To the everyday holidaymaker, Fuerteventura is best known as ‘the windy island’. The mountainous volcanic Canary island sits exposed in the Atlantic, 97km off the coast of the western reaches of the Sahara Desert. Needless to say, its own landscape is fairly barren, with any significant signs of greenery a sure giveaway of some irrigation at play. Beneath the waves though, a different story is playing out, as abundant life exists in the rich waters surrounding the island, life that includes an abundance of fish high on anglers wish lists. 

With reasonably warm temperatures all year round, coupled with regular flight schedules from many U.K. airports, it’s of no surprise that the quality angling on offer has started to bring an increasing number of eager shore anglers to the island.

The diversity of fishing available has seen lure anglers, species enthusiasts and specimen hunters chase their dreams from these rocky shores, many surpassing even their wildest dreams. 

The purpose of this article is to give you a little insight into the sensational fishing on hand and more importantly, how to go about enjoying your first visit and maximising your chances of success. The first thing you are going to need to enjoy your holiday is a licence!

Hounds run a bit bigger than back in the U.K. and Ireland

Planning your trip


Fishing licence

A fishing licence is essential in the Canaries. Whilst infrequently checked, the consequences of being caught without one, which only costs a little over €30, are considerable. The licence will cover you for 3 years, so is usually sufficient for a few trips once you’ve caught the bug!

Obtaining a licence on the island can be daunting and of more concern, eats into fishing time. As such, it is best to seek out the aid of a third party before travelling, with most anglers these days employing the services of a chap called ‘Sunil’ who can be contacted via Whatsapp on: +34 699 29 93 07. He will arrange for the licence to be waiting for you on arrival at your chosen accommodation.

Travelling to Fuerteventura

Many of the medium sized airports in the U.K. offer a couple of flights a week to the island, often spaced through the week, which offers the chance of a quick 3 or 4 night stop over. This is great when commitments don’t allow a longer trip, and it’s usually sufficiently long enough to catch your targets before getting home to recover!

Flights can be booked for well under £200 return, to include a case and rod tube, if booked far enough in advance, with the best prices coming in the winter months outside of school holidays. If you have the option of a number of airports or airlines, it’s also worth considering booking one way flights with different operators, which almost always seems to lead to a saving. 

You will be flying into El Matorral airport, just north of Caleta De Fuste, the ideal place to stay, as we’ll come to.

Butterfly ray come in two species and offer an excellent fight

Car rental

There is an abundance of car rental companies offering a quick collection on arrival at the airport. Shop around and pick a suitable vehicle without a crazy excess. It pays to use different companies each time as their cost seems to increase for repeat custom. 

Don’t risk a heavy excess. Some of the roads leading to the fishing marks are little more than dirt tracks, increasing the possibility of damage to the car, whilst goats are everywhere and have been known to make a dent in a rental car or two! 

A 4 wheel drive is not essential,  but will make life easier on some roads. However, of more importance is ensuring you’ve a vehicle big enough to fit you and your rods in, noting that it is illegal on the island to have anything resting on the front dashboard. There is a petrol station immediately adjacent to the airport, so it’s easy to top the fuel back up to the correct level when returning the rental. 

Accommodation

My recommendation would be to stay in Caleta De Fuste. It is close to the airport, but more conveniently has the fantastic Salinas rocks on the doorstep, a deepwater spot that can produce all sorts of species through day and night. In addition, it also has plenty of supermarkets with fresh fish counters for bait, quick road access to a number of beach marks and plenty of affordable accommodation. 

Whilst there are many booking options for a place to get your head down between sessions, booking.com always seems to have some very competitive rates for chalet style accommodation suitable for 2-4 anglers. Such rooms can cost as little as £30 a night (for the whole place, not per person) and are often situated in holiday complexes with pools and on-site bars. 

As the fishing is often done at night, it’s often worth booking an extra nights stay to allow for a later checkout and maybe a few hours sleep before any evening return flights. 

There's few better places than the rocks at Salinas for couches bream

Fishing Feurteventura

Restrictions

There are a few things to be aware of, that the fishing licence limits. You cannot fish within harbours, with many harbour walls also ‘out of bounds’ even if fishing on the outside. You are also prohibited from fishing the majority of beaches during daylight hours. It’s a safe bet that any sandy beaches are restricted, but use a little common sense and avoid beaches with other beachgoers present during the day. Once darkness sets in, these beaches become fair game. 

 

You are also not allowed to target certain species, mainly sharks, though some (but not all) ray species and angel sharks (not a true shark) are also excluded. Of course, all of these species can be caught as bycatch and you should sensibly return the catch to the water as safely and quickly as possible. If you set up with a Senator reel and start kayaking baits out, a case would certainly be made that you are targeting sharks, but fishing sensibly with appropriate tackle, you cannot control what takes your bait. 

 

 

Species

Where to even begin here? This list could prove endless, so I’ll name a few and leave the others to  surprise you.

On the lighter tackle, there’s an endless variety of mini species, with the wide eyed flounder perhaps the most sort after. 

An abundance of mullet, bream, parrot fish and various other bright and colourful species can be had fishing a small bit of prawn beneath a float on a light rod. It also proves an effective way of targeting bait fish such as boga, which are hard to beat for the bigger species. 

It’s worth noting that the bream can get big! Whilst smaller species like pandoras bream and juvenile sargo will make up most of the catch, there’s always the possibility of a very large gilt head bream or couches bream making an appearance, both of which can push into double figures. 

For the lure anglers, the most frequent quarry will be bonito and bluefish, but barracuda, dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and massive needle fish (gar) can be caught too. Metals that can be cast a good distance and will sink quicker in the deep waters off of Salinas are an ideal option and you never know what you may hook into there. It’s best to avoid letting any lures hit the bottom, as it’s just a sure fire way to get plagued with lizard fish. 

On the much larger side of things are the multiple species of stingray to over 300lb, massive smoothhound of up to 70lb, angel sharks averaging 15lb but possible to over 50lb and white skate generally around the 20-30lb mark though they can grow much bigger. 

The ray species most commonly include two distinct species of butterfly ray (spiny and smooth), rough tailed stingray, common stingray, round stingray and eagle rays, though there’s other less frequently caught species too.

Bluefish take a little luck to land as they'll bite through anything

Tackle

Don’t be fooled into thinking you require specialist tackle for the larger specimens on offer in Fuerteventura. Most of the tackle used in the U.K. is beefed up to deal with big tidal conditions and the ability to cast big leads and big baits. Conditions aside, this tackle is over gunned for the majority of U.K. species, but absolutely perfect for taming a 200lb beast from the shores of this island. 

A typical 4-8oz beachcaster will handle the job just fine. The more pressing matter is the reel. Many now opt for fixed spools, though fishing them with braid is asking for trouble on a volcanic island, where a single exposed piece of abrasive rock could mean game over. A good quality 0.45mm mono to an 80lb shockleader is a more reliable option, for those comfortable with their shockleader knots. If you have any doubts in your knots, these fish will expose them. You can also fish a heavier mainline with no leader, given casting rarely requires more than a lob.

The key qualities needed in the reel, be it fixed spool or multiplier, are a high drag capacity, a quick responsive drag, decent line capacity and a strong body. The reel will definitely be tested to its limits. A whole feature could look at appropriate reels, so speak to your local tackle shop with those requirements in mind for further advice. 

At the business end, simple running ledgers are perfect when fishing in close, or to clip it up, an up and over rig allows a good snood length to prevent a ray spooking on the lead. 100lb snoods are typically sufficient, but will be bitten through like butter by a bluefish. If they are your target, wire is the only option and even this isn’t guaranteed against the teeth of a bluefish. 

A good hook size is a 6/0, in a strong gauge wire. Everyone has their preferences here – Mustad Demons have been my go to for my biggest fish on the island over the years, though visiting guests have had good success with Catfish hooks too. 

When it comes to lure tackle – a 100g rod for casting larger metals will cover most bases. Everything up from LRF is possible though, so whatever suits the lures you wish to use will suffice. Once again, ensure the reels have decent drags, they will be tested!

Grouper make for a good scrap

Bait

Fresh mackerel and scad can be acquired from the fresh fish counters in all of the major supermarkets around Calete De Fuste, whilst a bit of prawn can be used for the smaller fish, or to catch fresh bait fish such as boga for the bigger species. Even a side of a small bream can prove a brilliant bait for the bigger fish. 

Take plenty of bait elastic as some of the scad and mackerel can be a bit soft at times, but still catches, You should also be careful when stripping baits as fireworms are present on a few marks and make for a nasty reaction if you should accidentally touch one that comes back in on a bait. It’s best to strip them with scissors without touching them. 

 


Landing and releasing big fish

Unless you really know what you are doing with a gaff, don’t use one. Instead, grab the leader with a glove and carefully guide the fish into shallower water using the gentle swell almost always present on the east coast. For bigger rays, try and leave them semi submerged and unhook them at the waters edge. One angler should hold the tail with a wet cloth wrapped around it, to prevent any damage being done by the rays spines. 

The other angler should the be able to reach underneath the ray to unhook it. If the hook is deep, cut the line as close to the mouth as possible and do not try and force the hook out or flip the fish on its back to unhook. 

If possible, two anglers should gently lift a ray back into the water, one either side, with a third still holding the tail in a wet rag – DO NOT drag a ray by its spiracles (the holes on its head). 

 


Locations

The whole east coast of the island can produce brilliant fishing, so explore at your leisure. Use google earth to fathom access and how clean the ground may be. The west coast is best avoided as large swells make it very dangerous to fish save for a few days each year. 

Whilst a number of ‘common’ marks could be provided here, many of the large fish are resident to certain bays. Over fishing these spots has made them fish harder over the years, so you really are better off finding your own spot, potentially unfished from the shore, and see if your dreams can become reality.

Spotted bass are more often caught on the few calm days on the west coast
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