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Fishing on Madeira

For many years, the magical island of Madeira has been considered one of the best places in the world to catch very big Blue Marlin (1000lbs+), attracting anglers from every corner of the world in pursuit of these huge fish passing through the rich Madeiran waters from May to September each year. Madeiras big-game fishery is on the south of the island, from both Funchal and Calheta marinas. Although Funchal is conveniently situated for most tourists fishing the island, the marina at Calheta opens up so much more productive waters due to its central positioning and, as such, can often mean the difference between a quiet day and a great day. Being in the lee of the island means we have a calm water fishery here, and deep water close to shore means the lures are out and fishing as soon as the boats leave the marina. At Calheta it is not unusual for Blue Marlin to be hooked just a few hundred metres from the marina entrance.

Although experiencing a downturn in fishing during the early part of the 2000s, the fishing has steadily improved and, for the 2015/16/17 seasons, has continued to impress with not only quality of fish, but good numbers too! As a predominantly catch and release fishery, no Granders were killed and weighed in this time but several were measured at 1000+ before release. The 4th July Blue Marlin World Cup has been won five times in Madeira; 1995 Freed-Em 953lbs, 1996 Chunda 673lbs, 1997 Captivator 696lbs, 2015 Pesca Grossa 652lbs and 2016 Blue Makaira 983lbs.MF3

The 2017 season started earlier than usual with several fish in the 150-400lb range being caught along with the 'average' 600-700lb Marlin the island is renowned for. As the season progressed into June these smaller fish moved on, leaving a high number of 500-900+lb Blues to be caught, with several Grander-sized Marlin being measured and released. Two (pending) World Records for Calheta Marina this year; Sherrell Carters 356lb 12lb-line class ladies IGFA World Record caught in June aboard Silver-Rod-O, and Fisher Meltons 556lb small fry IGFA World Record caught (also in June) aboard Grander. Most boats recorded more releases this year than in previous seasons, with some releasing double the numbers of previous years. Memorable for me was a Marlin a day over four days with fish of; 550lbs, 650+lbs, 600lbs and 750+lbs in August.

2016 saw a larger number of good quality Blues than in previous seasons, with few small (sub-500lbs) fish and a higher proportion of 900+lbs fish being released by the fleet.MF10

Alongside the Blue Marlin, other species caught include; Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, White Marlin, Spearfish, Wahoo and Dorado. Albacore can also be caught while targeting the Tuna. The Tuna season starts March/April with Bluefin and Bigeye showing up and once summer is underway, the Bigeye are joined by the Yellowfins. The average size of the Bigeyes is 100-120 kilos during the summer months and into Autumn. White Marlin and Spearfish are regularly caught here and both are great fun when the tackle is scaled down accordingly. In July 2014, what is believed to be Madeiras first fly-caught billfish, a White Marlin of some 50lbs was released by Mr.Wyatt. This surely has to be the ultimate method to target these gamefish! Wahoo are generally targeted later in the year when the Marlin season begins to wind down and 70-80lb fish are not uncommon, mostly taken fast trolling closer to shore on 30-50lb stand-up tackle. The bottom fishing is as yet unexploited and the Grouper, Pargo (Snapper) and Amberjack can attain record-breaking sizes!

Over the years I have released Blue Marlin to 900++lbs (We didn't get an accurate measurement on that beast!) and a host of other species from the rich fishery directly in front of our office window. I am passionate about the island and its fishing, and wish to bring you the Big-Game fishing experience of a lifetime. This is surely a paradise on Earth and I think one which should be experienced by all anglers.