Mike Ladle has recently returned from Brazil where he discovered a number of striking fish willing to take the ever versatile Fiiish Black Minnow. Read on for his full story…
“My third son Richard and Ana and their two daughters (our grandchildren) Jasmine and Beatrice, live near the city of Maceio in North eastern Brazil. We’ve just returned from a five week visit to see them and while I was there Richard and I did a reasonable amount of fishing (It’s never enough is it?). The easiest time for us to fish was generally at dawn before the kids were awake, so as soon as I arrived the two of us were venturing down to the beach in the early morning gloom.
I have to say that angling from the shore in this part of Brazil isn’t easy. Neither of us are keen on fishing for small stuff and the larger fish seem to be fairly thin on the ground, so we expected to have quite a few blank or slow sessions. Generally we managed about an hour of spinning before we had to pack in and return to see to the girls and for Richard to go to work. Our first few trips were to Mermaid Beach where, last winter, we landed a few really big snook. The fishing at M.B. involved crossing a small river which flows across the sand, so we could stand on the rocky reef. The rocks are covered in patches of tiny black mussels which provide the benefit of guaranteed grip for any type of footwear. On the outside of the reef the sea is always rough and usually full of loose weed so lure fishing is far from easy. In fact it is only by using weedless soft plastics that it is possible to fish effectively.
Decent lures are hard to come by over there so, knowing that Richard had enjoyed some success using Fiiish Black Minnows I took one or two over for him. My own choice was a big, white, unweighted Slug-Go like the one that caught me a 28lb snook on last year’s visit. My son (jammy devil) had the first fish – a beautiful ‘lookdown’ but apart from each of us dropping a big snook we caught nothing else.
A week or so later, when the tides were right again and the weather permitted, we managed to make one or two more early morning trips to Mermaid Beach. On one pretty rough, beautiful morning, just as the sun was peeping up, Richard was as usual fishing his biggest, resin headed, Black Minnow a few metres to my left. We’d been spinning for about twenty minutes when I heard the cry of “I’m in!” and looked up to see that he’d hooked a decent fish. I reeled in and grabbed the camera as he battled against the fast moving predator – clearly a jack.
The fish hurtled out to sea in typical fashion with occasional bouts of head shaking. I hopped from rock to rock snapping away. The fight lasted ages and we were both relieved when we saw the flashing oval flank of a crevalle jack.
With a spot of fiddling about Rich was able to lead it through a narrow cleft in the reef and into shallower water where he could pick it up. A beautiful, double figure fish in mint condition. Could it get any better? I didn’t think so.
Near the end of our stay we visited a little town called Porto do Galinhas where our hotel fronted the usual long, sandy, surf-beaten, Brazilian strand. I started by walking the length of the beach looking for features which might suggest the presence of fish. Twenty minutes along there was a small rocky reef which angled in towards the beach forming a V shape with the water’s edge and looking ideal for predatory fish to corner their prey.
The following morning Richard and I were there at dawn with the spinning gear. There was lots of loose weed in the margin so we both tried weedless soft plastic lures and slightly to our surprise we managed a bite or two, although none of them stuck. Before packing in we switched to plugs and it turned out that by picking our spots and casting a little further out it was possible to fish weedless on most occasions. As the tide approached low water we saw shoals of sardines breaking the surface. Very encouraging!
Later that day (Rich was working) I walked along to try the likely hot-spot at high water but I didn’t have a bite. It seemed that lure fishing the low water at first light was to be our best bet. The following day we armed ourselves with plugs. Mine was a large green and silver Fakebait and Richards was a little slow sinking L-minnow with the mid-body treble removed. We hurried along to the reef just as the first light was appearing on the horizon. Straight away we saw some sardines breaking the surface so we were rarin’ to go. I missed a bite on my first cast then, after about ten minutes, right out of the blue, my rod buckled over and a strong fish made a fast run out to sea.
There were a couple of small boats moored sixty or seventy metres from where we stood so as the fish took more and more line I became concerned about the presence of anchor ropes. I shouted for Richard and on the third shout he heard me and came hurrying along. At this point I’d managed, at last, to slow the fish down and by walking along the shore I succeeded in applying a bit of side-strain and turned it away from the obstructions. Now it was fairly easy and within another five minutes I had it on the beach – a fine blue runner – the first one either of us had ever seen and although they are smaller than some other jack species it had all the fighting qualities of the family. We unhooked it and returned it to the water.
Of course we were chuffed with our catch but there was still time for a few more casts so we continued spinning. Not long afterwards I missed another decent bite and fifteen minutes later just as I was thinking about packing up, I saw Richard walking towards me with his rod in one hand and a long silver shape in the other. It turned out to be a huge ladyfish.
Now we’ve both caught ladyfish before and they are super, running, leaping fighters, so I said “Did it give you much of a tussle?” However, it turned out that the fish had struck right at the water’s edge and immediately surrendered by leaping ashore. Like me Rich had also missed a couple of bites. That was almost our last chance to fish – so not a bad way to finish.”