanic crater one side of which has been eroded away by the sea and replaced by a black beach. A very odd place indeed!

Later that day after tea I went down to the small pier again and fished off the rocks at the end of it as the tide was out. Gulp! Angleworm on a drop shot rig once again was getting attacked constantly as soon as it went into the water. I caught loads of ornate wrasse, a couple of scorpionfish and a couple of damselfish before I decided to mess about in the rockpools where I caught a few more blennies and gobies before returning to the pier.

I caught over a dozen ornate wrasse from the rocks. You can't really tire of catching such pretty fish.
These rockpool blennies were so much more docile than their UK cousins. Maybe too hot for nasty behaviour.
These Madeira gobies can be seen in almost every rockpool.

A nice Irish gent was fishing on the pier too and we had a chat as we fished. When he packed up he left me a handful of prawns he had been using as bait. Not wanting to see perfectly good bait go to waste I started fishing small chunks of it down the side and whilst it was being quickly stripped I caught a couple of damselfish and an ornate wrasse before setting up a running ledger using a small cone weight. Casting it out onto the sand beyond the rocks bites were less frequent at this range and I was expecting lizardfish and weevers to be caught when bites came. When I did connect with a fish I was surprised when a small flat fish appeared and I lifted it up to find it was a wide eyed flounder.

A bit bigger than the one I caught last year on Crete.
Wide eyed indeed. You could swim a bogue through those!

Rebaiting and casting my rig back to roughly the same place two more wide eyed flounder about the same size followed in quick succession and then I caught a lizard fish. Funnily enough I had planned on fishing bait and had with me the chub mackerel's belly sections in a small tub. I decided to scale up to a #2 hook and baited it with a two inch strip of that. It wasn't out long when I had a solid bite, struck quickly hooking the culprit and started reeling in. My rod had a nice bend in it and the fish felt decent without putting up a great scrap. No runs were made against my lightly set drag but the fish was thumping away as it came closer. After about twenty seconds everything went slack though. Reeling in I discovered my 6lb snood had been bitten off. Not sure what I had lost I carried on fishing and caught a couple of common combers but by now it was getting dark. Thinks slowed right down and when a large group of divers arrived and started entering the water to my right with powerful torches lighting up the water as they moved around I figured it was time to go. Reeling in however my fishy sliver was grabbed by something that proceeded to tear about from left to right and I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a horse mackerel.

This horse mackerel was a nice bonus catch. I guess it pays to retrieve your bait slowly especially when it has the profile of a small baitfish.

Running low on mackerel belly I decided to keep it to use as bait the following evening and dispatched it quickly. Heavier hook lengths would need to be employed though to hopefully prevent anything biting me off again!

So, another few productive short sessions had produced a few more species including a few nice surprises and had taken my tally to nineteen species for the trip including nine new ones. The gilthead seabream was also on my "Most Wanted" list but I would like to catch another one from the open sea to see how well they can fight. With plenty of time left I was fairly confident that I would achieve my species targets but the more species you catch the harder it is to catch new ones so luck would no doubt also play its part!

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