So, with new year festivities all done, and the little lockdown that followed also done, time to get back on the rods a little bit. Anybody that follows my stuff might remember a trip out on boat, with Algarve Sea Tours, in January 2020. That was a great fun trip where my friend Neil and I fished bait to catch a big variety of breams, and a couple of species of mackerel. This trip, there was some talk of 7kg Pargo, but as we cleared the estuary system, it was clear the wind over tide combination would not allow us to the mark, as it was a fair way offshore.
We also had two other anglers on board beside myself and Mark, and they were for the bait fishing only, so we just agreed to make the best of it, while at anchor. Well, not actually at anchor, but tied off to some buoys below which strings of mussels were growing, creating ideal browsing for small fishes, and ideal ambush feeding for predators, or so Mark and I hoped.
It went pretty well tbh. During the session, we both got tired of catching both Chubb and Atlantic mackerel on the lures. The guys bait fishing were doing a good job with finding small bream so I tried a bit of dropshotting. Well, jigshotting... Using a 75gm HTO Frolic for my weight (40 meters of water) but tying inline a couple of feet above a 10gm Tronixpro jig head, and mounting on that a generic white ASARI 2" shad, and battling the swells to hardly move any of it at all, I too managed a couple of small bream. That was fun. And then, while gently tapping the bottom, my rod slammed over in a familiar way.
I called it the moment I hit it. Skipper Paulo looked over... "Raya" I called out, noting his disbelief in his face. On these grounds, Octopus are more likely than rays, although subsequently, I have discovered they are quite common, even in the shallow estuaries I am usually bass fishing. A ray it was, a Thornback of perhaps 6 or 7lb. A big male. Smiles all around, especially from the crewman, Edwardo. Edwardo's wife likes Raya... Big garfish, pouting and Comber joined the breams for the bait guys. A lot of familiarity in Portugal, for the English. Even with the fish.
Then followed some more getting to know my local mark. I wont bore with a blow by blow description. But I am happy to report I am consistently finding better quality fish now. due to fishing enough hours to recognise the better parts of the tide, and avoiding the less good parts. The spotted bass are far more about light, than about tide, and are fairly reliable regardless of what the tide is doing over sunset. The moment the sun is gone, you are in with a very good chance. But for the real bass, again tide is important.
I have also met two local rods. Forward thinking enthusiastic lure anglers, whos heads are brimming, both with thoughts of approaching fishes, and thoughts of preserving them, releasing all they catch. I feel I am going to have a good time hanging with these guys. One, Luis, can be seen in action with a 2.5kg fish yesterday morning, at the foot of this blog.
Sadly, it is quite likely that here in Portugal we are heading towards a 2 week 24 hour curfew with few exceptions. I am trying to work out if a stupid Englishman going fishing is likely to be an exception, but finding out anything when you have no command of the language can be a problem. Time will of course tell, and it might even be a good thing, to preserve some shads ready for warmer water, and possibly, bigger fishes. There still hangs in here a species known by many names... Meagre, Corvina, Mulloway...