Azores, Sao Miguel

    Azores, Sao Miguel

    Um ... I suspect I'm having a 'senior moment' - sorry, forgetfulness. Some weeks ago I recall reading something regarding BIG Blue Marlin, Bluefin Tuna and Yellowfin being taken off the island of Sao Miguel. But now I can't find it!

    Most of the game fishing activity in the archipelago 'normally' takes place in Horta on the island of Faial, and Sao Miguel is several hundred miles to the East. I've tried looking at, for instance, Ian Carter's web site and those for Olaf and Zak Conde, and even Double Header but no trace, no reference .... NADA.

    Do any of the forum members have any information about what happened in Sao Miguel this season? And whether the boats were based there, or visiting boats?
    Dave
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
    sportfishingclub.co.uk
    Informationen unser Partner
    Hello Dave,

    the S.Miguel-charter-boats are based in Ponta Delgada. The busiest of them are „Alabote“, „Galaxia“ and „Shanghai“. It's about 12nm out to the „Mar da Prata“ - bank where the main fishing activities are concentrated to. At the east end of the island you can find very productive waters too - about 35 nm from Ponta Delgada - called „Baixo do Meio“. But the „ultimate“ experience of fishing around S. Miguel can be found at „Jõao Castro“ bank. 44nm from S. Miguel and around 60nm off Ponta Delgada:


    „...this shallow water bank is localised by the co-ordinates 38º14'N and 26º38'W. The submarine apparatus is basically made of pillow lavas with roots at 1500m deepth and with the top made of basaltic hyaloclastitus. The crater, slightly elliptic, measures close to 300 meters diameter and is
    bordered by an arc, which is round or acute in some parts.“


    Every BigGamer will get his own ideas about a bank reaching up to 20m to the surface from the depth of 1.500-2.000m.


    I don't know this years numbers. When I was out to catch them I was disappointed in June and July. August and September have been spectacular. Nearly every time out I got in „contact“. In September big numbers of tuna came close to the coast. I caught a blue monster as close to the island like never before.


    I enjoyed my short season 2009! I don't have experience on other azorean spots. I'm living on São Miguel. I heard, that it's easier to get bluefin at the central group (Faial). And I see, that at Horta they know much better to make money with the boats! Next season I'll spend some days with mine there, finding out about the differences of fishing...


    Anyone out there to join me?



    >biggameazores.com.pt< is informing about the activities of the Clube Naval Ponta Delgada. Unfortunately someone is trying to maintain this page. Maybe the nice pictures, that could be seen there will come back....





    Tight lines and all the best for 2010!


    Peter
    Informationen unser Partner
    Thanks Peter. So that's where the Shanghai is based now. Are there any charterboats on any of the other islands?

    The Azores is probably the place on earth I would most like to visit. Not just because of the fishing but also because I have a number of friends in Horta. I'll have to pass through Sao Miguel on my way there. Maybe we could get in touch while I'm there.

    Best regards
    patudo
    Great, Many Thanks gentlemen for identifying those links regarding the fishing from Sao Miguel this season. Sounds pretty good! Also Many Thanks to Peter (Azoreaner) for describing some of that structure available to the SM boats – particularly the Dom João de Castro Bank, sounds incredible!

    Now to Peter's point about the Tuna.

    But unfortunately I have to say my personal understanding relates to that period of the mid-80s through to early 90s. And I haven't been back since! Anyway I recall on my first trip to the archipelago, when we were sitting in a bar in Ponta Delgada with some local Tuna captains talking about the Marlin fishing potential, and they were describing seeing large numbers during the Summer months on the Princess Alice Banks - 46 miles South of Faial, slightly further from Pico. Just something at the time that was stored in the 'memory banks'.

    I do recall though, earlier that same year - early Spring, some members of our Club had had big catches of BigEye from ..... Sao Miguel.

    Still this was early October and we were en route to Faial where Francisco van Uden (?) had moved his two Pescatur boats. It was right at the end of the (supposed) season and, fortunate for us in that one of his boats was out of commission, Double Header had literally just arrived from Palm Beach, Florida. DH's owners were not scheduled to arrive for a further 10 days or so and the crew were desperate to start exploring - they just wanted anglers to 'crank the handle'. And of course with our original boat out of commission we were more than willing to oblige.

    It was an incredible trip. I recall, fishing the Condor Bank, we released two Blues that first day. And, our friends fishing the Pescatur boat skippered by Ted Legg, had a number of fish including five Blues in one day. As well, on another day, they, as well as Marlin, had two BigEye Tuna. We even managed, one evening off Sao Jorge, to catch what we believe was the first ever Broadbill recorded on rod and line from the Azores. It was only a 'baby' at 46lbs, but still a Swordfish.

    Having got back from that trip I recall DH's rather excited skipper - Don Merten - calling me a few days later to describe the capture of their first Bluefin, a shade over 850lbs and yet more Broadbill. But Tuna. There was another American boat there at the time, the Bandit skippered by Chuck Tedder, who, after we'd left, had ventured out to the Princess Alice Shoal and caught some big Yellowfin.

    So the Tuna were definitely around that season.

    Wind forward several years and it was on my penultimate trip that, with the fishing slow around Faial, I cojoled our skipper (Ted Legg) to venture out to the 'Princess Alice'. I don't believe any of the game boats had been out there since that first trip of Chuck's. The fishing was INCREDIBLE. We found the pinnacle that 'topped' in just 19 fathoms of water and released three Blues from 10 strikes around it. One of the fish we lost though looked easily in the 1000lb range - that grabbed the bird teaser rather than the lure. But Tuna? On one pass a big Tuna popped up and tracked my lure before finally losing interest and sinking down. We repeated the manoeuvre and this time two big Tuna, definitely Bluefin, popped up. One 'lit up' and charged that same lure .... but missed it by several feet. Deliberate? I suspect it was. The lure was unlike anything it had seen before and it was probably trying to provoke a response - the object fleeing in terror. (And of course three weeks after our trip Double Header caught a Blue Marlin of 1146lbs out there on 50lb class tackle. It's still the IGFA line class record.)

    Since then I've heard of any number of Bluefin being taken out there. And didn't Roddy Hays have one on a livebait?

    But the Bluefin shoals have also appeared in other years. One year I recall one of our members, John Gill, releasing fish estimated at over 900lbs in that deep water to the North of Faial. And John also, on that same trip, hooked one up on 80lb gear. Um ... the line popped after 9 hours!

    Reading reports from recent years though on Ian Carter’s web site - azoresmarlin.com/ - though there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in Tuna catches. And, as well as his own catches, Ian does seem to also report on the catches of other boats operating out of Horta, Faial.

    Finally Patudo’s point about other boats, other islands. I recall that US military forces used to have a boat on Terceira, presumably NOT for charter. But wasn’t there a small boat on Santa Maria? And I recall Nicola Zingarelli, the proprietor of caranx.net, used to vertical jig from boats in one of the ‘outer islands’, I think it was Flores.
    Dave
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
    sportfishingclub.co.uk
    Informationen unser Partner
    Peter,

    Looking at Xacara's catch results, it seems that August and September are the best months for them too. Maybe June and July are still a little too early for marlin in your area. The Azores are some of the most northerly locations that produce consistent blue marlin fishing after all. I heard there was good tuna fishing in the spring SE of S.Miguel, but maybe this was out of range of the sportfishing boats?

    I hope the website you linked to will be updated. I'd love to learn more about the history of sportfishing in S. Miguel and also why the island of Fayal became the center of sports fishing in the archipelago.

    Dave,

    I remember Ted telling me of sighting big yellowfin in the 200+ class on at least a couple of occasions. That must have been a sight. So rare to find this species in those sizes in the European Atlantic.

    Best regards
    patudo

    The focus on Faial rather than Sao Miguel?

    Patudo wrote:

    ....
    I hope the website you linked to will be updated. I'd love to learn more about the history of sportfishing in S. Miguel and also why the island of Fayal became the center of sports fishing in the archipelago.
    ....
    Best regards
    patudo


    An interesting question there Dustin, one to which I’m afraid I don’t know the answer.

    Greet Wouters – Jo Franck’s widow – book ‘Close to the surface’ does offers some interesting insights though.

    The first (Blue) Marlin capture she was able to identify – although details are somewhat sketchy - appears to have been taken during the early ‘40s by a US soldier based on Terceira. However the first ‘serious’ expedition to establish the archipelago’s potential was in August 1952 when, fishing off Santa Maria Dr Arsenio Cordeiro caught a 47 kilo White Marlin. (It was initially, incorrectly, identified as a Blue.)

    But it was mainly Tuna that the archipelago was renowned for as can be seen from some of Pierre Cloostermann’s accounts in his book ‘Des poissons si grands’. He described phenomenal catches of BigEye and Yellowfin but, in 1964 it appears that branch of the Gulf Stream moved subtly with water temperatures dropping by 3 degrees. It was also when Japanese longliners were starting to work in earnest that arc of the North East Atlantic between Cape Verde/Madeira and the Azores.

    The fishing though still seems to have been based on the Easterly group of islands – Sao Miguel and Santa Maria. I wonder if that had anything to do with the accessibility of Faial? The airport on Faial wasn’t opened until 1971 - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SATA_Air_A%C3%A7ores. (Pre and immediately post-WW2 of course trans-Atlantic flying boats used to use the bay at Horta as a staging post.)

    What interestingly I did also pick up from Greet’s book was that in 1968 a rather young William (Chuck) Tedder, part of a tug’s delivery crew, caught a 300lb Blue Marlin off Terceira. (On my first visit to Faial in October 1985, I met Chuck – he’d just arrived with the Bandit – but I’m really not certain whether he’d made any further trips to the Azores in those intervening years.) Marlin though were really just ‘occasional’ captures.

    A ‘bit of the jigsaw’ though, in the ‘70s, was undoubtedly the activities of the local Tourist Board. (It was also during that decade that they started to promote big game fishing in Madeira. You may well have heard of the likes of John Goddard and Hymie Polanski (?) fishing there for Tuna.) Angler/journalists like Trevor Housby started to fish down there, although still from Sao Miguel for Tuna and Sharks. I do recall in some of his writings though him mentioning, but not fishing, the fabled Condor Bank (off Faial).

    And it was the Tourist Board, in 1977, who loaned Francisco van Uden the money to, with his partner, set up Pescatur. Still all the reports though were coming from Sao Miguel.

    Now I may be wrong here but, as far as I’m aware, Francisco didn’t initially move his two 32’ Pacemakers literally just for the ‘Summer season’ of ’84. It’s around 200 miles from Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel. But why? Was it at the instigation of the Tourist Board to attempt to explore the potential of the ‘middle islands’? Um ... back to the beginning, I’m afraid I don’t know but I believe that was when it all started – with the emphasis on Faial rather than Sao Miguel. Of all the things I spoke about to Francisco that never once came up in conversation. I last heard that he'd moved to Lisbon and was involved in property development.
    Dave
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
    sportfishingclub.co.uk
    Dave,

    Do you (or indeed anyone here) have a copy of Mr Clostermann's book? That would be an interesting one to read. In the mid-sixties some of the great European big game fisheries were coming to an end (North Sea bluefin tuna, Sesimbra broadbill) while others were being opened up, not only in Europe but around the world. Modern tackle and techniques were also being developed at the same time that commercial tuna and marlin catches were reaching unprecendented levels. That would have been a sad but in many respects interesting age to fish in. Clostermann of course had plenty of opportunity to fish these locations; more so than, I'd have thought, the majority of his British contemporaries.

    Greet's book has some photos of yellowfin tuna being taken by Clostermann and others in the early to mid-sixties. One thing that really does impress me, reading the old accounts, is just how abundant tuna were at the time, certainly compared to today.

    There's a lot of historical material relating to the development of big game fishing in the Atlantic islands that could be better recorded and that is in danger of being lost forever. Men such as Jose Braz and Francisco van Uden amongst others were involved with some of the most famous big game fisheries in Europe yet never seem to have written anything or even gave interviews.

    Best regards
    patudo
    Informationen unser Partner

    Patudo wrote:



    Do you (or indeed anyone here) have a copy of Mr Clostermann's book?


    Yes, I do have Dustin. It was published in France in 1969 and has a chapter, chapter 8, devoted to Tuna fishing in the Azores, Bimini and Mauritius.

    Over the years I've been fortunate to meet some of those gentlemen who were instrumental in developing our sport - sometimes to talk, but often just to shake their hands. People like Alfred Glassell, Elwood J Harry and, Australian, Ernie Palmer - a former IGFA Trustee - all unfortunately now dead in Hawaii 25 years ago now. (Ernie went back even further and, as a teenager, had met Zane Grey on one of his trips to Australia.) And I also got to speak to Peter Goadby on that same trip.

    One of the most fascinating though was Don Merten snr - Don and Denis' father - whom I met in Faial. He brought Double Header over to the Azores, but importantly in terms of the history of game fishing was instrumental in developing the Bluefin Tuna fishery in Nova Scotia. A great man. And one, linking back, who was a close friend of Ernest Hemmingway. I remember one evening him describing how Hemmingway was desperate to catch the fish - the footage of which was planned to be used in the Spencer Tracy film, the Old Man and the Sea - off Cabo Blanco. Don gave up his two week slot to Hemmingway who caught .... NADA! (They ended up I understand using the footage of Glassell's world record Black. Yes, look at the footage, it's a Black not a Blue.)

    Back to books. One I personally regret not being able to get hold of was one by Lou Marron - his Swordfish record still stands. I recall, in a local restuarant, speaking to an American businessman on the next table whose father had been Lou's captain. And part of his dad's effects was this book. He promised to forward it on but, unfortunately, it never arrived. A shame because I think it was one of a very small, perhaps private print run.
    Dave
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
    sportfishingclub.co.uk
    Maybe I could leaf through your copy when I next visit, Dave? (I've got a couple of Kip Farrington books I'd be glad to loan in exchange, if you don't already have them.) I'm also keeping an eye out for used copies but (understandably, I'd guess) they aren't as common as his books on flying fighters in World War II. Mauritius back in the 1960s must have been some place to fish, especially for yellowfin. As you'll recall, it was outstanding even relatively recently, back in the 1980s.

    The impression I get is that the history of big game sportfishing in the western Atlantic is pretty well chronicled, certainly compared to our side of the pond. I'm certainly going to try and make an effort to collect and collate as much info as I can in the future. Sportfishing in the eastern Atlantic doesn't have the same prominence as it does in other parts of the world but preserving its heritage is still, I think, a worthwhile goal.

    As an aside, the books I wish I could get hold of most are the two (?) authored by Ruben Jaen on Venezuelan fishing in the 1970s or thereabouts. I have asked a number of people but no joy. I don't suppose I'll ever find them.

    Best regards & a Happy New Year to all
    patudo

    Patudo wrote:

    Maybe I could leaf through your copy when I next visit, Dave? (I've got a couple of Kip Farrington books I'd be glad to loan in exchange, if you don't already have them.) I'm also keeping an eye out for used copies but (understandably, I'd guess) they aren't as common as his books on flying fighters in World War II. ....
    Best regards & a Happy New Year to all
    patudo


    You're more than welcome Dustin. I think I've got the Kip Farrington books you mentioned though - Atlantic and Pacific Game Fishing - but mine are only the Derrydale Press re-prints.

    Back to the Azores though. I suspect that Jack Reece may well have the background as to how game fishing developed, particularly that apparent transition from Sao Miguel to Faial. I'm sure he wrote an article in one of the early Club magazines regarding Tuna and Shark fishing from Sao Miguel and, after retiring from the police force, he purchased and operated one of the Pescatur boats - Galha-a-Re. Let me check when I next speak to him. The other possible option is Russell Brumby who may have much of his dad's correspondence from that period. And then there's the Oceanographic Institute in Horta itself.

    Whilst on the topic of those early days though I wonder whether Peter knows whether the boat Clostermann's used, the Furnas, originally operated by the Ponta Delgada Club is still in the harbour? Or what happened to it?

    Then back to your general theme, the North East Atlantic fisheries. Many who would have been aware of the history of game fishing in the Canaries are now unfortunately dead. But one of our Club's Vice-Presidents, Dick Wakeford, ran a game boat from Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria in the mid/late-70s. He may be able to offer an insight. I can also remember Dick describing some of the private boats venturing down from there to Cape Verde - he didn't mention them catching YFT or Marlin but big Wahoo. I'll follow that through with Dick. And, although I haven't spoken to him for over a year, there is John Holmes non-angling son. He may still have some of John's old mementos from the early days.
    Dave
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
    sportfishingclub.co.uk
    Informationen unser Partner
    Thanks Dave! Although I'm no longer a member, I'd be more than happy to travel and take notes etc.. from anyone who would be happy to speak to me and turn them into something for the club magazine. Let's speak more on this later. There's a lot of history from the Club members themselves that could be tapped, never mind the wider world.

    The Farrington books I have are the later editions published after the war - Fishing the Atlantic - Offshore and On and Fishing the Pacific - Offshore and On. I think Atlantic and Pacific Game Fishing were published pre-war and at a stage where some fisheries ie. Cabo Blanco were less developed. It'd be really interesting to read what his thoughts were on techniques and locations, etc. at the time. I find a lot of what Farrington wrote (in the books I have) regarding technique, tackle and so on is still very applicable today and I'm always impressed by the fact that a lot of the gear they used back then would still be considered pretty light tackle. Farrington had a 300+ lb Chilean stripey on 9-thread which would still be considered a great catch today. Sadly the Chile fishery (which of course produced the famous 1182 lb record swordfish) appears to have gone completely out of existence.

    Speaking of the Furnas, Dave - based on the photos in Greet's book, that looks like a vessel that could still go out and catch its share of fish in Madeira today, or anywhere there is only a short distance to go to the fish. It reminds me of the Selvagem which is still in service in Madeira today. They remind me of some of the old sportfishing boats built in the 1950s and 1960s that I really admire. Vessels like the 34 to 37 foot Rybovichs and the 37 foot Merritts were not all that different to the Furnas - what would today be considered very basic wooden boats with small engines - but designed from the keel by men who really knew their fishing. They're the embodiment, to my mind, of Nathaniel Herreshoff's statement that "Form follows function".

    Best regards
    patudo

    Post was edited 1 time, last by “Patudo” ().

    This is one of the vessel´s that made part of Pescatur in the early 80´s and 90´s , for now it belongs to Oceantur ( Ponta Delgada ) and continues to be a charter sportfishing vessel , it is completle repowered with two new 230 hp ( each ) Perkins Sabre , new electronics and a lot of more others improvements ... it is a historic boat , since it yelds a lot o records of the world even in these days :)
    Regards from Azores
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    Regards from Azores :
    David Rodrigues - Oceantur Sportfishing
    azores-sportfishing.com