Monday, 27 October 2014

Rockfish Menorca - Calescoves to Mahon

The last day of our Rockfishing trip and I was personally feeling good, I still wanted to catch a few more fish for sure but I was feeling more relaxed about the whole thing.
We'd visited some stunning parts of the coast, caught a nice variety of fish and had some laughs along the way, but there was one place I wanted to at least see; Calescoves.

I'd spotted the place on Google Earth before we departed the UK and it really is a place of such beauty, it didn't disappoint.

Calescoves was possibly my favourite place of the trip, it was so serene and the water was quite cool, in fact I took the time to chill a couple of times.

We did catch a few fish here, mainly combers and Wrasse. We did have a load of Garfish in at one point, but they proved too small to catch in size 6 jig heads, though they definitely took a liking to my Aquawave Spark 40's.

Here's a couple of pictures including a small but perfectly formed Dusky Grouper caught by Scott;

 After the half a mile walk to the car we were incredibly thirsty and visited Nelsons bar located not far away. That was a bit of a strange place in my opinion, an English Bar ran by a couple of folk from Essex charging London prices, 11 Euros for 6 cans of Sprite! I much preferred the Spanish joints.
From Nelsons we headed Mahon way to fish Es Castell.

At Es Castell I was really feeling tired, heat rash had broken out across my back and I really just chilled while Scott searched for Gobies in order to top up his species tally, I couldn't be bothered with that.

We then moved to a spot we had fished earlier in the week; Cala Figuera.
Its quite nice and comfortable fishing there with plenty of fish to keep you occupied. The water is quite coloured so I didn't feel it necessary to mess around with non-gulp lures to be honest, this is where I feel smelly lures really give you the edge.

Initially I had a good run of Mediterranean Horse Mackerel using a Gulp Fish Fry at range on a dropshot rig. Its a shame they weren't bigger,but a nice catch anyway.

I also got my Common Pandora which I was pretty happy about indeed, they are a right nice fish and pull quite well for the size.

Scott added a Rusty Blenny to his impressive species tally;

And I caught plenty more Bream species, mostly Annular and Two Banded.

The Two Banded bream were really nice and often featured the kind of facial blue hue that you sometimes fiend on our Black Bream.

As darkness was soon expected we headed around the corner to El Funduco in the hope of Barracuda turning up. To cut a long story short, I didn't get My Barracuda, I did catch more Comber and Bream and on Scotts very last cast of the trip, managed a new species for him; a Pickerel.
A pretty nice way to end a very enjoyable trip I thought.

The very last fish of the trip and a nice reward for Scott.
I was genuinely sad to leave Menorca and would certainly like to return someday, it such a peaceful and beautiful place, with friendly people and great weather.
Our next trip is to Madeira though and I am very much looking forward to that, hopefully the anticipation shall stave the winter blues!

Tight lines all and thanks for reading.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Rockfish Menorca - Ciutadella

Definitely no early morning session to be had on Saturday, we woke up to a hot calm day and decided on a chill out day. Enough racing about across the island in hope of larger fish, we decided to stay local to the hotel and in all fairness we'd had some OK sessions in Ciutadella anyway.

After breakfast we went just around the corner from the hotel and accessed some water we'd previously wanted to fish, but couldn't until now due to the wind and swell. There were plenty of baitfish cruising around in the upper water column and trying a range of techniques we investigated what could be had. 
There were some guys to our above left fishing with long rods from the cliff tops and a person with loud music jigging from his boat just off the shelf. An atmospheric day indeed.

We were shortly joined by a young local family who came to fish for Gar, and explained that they found these a "special fish". Thankfully the young gentleman spoke good english and it was nice to speak to him. The family had a large bucket of bread crumbs and were feeding it into the water inducing a baitfish feeding frenzy and sure enough the Gar turned up in numbers, this gave us some ideas!
Scott actually hooked a Gar which sadly came off. I was just experimenting a bit and caught some comber on my Tict M-Float rig. This is when the young man told us why they call Painted Comber "Vaca" or "Cow", he also told us they were good eating and I gave him one I caught which he seemed grateful with.
However, they didn't stick around long due to the small platform being crowded with us there.

Afterwards myself and Scott discussed the possibility of using some shirvy to attract some fish. Scott actually thought that I'd never be into it, as I am a bit of a lure purist at times, but I explained that I came to catch fish and at this point didn't care much. With that we headed to the shops for bread and sardines, I also did some gift shopping for my children, before heading off to the breakwater in Ciutadella.

Well I had assumed that we would save the shirvy in hope of attracting more Barracuda at sundown and therefore rigged up an Ecogearaqua Katsu Aji Straight on a 1g AquaWave Rockbait jig head. I spotted some interesting fish off of the back of the platform and made my first cast. I was watching my lure fall through the water when a fish moved lightning fast and engulfed the lure, I set the hook. My rod bent right over as I shouted "fish on!" Scott looked in disbelief as I told him "I think I have an Amberjack on!" As the fish kept me on my toes and had me running with it around around the breakwater structure, Scott confirmed that I did indeed have an Amberjack on. Thoughts of losing the Barracuda resurrected and I decided to give this fish time! Sure enough I, with Scott as gilly got the fish in!



I cannot tell you how pleased I was, I didn't expect it at all! 

Scott also got into a fish and though may not have been the Amberjack he wanted, was a pretty nice fish indeed; A large  East Atlantic Peacock Wrasse I believe.

I carried on fishing, hoping for another Amberjack while Scott made up some shirvy and was feeding the bait fish. Some large Mullet were cruising in and out of the shoals and Saddled Bream were shooting up from the depths and snatching bread off of the surface, but generally the fishing was a bit quiet.

I can't quite remember what Scott was doing but he spotted a fish a way out and exclaimed "look, thats a Leerfish!" Still full of adrenaline I was quick of the mark and cast my 1g head out and Ecogear lure, again letting it fall through the water when I got a take! "Fish on!" I pronounced as Scott once more looked in disbelief. This was a better fight! run after run and lunge after lunge my heart was pounding, so afraid of loosing the species that was on the very top of my wish list! 
I also got frustrated that we didn't bring the net from the car, I hate tiring fish that much, but eventually he was ready to land. With expert help from Scott we got the fish ashore and it was time for another grip and grin.



Wow! I now didn't really give a stuff if I didn't catch another fish, I was totally buzzing!
I did feel for Scott as he'd lost an Amberjack elsewhere abroad and really wanted these two species, but conversely I know Scott was pleased for me (well, sort of).

Well we didn't expect this of course and did not know how the rest of the day might unfold, so I went to grab the net. 
I started fishing again this time with a pearl Ecogear Power Shirasu on my Rockbait Jighead and observed some Mullet tight to structure below. I dropped my lure down and was dead sticking about four inches off of the bottom. "that Mullet just bummed my lure" I told Scott, "Oh hang on!" A larger Mullet had taken the lure!
Again I found myself hot on my toes as the fish ran around the slab, I couldn't stop laughing! He was a much cleverer fish in many respects and ran into a through-hole underneath the breakwater, I thought I'd lost it for sure, but I managed to keep my line away from the sharp edges and pull him out OK. Eventually I had him beat and on the waters surface when Scott came with the net and I was ready for another grip and grin.

Full respect to Scott, he made an excellent gilly!

After this Scott was sitting down and fishing prawn under a float, I wasn't fishing so hard at this point and sort of took a step back being quite satisfied anyway. 
Scott was getting noticeably frustrated at the bream stripping his bait but eventually his float took a proper dive and run! The fish started to run around the corner in the same manner as mine did and Scott put the brakes on, sadly within seconds the fish had snapped his line, Scott was noticeably annoyed!

Around this time the local children arrived, who were out just about very dry night targeting Barracuda and I showed them my photo's on my phone. They were noticeably excited and called some other friends to take a look. All of a sudden I found myself being treated like a pro angler with children asking me what to use and wanting to inspect my gear. I kind of buzzed off of their thirst for angling knowledge and in many ways wish we had a youth culture like that here.
I spent some time with them showing them the range of lures I use, it was hard communicating though as my Spanish is incredibly basic. I learnt that Seriola is Amberjack and was constantly being handed lures with the question "this for Seriola?". Anyway I taught them how to texas rig as well as some other things and gave out some HTO lures, Jigheads, hooks and bullet weights, one lad Sabatian also claimed a vibe bait.

Soon myself and Scott found ourselves tying their knots, re-rigging their lures and all sorts, my fault really!
One interesting thing they had, was a strange type of lure which apparently is good for Barraduda;

A through wired and  dried Garfish! I thought it was kool enough to photograph anyway.

It became quite tough fishing here to be honest, as very time we started casting the children were pretty much on top of us wanting to do the same things and fish the same swim, I can't deny it started to get irritating. 

Meanwhile Scott was casting a metal across the narrow channel at the end of the breakwater when some fish came out of nowhere and fast! His rod bucked over and a fight ensued with another Amberjack.
Things were a bit hectic at this point, as the children all came over and were chucking their lures over the top of our heads. 
Scotts fish had also done a loop-the-loop around a mooring rope  and things were not looking good, it was trying to go deep while rubbing his braid against the rope the whole while. Thankfully Scott is more intelligent than I and managed to lift the rope and pass his rod underneath, freeing it whilst keeping a tight line. Finally it was my time to be gilly and I netted the fish ashore.

Actually When Scott was playing his, Sabatian was also into a fish, amazingly Scott briefly left his fish with me and netted Sabatians too!
High fives all round and another grip and grin;

What an excellent day this had shaped up to be!

We stuck around until sundown as I still wanted a Barracuda, but found myself growing increasingly irritated with the "combat fishing", it was hard to get a look in with the place so crowded and I feared for my rod as excited youths flung their large lures at the Barracuda. The children with Scotts help actually caught two at around 3lb a piece and that was nice to see. Scott also hooked a good one yet I couldn't get to him in time with the net, missing the opportunity to land it for him which was very frustrating. That was the second lost fish for Scott that day and the second lost Barracuda of the trip, but at least he has caught a Barracuda before I guess.

All in all the day ended on a high and we returned to the hotel to chill and celebrate. I also took the opportunity to rub it in a little about the Leer, Scott repeatedly called me a prick haha!

That was easily my favourite day of the trip, but there was still another day left, stay tuned!

Rockfish Menorca - Cala Morell to Son Parc

Thursday night we decided to change things tactically as although we were having some fun catching the smaller rockfish, we really had hoped to come across more pelagic species and even some large Horse Mackerel. To be honest I think we set our expectations of the trip a tiny bit too high after all we were fishing without any guides, just relying on basic watercraft and basic technique. Fishing the type   of ground we would be confident with back at home, just didn't seem to yield similar results, i.e. bigger fish.
We therefore decided to head out before breakfast under the cover of darkness and into sunrise to see what this might yield. I had spotted a close enough mark called Cala Morell on Google Earth, it looked ideal featuring a natural bottleneck at the headland after a bay, I figured it would be a good spot for predators ambushing prey leaving and entering the bay. I must admit I am not one for fishing complete darkness much and Scott likes it even less, but we gave it a go.

Initially finding a parking spot was a nightmare and we were both pretty tired out at 6:00am, but soon we found a satisfactory place to park and descended the steps to the bay. On the way down Scott spotted a small Gekko on the stairway wall, which I quickly grabbed. I really like lizards and find them both fascinating and therapeutic somehow.

 I told scott how they can lose their tails and grow them back but I didn't quite expect it to happen, but sure enough it did. I felt half guilty and half fascinated by it, poor little thing, he had a nice tail yet after his encounter with me is now a stumpy.

After observing this little creature and releasing him again, we set off to fish come comfortable ledges on the left side of the bay until some light appeared.
We wasn't there particularly long when I had a thump on my dropshot rig with immediate hook up. A short burst of energy was subdued by yours truly and I drew first blood with a Scorpion Fish;

He was a nicer size than the night before and I avoided being stung by this one!

Scott was next up with a species I had really hoped to get while away, the Dusky Grouper.

 I was a tiny bit jealous of that one although I wanted mine to be larger, never satisfied me! It was good for Scott to get another species to his tally, especially as he'd se himself an ambitious target of thirty species for the duration!

As the light changed we moved to the choke point north of the bay. It was seriously deep water there yet it didn't seem to fish very well at all, I was a bit astounded and would like to fish that place again under varying conditions. We stuck at it for a bit but decided to move back into the bay area.
I fished a snaggy reef, while Scott fished some ground further in.
It wasn't epic and as the morning got brighter the usual suspects came out to play.

 We played around with the small reef fish some more before heading off tired and a tiny bit disappointed on the whole. Can't deny it was a beautiful spot though and again under different conditions, who knows what it could produce.

From there we headed to Son Parc, a fairly exclusive golf resort in the North East. The ground there looked great fairly deep water strewn with reef and broken ground, the kind of place back home you'd expect to find good sized Wrasse and Pollock. Sadly the place was much the same as elsewhere; ridden with Small Wrasse and Comber.
With this and tiredness starting to set in we'd kind of had enough, packed up the gear and went for a swim.

Whilst swimming, Scott had his snorkelling gear on and was carrying out a bit of a recce, occasionally popping up to tell me what was going on. Scott had spotted large shoals of Striped Sea Bream grubbing about on the bottom, small flounder, a small Stingray among other things and we decided to give it a shot after a Squid lunch and more Fanta Lemon.

Fishing this time over the sandy bay, we hoped to get some of these species. I'd hoped to get a Striped Bream as again I had enjoyed them so much in Turkey but it was not to be. Instead we were pestered by Lizardfish with Scott even getting a double hook up on his fancy gulp rig.

I lived up to my holiday nick name "The Comber King" catching another nice looking Common Comber;

 After the sun had set, we returned to the hotel for some much needed sleep, slightly sullen but mot deterred.
With two days left we had started to give up on the hope of encountering any pelagic species, but there was still time right?

Tight lines

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rockfish Menorca - Es Grau to Mahon

Thursday morning Scott wanted to head back to the North East of the Island to a spot called Es Grau, which is a lovely little village and bay area with foot paths to access the rocky headland.
You are not actually permitted to fish the main bay due to it being a reserve of significant importance, a real shame on seeing the amount of fish present.

Because of the nature of the terrain I had hoped for some Grouper here yet did not find any, it was really much the same as other areas being highly populated with Wrasse and Comber.
We did see a really large fish cruising about and occasionally lighting up, we suspected it to be a Dolphinfish. I spent some time throwing lures to see if I could gain interest, but sadly it was to no avail.

As the day grew warmer the fishing died a little and we headed around to Es Grau for a bite to eat in a little bar/restaurant on the bayside. Fanta Lemon was the drink of the holiday and we enjoyed this refreshing beverage with a tasty Pizza and Mediterranean salad whilst seeking shelter in the shade, we weren't the only ones with this idea!

After lunch we headed down to Mahon Harbour and found a spot well away from moored boats. It was really quite pleasant fishing on concrete instead of jagged volcanic rock.

The water itself was reasonably coloured so I opted for the smelly Gulp stuff here, fishing both dropshot and jig head. Scott was fishing his effective dropshot technique and was first into fish also catching another species I wanted - the Common Pandora;

The Pandora really are quite striking fish and feature blue dots along their lateral line area and some bold colouration an the gill plate edge. I didn't get one unfortunately, but was catching other Bream species.

I also had a small run of Bogue which are apparently a good live bait for Barracuda, was I tempted? Not for a second, these fellas went straight back!

I also caught a Damsel fish which was super nice. Yes I sometimes moan at catching such small fish, but the one I caught in Turkey filled me with pleasure and this one kind of rekindled that memory and feeling, they are an attractive wee species.

I knew we would always catch a lot of Bream away and I was so glad I was right, they are indeed a lovely range of species that pull well for their size;

As darkness fell we made our way to another spot in search of a few more species and found a very snaggy area to fish. Almost immediately I got owned by something here, whatever it was, reefed me in seconds. I rigged up another dropshot rig and slid on a Gulp! fish fry, then cast to the line where the harbour light fades to darkness. Sure enough I got a positive bite and pulled out my first Black Scorpion fish;

Well I was quite pleased indeed, not quite the same buzz as even hooking the Barracuda the night before, but put a smile on my face nevertheless. My Scorpion would be the last fish of the day before we headed back for dinner, nice day indeed!

Stay tuned and tight lines.