The burriqueta is known in Montevideo as the “spring queen.” It is the only species found on the Uruguayan maritime shore that lacks an air bladder, so it is all meat after it is cut along the underside to remove the viscera. The burriqueta is a sought after species with high culinary value and combative attitude. During its high season, an average of 100 pieces can be caught by groups of two or three fishermen, without ever having to leave the fishing clubs in the capital, Montevideo.
Burriqueta can be found all across Uruguay's maritime coast. In Maldonado and Rocha, to a varying degree depending on the season, they are available all year long. It is in Montevideo, however, where the burriqueta boom during September through November. During this time, the so-called“Burriqueta mattress”, as it is known locally, appears in Montevideo, boasting large shoals.
Despite its unhurried ways, the brótola is one of the most sought-after species in the fishing world, because of its high culinary value and its agile and sneaky ways of taking bait, which forces fishing lovers to always be on their toes.
This species inhabits areas averaging 15 meters in depth.
Brótola start to appear in the fall months, and high season extends all the way to September. To a lesser extent, they are are also available off season. The best fishing for brótola takes place on the west side of Punta Ballena, a classic fishing spot favored for its depth, and on the beach area located west of the bank of José Ignacio Lagoon.
Brótola fishing trips can be organized from ports in Atlántida, Cuchilla Alta, Piriápolis, Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio, and La Paloma.
Brótola inhabit deep waters above muddy seabeds over 20 meters deep along with the conger, a species valued in the culinary world, but not so much in the sports fishing world. It is the only fish that tries to free itself when the fisherman attempts to pull it near the surface by convulsing its head violently. This forces one to try to keep the tension on the fishing line, because if the fish is hooked by its lip it can be easy for it to get away.
For this reason, it is useful to have a net on the boat to help to bring the fish aboard.
Given its agitated behavior, to catch brótola the weights should always rest on the bottom of the seabed, motor noises should be avoided and the line should be kept loose so it floats. This species boasts an impressively large mouth, so an elaborate, large, and varied bait is needed, involving pieces of different fish, since the brótola is quite picky. Rods of 1.8 to 2.1 meters are used, holding up to 30 pounds, with rotating reels and 20 to 25 pound lines, which is a good example of a standard set in all fishing boats native to Uruguay's maritime coast.
There are three species of groupers in Uruguay, similar in anatomy but differentiated by their colors and their dorsal fin. The different groupers are: the schemia, which is brightly colored with yellow and orange, the garopa, with brown and horizontal stripes, and the common grouper (Mero), of a brownish color. The scale color of fish changes depending on the waters the fish inhabits, a phenomenon that occurs in every species, fresh and ocean water alike, but is especially common in groupers.
The Mero can be always be found in José Ignacio near Punta del Este during the fall and winter months. Especially large specimens need strong equipment and skill to be reeled in. The Mero family inhabits the oceanic coast of Uruguay (Maldonado and Rocha shores). Meros are exclusive to bedrock waters, so fishing for them is done by boat, ideally from José Ignacio, La Paloma, or Cabo Polonio.
The Mero usually tries to take refuge in rock cavities immediately after it takes the bait, which results in many broken fishing lines. In order to catch a Mero, therefore, stronger gear is needed.
Fishing for mero can be done in the same places as other species, such as sargos or white croaker are found. We advise 30 pound lines instead of 25 pound lines for white croaker fishing and hooks with monofilaments of up to 40 pounds.
This is truly a species built for hunting. With a mouth full of sharp teeth capable of cutting through lines used for catching other species, fishers need to be careful with their equipment when fishing for anchovies. Anchovies move about in large shoals, resulting in periods of constant activity. The anchovy, like other species, has periods where they are more predictable but, as is the case with the rest of the rich fauna of the Plata Estuary, they can be full of surprises.
Anchovies are present all year, however they are most common during the mid-fall when generous fish bounties arrive, since this species always presents in large shoals.
They are found all along the maritime coast, with a higher concentration in Montevideo and Cuchilla Alta, because of the east-west migratory patterns of sea species. In José Ignacio, anchovy fishing is frequent just as it also is in Punta del Este and other prominent ports of the area.
Anchovy fishing requires specific equipment, however visitors will be able to get everything that is required to face any challenge that the species might present.
Every season, specimens of over 30 kilos are caught and, sometimes, even more formidable examples of more than 40 or 50 kilos appear, a phenomenon that lures many fishermen from across the region. However, regulation stipulates that only one specimen may be kept per boat per day. The fishing hub is located only 10 kilometers from the Daymán thermal center, which provides great accommodation services for visitors.
Season and Places
The surubí season lasts from the end of May to mid-August, in temperatures of 0 to 18 degrees Celsius. During the winter months of June, July, and August, fishing in the Uruguay River, “Los Corrales” is very popular. It is about 10 kilometers south of the city of Salto. Fishing for the surubí draws hundreds of enthusiasts every year to go after the biggest fish living in the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers.
Fishing and Equipment
Unlike the dorado, the surubí does not jump, but rather it fights instead by heading down to the river bed, dragging the boat and demanding more line from the reel, a truly exciting sensation for the fishing enthusiast. It is a highly static species, and so, when a large shoal is around, everyone should be able to catch one. This is part of the reason why the 2006 fishing regulation was imposed, in order to not deplete the species’ numbers.
In order to prevent the extinction of the species, only one fish is allowed to be captured per boat per day. However a good fisherman should always put back the animal into the water after enjoying the fish's fighting strength.
The surubí is a fish that lives exclusively on the riverbeds, so it is imperative to use lures that can sink deep.
For this reason, trolling is commonly practiced, always in the same direction as the river’s current, so that the lure can descend to the riverbed. Boats can float 3 to 5 kilometers down river and then return at full speed to start over on what locals call “caída”, which is fishing down river. The lures for both the dorado and the surubí are very similar, however when fishing for surubí the lures must be able to descend deeper than 10 - 14 meters.
Going after the Black Drum, the biggest trophy of the Uruguayan coast
Due of its size, fighting attitude, and the length of its high season, the black drum is the king of competitive coastal fishing in Uruguay.
The shoals of black drum are populated by specimens similar in size, allowing catches averaging 10 kilograms at the beginning of the season, and over 20 kilograms towards the middle or end of the season.
Season and Places
From September/October, with the arrival of the first shoals, to the beginning of fall (April), when southern winds start to cool the water down, decreasing salt-levels and increasing sedimentation. Depending on the season, the black drum can be found from the Rocha sand bank and San Ignacio Ponds (where they swim no more than 40 or 50 meters away from shore), to the Maldonado Stream bank (a place that demands casting lines longer than 100 meters). Younger specimens first appear in the shores of Canelones and Montevideo.
Fishind and Equipment
Patience is the name of the game, with the rod resting on a support until the fish strikes. This is distinguished by a violent dip. Once the animal is hooked, it is normal to spend between 20 and 30 minutes reeling it in completely, in an adrenaline-filled battle with nature.
This type of fishing is the most physically demanding due to the long casting distances required and the use of heavy cone- or pyramid-shaped weights (140 grams to 250 grams, depending on sea conditions). It is recommended to use ‘heavy’ equipment, with rods between 3.9 and 4.2 meters capable of casting weights of up to 200 or 300 grams, together with rotating reels with 25-pound lines.
Flounder fishing is surely the most sophisticated on a technical level, not only because of the methodology and style that the species requires, but also because of the size of the animal. This, added to the fact that the species resides practically on the shore, requires fishermen to casts distances of between 20 and 40 meters.
Season and Places
This species is present all year, however the season of highest activity is between November and February or March. The first fish start to bite in November on the coast of the Solís Grande River, with some in the surrounding rivers and ponds that flow into the coast of Canelones, Maldonado, and Rocha.
Later, in December, January, and February, the best flounder fishing is in the Ensenada del Potrero, an area that goes from the Potrero River’s sandbank to Punta Negra, where small, coastal fishing boats are used.
Once the season is almost over, heavier rains force open the sandbanks of the Rocha, Garzón, and José Ignacio lagoons and the El Potrero River, giving fishermen a last and important opportunity to catch large founders.
Fishing and Equipment
The flounder’s bite can be noticed by a soft tap in the reel, which indicates the fish has caught the bait. The fisherman must wait patiently for about 4 seconds while the fish swallows the bait, and then hold on tightly.
This is the only fish on the maritime coast that must be caught using the spinning technique with natural bait, which is why flounder fishing is appreciated from a sports/technical point of view. The flounder's flat shape presents a harsh battle on the shore, where water depth is only a few centimeters and the incoming waves make it difficult for the fisherman to keep the fish hooked.
Nature provided the flounder with a large mouth, so it must be caught with large, natural baits, such as pieces of silverside fish or several shrimp, averaging 15 centimeters in length. It is the only species that must not be caught using a “waiting” technique; on the contrary, the fisherman must look for the fish by casting and recasting their reel constantly, given that the flounder does not hunt by swimming after its pray, but by lurking and camouflaging itself in the sand. Hence, the bait must “swim” by the place where it is waiting.
Medium-action rods, of 2.8 to 3 meters, that hold up to 25 pounds, with rotating reels that can hold up to 100 meters of monofilament line of 0.40 mm are best. These are precautions to lighten the equipment, because flounder fishing forces the fisherman to always hold the rod in their hands.
Uruguay is a destination for lovers of both fresh and ocean water fishing, holding many advantages over other countries in the region. For example, the best fresh water fishing can be found just a few kilometers away from the capital city, there are clear-water streams with iridescent tarariras that can weigh in at more than 5 or 6 kilos, and in the department of Salto, on the Uruguay River, the best fishing in the whole of Cuenca of Paraná awaits. Here, it is common to catch 15 kilo dorados.
In Uruguay, tourists can enjoy activities in natural environments gifted with beautiful sights, flora and fauna and pleasant weather conditions. From from the border with Brazil to Montevideo, the eastern maritime coast of the country is home to many species with stable populations or constant migratory patterns, both of which are advantegous factors for sport fishing.
Black drums, flounders, sargos, white croaker, southern kingfish, silversides and anchovies, among others, are some of the species that are highly attractive for fishing aficionados. Most of these species can be caught right off the coast, with a simple fishing reel. Big black drums and flounders that can weigh more than 10 kilos are an found exclusively in the Uruguayan maritime coastal region, and one of the great trophies for fishermen.
Surfing has enjoyed more and more popularity over the past few years in Uruguay. Many options are available for tourists to enjoy great waves, for all levels of surfing, in the departments of Canelones, Maldonado, and Rocha, and even, after a particularly strong storm, in Montevideo.
The Atlantic coast has the best spots to enjoy swells all year round. During the winter, swells come primarily from the South, while in the spring, summer, and autumn, they come from the East. During the summer months, water maintains a warm temperature which on rare occasions requires only a short suit. However, in the winter, temperatures can drop to 6 or 8 degrees Celsius, making a 4/3 mm suit a necessity, as well as boots and gloves.
Autumn and spring are ideal seasons to visit Montevideo and enjoy its urban parks. Discover these three must-see places: