By George Lamb
Adventure Fishing UK
Now then! Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to go on holiday to Madeira, a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean. While this archipelago belongs to Portugal it’s actually closer to Africa; the combination of its sub-tropical climate and dramatic landscape makes this one of Europe’s best fishing locations. Madeira is renowned for its deep-sea fishing and is accepted as one of the best Marlin fishing destinations in the world. In addition, some of the smaller coastal species are incredibly beautiful, colourful and unique like the ornate wrasse, canary damselfish and blue-spotted puffer to name a few. I targeted these fish on many occasions using LRF tactics, but that’s a story for another day!
The freshwater fishing on the other hand, is quite a well-kept secret. Had I not thoroughly researched all avenues of fishing available to me on my holiday I may have missed this, but many of the mountain streams contain trout. These fish aren’t native to Madeira, but an experimental introduction of both brown and rainbow trout in the 1950’s led to the successful establishment of a breeding population. Unfortunately, the brown trout didn’t take too well to the climate and eventually died out, but the rainbow trout on the other hand thrived. These fish now inhibit many of the rivers and streams on the island, stretching high up into the mountains; that’s exactly where I went fishing for them.
One of the best ways to see Madeira is via taxi-tour, and that’s how me and my partner chose to travel. Accompanied by Abel, our very friendly Madeiran taxi driver, we crossed the island asking him to stop at any fishing hot spots he knew while we were seeing the sights. Mid-way through the day we stopped to visit a trout farm where they grow fish to supplement the natural population. This was unlike any other fish breeding facility I’ve seen; it was situated roadside high in the mountains and the trout were in great condition. Nearby, there was a stretch of ‘Ribeiro’ that Abel thought we’d have a good chance at.
It didn’t take long for me to set up my Fish Rig 180 and RR1000 combination, which had recently been used to catch saltwater fish from a breakwater. The anticipation was unbelievable as I knew I was about to have my first ever cast into a pool containing wild rainbow trout (or at least semi-wild). A quick glance into the pool revealed that there was plenty of fish, but the average size was very small resulting in a lure of choice of the size 0 Rigged and Ready single-hooked barbless spinner. After looking forward to this trip for months, I was finally ready to have my first cast into this small but deep pooled mountain river and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I caught a beautiful little rainbow trout on my very first cast, and another not long after. Even though these fish were very small, I could feel every head shake and turn the fish made thanks to the sensitivity of my Fish Rig 180. In its lighter configuration, even the smallest of fish fight well enough to plaster a big smile on my face. In this picture, you can even see the Rigged and Ready barbless spinner tucked neatly into the corner of a trout’s mouth!
I was very impressed with these single hooked barbless lures and found the hook-up rate to be perfectly acceptable even on the smallest of fish. Removing the lure is always considerably simpler than with trebles, and it often happened inside the net before I even had a chance to try. The Rigged and Ready Travel Net by the way, is an exceptional choice for this kind of fishing. It’s very lightweight, fast drying, folding and is coated with PVC to stop hook tangles. The bites were non-stop, and from this point on the fish began to get bigger and bigger.
My only criticism of the method I was using is that size 0 spinners aren’t ideal when retrieved from an up-stream cast in a current. If you’ve used spinners this small before, you’ll know they perform much better across or downstream because of the size of the blade. The lie of the land made it very difficult for me to get to the best casting positions and as it was very slippy, my swim choices were limited. I even ended up inadvertently bum-sliding James Bond style down a big rock with my foot going straight into a rock pool. Instead of simply sizing my spinner up to a size 1 that is included in the Rigged and Ready multi-pack, I opted for a single hooked spoon. Click here to see the lures.
I’ll be honest, my relationship with spoons was much more hate than it was love. In my years fishing they are the one lure I have avoided like the plague; this even includes some all-time classics like tobies. They simply never seemed to work for me, until this trip that is. Within a few casts I’d already hooked my first fish, a slightly larger one, and I knew my preconceptions were wrong. Seeing one of the small Rigged and Ready single hooked spoons fluttering through the current like a butterfly in a meadow completely changed my attitude towards this lure, and in no time at all the tally of trout started rising. I can wholeheartedly recommend these new lure multipacks, especially the one I used in this session which included small spinners and small spoons in different sizes. After fishing a waterfall pool for quite some time, me and my partner decided to venture further upstream which involved crossing some quite dangerous terrain. Usually, I’m the one pushing the limits when fishing but this time it was her, fuelled by a desire to catch her first rainbow trout. A goal that was achieved with ease on the single hooked spoon. Two fish to the net for her, including this beautifully marked rainbow.
The fish had an unbelievably orange belly, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. In the angle of this picture, you can’t quite see it because of my hand. In the full video though, you’ll be able to witness it in all its glory. The patterns on these fish were mind-blowing. The rainbow trout I’m used to are probably the same you’re used to, they follow a fairly uniform pattern, have damaged fins and often other ailments that come as a biproduct of fish farming. These ones though were just incredibly beautiful and so abundant in this stream we were fishing. Once my partner had caught two, I had my hands on the Fish Rig 180 once again. I sent a wishful cast round the corner of a wall into a stretch of river I couldn’t see, hoping for a surprise. And a surprise I got! The biggest fish of the day. I know... we aren’t exactly breaking records here, but I can tell you with certainty size doesn’t matter when the fish you’re catching look like this. Especially when the location is as special and unique as here, in a forest, in the mountains, on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Surprisingly, this entire trout fishing trip took place over the course of about an hour and a half. I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say I could’ve done this all day, but there were more sights to see and more venues to fish. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the last 2/3 years of my life filming fishing videos for YouTube, and it’s been one hell of a ride. This is just a teaser, and you can find the full video on my channel ‘Adventure Fishing UK’ (click here). If you don’t already follow me on there it would mean the world to me if you could head over to check the channel out. If you like the kind of videos I make, which includes pretty much everything fishing related, then I’d really appreciate you clicking the subscribe button and joining the journey! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the full video; on the channel you’ll also find all my other Madeira fishing adventures from LRF to deep-sea. Catch you down the road!
Adventure Fishing UK is supported by Rigged and Ready Travel Fishing and 4CAST Clothing