Tackle and Tactics
In November my pal Steve Pitts had a family holiday on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Now Steve has been a few times before and, like me, he always takes his fishing gear on holiday. Anyway, I'll let him tell the tale as he told it to me -
Thought you might be interested to hear how I got on with the fishing during our recent fortnight holiday to Fuerteventura in the Canaries.
Having been several times before, I knew pretty much what to expect and had reconnoitred a number of marks during previous visits, but have not caught anything of note to date.
There are (allegedly) several species of interest to the lure angler such as bass, bluefish, leerfish, barracuda, jacks and bonito that, although far from common, turn up and can be caught from the shore - according to various internet reports.
The local anglers fish mainly with bait (bread-paste or prawn / crab) for parrot-fish, sargo (bream) moray eel, mullet, grouper and other reef/rock dwelling species. Most use bamboo or fibreglass poles similar to roach poles, without a reel, but an elastic shock absorber and mono trace. Almost everything caught is kept as fish is a major part of the local diet. I have rarely seen anyone else use lures and catch anything.
Fuerteventura (FV) lies 90kms from the coast of the coast of North West Africa with Morocco its closest neighbouring country, so it gets its fair share of exotic visitors (human, animal, bird, fish and reptile). In the opposite direction and beyond the Western coast of FV lies the Atlantic Ocean and according to Google Earth, if you headed out West for 6,500kms, you’d end up in Cuba. That’s a lot of ocean between the two land masses and that usually means that the Western shores of FV are pounded by huge waves for most months of the year. During our latest visit we stayed on the North-Western tip of the island and on most days there were waves of between 3 and 10 meters with occasional monsters of 15 meters, which appeared out of nowhere, so rock fishing was precarious to say the least.
FV is famous for the near constant winds, which blow in off of the Northern Sahara and account for FV as being the venue for the World wind-surfing championships. The island is a Mecca for those who enjoy kite-surfing, wind-surfing, land-yachting, kite-carting, body-boarding and surfing. During our stay there was a 4-day international kite festival, which was held on our nearest beach, so you could say that the wind is an important resource and indeed there are many ancient windmills dotted around that one ground corn and millet when FV was more agriculture orientated (before tourism arrived) and more recently wind-turbine ‘farms’ have been erected to generate electricity for the island.
Anyway – what I’m trying to get at is that although there are miles of deserted beaches, cliffs and rocky promontories, fishing is not easy because of the nature of the sea and the constantly changing prevailing winds. The wind direction during our stay swung around all points of the compass, sometimes several times a day, so there was always a heavy sea running wherever I tried to fish.
I did find one spot along a shallow sandy beach that looked fishable, without endangering life or limb (or so I thought - more of that in a moment) so set about using a Daiwa Saltiga popper in the hope that bass or bluefish may be present. The beach was not unlike some of the ones, where we fished on Cape Cod, but there were lots of submerged rocky outcrops around which I thought there might be fish and which I could fish without fear of losing the lure. After around an hour of popping I hadn’t had a sniff, so wandered along to the end of the beach where there was more rock and structure. Part way along I slipped on a lava slab, covered in invisible algae and gashed my knee open, bashed the rod and reel hard and for a moment thought I’d broken my wrist, but in the end it was just my bloody knee and my pride that were hurt.
On arrival at the rocks I changed to a Kastmaster (Dexter wedge with a single hooked dressed with bucktail that we used for bluefish in the USA) and had a fish first cast. Then a fish a cast for the next 15 or so casts! Sadly – not the bluefish that I had hoped for but lizardfish after poxy lizardfish threw themselves on the lure and I ended up moving back to the open beach to get away from the little bastards. Another 20 mins and Lyn came back from her walk so I packed in and vowed never to fish those rocks again.
It wasn’t a complete disaster though – I woke early on the Sunday morning and thought I’d go for my usual wander along the cliff-top which is around 300 metres from our apartment block. It was unusual that I couldn’t hear the dull thud of the waves pounding on the cliffs though the open bedroom window. When I got to the cliff-top I was amazed to see that the sea was flat calm, with only a gentle swell lapping the rocks.
I watched for a while and noticed that there were some lumpier swells coming in every so often so noted how far up the rocks they came and mentally drew a line, up to which I felt it was reasonably safe to venture.
It was a bit of a scramble down the cliffs and onto the (slippery) rocks. I was shitting myself that I would fall and break a leg or my neck, but once on my ‘rock of choice’ I could make out that there were fish breaking the surface – they looked like bass or something similar attacking baitfish. This was too good to be true! A fishable sea and feeding fish in front of me. They were beyond range of any popper or plug that I had, so I clipped on the Kastmaster / bucktail lure and wanged it out as far as I could. The lure landed some 5 metres beyond the splashes on the surface, so the distance was OK and with a few turns of the reel handle I felt 2 sharp tugs on the lure. Surprised at the hits, I didn’t connect, but then had another serious bite and a fish was on. I was expecting a splashy fight from a bass or maybe a few jumps if it was a bluefish, but this fish bored deep and stayed deep throughout the fight, so I was wondering if it was a small jack or a leerfish.
Now - to land it?
I didn’t want to risk venturing lower down the rocks and was wondering how to negotiate landing the fish from so high up and then one of the big swells came in, dumped the fish in a rockpool behind me and then receded, leaving the fish stranded and me soaking wet from head to foot.
I still didn’t know what species I had hooked and when the fizzing water in the rockpool cleared, there was a bluefish, pissing around like some demented silver/blue torpedo.
Thankfully – I had a pair of pliers on me so unhooking it was easy, although I still was very careful not to hold it too close to the head when I tossed it back in the water.
Then I thought – You didn’t take a picture - you prat.
That wasn’t to be too much of a disaster though because I landed another 4 bluefish, which I was able to snap some quick pics and lost several more trying to land them during the next 45mins.
I was unhooking and about to return a fish when Lyn appeared at the top of the cliff. It would have been great if she could have caught one of these bluefish, but I didn’t want her to even try to get down the cliff, so told her I’d be another 10 mins. I didn’t get as much as a bite after that, so reckoned that the blues had buggered off. The sun was well up by now, so I ‘gave ‘em best’ had joined Lyn for a walk along the beach and then back to the apartment for breakfast.
The swells were back the following morning and although I did manage to get down to the rocks that I fished from the Sunday morning, I soon left as there were no fish present (or at least they weren’t mad on like the day before) and I was in serious risk of getting washed off the rocks, so thought discretion the better part of valour and considered that honour had been suitably satisfied.
That one bluefish session has restored my faith in lure-fishing on FV, but I could do without the poxy lizardfish next time!
How about that! When I spoke to Steve after his return I said that the bluefish didn't look quite the same as the ones we caught in the USA. He agreed and we wondered whether it might be something to do with the age or sex of the fish. I suppose it's even possible that they are a different sub-species. Anyway, a wonderful tale and a bit of encouragement for anyone who fancies a holiday over there.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org