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La Gomera 2021

Wobbler72

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Joined
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I was fortunate to be able to retire from work three years ago at the grand old age of 58. The plan had been to settle in to my new life for a year and make a plan to clear off everything on my bucket list. So far as fishing is concerned, that meant one thing. I have always wanted to catch that most iconic of fish, a big Marlin.

I’ve had several speculative attempts in the past with a single day charter whilst on holiday in places like Mauritius, the Maldives, Cuba and St Lucia, all to no avail. No bites, not even a sighting. But now I’m retired and have more time on my hands I decided to have a “proper” go. I had a chat with John Keggie (the skipper on our trips to Shetland) in 2019. He quickly convinced me that Gomera was worth a serious look for a variety of reasons, including it’s relatively close proximity to the UK and the average size of the Blue Marlin out there averaging circa 500lb, with the occasional magical “Grander” possible. The season runs from June to September. I decided to go for it in August 2020 but when 2020 arrived, so did COVID. “No problem” I thought, “we’ll just roll the booking over to 2021“. once again COVID interfered with our plans, but we finally got an opportunity to go in late September.

And so it was that my son Mark and I met up at 4am and headed to the airport. The volcana on La Palma (the next island to La Gomera in the Canaries) erupted a week before we were due to fly out and as we approached Tenerife we caught our first sight of the ash plume pushing high above the clouds. We arrived at Tenerife South airport at noon and were in our favourite bar in Los Christianos by 1pm. After a leisurely late lunch we took the late ferry to San Sebastián. We met up with skipper, crew and three lads who had just completed there own 5 day charter. They’d had 4 Marlin between them on their trip and they were buzzing. So were we!

Day 1

We met for breakfast with the crew; Matt and Andy. Skipper John was at the boat washing off the volcanic ash that had settled on it overnight Reminding us how close we’re were to La Palma. John told us that he had a double hook-up literally as the eruptions began; surely no coincidenc. We joined him on the boat for a fully safety briefing and set sail at 10am. Matt showed us the ropes and set up the chair and harness for us. He then went through the procedure to follow in the event of a hook-up and practised our technique in the chair. And that was it, two big game novices fishing for Marlin.

We hadn’t been going long before Andy at the helm shouted down from the foredeck that there were whales ahead. Mark and I headed up to the bow and saw our very first Pilot Whale

9CB5F8B8-6539-4F25-986D-01ABA0E3390D.jpeg

This was quickly followed by a few more. Soon there were hundreds of them spread out across the port side. This is the fourth species of Whale I’ve been lucky enough to see so far (having previously seen Minkies, Humpbacks and Orca in the past). I always feel very humbled and privileged to see them even if, as is the case with Pilots, they give no indication as to whether or not there are Marlin around. We saw smaller pods of Dolphins too as we trolled our way along the ledges and drop-offs beneath us.

It was around 3pm when we got our first take. Out of nowhere, the elastic on the starboard side outrigger snapped and the associated reel started pouring out line. I‘d love to tell you that we leapt into action, followed our instructions meticulously and landed a grander …… but it would be a dirty lie! We were hopeless!! With Matt screaming instructions to us (me in particular) I stood and looked at him like he was speaking a foreign language. I got my sh1t together in the end, but the fish (we didn’t see what it was) was long since gone. The hook had not set and that was that. But it was probably the closest I’d ever been to achieving my dream and I’d learnt a valuable lesson. There was no more activity that day. We joined John, Andy and Matt for an excellent dinner and headed back our apartment.

Day 2

Once again we assembled in the main square of San Sebastián for coffee and bacon rolls. San Sebastián btw is lovely, so much quieter and laid back than Tenerife. It is barely touched by tourism by comparison and so much the better for it. The wind must have changed direction as there was no covering of ash on the boat. Once again we set sail at 10am. Once again, we spot the Pilot Whales and Dolphins. At 1pm, we find warmer water. We then find a bait-ball; a huge bait-ball. It starts 20m down and is over 100m thick. It runs for over a mile. Something must be hunting them. And then we see what. Andy calls down from the foredeck “Fin Whales ahead!”. Fin Whales are the second largest whales on the planet and believed to be the second largest creatures ever to roam the Earth. mark and I rush forward to the bow. And there they are: two of them, with calves. I grab my iPhone and set it to video. One of the calves breaches right beside us. The boat is 38ft. The calf is bigger. It rolls to reveal its fabulous silvery white underbelly and with a flick of its tail it disappears. The water it leaves behind changes colour to a pale blue, like a Foxes Glacier Mint. I have forgotten all about Marlin for a moment. This is the most special moment in nature that I have ever been privileged to see (I still see it clearly in my mind as I write. I sit down with Mark with a grin from ear to ear. I look at my phone …… and realise that I did not start the video recording. Gutted
😓


We settle back down and re-focus on what we came for. Thirty minutes later, a large dark silhouette enters the spread from the starboard side. I shout up to the foredeck but John has already seen it. “Shark” he shouts. “Probably a hammerhead”. A big one too. I reckon it was at least 10-12ft long. It wasn’t interested in the spread and swam on.

Things settled down after that and at 4.20pm we had already turned and started to troll back towards port. Mark and I were starting to think we’d had our excitement for the day. I was starting to drift off. Andy at the helm said “I’ve just marked a little red dot on the plotter”. “That’s interesting“ said John and then this HUGE dark shape ERUPTED out of the water and the reel on the further set lure SCREAMED. I went from semi-comatose to super-alert faster than I thing I’ve ever done before. I try to call it but no words come out, jus unintelligible noise. Matt gets on the rod Mark hauls in the teasers, I grab the short rod and reel in furiously. John is down from the foredeck, between us we clear all the superfluous rods and lures from the water. All the time, the reel continues to scream. “Finally!”, I thought as I settled into the chair.

But it wasn’t to be. As I settled into the chair, the reel stopped. Matt reeled frantically, but it was gone. Close inspection of the lure suggested it had been bill-wrapped. As soon as it turned towards the boat, the hook and lure simply slid off the bill. I was numb. So close, soooo close!

But I guess that’s big game fishing. Big fish, big stakes. We had one day left.

Day 3

Having come so close the previous day we were still optimistic. But which ever way you cut it, the last day is the last day. It’s now or never. We were joined by my friend Tim, who came over from Tenerife; not to fish, just as a spectator. We collected him from the ferry and set off one last time. The Pilots Whales and Dolphins showed up again as we snaked along the drop-offs. Just after 2pm we get a bite. We’re on it in a flash. Matt gets to the rod and a turns the reel. “Are we in?”. “Nah, it’s a f*ckin Dorado”. Mark takes the rod and reels it in. At 37lb, it’s a pretty decent specimen (they go up to 60lb around here btw).

D80BC3DB-4C13-4DEC-8194-570C9FB956F6.jpeg

On any other day, we’d be made up.

With no further action, we turn and head for port. But Gomera has one final surprise for us. As we head back Andy calls down “white Whales on the starboard side. We look and are surprised to see two white Whales. This time I manage to get a short video of them. Here’s a screenshot

BE515C44-71EB-457A-8F33-60158DCE93BD.jpeg

I realise it’s not much to look at but the full video of it breaching shows they have no dorsal fin. I’m pretty sure that these were Beluga’s. A long way from home, just like us.

It had been an amazing adventure. Before we set out, John had told us that is was like fishing in Jurassic Park fishing out there. And he’s right. In February through to April there’s a run of Bluefin Tuna that go through here that are as big as anything you’ll see on Wicked Tuna (700lb). Big-eyed Tuna over 250lb are not uncommon either.

I’ve finally seen a big Blue Marlin in the flesh for the first time. I didn’t hook it, but it hooked me! I have already re-booked for August next year. Hopefully, it’s like all fishing. As long as you’re doing the right things, it’s just a matter of time on the rod. Fingers crossed
🤞


If you got this far, thanks for reading.

tight lines

Kev
 

Trampster

Well-known member
Joined
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I was fortunate to be able to retire from work three years ago at the grand old age of 58. The plan had been to settle in to my new life for a year and make a plan to clear off everything on my bucket list. So far as fishing is concerned, that meant one thing. I have always wanted to catch that most iconic of fish, a big Marlin.

I’ve had several speculative attempts in the past with a single day charter whilst on holiday in places like Mauritius, the Maldives, Cuba and St Lucia, all to no avail. No bites, not even a sighting. But now I’m retired and have more time on my hands I decided to have a “proper” go. I had a chat with John Keggie (the skipper on our trips to Shetland) in 2019. He quickly convinced me that Gomera was worth a serious look for a variety of reasons, including it’s relatively close proximity to the UK and the average size of the Blue Marlin out there averaging circa 500lb, with the occasional magical “Grander” possible. The season runs from June to September. I decided to go for it in August 2020 but when 2020 arrived, so did COVID. “No problem” I thought, “we’ll just roll the booking over to 2021“. once again COVID interfered with our plans, but we finally got an opportunity to go in late September.

And so it was that my son Mark and I met up at 4am and headed to the airport. The volcana on La Palma (the next island to La Gomera in the Canaries) erupted a week before we were due to fly out and as we approached Tenerife we caught our first sight of the ash plume pushing high above the clouds. We arrived at Tenerife South airport at noon and were in our favourite bar in Los Christianos by 1pm. After a leisurely late lunch we took the late ferry to San Sebastián. We met up with skipper, crew and three lads who had just completed there own 5 day charter. They’d had 4 Marlin between them on their trip and they were buzzing. So were we!

Day 1

We met for breakfast with the crew; Matt and Andy. Skipper John was at the boat washing off the volcanic ash that had settled on it overnight Reminding us how close we’re were to La Palma. John told us that he had a double hook-up literally as the eruptions began; surely no coincidenc. We joined him on the boat for a fully safety briefing and set sail at 10am. Matt showed us the ropes and set up the chair and harness for us. He then went through the procedure to follow in the event of a hook-up and practised our technique in the chair. And that was it, two big game novices fishing for Marlin.

We hadn’t been going long before Andy at the helm shouted down from the foredeck that there were whales ahead. Mark and I headed up to the bow and saw our very first Pilot Whale

View attachment 20150

This was quickly followed by a few more. Soon there were hundreds of them spread out across the port side. This is the fourth species of Whale I’ve been lucky enough to see so far (having previously seen Minkies, Humpbacks and Orca in the past). I always feel very humbled and privileged to see them even if, as is the case with Pilots, they give no indication as to whether or not there are Marlin around. We saw smaller pods of Dolphins too as we trolled our way along the ledges and drop-offs beneath us.

It was around 3pm when we got our first take. Out of nowhere, the elastic on the starboard side outrigger snapped and the associated reel started pouring out line. I‘d love to tell you that we leapt into action, followed our instructions meticulously and landed a grander …… but it would be a dirty lie! We were hopeless!! With Matt screaming instructions to us (me in particular) I stood and looked at him like he was speaking a foreign language. I got my sh1t together in the end, but the fish (we didn’t see what it was) was long since gone. The hook had not set and that was that. But it was probably the closest I’d ever been to achieving my dream and I’d learnt a valuable lesson. There was no more activity that day. We joined John, Andy and Matt for an excellent dinner and headed back our apartment.

Day 2

Once again we assembled in the main square of San Sebastián for coffee and bacon rolls. San Sebastián btw is lovely, so much quieter and laid back than Tenerife. It is barely touched by tourism by comparison and so much the better for it. The wind must have changed direction as there was no covering of ash on the boat. Once again we set sail at 10am. Once again, we spot the Pilot Whales and Dolphins. At 1pm, we find warmer water. We then find a bait-ball; a huge bait-ball. It starts 20m down and is over 100m thick. It runs for over a mile. Something must be hunting them. And then we see what. Andy calls down from the foredeck “Fin Whales ahead!”. Fin Whales are the second largest whales on the planet and believed to be the second largest creatures ever to roam the Earth. mark and I rush forward to the bow. And there they are: two of them, with calves. I grab my iPhone and set it to video. One of the calves breaches right beside us. The boat is 38ft. The calf is bigger. It rolls to reveal its fabulous silvery white underbelly and with a flick of its tail it disappears. The water it leaves behind changes colour to a pale blue, like a Foxes Glacier Mint. I have forgotten all about Marlin for a moment. This is the most special moment in nature that I have ever been privileged to see (I still see it clearly in my mind as I write. I sit down with Mark with a grin from ear to ear. I look at my phone …… and realise that I did not start the video recording. Gutted
😓


We settle back down and re-focus on what we came for. Thirty minutes later, a large dark silhouette enters the spread from the starboard side. I shout up to the foredeck but John has already seen it. “Shark” he shouts. “Probably a hammerhead”. A big one too. I reckon it was at least 10-12ft long. It wasn’t interested in the spread and swam on.

Things settled down after that and at 4.20pm we had already turned and started to troll back towards port. Mark and I were starting to think we’d had our excitement for the day. I was starting to drift off. Andy at the helm said “I’ve just marked a little red dot on the plotter”. “That’s interesting“ said John and then this HUGE dark shape ERUPTED out of the water and the reel on the further set lure SCREAMED. I went from semi-comatose to super-alert faster than I thing I’ve ever done before. I try to call it but no words come out, jus unintelligible noise. Matt gets on the rod Mark hauls in the teasers, I grab the short rod and reel in furiously. John is down from the foredeck, between us we clear all the superfluous rods and lures from the water. All the time, the reel continues to scream. “Finally!”, I thought as I settled into the chair.

But it wasn’t to be. As I settled into the chair, the reel stopped. Matt reeled frantically, but it was gone. Close inspection of the lure suggested it had been bill-wrapped. As soon as it turned towards the boat, the hook and lure simply slid off the bill. I was numb. So close, soooo close!

But I guess that’s big game fishing. Big fish, big stakes. We had one day left.

Day 3

Having come so close the previous day we were still optimistic. But which ever way you cut it, the last day is the last day. It’s now or never. We were joined by my friend Tim, who came over from Tenerife; not to fish, just as a spectator. We collected him from the ferry and set off one last time. The Pilots Whales and Dolphins showed up again as we snaked along the drop-offs. Just after 2pm we get a bite. We’re on it in a flash. Matt gets to the rod and a turns the reel. “Are we in?”. “Nah, it’s a f*ckin Dorado”. Mark takes the rod and reels it in. At 37lb, it’s a pretty decent specimen (they go up to 60lb around here btw).

View attachment 20152

On any other day, we’d be made up.

With no further action, we turn and head for port. But Gomera has one final surprise for us. As we head back Andy calls down “white Whales on the starboard side. We look and are surprised to see two white Whales. This time I manage to get a short video of them. Here’s a screenshot

View attachment 20153

I realise it’s not much to look at but the full video of it breaching shows they have no dorsal fin. I’m pretty sure that these were Beluga’s. A long way from home, just like us.

It had been an amazing adventure. Before we set out, John had told us that is was like fishing in Jurassic Park fishing out there. And he’s right. In February through to April there’s a run of Bluefin Tuna that go through here that are as big as anything you’ll see on Wicked Tuna (700lb). Big-eyed Tuna over 250lb are not uncommon either.

I’ve finally seen a big Blue Marlin in the flesh for the first time. I didn’t hook it, but it hooked me! I have already re-booked for August next year. Hopefully, it’s like all fishing. As long as you’re doing the right things, it’s just a matter of time on the rod. Fingers crossed
🤞


If you got this far, thanks for reading.

tight lines

Kev
Great report, but I'm sure I've seen it before somewhere! 🤔🤔😁😁
 

Beach

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I was lucky to catch Marling (184lb) and a Sailfish (137lb) when I was in Grenada, West Indies back in 2012. Went out with a local in a 24ft wooden boat and we got towed by the fish for miles until we managed the get them alongside. Released them which upset the locals.
 

Beach

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Tried the Solent but had no luck trolling so had to bottom fish & only got Whiting & straps 😁

Only jealous.
Only thing I have seen in the Solent is ships, mind they will take some stopping if you hook one :ROFLMAO:
 

Flipper

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Great report and cracking pictures. Good to hear that La Gomera is a beautiful place, always on the look out for places to go once this madness is over.
 
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