11/06/2016 - Return to Gran Canaria, part two

Over a few beers on the terrace, Stuart suggested that we have a fishing competition - one hour with same bait and method (Angleworm on the dropshot) for most fish and most species, me against him and Rob - so the next morning saw us heading over to Puerto Mogan again. As soon as the tide allowed we scrambled out onto the breakwater with the crabs. 

The competition was a "roving" competition within the confines of the rock, which in practice meant we were often fishing within a foot of each other depending on where the fish were! 

The action was fast and furious right from the off, with hordes of damsels and ornate wrasse attacking the bait as soon as it hit the water. At the end of the hour I'd edged it on numbers 49 to 47, whilst we'd both had three species - me a parrot fish and the others a small puffer. With it being Saturday, there were also quite a few locals on the main breakwater, all float fishing bread or prawns, in the deeper water beyond the drop off. However, apart from one unfortunate parrot fish that was dispatched into a bucket, we saw nothing else caught! 

Next day we drove into the interior via one million hairpins (certainly felt like it!) and walked up to Roque Nublo, a basalt needle in the centre of the island and what's left of the original volcano that formed it. On the way back we stopped off at the beach at Taurito for some food and a couple of beers. Leaving the others at the bar I ventured onto the rocks up the right hand side of the beach and made my way around the corner to a spot I'd had some success the year before.

However, apart from getting smashed up a couple of times by what were probably big parrot fish, I only managed a few damsels and ornate wrasse before the tide forced me back up the rocks. Stuart had snorkelled around at this stage and mentioned that he'd seen a big shoal of small barracuda in the vicinity of one the hotel discharges, so I switched to small metal lures in the hope of snagging one. Didn't have to wait long before I had a couple of bumps and then a fish on. Unfortunately, despite carrying on casting to the same area, that was the only 'cuda I could manage and a couple of lost jigs brought the session to a close. Monday morning saw us back at "sex" beach. Stu had ear problems, so it was just me, Rob and Duncan that scrambled down the valley. Upon arrival we found we had the beach all to ourselves. Unlike the previous visit, there was a visible line of debris at high tide level, presumably blown in by the onshore wind. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, it was obvious that it was mostly fragments of plastic, an all too common sign of what we are doing to our oceans!

The tide was still in, so I started off casting from the beach over the sand, slowing bumping the rig back over the ridges and feeling for bites. 

After a few casts I had firm rattle and hooked into a small fish. As it got in closer I could see it was a flatfish, similar to the one I'd lost on the previous visit. When I swung it into my hand I confirmed that it was specifically a perfectly camouflaged (and perfectly named), wide eyed flounder - another new species. Had three more of these of various sizes before handing the rod over to Rob, who'd been hovering around behind me. After a bit of tuition he managed to catch a flounder and a couple of Atlantic lizardfish, which seemed to satisfy his curiosity and get me my rod back!  A few casts later I was bringing in another small fish when the rod tip slammed over as something suddenly made a beeline for the rocks. My suspicions about what had happened were founded a couple of minutes later when I dragged a large Atlantic lizardfish up the beach clutching the cleaver wrasse I'd originally hooked. The wrasse was successfully rescued and returned apparently none the worse for wear before I had a closer look at the lizardfish. I certainly wouldn't want to be a small fish faced with that huge mouth filled with needle sharp teeth! 

Had one more flounder and a couple of small lizardfish before it went quiet, so had a break and sat in the sun with the others for a bit. However, once the tide had gone down sufficiently I started to make my way over the rocks to fish the drop off. I'd just passed a dustbin sized rockpool when I spotted a big blenny-like head poking out of hole. Whatever it was hastily retreated upon seeing me, so I quickly tied up a split shot rig with a #16 to nylon baited with a fragment of Angleworm and dropped it in. Felt a tug and unceremoniously hoiked what I later identified as a pretty little rockpool blenny out of his hideaway!

Popped him back from where he came and headed to the edge of the rock platform where I reverted to the dropshot rig again. Had loads of nibbles from the off, but converting them into fish was difficult. I suspected that pufferfish were to blame as they tend to chomp their way up the Angleworm leaving it looking like beaded necklace! Managed a few Canary damselfish and ornate wrasse and a single, female parrotfish that had two horrible looking lice on her head, which I carefully removed before popping her back. Wasn't too long before I was getting "hurry up" gesture from the others on the beach, so called it a day. 

Had one last session at Puerto Mogan before we left for home but, to be honest, I was feeling a bit fished out. However, overall we had a great time and I would certainly recommend sneaking a few bits of fishing tackle in your luggage if ever you head to the island, or one of its neighbours.

Final scores on the doors

94 canary damselfish
45 ornate wrasse
5 wide eyed flounder
4 Atlantic lizardfish
4 cleaver wrasse
4 European parrotfish
2 Madeira rockfish
1 derbio
1 European barracuda
1 Macronesian sharp nose pufferfish
1 rockpool blenny

Cheers Gran Canaria!

09/06/2016 - Return to Gran Canaria, Part One

Last year's trip to Gran Canaria proved so successful that we found another excuse (this time Stuart's 60th birthday) to go again, even down to booking the same week at the same hotel! As before, I took a selection of LRF and light game gear hoping to add a few more species to my tally from last trip. Arriving Wednesday afternoon, the rest of the day was spent settling in, admiring the view over to Puerto Mogan from our balcony and having a few drinks down on the patio. 

Next day we took the short trip by hire car to Puerto Mogan and headed down to the water front. While the others got ready to go for a swim, I headed straight out onto the old section of breakwater, where there was already one other chap float fishing off the end over the rocks. 

I set up a tried-and-tested drop shot rig with a #10 Sabpolo wormer hook baited with Gulp Angle worm and dropped it down the side to be met with instant bites. Found that the usual suspects were to blame, i.e. Canary damselfish and ornate wrasse. The place seemed to be snided with them! Eventually had a couple of female European parrotfish that put a proper bend in the rod, before dropping my rig down into the shadows next to a large boulder. The next fish was a lot smaller, but was a new species - a Madeiran rockfish - swiftly followed by a slightly larger one next cast. Unfortunately, it was back to the damsels and wrasse after this until the tide dropped and the fish retreated to deeper water. 

Talked to the other fisherman after it turned out he was English as well. He was floatfishing bread and just picking up the odd damselfish, so I gave him some Angleworm to try when I left to re-join the others on the beach. Before we left we had a walk around the harbour, or "free aquarium". As well as numerous species of bream, mullet, colourful male parrotfish and the odd bass, there was a big shoal of barracuda in residence, in sizes ranging from about 8 inches up to the odd individual getting on for three feet long - unfortunately due to Spanish law all out of bounds!

The next day we ventured well off the beaten tourist track down to a "secret" beach I'd found on Google, which involved a bit of a scramble down a barranco (ravine). I'd also warned the others that it had a bit of reputation as a nudist beach, so it wasn't really a surprise when we got down to a small, enclosed, sandy beach to find a few locals already there and "au naturel"! Got the snorkel gear on for a quick recce up the left hand side of the beach and soon spotted a number of different species both in the rocks and out on the sand. Back on the beach I headed out with the fishing gear, gingerly making my way over the still wet and very slippy rocks to a point where I could fish down the drop off. Not surprisingly, the ornate wrasse and the damsels were out in force. However, I did also manage a Macronesian sharpnose pufferfish before being forced off the rocks by the incoming tide. 

Back on the beach I had a cast out over the sand and got a fish on first time - the smallest lizardfish I've ever seen! Wasn't complaining as this was another new species for me - the Atlantic lizardfish rather than its rock-dwelling cousin the diamond lizardfish. Carried on casting from the beach, inching the rig back slowly and keeping the rod tip high, feeling for bites. Had a few rattles and knocks doing this, before hooking into another fish. This one I knew straight away from Scott Hutchison's blog to be a cleaver wrasse, or pearly razor fish, with its brilliant colours and its two pairs of "fangs" with which it did its best to nip me with while I unhooked it. 

Casting over the same spot I had two more of his companions before the bait was taken on the drop by something a little more acrobatic. This turned out to be a silvery derbio, which flicked its spiny dorsal fin in and out of the slot in its back like a switchblade. Next cast it was something different yet again. However, I only had glimpse of a small flatfish before it came off! Had my suspicions about what this might have been and was a bit disappointed as it was another one of my target species. Went quiet after this, so returned to the others to soak up some rays before we had to make the scramble back up to the car. On the way past some rocks Stuart and Duncan disturbed some seriously big-looking Gran Canarian giant lizards, which belted straight down the path at me and Rob! Luckily they shot off into a hole before we had to take avoiding action. 

Had a few deserved beers back at the hotel that night and agreed with the others we'd definitely return to what was now dubbed "sex beach" by a prudish Stuart!