Ascension Island, South Atlantic Fishing Feb 2016
- A group from Anglers Den went fishing to the Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean, in February 2016
The Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, approx 1,600km (1,000 miles) from the coast of Africa and 2,250 (1,400 miles) from the coast of South America - so, roughly mid-way between the horn of South America and Africa. Our group travelled to Ascension Island on a fishing holiday organised by Spoilt for Choice Travel (www.sfctravel.com). We flew on an RAF flight departing from Brize Norton, and stayed on the only hotel on Ascension Island, the Obsidian Hotel.
Spoilt for Choice Travel co organised our trip which was just as well as the Ascension Island is not the easiest place to gain access to. Visas are required to travel there, and they helped with all the necessary paperwork. All the travel arrangements were very well organised, including transfers to and from airports, long stay parking and the 4 wheel drive hire car, to name but a few. I have to say that when travelling such a long way from home, to somewhere so remote, knowing that you had support, if needed, was very reassuring.
The island is a wonderful and unusual place to visit. There is a stark contrast in the scenery as some of the pictures will show. From volcanic rock and beautiful (empty!) sandy beaches, to the green and tropical-like Green Mountain. The climate is sub-tropical, so the evenings were warm and the days were humid but very pleasant.
The locals on this small close-knit community (population approx 850) are the warmest and friendliest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone waves, smiles and says hello, and nothing is too much trouble - crime is virtually unheard of on the island.
There are wild donkeys wandering around the town and huge Green Turtles nesting on the beaches. Ascension is the 2nd largest nesting site for Green Turtles in the world. Brightly coloured land crabs venture out after rainfall and bring a splash of colour to the island.
Of course, none of the above were the reasons we visited Ascension in the first place. That was for the fishing, which was at times
breathtaking and magical. Lure fishing during the day produced some great sport, but it was as darkness fell that the fishing took on a whole new dimension.
Bait-fishing from the steep-shelving sandy beaches, produced fish after fish, most were double figure, stripping line from our reels with powerful screaming runs. What surprised us most was number of different species we caught using the same tactics.
Being such a remote island , we had to take all our fishing tackle with us. As we would be mainly shore fishing, this was where our focus was. The main rod of choice was an ABU Suveran uptide rod. This proved invaluable and the most versatile bit of kit we would take. The rods have an extendable butt, which made them great for casting lures a long way from the shore, and then with the butt retracted, they fitted nicely into our butt-pads, which were also a must, as everything hooked from the beach proceeded to tear line from our reels at an alarming rate. We also took a heavy spinning rod ( cast up to 150grm) This was a Savage Gear 8ft rod, incredibly lightweight but very powerful. We had great fun with this rod with fish up to 10lb. I'm sure they would have handled bigger fish with ease, but as you can see by the pictures, we were never quite sure of what we might hook into, and so favoured the more powerful uptide rod as an insurance policy.
The reels we used were Cinnetic Cinergy Devil reels. 6500 size on the uptide rod and 5500 size on the spinning rod. These reels proved more than capable, with smooth carbon and stainless drags easily a match for the hard fighting fish we would encounter.
The line we took was top quality from Berkley. 80lb Whiplash loaded onto the larger spinning reels, and 20lb fireline for the smaller reels. It may seem a little on the heavy side, but with sharp volcanic rock everywhere, this size line was needed to protect from break-offs. We also took plenty of spare line, just in case.
The terminal tackle we took was limited but top quality. Large Dexter wedges with upgraded split rings and hooks. Heavy duty ballbearing swivels and snap swivels. Medium and large sized circle hooks. 100lb and 150lb rubbing leaders. Wire trace and crimps. An assortment of large surface and sub-surface lures (mainly Rapalas). As we knew we would be night fishing, headlights and back-up headlights were a must.
Of the fish caught, we managed to identify: goatfish, blackjacks, almaco jacks, horse-eye jack, amberjack, triggerfish, rainbow runner, rock-hind grouper, spotted moray eel, galapagos shark, squirrelfish, pufferfish, yellowfin tuna (boat).
Andy Reeves Yellowfin Tuna 55lb Budge Booker Rock-Hind Grouper 8lb Glyn Morgan Almaco Jack 12lb
Kim McGreevy Yellowfin Tuna 68lb Budge Booker Black Jack 20lb
Andy Reeves Horse-Eye Jack 15lb Glyn Morgan Rainbow Runner 7lb Kim McGreevy Spotted Moray Eel
Glyn Morgan Rock-Hind Grouper (on a lure) 6lb Budge Booker Horse-Eye Jack 15lb
Kim McGreevy Galapagos Shark 25lb Glyn Morgan Almaco Jack
Andy Reeves Black Jack 12lb Kim McGreevy Horse-Eye Jack 17lb
Budge Booker Almaco Jack Glyn Morgan Black Jack
Most of the fish we caught were photographed and recorded before being released back alive. However we did not want to miss the opportunity of sampling some of the fish we caught, which we did in a variety of ways. Fresh tuna was eaten first as sushimi and then as delicious steaks, cooked for us by the hotel chef. Another day saw us head to the beach with nothing but barbeque coals, marinade and fishing tackle! We then managed to catch grouper and blackjack which were filleted, marinaded and cooked fresh on the barbeque - absolutely delicious.
To emphasise the generous and friendly nature of the local population, a lovely couple we met at the pier offered to turn our catch into delicious fish curry for lunch the following day. We were so thankful for this generous gesture that we thought we would return the complement with a large piece of fresh tuna, only in return to then be presented with the local delicacy of home-made spicy tuna fish cakes the next morning.