Monday, May 19, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Lanzarote : Part 1.

Last Monday I set off with my partner Lillian and my sister Sharon for a one week holiday to the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Whilst it was a family holiday I did of course pack some fishing tackle. Two sets of gear went in the case, my Graphiteleader Compatto Finezza and Daiwa Caldia 2500 loaded up with #0.4 PE Sunline Small Game for ultra light fun and my Graphiteleader Compatto Argento and Daiwa Caldia 3000 loaded up with 10lb Power Pro for targeting larger species with metals and hard plastics. Whilst my sessions would mostly be short early morning and evening ones I set myself a target of catching twenty five species including ten new ones whilst on the island.

We arrived in Lanzarote at about half past five in the evening and picked up our hire car. Sharon drove us to Puerto Del Carmen where we'd be staying. We quickly got the cases unpacked and before the sun set we decided to have a stroll. I had already sussed out where the nearest pier to our apartment was on Google Maps so I grabbed my ultra light gear and off we went towards the crystal clear waters of the Eastern Atlantic. Soon at the waters edge the girls left me to it, going for a walk along the shoreline whilst I stayed on the pier and fished for an hour or so. I started with a drop shot rig with a #10 hook baited up with half a Gulp! Angleworm. I could see fish which I recognised as Canary damselfish and other light yellow fishes with dark tail markings which turned out to be Azores damselfish. They didn't hang about and started biting straight away. With small toothy mouths the bites though plentiful were hard to connect with and they quickly destroyed my lures but I had plenty with me and soon caught a few of both species of damselfish and then an ornate wrasse.

My first fish of the trip and my first new species. An Azores damselfish.
My second new species of the trip. Canary damselfish have beautiful iridescent purple markings on them.
An ornate wrasse. I caught lots of these on Crete last year. They are super aggressive.

By the time the girls returned I had added a few more damselfish and a couple of small scorpionfish to my tally before the light went and the action slowed right down. I headed back to the apartment quite pleased with a fairly productive start to the trip including two new species.

I got up early on Tuesday morning and headed down to the same spot for sunrise.

This small pier next to Pila de La Barrilla beach was only ten minutes from our apartment.

Fishing Gulp! really is as close as you can get to fishing with bait so I decided to fish it under a float. This proved very effective and I soon caught a few damselfish. Then I got a pleasant surprise when I caught one of my "Most Wanted" targets for the trip, a Macronesian sharpnose puffer.

What a cool little fish with lovely blue spots all over its flanks. It didn't puff itself up but it was still very neat.

I carried on with the float for a while longer and caught some more damselfish and a few ornate wrasse. I then decided to switch to a small paddletail lure on a jig head to see what was around near the bottom further out. Flicking it out I let it sink before slowly retrieving it close to the bottom, lifting the rod when I felt it hit rocks on the sea floor. I felt a few small taps but didn't connect with anything and upon retrieving the lure I found the tail had been nipped off.

Ecogear Grass Minnows have a nice action. When they are whole!

I replaced the lure and cast out. Once again I felt a few taps and it came back tailless. No doubt the razor sharp teeth of the multitudes of small aggressive fish were responsible. Rather than quickly deplete my supply I decided to switch to the trusty drop shot rig. A paddletail with no paddletail has lost its fish attracting action and at least if the fish take chunks out of my Gulp Angleworm I can still fish it I reasoned. Casting out and letting it hit bottom I held the rod feeling for bites. Nothing. I lifted the rod and moved the lead back towards me a bit and waited again. Then I felt a good solid take and reeled in to find a small Atlantic lizardfish on the end.

The Atlantic lizardfish is an ambush predator. I'd find out just how vicious they could be later in the holiday.

Casting back out again I got the lead about half way back when I felt another positive bite and this time it was another sand dwelling predator, a greater weever.

It was a rather feisty one and kept thrashing about so I carefully unhooked it with my forceps without touching it and used them to put it back as well. Better safe than sorry and in agonising pain heading to hospital.

I carried on fishing and after a few more damselfish and a few ornate wrasse I hooked another small fish and got it partially in when I felt slightly more resistance. Strange. Had something else grabbed my fish? No it was different species of puffer and it had puffed itself up on the way in. Putting it back it floated for a minute or two before expelling the water and swimming off. On the very next cast I caught a second specimen of the same species but it remained deflated.

At the time adding a second puffer species to my tally was a nice surprise but I had no idea which species they were.
A bit of Googling later and I identified them as Guinean puffers.

Very happy to have added four species to my trip tally including another two new ones I realised that the tide had receded exposing some rockpools at the end of the pier and also enabling access to a small rocky outcrop there too. As I wandered over I immediately spotted lots of gobies in the rockpools. Moving my drop shot weight up to just below my hook I lowered small pieces of Gulp down in front of some bigger specimens and quickly caught three of them.

Initially I thought these may be giant gobies but I was pretty sure their range didn't extend as far down as the Canary Islands. They also had subtle light blue spotting across them that doesn't show up very well in this photo. Again a bit of research back at the apartment revealed them to be Madeira gobies.

Then as I moved from pool to pool and climbed around the rocks I spotted some blennies poking their heads out from under a rock in a fairly large rock pool. Dropping my small lure in front of them they were a bit less gung-ho than the gobies but I soon tempted one out and hooked it. Another new species for me it was a fairly bland brown and olive green colour with a few discrete light blue markings around its eyes. It was surprisingly well behaved and was much less aggressive than some other blenny species. It didn't even try to bite me once which was mildly disappointing but I love blennies so was still happy to catch it.

Again I knew this was a new species but had to do some searching online later to identify this as a rockpool blenny.

So in two short sessions I had caught ten species including six new ones. With a drive up the coast to visit a few tourist attractions planned for the morning and early afternoon I headed back up to the apartment to find out if the girls were up and ready to go at about half past nine fairly pleased with how things were going.


  1. Nice fishing for some new species Scott, bet you were in your element, nice warm up for Greece

    1. I was loving it mate. It's just Lillian and I going to Zante. We're staying in a quiet part of the island and it's going to be more of a relaxing holiday. We don't plan on hiring a car so I'l probably just do very early morning sessions off rocks near our apartment to avoid the heat during the day. Don't think I'll set any targets either. Fourteen weeks to go but I've got a trip to Penzance/Alderney at the end of June to look forward to first! :-D

  2. superb scott , really enjoyed that!