34 Hours and Back
Have you ever dreamt of going on a spur-of-the-moment overseas fishing trip? organising everything at the very last minute, throwing caution to the wind in the hope of a monster fish or two? This viber picture decided it for me
Glenn with his 100lb+ Hammerhead.
This was the picture that made up my mind to jump on a plane.
My friends Glenn and Killian McCormack have been over in Lanzarote for a couple of months, working. Of course like any self-respecting angler, whilst there they were also looking for fishing spots and guides. As it was often hard to understand the locals, Glenn soon decided to drive down every nook and cranny searching for local anglers. With the whole island driven, he came across only a few lads fishing for bonito and barracuda from the rocks and one guy fishing off a beach with shark setups. As Glenn was chatting and trying to understand his Spanish with some broken English, he was able to work out the universal language of fishing; that is, making sounds of reels screaming, hand gestures holding an imaginary bent fishing rod and spreading his arms as wide as possible to show how big the fish were! With a flyer taken out of the angler’s car, Glenn realised that he was actually a local guide who provides sharking trips from the shore. With his contact details taken, the guide also gave Glenn another number for a charter boat that offered night fishing for sharks. He warned that if he targeted sharks then he’d also be fishing the bottom for other monsters of the deep Atlantic waters…
The following morning Glenn made contact with the charter boat and after chatting for a few minutes the skipper said that there were actually two spaces available for the following night if he was interested. As you can imagine, “Si!” was his answer. The trip for Glenn, his friend Jason and the other lads on board was very successful and soon after they got back ashore I was receiving pictures of incredible butterfly ray, angel sharks (monkfish), long nosed skate, stingrays of a 100lb or more, smooth hound, tope and a cracking hammerhead shark which Glenn caught himself. It was truly impressive stuff.
The next day, as Glenn and I were talking on the phone about the monsters that were being caught over there, I naturally said that I’d love to go over some day and join him. “Why don’t you?!” he jokingly asked. “I have another night charter booked for 5pm, Tuesday next week!”. After some laughter, my reply was that surely the flights would be too expensive, especially at such short notice. As we continued to chat Glenn, multi-tasker that he is, threw me on loud speaker and searched online for flights. Quickly he found one leaving Cork at 12pm that following Tuesday (Feb 13th), arriving in Lanzarote at 4pm and returning at 6pm the next evening – and all for €201! I usually like to plan my sessions well in advance, especially trips abroad but – call me mad – I just couldn’t resist. “Book it!” I said quickly before I changed my mind. With that, I sent on all my details and phoned my boss for a much-needed two day’s holidays. With the flights and charter boat booked I then asked Glenn if he could try to sort out some beach fishing for sharks with the guide he met on the beach. Again, star that he is, he organised a night’s shore fishing from twelve midnight (literally as we got off the charter boat) right through until eleven that morning.
So, the plan was to get off the plane in Las Palmas at 4pm Tuesday, step onto the charter boat for 5pm, fish until 11.45pm, head straight for the beach for 12.30am, fish through the night until around 11am Wednesday morning before relaxing back at the villa and catching a plane home at 3.30pm. Was I off my game?!
I’d rarely been so excited arriving at cork airport.
He found one leaving cork at 12pm that following Tuesday [Feb 13th]’arriving in lanzarote at 4pm and returning at 6pm the next evening- and all for 201 euro…i just couldn’t resist :book it i said.
As I arrived at Cork airport, I had my fingers crossed that there were no flight delays. The trip was all about maximising my very short time in the Canaries and I couldn’t afford any hiccups. After checking in, I sat impatiently at my departure gate keeping an eye on the noticeboard hoping the plane was on schedule – luckily it was.
After a three and a half hour journey, I safely stepped onto Lanzarote soil and had to laugh to myself at the madness of it all! Straight away I could feel the sudden rush of hot Spanish air which I hadn’t felt in a long time.
After a three and a half hour journey, I safely stepped onto Lanzarote soil
Glenn was waiting in the arrivals lounge and the first thing he said to me was “you mad bastard!” With barely half an hour to spare we collected the other twin brother, Killian, along with their buddy Jason and headed to the shop to get some food for the boat trip and Red Bull for the beach fishing to come later that night. With everybody on board we headed to the shark grounds. After Glenn and Jason’s recent success we were in high hopes of hooking some monsters and as we had about eight miles to travel the lads put out some lures for tuna and bonito. Sadly we didn’t get any takes but it really would have been a bonus anyway.
The tuna rods came in as the skipper said it was time to pull out the big guns for the sharks.
With the boat at anchor and all rods out – four rods on the bow of the boat fishing the bottom and two rods on the stern hooked up to large baits suspended by a floats – all that was left was for a rod to start bending.
As the Spanish sun started to disappear behind the surrounding mountains the skipper shouted “fiiish on!”. As Glenn was first up he got to try out his new butt harness, which he’d bought after feeling and seeing the strength of the fish on his last outing. With every turn of the reel handle the fish was thumping back hard and creeping line back off the reel. Whenever Glenn thought he was getting the better of the fish it powered up and dove to the bottom again. Eventually it started to tire and the unseen fish neared the surface to reveal itself as a butterfly ray. This type of ray is part of the stingray family but they have a much shorter tail with a barbed stinger on it. With the fish safely landed Glenn was over the moon as he had lost one at the surface on the previous boat trip. It was pretty crazy for me to see such a huge fish just a matter of hours after leaving Cork. The trip was already worth it in my eyes but so much more was yet to come.
Glenn with his first butterfly ray what a start
The next bite fell to Killian but this time the fish wasn’t putting up much of a fight. Expecting some weird and wonderful species I‘d never seen or maybe even heard of before, I couldn’t believe my eyes when a familiar conger eel came over the gunnels! We all had a good old laugh about Killian not being able to catch them back home. but just a couple of minutes later it was Jason’s turn to do battle with a fish that was clearly no strap conger. To me it looked like a ray of some sort, staying deep and doing its best to hug the seabed. Unfortunately we never got to see what it was as the line failed on one big dive as the reel’s tension was simply not set for such a big fish.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when a familiar conger eel came over the gunnels
By now it was high tide and, like all boat fishing at this stage of the tide, the sport had slowed down so we reeled in all the rods and re-baited them. With each rod reset, we knew it would take the tide to turn and start dropping before we would get another take. It was over an hour before this happened and then there were two bites at once! Glenn hit his first, then Killian and the identical twins Glenn played an almost identical pair of long-nosed skate to the boat. It was like having double vision!
Killian and the identical twins Glenn played an almost identical pair of long-nosed skate to the boat. It was like having double vision!
Thanks be to God, the next bite came to my rod and every chance the fish got to dive hard towards the bottom it took. It then turned into the flow to try and get off but by tightening the clutch a few more clicks and piling on the pressure I was able to stop it in its tracks, Luckily, before my arms fell off, the fish came into the view of the lights and I was delighted to see a big butterfly ray, my first of the species. I think they are a beautiful fish, looking like something crossed between one of our painted rays, a sting ray and a turbot! The pressure was off now and my crazy plan to fly out to Lanzarote for a night and a day’s fishing had worked.
I was delighted to see a big butterfly ray, my first of the species.
With my fish returned it was time to have something to eat and drink and take a bit of a break. Just as the skipper was telling us of the large stingrays and rough-tail rays in these waters, Jason’s rod bent right over again, this time it was a long nose skate
Glenn and Jason was a long nose skate
with his rod back in and his bait barely settled on the bottom in bent over just like something from the TV show wicket tuna Wars! With Jason fighting the fish the rod started to bend over the gunnel more and more and it seemed to be far heavier than the other fish we had landed. With five minutes passed and the fish still winning the tug of war, the rod suddenly sprung back and it was gone. Whatever it was had worn down the 80lb mono above the rubbing leader. The lads reckoned it was a large rough-tail ray of a few hundred pounds. We were honestly gutted for Jason.
Sadly, all too soon it was time to head back to port, so the skipper started up the engines as we reeled up the rods. Incredibly, just as I was about to grab my rod from the holder the reel gave a few quick clicks and then screamed off! I lifted into it, the first mate tightened the drag to stop the powerful fish taking line so easily and then it all went slack as it ran towards me. I wound and wound as fast as I could until I caught up with the fish but as soon as the rod bent it went slack again. “Gone” I admitted and I have to say I was very disappointed as I was convinced that it was a shark, maybe even a hammerhead. It was seeing Glenn holding up his 100lb+ hammerhead that really made me decide to come to Lanzarote in the first place.
As I started to retrieve the slack line I suddenly felt something pull back. This was very strange. We shone the torches down the line and saw a shark’s dorsal fin slicing through the surface. Then it turned on its side and showed its unusual hammer-head shape. I slowly pulled it to the boat, the skipper tailed it. as the fish came on board we could see the blood running down the flank of the small hammerhead, it all became clear what had happened – a larger shark had grabbed it!. it was a first for me in two ways; it was my first hammerhead and the first time I have ever had a shark grabbed by another larger one!
Even though it was only a small example of the species, it was the main target floating around my head as I flew out and that shark really had made my crazy trip worthwhile. Little did I know that much more was yet to come on the beach later than night…
My first hammer head shark
We used big strips of bonito for bait on the bottom and heads under the floats for sharks
The Escualo is a Dutch fishing boat, a Striker 12 meters long and 3,6 m wide, built in aluminium. It has a capacity for up to 12 people. Two Nanni diesel motors with 320 PS give the boat a good speed. For fishing we offer you very good equipment, you will find Shimano and Penn reels (130 lbs, 80 lbs, 50 lbs), and Tiagra handed rods. The boats is also equipped with a Fighting chair and outrigger.