Fishing in Madeira with Adrian

Fishing Madeira ‘article by Adrian Bowmer’

On the first and second of August this year, the annual Fish Factor Big Game Marlin Tournament was held at Calheta Marina. This year it was the only fishing tournament on the island, since all the other tournaments had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 restrictions on events.

Normally with a field of 10 or more boats, this years’s tournament was host to only four boats. Three from Calheta and one from Funchal.

On Saturday morning at 9.45am the four boats left the marina for the first day of fishing and “lines out ” was called at 10am. Shortly afterwards the Funchal boat “Sparus” with Captain Nuno Gouveia of Sea Fishing Madeira was hooked up and fighting the the first fish of the day. After 45 minutes of fighting on an 80 lb gear with a stand-up harness, the fish was on the boat and then safely released. Half an hour later the boat “Pesca Grossa” captained by Carlos Emmanuel Pereira, called in a hook-up.  Sadly the fish was lost after a very short fight.

After resetting all the lines Pesca Grossa again reported a hook-up on a monster marlin estimated at over 800 lb’s . The female angler Emma Paagman was in the chair and started to fight this massive fish. Unfortunately, after having stripped three quarters of the line from the reel, the fish was sadly lost due to the line breaking. Once again the fish won the fight. Towards the end of the afternoon with all boats heading back to the marina since lines-in was at 6pm, all of the boats were starting to reel in their lines. At 5.58pm, two short minutes before the end of Day 1 we suddenly saw Pesca Grossa stopping and then start reversing down on a fish. Their third hook-up of the day ! Once again Emma was in the chair and after a forty minute fight she managed to land a nice size tuna of around 170 lbs.

The other two boats in the tournament had seen nothing all day, so the evening was finished off with a great BBQ dinner at Akikalheta’s in Calheta Marina and a pub quiz which was won by the Funchal team.

Day 2 started with all boats lined up outside the marina for a bimini (high speed) start at 10.00 am. Everybody was stoked after the good results of the first days fishing so expectations were running high.

After only twenty three minutes into the competition the boat Take Tuna” captained by Peter Merkel, called in a double header hook-up.The first fish was lost when the lines crossed and one line broke. Angler Adrian Bowmer then spent the next 2 hours fighting a monster Bluefin tuna. Unfortunately, after this long time of fighting, the hook was pulled 0n the fish and was lost. In the early afternoon Pesca Grossa called in a hook-up – they were on a tuna. Half an hour later angler Frits Paagman released this tuna at the boat. An hour later they called in another hook-up and ninety minutes later called in the release of a 700 lb Blue Marlin.This now put Pesca Grossa firmly in the lead.

Around 3pm, Take Tuna reported a new hook-up and after a twenty minute fight, angler Adrian Bowmer boated a 90 kg Big Eye tuna.

All was quiet until the end of the afternoon when the Calheta boat “Flipper II”, captained by Neil French,  called in a hook-up on a Blue Marlin. After a 45 minute fight and with a lot of backing down on the fish the marlin was released safely.

This concluded the action for the day and “ lines in “ was called at 6pm. The evening was concluded once again by a great dinner at Akikalheta and the prize giving ceremony. The final standing in the competition was as follows:

1st : Pesca Grossa 2700 points

2nd : Sparus ( Funchal) 2000 points

3rd Flipper II 2000 points

4th : Taka Tuka 350 points

This tournament, despite the limited number of entries, was one of the best ever with all the boats catching fish. This just goes to show that Madeira is one of the top 5 destinations in the world for Blue Marlin. Calm fishing waters, beautiful blue seas and a breathtaking island to look at when on the ocean. All the tournaments held on Madeira are strictly catch & release tournaments for all the billfish. This makes sure that our sport is safe for future generations.

For more information if you are interested in Fishing, you can email me at and I will put you in touch with the best boat to suit your needs.

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