Friday, March 25, 2016

A bit of a handful.

Look at this brute. I've caught bigger common blennies but this one I caught the other day was a real feisty handful with a large mouth that it repeatedly tried to clamp onto my fingers. A bit of an old warrior, it had a split tail fin and a healed up scar on its flank. I like a fish with a bit of character and if you ask me fish don't come with more personality than the humble shanny.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Light game fun on Fuerteventura : Part 3.

Early on day five when our alarms went off it was raining heavily so we all just turned them off and went back to sleep. Later in the morning the rain stopped and after some breakfast we decided to head north to Corralejo. I wanted to see if we could try and fish the back of the harbour from the rocks there for hairy blenny and parrotfish but unfortunately the sea was a bit too rough. We did see some nice big colourful groupers around the harbour.

Corralejo harbour has several of these funky grouper statues. This one depicted the sea state at the back of the breakwater. 

After a walk around and a spot of lunch we jumped back in the car and headed west to El Cotillo. I knew there would be no fishing from its breakwater but was hopeful we'd find somewhere nearby to fish from. Parking the car we spotted a couple of locals who were float fishing from the rocks opposite the big rock at the end of the harbour's outer breakwater so we chanced our luck and fished beside them.

No fishing on this side. 
The rocks where the locals were when we arrived. After catching a couple of nice white seabream they headed off. 

Due to the sea state outside the harbour there was a fair amount of movement in the water inside it and some suspended weed too but we quickly started catching a few small seabream. After a few of the white and common two banded variety Nick landed a zebra seabream. I've never caught one before and was hopeful there were more around. 

An unusual seabream and another new species for Nick. I wanted one!

As we fished away three more anglers came along and started bait fishing down the side next to us. They caught a few black scorpionfish and when they moved to a new spot I fished over where they had caught them, a rocky area on the bottom fairly close in. A small paddletail worked slowly didn't tempt any fish but switching to a running ledger and baiting my hook with a piece of squid the other anglers had left behind produced one almost immediately. 

A chunk of discarded squid quickly produced my target. 

Lee then hooked a slightly bigger fish that fought hard and went to ground twice. Patience and a bit of slack line saw it swimming out of the snags though and a dusky grouper was quickly landed much to Lee's delight as they are one of his favourite fish.

Lee loves dusky groupers. For their size they don't half scrap hard and fight dirty.

As I hadn't had anything new yet I was still very keen to try and catch a zebra seabream so I switched back to Angleworm on a drop shot rig. Eventually this produced my first new species of the trip, it was a new seabream for me but not a zebra. It was instead my first ever sharpsnout seabream.

These look quite similar to white seabream but as well as a sharp snout they also has a few more stripes.

It was a very enjoyable session but when it started raining quite heavily again we decided to pack up and headed back to Caleta de Fuste. In the evening we had a night off from fishing and went out for a nice meal in Caleta de Fuste. Beers during the meal were supplemented by a rum or two later in the evening back at the apartment complex's bar. 

Slightly rough the next morning we opted for a comfortable day's fishing down at Las Playitas pier again. I focused my efforts on catching a red lip blenny and although the movement in the surface of the sea made it hard to be sure I was pretty confident I could see one poking its head out of a crack down the side of the pier. From past experience I know they can be very fussy so I fished small pieces of raw prawn on a split shot rig. Canary damselfish and ornate wrasse kept muscling their way past my target and getting themselves hooked but eventually I managed to get my bait close enough and the target fish got to it first. I quickly set the hook, pulled it away from its crack and swung it up to hand. I was over the moon to catch my second new species of the trip and a new blenny at that!

The redlip blenny is also known as the horseface blenny and it has a very peculiar mouth. It's top lip in particular is very odd and it also has two fairly large fangs in its bottom jaw. 
A very fussy eater indeed and I've tried on three different islands in the Eatern Atlantic to catch one without success so it was nice to finally catch one. 

It was a nice relaxing day and again lots of fish were caught. Just what we all needed with our mild hangovers. After catching my redlip blenny I tried fishing metals and then bigger lures on a drop shot rig to see if I could catch something bigger or new or add another species to my tally but had no joy doing so. By late afternoon we were all feeling quite hungry so we decided to head to nearby Gran Tarajal to get some food from the supermarket. Before we left Lee tried in vain to get a photo of the colourful land crabs that are quite common on the Canary Islands but they are very shy and very fast too so he didn't quite manage to get one. On the way back to the car I spotted another nice piece of wall art, this time made from ceramics.

This crustacean was much easier to photograph than the land crabs. 

In Gran Tarajal we found a tackle shop and got a few pieces of end gear so we could return to Las Playitas after dark. As well as getting some food at the supermarket I picked up a packet of squid so I could fish a bait using my heavier lure rod to try and tempt a stingray. Soon back on Las Playitas pier we fished for an hour or so but sadly didn't have any joy so we headed back for a rum or two. 

The next day we managed to get up early and tried our luck from the rocks to north of Caleta de Fuste. The sea was still a bit rough and bites were pretty much non existent. We all ended up switching to light game tactics but even this didn't change our luck much. Lee did manage a couple of lizardfish again, on light game metals this time.

I dodged the breaking swell and went out to this rocky point to see if anything was hunting in the highly oxygenated water there. Sadly my efforts weren't rewaded.

In the afternoon we decided to head all the way south to Morro Hable. Arriving there we drove through its large harbour and began fishing from the rocks on the outside of its western breakwater. The ground there was pretty shallow the rocks we were on gave way to very clean golden sand. There were lots of Azores damselfish close in but I struggled to catch one with ornate wrasse bullying their way past them to my Angleworm. A slight change of presentation eventually saw me catch one.

Another very pretty little fish. They have slightly smaller mouths than the Canary damselfish. A smaller hook and half an Angleworm did the trick.

Casting further out we all caught some greater weever. Unhooking them can be a pain and I always worry about being stung by one. I've heard some horror stories about weever stings and often wonder how painful it would be and would soon recieve a first hand account. Despite being careful and using a set of pliers to shake them off his hook Nick called over to say that one had thrashed and he had been stung by its dorsal fin. I was concerned and thought we might need to go seek first aid but he said it was no worse than a bad wasp sting and wasn't getting any worse so we carried on fishing.

We tried a few different spots but things were a bit slow so in the afternoon so we decided to head even further west to Faro de Punto Jandia, the lighthouse at the most south westerly point of the island. The drive down the 15km pot hole infested dirt road running through the nature reserve took a while but once we got there we found a nice spot on the rocks on the southern side of the peninsula and started fishing. After a few lizardfish and ornate wrasse I found an area further out that held a few nice common two banded seabream and bastard grunts. Lee caught some madeira rockfish on the lures he designed last year for HTO which he was very happy about.

A nice bastard grunt.
A Texas rigged HTO Flail produced this little rockfish.

After a while we were all pretty hungry again so we went back up the dirt road, went to Morro Hable harbour and had a nice meal in a small restaurant there. Before heading back up the road we had an hour or so fishing from the western breakwater in darkness. Hoping for a barracuda I tried small hard lures but had no luck. Lee and Nick fished the bottom to try and catch a dusky grouper. Nick then wandered off to try another spot further along the breakwater only to fall down a hole that he didn't see as he had his head torch off. We laughed about it when he came back and told us but he did have a few grazes on his side and leg. He really wasn't having a great day on the accident front but with no serious injuries sustained we fished on for a little while longer. Things were pretty slow but Lee managed to catch a dusky grouper just before we called it a night.

Lee was most pleased.

So the last day of our trip had arrived and we got up for sunrise again to try again from the rocks to the north of Caleta de Fuste. Again there were no signs of any bonito or bluefish around so we all ended up fishing light game gear and caught a few painted combers and diamond lizardfish on metals and some planehead filefish and seabream on drop shotted Angleworm. We also had some of the local wildlife join us on the rocks.

A chipmunk and a collared dove watching us.
A small diamond lizardfish. These are easily caught on metals. Easily caught on any method really!

Later that morning we had to check out of our apartment and whilst we could have maybe fished in the afternoon for an hour or so we decided just to pack up all the gear and have some lunch instead before heading to the airport to fly home. Another fishing holiday had come to an end and we'd had a great time, first day sunburn, weever handling mishaps and disappearing into holes in concrete breakwaters aside. It's safe to say that Lee has a new found respect for the sun and Nick will take greater care with weevers and navigating breakwaters in the dark! Anyway, despite the strong winds that we had most of the trip which meant we didn't have any luck with larger species we still caught loads of fish and ended up on thirty five species between the three of us which isn't too bad if you ask me. Here are the ones I caught.

  1. Annular Seabream
  2. Atlantic Lizardfish
  3. Axillary Seabream
  4. Azores Damselfish
  5. Bastard Grunt
  6. Black Scorpionfish
  7. Bogue
  8. Canary Damselfish
  9. Cardinalfish
  10. Common Comber
  11. Common Pandora
  12. Common Two Banded Seabream
  13. Couch's Seabream/Red Porgy
  14. Diamond Lizardfish
  15. Emerald Wrasse/Atlantic Wrasse
  16. Golden Grey Mullet
  17. Greater Weever
  18. Guinean Puffer
  19. Macronesian Sharpnose Puffer
  20. Madeira Goby
  21. Madeira Rockfish
  22. Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse
  23. Ornate Wrasse
  24. Painted Comber
  25. Planehead Filefish
  26. Red Lip Blenny
  27. Rockpool Blenny
  28. Saddled Seabream
  29. Salema
  30. Sharpnose Seabream
  31. White Seabream
Lee and Nick also caught...
  1. Black Seabream
  2. Derbio
  3. Dusky Grouper
  4. Zebra Seabream
Light game is great fun but I think if I return to Fuerteventura I'd maybe take beachcasting tackle and mix things up a bit more by fishing at night for shark species like stingrays, smoothhounds and angel sharks. If the conditions were more favourable then early morning lure sessions for the bigger stuff would also be more of an option. The saltwater fishing here since I have returned hasn't really picked up yet and hopefully it will soon. I have to be honest though and say that I'm already thinking about another fishing adventure abroad. Flights to Ponta Delgada in the Azores seem to be very cheap so that might be on the cards for winter this year.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Light game fun on Fuerteventura : Part 2.

By late afternoon on our first full day we were having a great time, had racked up an impressive species tally and had caught and released a lot of fish. We were also getting a bit sun burnt!

My first planehead filefish of the trip. They give a very good account of themselves on light game tackle. 
There were lots of small mullet around so I stole a chunk of bread from Nick's sandwich and caught a couple of them to find out which species they were. Turns out they were golden grey mullet. 
Casting further out I found a sandy area which resulted in a few greater weevers being caught. 
We also caught a few bigger painter comber. They don't fight very hard after a few initial head shakes. Still very pretty fish. 

Trying to tempt something larger I switched to a Gulp Sandworm on my drop shot rig. Holding it in a static position and giving it the odd twitch the smaller fish destroyed a few but eventually my rod bent over and a fish was stripping line after a solid take. An already battle scarred common pandora was eventually netted for me by Lee. 

This fish had obviously had a tough life with a fairly big chunk missing from its back. Evidence of a near death experience. 

Before heading home to survey our sunburn we popped to nearby Gran Tarajal where we had a few casts from the rocks at the back of its harbour's western breakwater. We caught a few more fish but things slowed down after the sun set and as we didn't have our head torches we called it a day. 

Casting out away from the rocks produced a few small white seabream. 
As light faded the ornate wrasse and damselfish became less active and the cardinalfish began appearing. 

Pleased with the day's non stop action we drove back to Caleta de Fuste where in the apartment the full extent of the damage the sun had wrecked on our skin became apparent. Nick wasn't too bad as he'd sensibly worn a wide brimmed hat all day. I had burnt my forearms and my rather red face and neck contrasted beautifully with the white areas that had been protected by my hat and glasses. Lee however was by far the worst off. Half way through the day his hat had blown off and landed in the sea. We managed to rescue it but he hadn't put it back on and his head had been badly burnt. All feeling a bit sore after dinner we applied plenty of after sun cream and went to bed. 

Up early the next day Lee's head was pretty bad and it was weeping yellow liquid. Not good but luckily it was overcast, which was just as well as we all needed to stay out of the sun, as we headed to Salinas del Carmen to try fishing for larger species. The wind however had picked up and there was a fair swell running. We trashed the water for a while but apart from a couple of greedy lizardfish that Lee caught on 40g jigs we didn't have any joy and returned to the apartment discuss what we'd do for the rest of the day, picking up a big bottle of sun cream on the way. To try and seek a bit of shelter from the strong wind in the afternoon we decided to head west. The coast on that side of the island doesn't really have that many roads leading to it but we visited Puertito de los Molinos to see if we could do a spot of light game there. It didn't look that promising being very shallow and fishing there involved a scramble down some fairly steep rocks so we headed south to the next small coastal town, Ajuy. 

Halfway between the two we stopped at an observation point. Compared to the other Canary Islands Fuerteventura is relatively flat. Probably why it is so windy!

When we arrived at Ajuy its steeply shelving black vocanic sand beach looked much more promising so we had a few casts from the rocks at its northern end. This produced a small derbio for Lee on his first cast so we were optimistic we'd found a good spot.

Lee fishes from the rocks with a metal jig to begin with.
A rather cute little derbio.

Fishing here however was pretty unproductive until we cast in closer to the rockier areas which produced two species of wrasse for the three of us.

An emerald wrasse. Another new species for Nick.
They're aptly named. 

After a while we tried fishing directly from the beach at different points along its short length but this didn't produce much so we headed south again all the way to Gran Tarajal. This time we fished from the rocks at the back of its harbour's eastern breakwater. The water there was nice and deep and we caught a few small common pandora, common two banded seabream, ornate wrasse and lizardfish. Lee also caught a few Azores damselfish, common combers and some planehead filefish. Nick caught a small black seabream as well before we headed back to check out the state of Lee's crusty forehead and apply more after sun to our red bits.

Lee abused a few of his fish before releasing them again. 

Back at the apartment Lee was feeling pretty bad and his cap had not let his forehead heal so on Saturday morning we fished locally at first light which just produced a few more small fish. Afterwards we visited a Pharmacy to see if Lee needed any medical attention but luckily he didn't so he picked up a buff to cover his head with and we headed back to the apartment. Nick wanted to have a siesta in the afternoon so Lee and I headed to Tarajalejo and tried fishing from a small pier at the beach's eastern end. It was very shallow though and there weren't many fish biting so we headed back to the car to head further west to a rocky peninsula at the other end of the beach that we had seen from the pier. On the way back to the car I spotted this funky metal fish on the outside of a house. 

The one that got away? Not sure about the hook choice or the knot.

Soon at the peninsula we found it was easy to get down and below the small cliffs there we discovered a large flat rocky area that was comfortable to fish from, surrounded be gullies and submerged rocks. It was nice and sheltered and we caught a few fish before heading back to wake up Nick. 

Planehead filefish are very weird looking fish indeed. I love their elongated fin ray. We caught a few of them at this spot.
By this point in the trip we'd caught dozens of colourful ornate wrasse. They are probably the most aggressive fish at close range and the novelty of catching them wore off a long time ago but they're so photogenic I always take at least one photo of them.

When we got back Nick was up, had been to the supermarket and was busy making some meat balls. After a very tasty meal we headed north to Puerto de Rosario to see if we could fish from a long stone pier there I spotted on Google Maps that looked a good spot. We weren't sure if we were allowed to fish from it so I asked a couple of police officers who were sitting in their car parked nearby who told us we could fish right at the end underneath its small light. Things were slow though and after a while all we had caught was a single saddled seabream and a few cardinalfish so we headed back to Caleta de Fuste's harbour to sneakily fish under the crane again to see if Lee could get himself a salema but it was very quiet there as well. After a few more cardinalfish we called it a night. The following morning the wind was due to drop off so we decided to get up early and have another go for larger species again.

Tight lines, Scott.

Click here for the final part.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Light game fun on Fuerteventura : Part 1.

On the 24th of February I headed to Fuerteventura with two of my mates, Lee and Nick, for a week's fishing in the sun. We planned on fishing light game most of the time and whilst we had heavier lure gear with us for a bash at barracuda, bluefish and bonito, the strong onshore winds that were forecast and the accompanying swell that would be probably be battering the deep water rock marks on the east coast meant we had realistic expectations about our chances of coming into contact with any of the trio. After arriving at our apartment in Caleta de Fuste we were keen to get fishing and headed down to the harbour just as light began to fade. Of course fishing in the marina itself was out of the question but we clambered onto the rocks at the back of its outer breakwater and started fishing there. Fishing my thoroughly tried and tested Angleworm on a drop shot rig I was soon into the first fish of the trip, a diamond lizardfish. Things were quite slow though as it got dark so we headed around to the other end of the harbour where we fished underneath a crane that was at the end of a small pier. This was a bit naughty perhaps but we fished straight down the outside and out away from the inside of the marina just in case any security guards approached us. After I'd caught a white seabream, a few cardinalfish and a nice couch's seabream Lee was getting frustrated after he had hooked and lost a few nice fish as he tried to lift them up. We weren't sure what they were but soon after I hooked one only to also have it come off on the surface as well. When I hooked a second and Lee climbed down the rocks to land it we found out they were salema. As we were perhaps fishing where we shouldn't have been we didn't take any photos of our fish.

The next day after having a look at the rock marks near Salinas del Carmen we decided to head south to Las Playitas. I thought it would be quite sheltered and my mate Ross who fished on the island last year told me it was a great mark for mini species that could also produce the odd bigger fish. The pier there was a very comfortable mark to fish from and really it was just the kind of place to begin the fishing properly after a lot of travelling the day before. It didn't take long at all for the three of us to start catching fish.

Canary Damselfish were present in good numbers. 
The odd common two banded sea bream was also caught. 
Lee caught his first planehead filefish. These were also present in numbers with small packs of them chasing lures and nipping away at them. 

Ornate wrasse and painted combers were also rather abundant. After a while I ventured off along the rocky shoreline to see what was in the rockpools below some cliffs to the left of the pier.

Las Playitas pier from beneath the cliff to the east. 

I was hopeful that I'd catch my first new species of the trip in the shape of either a hairy blenny or a redlip blenny but the much more common Madeira goby and rockpool blenny were all that I could winkle out. 

Madeira gobies are super aggressive and are very easy to catch. 
The rockpool blennies were a bit more wary. I tempted this one out from a crack down the side of a deeper rockpool. 

Soon the incoming tide forced me to abandon my search and I returned to the pier. Lee and Nick had been catching lots of fish and I soon added a few more species to my own tally.

The ragged tail on this annular seabream had no doubt been nipped by other fish in territorial disputes. 
This would turn out to be the only rainbow wrasse of the trip. 

Hoping to catch perhaps a chub mackerel or a derbio I started fishing a small metal fairly high up in the water. This resulted in a few bottom lurking predators charging up from the sea floor and grabbing it.

My light game metal only drew the attacks of lizardfish and painted combers.
Madeira rockfish are fairly common in the Canaries and also in the Mediterranean. The orange section on their lip is a key distinguishing feature.  

It was turning into a great day's fishing and the wind was keeping us nice and cool in the mid afternoon heat. In hindsight this wasn't a great thing as none of has put any sun protection on. Soon the exposed parts of our skin were beginning to look a bit red but rather foolishly we fished on...

Tight lines, Scott.

Click here for the next part.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words.

After a bit of thought I've decided that in the future I'm going to do some photo only reports with just a bit of content here in the captions below. I caught these cheeky little chaps from the same small rockpool at the back of Dunbar Harbour last month. Super aggressive and resident all year round they were my first UK fish of the year.