Saturday, 24 July 2010

Playa de los Cancajos and La Caleta de la Ballena - La Palma - Canary Islands

After a day of catching mediocre fish, I decided to nightfish at beach again. Instead of using a running ledger like I did on the previous night session, this time I used a two-up paternoster, to keep the hooks off the rocks. Since the last trip, I'd snorkelled the beach, so I know the geography of the beach. After a little while, had a few taps of the rod and I was in. After a quick scrap, I had a nice little silver fish in my hand. I had no idea what it was, my first thoughts was that it was a little bream, possibly an Axillary bream (Pagellus acarne) as I had previously taken photos of these guys in a fish market in Lyon, France. When I got back to the apartment and examined the photographs, I relised that the dorsal fin was wrong for a bream, and thought that it was some sort of bass or serranid. In a bream the spines and rays are roughly the same length for the entire length of the fin, but in this fish, where the spines get shorter and shorter but when the meet the soft rays the rays start of large again, making a little notch in the fin. This fin kind of reminds me of estuary perch back home. Found out that the fish was a fish called a Bastard Grunt.

Bastard Grunt - Pomadasys incisus
Bastard Grunt - Pomadasys incisus #98

Bastard Grunt - Pomadasys incisus
Bastard Grunt - Pomadasys incisus - check out the dorsal fin

On the 11th, fished the Caleta again because of its short distance away hoping to finially catch something different. Again I couldn't get away from the Canary Damsels and Ornate Wrasse. I did get a few really nice looking males wrasses though and managed to get another single Hairy Blenny. I even riggged a whole prawn on a pennel rig on number 1 hooks but still managed hook a tiny canary damsel on it. After a while I did manage to hooked into something different. It was a nice looking puffer that i had seen snorkelling the previous day called a Guinean Puffer which is commonly mistaken for the Band-tailed Puffer (Sphoeroides spengleri) which occurs in the West Atlantic. It has what looks like spikes when seen in the water, but I dont think I felt them when I was handling this one. Towards the end of the session and as I was getting bored, I found a nice red rock crab. (a species recently split from Grapsus grapsus sometimes called the Sally Lightfoot.) I found that it really liked my prawn bait as well and chased it when I casted towards it and managed to catch it. Its a splendid looking beast when holding it infront of you.

Ornate Wrasse - Thalassoma pavo
Ornate Wrasse - Thalassoma pavo - this one is a male.

Guinean  Puffer - Sphoeroides marmoratus
Guinean Puffer - Sphoeroides marmoratus #99

Guinean  Puffer - Sphoeroides marmoratus
Guinean Puffer - Sphoeroides marmoratus

Red Rock Crab - Grapsus adscensionis
Red Rock Crab - Grapsus adscensionis

So after a week of fishing, I decided to pack up and clean all of my gear that night so that it was clean and dry when it had to go into the luggage but I did leave out my fly rod, line and flies so that I could have a quick flick in the morning, and thats exactly what I did. I had gotten a nice #8 6ips (inches per second) sinking line specifically for this purpose. I went straight to the Caleta in the morning to test this out. Tied on a clouser and found that I was able to cast quite well. I was actully casting as far as I could cast a 3oz lead. The line that I was stripping out got caught on the very sharp rocks at my feet a few times and since I didn't have a bucket, I had to keep very large loops in my hand but it was really good to be able to cast the amount of line I was casting out, even though I didn't hook into anything. I tried about 5 different types of flies but got tried. I then tried to cast tiny flies into the rockpools. The larger 4" blennies followed each time but would turn away at the last possible moment. I did try a few flies but wasn't able to hook into any. Time to called it the day. It was great fun to be able to fly fish in the sea as I don't really ever get a chance back in England.

In the end, I caught 11 species of fish, 9 of those lifers and a new species of crab. Not bad at all. I'd also like to mention that I didn't eat any of the fish and they all went back into the sea!

So I'm one species away from catching 100 species.

Grand Total:
2010: 36 species, 18 new species
Life: 99 species, 81 with photos

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

La Caleta de la Ballena - La Palma - Canary Islands

After a days hiking on the previous day and catching the Gilthead bream at night, I decided to fish closer to home around a bay called La Caleta de la Ballena which was less than 10 minutes walk down from the apartment. The name translates to the Bay of the Whale. Was too tired to walk to the other side of the town. Continued to use prawn but wasn't able to hookup because the hooks were too big (size 1) and lost the bait within minutes due to small fish. Reduced the hooks down to size 4s but was only able to get a few ornate wrasse. Then a new fish straight down the side. My thoughts were that it was either a bullhead or a blenny, but although it had blenny like pelvic fins and 'horns', it did have largish scales and a notched dorsal fin with quite prominent spines. It turned out to be neither although its common name is a Hairy Blenny, its in a seperate family, most species occuring around the Americas. Again, I did some rockpool fishing with my coarse fishing hooks and managed a few more larger Madeira Gobies and a new species of blenny. The only common name I've found for it is the Rockpool Blenny, but I dont really like the sound of it as other blennies occur in rockpools as well. There was a school of 'silver' fish in the rock pools which had quite a large flat head around 6cm long, but I was not able to hook up on them as their mouths were quite small. The seem to be slightly yellowish tinted with an indistinct lengthwise stripe, but I think it may have been a species of Mullet.

The only full day I didn't fish on the trip was on the 10th. Had done another tiring hike, but this time on along the Cumbre Vieja ridge of volcanoes. It really took it all out of me.

Next day, relaxed and snorkelled the Playa de los Cancajos. (Photos in another blog [coming soon]). In the afternoon attempted to fish the La Caleta de la Ballena again hoping for some decent fish, but no luck. Started off catching a few Canary Damselfish, the first for the trip, but not a lifer. Then another Diamond Lizardfish and ended the day with another lifer, the Madeira Scorpionfish.

So with the total of 9 species with 7 of those new, I'm one species short of my target.

Rock-pool Blenny - Parablennius parvicornis
Rock-pool Blenny - Parablennius parvicornis #95

Hairy Blenny - Labrisomus nuchipinnis
Hairy Blenny - Labrisomus nuchipinnis #96

Canary Damsel - Abudefduf luridus
Canary Damsel - Abudefduf luridus

Madeira Scorpionfish - Scorpaena maderensis
Madeira Scorpionfish - Scorpaena maderensis #97

Monday, 19 July 2010

Los Cancajos - La Palma - Canary Islands

I went to La Palma in the Canary Islands to do one hiking, birdwatching, snorkelling and fishing. My goal was that if I caught 10 species, it would make it a good trip and if I caught 20, it would have been excellent.

The initial idea for the first day was to fish off the rocks on a headland called Punta de la Caleta Grande at the north-east end of Playa de los Cancajos, into the swimming beach with lures. I had an arsenal of several Rapalas, Chrome Slices, Minnows and Feathers. The first fish of the trip was caught on a Flashmer 40gm lure, a Diamond Lizard fish. A few minutes later, the lifeguard came, and was told that I was only allowed to fish on the other side of the point where there were much rougher seas in a bay called Caleta Grande. Tried a few different things and caught another Diamond Lizardfish on feathers. They were silver tinsel feathers with red plastic. The same set of feathers that I had caught several dozens of Mackerel on.

Tried a few other chrome slice type lures and noticed a schoal large fish following the lure. Managed to hook up to one and landed my first Grey Triggerfish to a Tsunami Stinger lure. Caught another 3 on that lure and lost about the same number before retiring to fish a small rockpool in the me of the rocky headland for a break.

Diamond Lizardfish - Synodus synodus
Diamond Lizardfish - Synodus synodus #91

Grey Triggerfish - Balistes carolinensis
Grey Triggerfish - Balistes carolinensis #92

There were a few gobies of various sizes, ornate wrasse and a few silver fish of about 3cm, which were either mullet or sand smelt. Was able to only hook into some of the gobies on bread and a 18 hook, which were later identified as Madeira Gobies. The mullet/smelt were too small. Dropped the line back into the calm bay as well and got a few ornate wrasse but couldn't hook into any of the Canary Damsels I could see swimming about, until I got told off by the life guard again.

So fished back into the rough surf, this time with the flashmer lure and hooked into something really heavy and took a lot of line, but it dropped off the line and retrieved a fishless lure. I then started hooking into a few triggers again only landing one. I decided to call it the day, catching three new species, out of four.

Madeira Goby - Mauligobius maderensis
Madeira Goby - Mauligobius maderensis #93

Ornate Wrasse - Thalassoma pavo
Ornate Wrasse - Thalassoma pavo

Grey Triggerfish - Balistes carolinensis
Grey Triggerfish - Balistes carolinensis

The next night, the night of the Spain vs Germany Semi-final, decided to fish the beach at Playa de los Cancajos after the game. I used prawn bought from the local SPAR and after a few casted, hooked up good into a fish, but the baitrunner on my reel over ran causing a birdsnest, so I had to handline the fish in fly-fishing style and ended up landing and releasing a nice Gilthead Bream. This was interesting because the Gilthead Bream is meant to be quite rare in the Canary Islands, and although I saw at least 5 other species snorkelling in the same waters, I didn't end up catching any of these but caught this species instead. Although I released this fish, I'm sure it would have made better eating the other other bream species there.

This make it 4 new species out of 5 after two days fishing.

Gilthead Seabream - Sparus auratus
Gilthead Seabream - Sparus auratus #94