August 14, 2016

2016 Peru (Day 16)

Josh, Joy and I were up early for the 4am taxi. Everything went well and we were on the flight right on schedule. Josh and Joy were off to Cusco while I had a couple of days in Lima before flying home to Toronto.

As I was picking up my luggage in Lima, I noticed Josh's rod case and Joy's backpack came out on the belt. Josh and Joy told me their luggage should check through to Cusco but there they were on the belt. I waited until everyone left and there were no one to pick them up. I gathered their stuff and brought them to the Avianca office so they can be rechecked at the counter to Cusco.

With a slight delay, I headed to my hotel in Miraflores. Originally, I had booked a night at a hostel. But it was getting to the end of my trip and I was needing a bit of privacy as well as comfort. Luckily, I found a hotel room on sale that was located close to the coast. It was perfect since I planned to fish the saltwater around Miraflores for the day. I had already achieved my goal to catch a species on my Salkantay hike. I've caught more fish than I can imagine in the Amazon. The last remaining goal on my trip was to catch a saltwater fish from Peru.

The attendant at the hotel didn't speak English, but somehow he was able to arrange a taxi for me to drop me off at a spot I had mapped out, and pick me up again at 5:30pm.

However, as I got closer to the fishing location, I noticed there was a security gate. The taxi driver told me were were not allowed in. After some confusion, I found out that my intended fishing spot was located inside a private club that required a reservation to access.

Luckily, my friend Steve Wozniak has provided me a back up spot. I was instead dropped off at La Rose Nautical restaurant and my taxi would pick me up from there at 5:30pm.

I had no bait, but I thought it was be possible to find some sand fleas or mussels along the beach. It was too bad that the beach were not sandy but large cobble, and the mussels were small and far out of reach on rocks that were slammed by waves.

I walked along the beach to a jetty where two families were fishing. I saw one of the father had a bag of sand fleas and tried to ask him where he bought them in English. He only spoke Spanish but somehow knew what I was asking, and the only thing I understood from his respond was "cinco kilometer". I assumed he meant the store was 5km away. He saw my rods and must have known I was a tourist (locals usually fish with hand lines). He grabbed a plastic up that was part of the shoreline garbage, filled an inch of it with sand fleas and handed the cup to me. I couldn't believe he was offering some of his bait to a stranger! I offered him a couple of $1 USD bill but he refused it and simply smiled. When they finished fishing, I gave his sons a couple of Kroc spoons that I had to thank them.

I rigged up a high-low rig with 1oz bell sinker and #8 hooks. Somehow, on the first cast, I was able to get a bite on the sand flea!

Giant Blenny (Scartichthys gigas) - Species #629

However, I soon found it was a challenge fishing the cobble bottom in the heavy surf. If I let the rig sit too long, the surf would eventually knock it into some crevice between the cobble and the sinker would snag. If I fish a lighter sinker and let the rig wash in the current, it wouldn't stay in the strike zone long enough.

I caught another Giant Blenny within the hour but then the bite stopped. The friendly family had left and I decided to continue my way to the spot Steve had suggested.

There were a few anglers there fishing with hand lines. One of the younger guys tried to talk to me but we couldn't understand each other well. I fished closer to shore but kept snagging up and losing my rigs. When all the other people left, it was a sign that the catching wasn't happening.

I still have 2 hours until the taxi came to pick me up, so I lingered at the jetty and fished on. Fishing at the end of the jetty, I found a rip current where the bottom was less snag prone and the current was more predictable. I started to get a few bites but I couldn't set the hook into the fish. The sand fleas came back half eaten, so it was a sign that smaller fish were taking the bait.

I switched to lighter 10lb line and #14 hooks, then picked out small sand fleas about the size of the hook. After missing a couple of bites, I finally hooked the culprit!

Chalapo Clinid (Labrisomus philippii) - Species #630

I caught a couple of them, and then caught another Blenny with electric blue spots on the back instead of brown spots. I didn't know if they were a different species so I took some photos. However, the ones with blue spots were also Chalapo Clinid.

The young guy later returned with an older guy who was also fishing before. Perhaps they were a father and son duo. As 5pm, the father catch some much larger specimen of the Chalapo Clinid. It appeared that the larger fish started to bite closer to dusk. I would have love to catch some of them, but I didn't want to be late for the taxi and had to leave.

A parting shot of the Miraflores coastline. The Peruvian engineers didn't seem to think it was an issue putting tall buildings that close to an eroding cliff side. Only time will tell the future of these structures.

I was very happy to have caught two saltwater species from Peru. August is winter in Peru and the water was cold. I'm not sure if the surf was always this rough but by the gathering of local crowds watching and photographing surfers along the coast, it may be a less common event. I was told that summer would offer much better fishing along the coast, and I hope that one day I could return to catch some of the more unique and larger saltwater species that Peru has to offer.

I was originally planning to fish the saltwater for 2 days. However, being unable to speak Spanish meant I couldn't arrange any local fisherman to take me out fishing in deeper water. The surf continued to be rough so I decided to scrap any shore fishing plans. So on that note, I will end the blog on this day.

I loved my trip to Peru, filled with stunning landscape, unique but living custom, rich history, friendly people and plenty of fish species. I discovered a new level of strength and determination on my Salkantay hike that I hope will come in handy as I prepare for my upcoming thesis defense. I made new friends in Hugo, Anthony and Homer and hoped to see them again in the future. There are much that I would still need to experience in Peru, but I vow to learn some Spanish before returning so won't feel as lost and ignorant as I did on this trip.

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