Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More species hunting adventures on Crete : Part 1.

At the end of August I returned to the Greek island of Crete for two weeks' holiday with my girlfriend Lillian. We didn't arrive in Kissamos, where we'd be staying for the first week, until late in the evening but it was quite windy when we got there and as our accommodation was very close to the sea we could see a swell running and some waves were coming over the sea wall at the front of the town's promenade. In the morning we went for a walk along the coast to get our bearings. The wind had died down during the night but the sea was still fairly rough and coloured up.

Not great for fishing with the ultra light tackle I had with me.

Later that morning I got permission to quickly check out the nearby port of Kavonisi, a venue recommended to me by my mate Andy where several large vessels moor at night that take tourists on day trips to Gramvousa island and the lagoon at Balos on the western side of the island. It was fairly sheltered inside so I had a quick fish and discovered that the water inside was very deep. I thought this was promising but to my surprise the fishing was pretty slow going. I still managed to catch a few fish and got my species hunt for the trip underway.

My first fish of the trip was this rainbow wrasse.
A few common combers were also keen on my angleworm.
I caught this saddled seabream in a corner where some fishing boats were tied up.

In the afternoon to get away from the wind we drove south through the mountains to Paleochora for lunch. I thought it would be sheltered on the south side of the island but it was still fairly windy. After lunch I fished in Paleochora's large harbour for an hour or so but again things were pretty slow. I only managed a single striped seabream, a couple of annular seabream and a few black gobies.

Black gobies are probably just about small enough to escape from the fine mesh nets the Greek fisherman use.

The next day we headed east into Chania and wandered around the harbour area before having some lunch. As well as seeing all the old buildings we were lucky enough to see a large sea turtle swimming amongst the moored boats. After lunch I had a quick fish as we walked along the inside of the breakwater and added three more species to my tally for the trip, catching a few ornate wrasse, a single rusty blenny and a common pandora.

Chania's old Venetian harbour is very pretty with lots of shops and restaurants lining it.
The breakwater of Chania harbour where I did my fishing.
Seeing this sea turtle was an unexpected bonus. Not the empty plastic bag though,its never great seeing those in the sea.

In the evening I popped along to Kavonisi Port for an hour's fishing whilst Lillian had a nap. Again the deep water out in the harbour didn't produce much so I turned my attention to fishing for the small species down the side of the wall using #26 hooks baited with tiny pieces of dried ragworm. Amongst the fish I caught as light faded I added bogue, cardinalfish, damselfish, marbled rabbitfish and salema to my tally.

Cardinalfish are like little rubies.

In the morning on the third day of our holiday I got up early and headed back to Kavonisi Port again. The wind had now completely dropped off and the open sea was flat calm so after an hour of trying various methods inside the harbour with little reward for my efforts I decided to move along the coast to try a new spot.

This needle nosed chap took a piece of angleworm on a drop shot rig and was my only reward from the deep water in the harbour.

At my chosen mark the sea floor was very rough and I quickly lost a fair amount of drop shot rigs so I moved along to try another spot. This was less tackle hungry and produced a few ornate wrasse and a common two banded seabream.

Feisty little fish.

Later that morning we took a drive up through Therisou Gorge. It's the only gorge on the island that has a road running through it. Perfect if you are a little out of shape.

The easy option if you want to explore one of Crete's many gorges without all the hassle of walking.
Watch out for pedestrians! The gorge is full of goats but the noise of their bells clanking gives their presence away.

Exiting the top of the gorge we carried on up into the mountains and headed to the small village of Drakona to have lunch in a restaurant called Dounias that Lillian had read great things about online. It's on a sharp corner making it easy to miss it and we did just that, driving right past before realising our mistake and turning back. I'm not sure how I missed it though to be fair as some of its ovens are out in front of it and lunch was already being prepared!

Dounias' speciality is traditional Cretan food cooked slowly using wood ovens.
You can sit inside but on a beautiful summer afternoon the outdoor dining area is the only real choice.

Relaxing in the shade we didn't even have to order any dishes, instead simply allowing Stelios the chef to send us a selection of dishes including some meat ones. The food soon started arriving a dish at a time and whilst my expectations were high the food didn't disappoint. Everything we ate was mouth wateringly tasty.

Stuffed vegetables have never tasted so good.
The rustic meat dishes were full of flavour too.

After several plates of amazing food we continued our mountain drive, heading slowly east until we eventually reached the National Road. Driving on the windy roads was a lot of fun and some of the views from the mountain roads were great too.

A view from the mountains towards the island's north coast.

Before heading back to Kissamos we visited Kalyves Harbour, a venue where my mate Andy has caught stargazer whilst fishing during his holidays on the island. While Lillian hid in the shade and enjoyed an ice cream I chose to ignore the obvious target, namely the several mullet cruising around in the harbour, and instead began by working a small metal along the sandy bottom hoping to twitch it close to a buried predator. This approach didn't produce anything though and when Lillian spotted some gobies moving around on the sand I got some tiny hooks, split shot and a packet of dried ragworm out. I had an idea what the tiny gobies were and being gobies it didn't take long to confirm my suspicions.

A Bucchichi's goby. When species hunting you can't ignore micro species.

Having turned my attention to the fish I could see, I began pestering some blennies that were hugging the wall below my feet. They were being quite skittish and I was pleasantly surprised when a filefish appeared from a crack down the harbour wall to eagerly attack my baited hook. It had a few goes before being hooked and was quickly hoisted up into my hand. Whilst it looked similar to the filefish I've caught before in the Canary Islands, the planehead filefish, this one was a little different shape wise and had different markings too. I remembered looking into the filefish found in the Mediterranean when Andy had sent me a photo of one he had caught and this one was the same species as his capture.

This is a reticulated filefish, a migrant from the Red Sea. It was also my first new species of the trip.

By this point Lillian was getting a little bored and when I suggested we go and get some bread and try and catch a mullet she gave me a look that told me I was pushing my luck so I packed up and we drove back to Kissamos. It had been an enjoyable start to our holiday and whilst the short sessions spent species hunting were slow at times I'd still managed to catch a few different fish and an unexpected first new species of the trip.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Back to the drawing board.

Last week I headed west and spent a day on Loch Fyne trying to catch a Fries' goby. It was a pretty miserable day weather wise, especially for the middle of August, being rather grey and windy. Anyway, I caught a few dozen small fish and nine different species over the session. All were caught at range on #14 hooks baited with tiny sections of Dynabait ragworm. Only one goby was caught and sadly it wasn't the one I was after.

A black goby. Fries' goby is a much more colourful chap.

I've now had numerous attempts over the last few years to catch this elusive little fish and I think a new approach is required. I'm confident that being a goby it won't be shy about attacking a baited hook but fishing from the shore I just don't think I'm getting my rigs out far enough to reach them to give them the opportunity. Luckily my mate Robert has just had a tow bar fitted to his car and has offered to take me out in his boat. This will hopefully allow us to drift over the ground where they are located and increase my chances of catching one. I'm looking forward to a few days afloat with Robert and as well as trying to catch Fries' goby we're also hoping to have a go for black mouthed dogfish in the Sound of Mull.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Using my loaf.

I met up with my mate Nick last Monday for a session at Torness Power Station outflow targeting mullet and bass. After fishing micro jigs for a bit I opened our loaf of bread and started freelining fairly large flakes for the mullet but things were pretty slow to start with. Nick persisted with metals but as the tide began to drop the mullet appeared and eventually my patience paid off when I managed to catch three of the thick lipped variety.

All the thick lipped grey mullet were quite plump.

In between helping me land mine Nick had a go for the mullet too but sadly didn't have any luck before he had to head off. I already knew he makes a fine ghillie but next time I'll be on the net duties as well hopefully. I fished on for a while and after three more thick lipped grey mullet I caught a golden grey mullet and then a surprise bass.

Golden grey are they prettier of the two grey mullet species found in Scottish waters.
Their lips are quite petite and they also have the nice gold spot on their gill plate which gives them their name.

This bass also took a large bread flake. I think this is a first for me.

On Friday last week I returned with my mate Robert after we finised work for a few more hours at the outflow. The session went much the same way in that I caught both varieties of grey mullet and also a bonus bass on bread flake. In amongst the mullet I caught was the biggest golden grey mullet I've ever caught in Scotland.

A rather plump fish that I was pleased to catch. The Scottish record is only 13oz. I''m not sure how close this one was.

Robert, who had never fished for mullet before, had a frustrating time watching the mullet steal the bread off his hook and lost a couple of fish too before eventually his patience paid off and he caught his first ever mullet.

Robert was pleased to catch his first golden grey mullet.
I don't think it'll be his last. We'll be back soon so he can have a go at catching his first thick lipped grey mullet.

So a couple of enjoyable sessions targeting mullet with my mates last week and I'm looking forward to more trips down there soon. It'll not be for a few weeks though as I'm off to Crete tomorrow morning. Should I see any mullet while I'm there I'll certainly be using my loaf again though.

Tight lines, Scott.