Keith Arthur: Sun, sea, sand... and some fantastic fishing

A year in the planning, three days in the execution. That is what it took to get the Tight Lines crew and me to Gran Canaria. Keith Gladden, of the Canary Carp Crew, first emailed us last autumn with a view to recording some carp-catching action at the famous Lake Chira. 

To expand the potential we asked if there was any other angling we could film and Keith sorted out some real treats. He also sourced us some fantastic accommodation – perfect for anyone wanting a terrific holiday in just the most brilliant climate.

We awoke on Day 1 to a cloudless sky and a hot sun. There was little wind and as we wound our way up the tortuous mountain roads with stunning views over the rocky landscape, I wondered if conditions would play a part. Keith was confident though and when we arrived at the lake I expected to see people already there, with kit out ready for us to get started. That wasn’t the case, the gear we were to use was stored in the lakeside apartments that Keith uses for anglers who don’t want to live in bivvies.

By the time we started to fish it was 1.30pm, the sun was still beating down from a blue sky but a slight ripple had set up, blowing into the bay we were in.

Because positioning the baits is critical in the area we fished, on a shelf close in then down a drop-off about 100m away, Keith uses a baitboat to drop rigs and bait – hemp, maize, dorado pellets and a few boilies – right on the spots.

Once all six rods (Keith and his assistant guide Carlo were the other anglers) were in place we could start scanning the lake and fish started ‘boshing’. Most of the action was on the edge of the ripple towards the far shore but there were a couple of major shows over the right hand rod.

I was sitting, watching the lake when I noticed the left-hand rod-tip pull over, just before the alarm let out a real one-toner. I was on the rod as quick as I could get out of the chair and a plodding battle resulted in a stunningly-beautiful, scaly mirror of 27lb 2oz in the net.

Once we had the pictures we slipped the fish back, but before we could reset that rod the one next to it slammed off. That fish was smaller, but at 25lb-plus still heavier than my English pb. Other fish of 15lb and 26lb-plus completed a successful opening day.

On Day 2 we drove to the harbour at Mogan where Capt Marin Das was waiting with his CalRei charter boat. It’s a big Rodman, fully set up for trolling, but we were to target stingray. 

We were sharing the boat with two anglers from the Belgian Big Game fishing federation – one of them 76-year-old Gilbert Klempers. Some chum was put down and after an hour one of the rods bent as a big ray took the herring fillet bait. After a 10-minute tug-of-war when the fish refused to give up its grip on the sandy bottom, it relented to the pressure I gave it and the first rough-tailed ray came aboard, all 20kg of it.

Gilbert had the next fish. This one took longer to get off the bottom and Gilbert donned the harness to exert more pressure on the fish but it still took 40 minutes for him to boat an even bigger sample that taped out at 30kg-plus.

Keith Gladden was next – and after a 45-minute war he ended up with a fish in a different league altogether that was nearer 50kg than 40kg. I don’t think Keith’s back will ever be the same.

Two days down, one to go and we’d been promised some bass action. American largemouth bass have been stocked into many Spanish reservoirs and they are here on Gran Canaria too. 

We concentrated our efforts fishing from the dam wall, some 20ft off the water, which is at least 25ft deep. Casting shads and jellyworms with 0.5oz jigheads we took fish to 4lb that jumped, tail-walked and dived into the reedbeds growing from the shallower margins, many shaking the hooks free.

Three days of great fishing in an amazing climate. No wonder so many Brits make their homes here – including a few match angling greats. I’m not tempted to move myself – yet – but I can guarantee I’ll be back.