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.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gilty as charged.

On the final day of my trip I had planned to head to Dorset to spent the day fishing Swanage Pier before making the drive back up the road. However, after hearing that small gilthead seabream were being caught in Weymouth Harbour I changed my plan so I could fish there first thing in the morning and then head along to Swanage. I got up early and drove down, arriving in Weymouth just after 08:00 I got my gear out of the car and began fishing angleworm on a dropshot rig. A few hours went by and I had worked my way around the harbour covering a fairly large amount of ground with no success locating my target. After having a break to pester some gobies I decided to concentrate my efforts in one area and switched to fishing with bait. I set up a scaled down three hook flapper rig with #10 hooks and baited them up with small sections of Dynabait ragworm. This produced a few small bass and then I hooked a small gilthead which fell off as I lifted it up the harbour wall. Another hour or so soon passed and having not hooked another one I was feeling a little frustrated so I adjourned for lunch and decided to head to the Weymouth Angling Centre to buy some fresh ragworm. Sandwich eaten and armed with a small amount of great quality bait I headed back to the spot where I'd hooked and lost my target. Baiting up my rig with small pieces of the fresh ragworm I cast it out, started getting bites straight away and I was soon reeling in a small gilthead seabream. I managed to land it this time, the first one I've caught in the UK.

What I visited Weymouth for and caught fairly easily once I changed my approach.

I was one species closer to my long term goal of catching one hundred saltwater species from around the UK so I was pleased to catch it but I was quite annoyed with myself for persisting with the same ineffective approach all morning. It was well into the afternoon and driving along to Swanage Pier when I would have to leave again less than two hours after getting there was just not worth it so I stayed in Weymouth and caught a few more gilthead seabream and bass. I was pretty sure that if I'd bought and used the fresh ragworm when I had arrived in the morning I probably would have had my target pretty quickly and been on my way to Swanage. Fishing lures can be fun but really if you want to catch fish quickly then in most scenarios good quality bait is hard to beat. As a species hunter and someone who just enjoys catching fish the method used isn't that important to me, it just needs to be the most effective one that's available on the day. This is something I know and my choice of approach had in all likelihood cost me a session at Swanage Pier, one of my favourite venues on the south coast. It's not the first time I've been guilty of fishing with lures when quality bait was available and proved to be the better choice of approach. A bit of an annoying way to end my trip but with several potential targets available on the south coast I'll be able to visit Swanage the next time I'm down.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Something squidy going on!

On day five of my trip I headed back to Cornwall. Following up on the information about pilchards given to me by the angler at Mevagissey Harbour I had booked myself a place on Anglo Dawn, a charter boat running out of Falmouth. To cut a long story short the fishing was pretty poor and no pilchards were caught but on the way back in we stopped to do some jigging for squid. This was the most productive part of the day, a few were caught and it was quite good fun.

I caught this fairly large one. Beginner's luck.

As a catch and release angler I don't normally eat my catch but I do love eating squid. Sadly because I was staying in a B&B taking it wasn't really an option so one of the other anglers on the trip took mine. It was slightly dissapointing that we didn't hit a shoal of pilchards as the skipper confirmed he'd been catching plenty of them recently but that's fishing for you. During the trip there was talk of red seabream, bluefin tuna and porbeagle being caught in the area so I think I might be returning to Falmouth in the future.

Tight lines, Scott.