BRASILIA FISHING CHARTERS - Horta, Azores
big game fishing in the Azores
Excellent fishing areas can be within 15 minutes of leaving the harbour as the waters surrounding the Islands drop off rapidly to depths in excess of 1,000 m.
The most productive fishing areas whilst fishing from Horta are the Condor Bank, The Azores Bank and the North Coast of Faial. The run out to the banks may take between 1 to 1.5 hours.
Weather in the Azores is usually at its best when a typical 'Azores High' pressure system becomes stationary over the Islands during the summer months. When this happens, we can have flat calm seas and clear skies for weeks on end. However, low pressure systems do move close to the Islands and bring mixed and changeable weather.
Blue marlin are our primary target species. Although the average weight of this species is around 500 lb., we frequently encounter much larger specimens of the 800 - 1,200 lb. class. The most blue marlin ever caught by one boat per season was 112 in 1996. Generally, boats that fish a full season may expect to average around 40 - 50 blue marlin captures. In 1997, the largest blue marlin ever landed in the Azores weighed in at 1,307 lb. The fish was caught from the Xacara with Capt. Les Gallagher and Zak Conde. Many similar sized fish and larger have been lost over the years. In all, Horta has hosted 6 blue marlin world records, 4 of which still stand.
White marlin can be extremely abundant in the Azores and although excellent sport on lighter tackle, anglers often consider them as a pest when targeting the larger 'blues'. White marlin captures for a single boat have been in excess of 25 per day but with so many of the larger species around it is rare that a boat will decide to target white marlin only. The average weight of white marlin is around 50 lb. with the occasional fish being closer to 100 lb.
Spearfish are less abundant than white marlin and have an average weight of about 40 lb. The number of spearfish we see in the Azores varies considerably from season to season.
Swordfish can be plentiful in the Azores but are rarely targeted by sport fishermen unless they are seen tailing during the day. Under these circumstances it is normal to try and bait the fish from a distance. Although a number of fish have been caught in this way, a hook up is rare. Night fishing has been more effective. However, with so much good fishing to be had during the day, it is rare that a Captain is enthusiastic to include a night trip into what is usually a ‘seven day’ charter routine. We only recommend night fishing for swordfish if we know commercial boats are catching in the same area or if swordfish are seen tailing during the day.
Bluefin tuna made themselves very apparent to sport fishermen in the Azores during the summers of 1996 and 1997. Their presence is unpredictable and before 1996 only one or two encounters had taken place since 1985. Local commercial fishermen say that there had occasionally been large numbers of Bluefin tuna observed prior to the 1980's and mostly seen in the winter months. Most of the fish seen during 1996 and 1997 were between 600 and 1,000 lb. The largest tuna landed by sport fishermen so far weighed in at just over 1,000 lb. and the most caught by one boat in a single day was 6. Due to the conservation needs of this species and because we are usually fishing in very deep water, we are only interested to target bluefin tuna using the heaviest of tackle. In doing this, our objective is to minimize the fight time, avoid sounding and release a healthier fish.
Bigeye tuna fishing can be very good in the Azores as from the beginning of May and through until October. The presence of these fish is somewhat unpredictable. The fishing is often good around the Islands of S. Maria and S. Miguel during the month of May. During the last years, we have caught bigeye at various times throughout the season with late September often being particularly good. Most of the fish are between 200 and 300 lb.
Other tunas such as yellowfin and albacore are caught from time to time but are less commonly seen compared to bigeye.
Smaller species such as dolphinfish (dorado), skipjack and less commonly, wahoo, are caught from time to time.
Sharks such as Mako, hammerhead, blue and six-gill, although common and quite easy to catch are rarely targeted. These species are regarded as being less interesting than the excellent billfish and tuna fishing.
Illustrations: © Les Gallagher - Fishpics® & IMAR-DOP, UAç
Tag & Release
Brasilia Fishing Charters are collaborators in the promotion of various tagging initiatives for the Azores. We use Plastic Head Intramuscular tags (The Billfish Foundation TBF) and have participated in multiple programs inserting Pop-Up Satellite Archival tags (PSATs) into both blue marlin and bigeye tuna. We share our capture and tagging data with Horta’s Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores.
Ethics & Sustainability
We are conscious of the need to study, understand and protect the large pelagic species such as those that exist in the waters of the Azores. As yet, sport fishing is one of the few ways that we have of experiencing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. Our fishing activity is conducted in accordance modern conservation ethics being kept in mind at all times. The application of modern catch and release fishing techniques means that caught fish are released quickly, with the minimum of stress and in good condition. Educating clients in how to appreciate and respect the species that we encounter is one of the most rewarding aspects of running a sport fishing operation. It is by increasing the publics awareness of what our marine environment has to offer us that we will eventually have the support we need to help safeguard it’s future.
We have a keen interest to participate in the study and understanding of the large pelagic fish species that are found in the Azores. It is therefore our pleasure to cooperate with the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores with any related research or educational projects. We would like to retain the possibility of inviting a scientific or student member of the above department to join us as an observer during the fishing activity. However, such an invitation will only be made if guests let us know in advance, that they are in favour of having such an observer aboard.