THE COSTA DEL SOL.
You either love it or you hate it. Over 50 miles of one legendary seaside resort of white hotels and apartments slurring into the next without a break, and all hemmed in against the beaches by the legendarily lethal coast road.Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Puerto Banus, to name but a few.
I’m non-plussed about beaches like this:
But if you can lay your hands on a nice comfy sit-on-top kayak, within a few strokes from the shore you can be in your own little dream world and the vista is transformed to something more like this:
And it’s so warm that you don’t have to wrestle into wetsuits or drysuits…..beach shorts and a generous dollop of suncream are all that’s required. And when you get out of the water you don’t have to towel yourself off before hypothermia sets in. In fact the temperature is so pleasant that kayaking suddenly becomes fun for all the family.
So next all you have to do is wait till your family get out of the kayaks, and hope there’s a few fish knocking about. You fear the worst considering the background noise for the entire day is the powerful drone of a hoard of trawlers.
An early start is essential. Dawn always seems to produce the fish and forcing yourself to get up early on holiday means that you have to also force yourself not to have too much San Miguel the night before. Not easy. But it’s worth it for a sunrise like this:
Let’s try some high speed trolling behind the very shapely and fast sea-kayak-looky-likey Disco. And within a minute the rod rattles and your first Spanish fish is on……and what a little beauty……an Annular Bream. Didn’t know Bream went for plugs.
There are loads of fish swirling at the surface so it can’t be long before another hit on the plug.Rather surprised nothing happens so wind in and check the lure is OK and there is a scad. How on earth did that hook itself without me noticing- it can’t have put up any fight AT ALL.
OK it was only the first half hour of Day 1 of a week’s holiday and I was very happy I had caught fish, but I had put myself under a bit of pressure to catch something BIG. At least that is the impression that was given by my suitcase bulging with deep diving plugs and all sorts of other ferocious, and clearly suspicious-looking ,fishing clobber which caused red lights to flash at the airport check-in and uniformed officers with furrowed brows to mobilise from distant rooms.
So I felt I had to head offshore to get as much depth as possible below me as surely there lurked the school of tuna. Yes I know tuna in the Mediterranean are as good as extinct but I only want to catch one, and I promise to put it back.
No tuna of course but I was completely enthralled by the seabirds which were sitting about on the surface, plunge -diving and cruising around and zipping past my kayak with inches to spare. Cory’s Shearwaters, with their four- foot plus wingspan justifiably called the ‘Little Albatrosses’ of the Mediterranean.
One kept circling particularly close and was perhaps mistaking me for a pile of oceanic offal (one of their favourite snacks). Good photo opportunity though:
I gulped when I noticed my GPS showed I was two miles offshore…no wonder the trawlermen were looking at me a bit funny. Time for breakfast. I trolled a mini plug on one side and a Rapala Sliver on the other as I paddled back in . Closer inshore I hooked a load of Chum Mackerel on the smaller lure, and my Sliver really buzzed out but whatever it was got off.
Next day dawned a bit threatening.
Blooming typical. Why is it whenever we go anywhere where it is almost guaranteed to be sunny and not to rain, the clouds roll in and the heavens open? Aha, but the fishing is often better. I trolled along the coast as I didn’t fancy being offshore in the freshening wind and swell. Yes…..a swell in the blooming mediterranean. In fact when I passed a headland there was a decent point break that would have done credit to the north coast of Cornwall. Including surfers!
My line with the Sliver on reeled out…..FISH ON, and it was a bit of a fighter. I reeled it in very cautiously and a chunky garfish type fish came on board.
It thrashed about a bit and succeeded in sinking a hook beyond the barb into the flesh of my inner thigh. Maybe not wearing a wet suit isn’t such a good idea after all! It took some yanking out with forceps and not a little blood.
Anyway back to the fish. Surely that’s a Barracuda…not the biggest but a Barracuda none the less. Top entertainment.
For the rest of the week normal service was resumed in terms of sun and heat but there remained a bit of a swell. Family fun on the kayaks.
Time to get offspring inspired by kayak fishing……..’Dad, I’ve caught a fish,what do I do?’…. ‘Just gently try to take it off the hook…..it’s probably a mackerel….it won’t hurt you…..what does it look like?…. ‘It’s long and brown with blue dots on it’s side and it’s eyes are pointing upwards and its got a spiky fin on it’s back’…..’,aaaargh, don’t touch it whatever you do….sounds like a WEEVER FISH….yikes!
I thought weever fish lurked on the bottom waiting for unsuspecting swimmers to tread on their spiky fins. They’ve got no business getting caught on a trolled lure. When I tried a bit of bottom fishing using mackerel feathers spiced up with a mackerel strip I did indeed catch more weevers.
When I let the one in the photo go I was absolutely gob-smacked when the gull (which you will have noticed lurking in the background), swooped in and grabbed the fish before it could come to its senses and crash dive to freedom. I would have pointed out that it’s really not a good idea to mess with a weever and its poison spikes and gill covers but being a Spanish seagull there was something of a language barrier.
Bottom fishing half a mile from the shore produced quite a few small brightly coloured fish which I think are called ‘Combers’.
So at the end of the week I had caught a decent amount of fish but not the great beast I had hoped for despite dragging around some seriously business-like lures for over 50 miles. Mind you , with idiots like this around we were lucky to get back without being pulverised:
But hang on what have we got here, a ferocious fighter on the line and half way between a tuna and a mackerel.It’s a Bonito.
So farewell Spain and farewell this kind of dawn (probably).