Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Species hunting adventures on Crete : Part 5.

Over the last few days of our holiday we visited the south coast a few times. First on Lillian's list was Lerapetra so off we went. After passing Agios Nikolaos we headed further east along the coast and came to a very sharp right hand turn in the road. As we rounded it I spotted a nice looking little harbour down below with a sandy bottom so we went down to take a look.

Just what I was hoping to find!

It was a very hot day but having stumbled across this perfect spot to try for wide eyed flounder I had to have a go! First cast and a few lizardfish appeared from the sand and shot over to investigate what had just entered the water. A few were soon too inquisitive for their own good, eagerly grabbed the Gulp! Angleworm and were caught. I worked my way along the harbour and caught some ornate wrasse and a black scorpionfish closer in. Then I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted a small wide eyed flounder swimming along the bottom!

Try as I might I couldn't catch it on Gulp! or raw prawn. It kept swimming up to have a look and then turning away. By this point it was very hot and even the lizard fish had all buried themselves and were ignoring my hook bait when it passed there partially buried heads. Having spent too long already and getting quite frustrated in the process we got back on the road and were soon in Lerapetra. We had a ramble around and went for something to eat. I wasn't going to fish but when I spotted some strange fish in the mouth of the harbour that I guessed were pipe fish I had a go.

Another harbour...
...another potential new species!

I did manage to get them interested but I could not get them to bite and had to make do with a few ornate wrasse before admitting defeat.

In the early evening we headed back to the small sandy bottomed harbour on our way home and I tied up a simple three hook flapper rig with very short snoods and baited the #12 hooks with little chunks of prawn. Casting out I held the rod feeling for bites. There wasn't much happening to start with then I had a good bite and struck, hooking a fish that fought quite well. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a striped seabream, a nice bonus new species.

Striped seabream have a rather strange looking head!

It was a little while before I got my second bite and because it was a gentle one I let it develop a bit before slowly winding into it. I felt the weight of something small but as I slowly reeled it in I felt something else biting. By the time I had reeled in my mini rig it had a triple shot of fish on it. The first fish that came into view was a lizardfish. So was the second. The third however was a tiny flatfish! My sense of anticipation briefly turned to dread when upon lifting them up the harbour wall I heard a splash as one fish fell off but luckily it was not the wide eyed flounder!

Small but perfectly formed. Nice almost floral pattern too.

I was over the moon and for the second time during the trip did a little jig. After that the bites slowed down again so after a while I switched to a drop shot rig and started fishing down the harbour wall in the hope of getting lucky again and finding a tentacled blenny. There were loads of small black scorpionfish hiding in the cracks that came charging out to grab my little lure and I even managed to hook a couple of shy biting damselfish. Last drop before we left I caught a tiny grouper that I would later identify as a goldblotch grouper, another new species for me.

The adults are much more bland.

The next day we drove down to the south coast again and after visiting a nice beach we then took a long drive up through the mountains and headed north again to the Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonisos. We visited it the last time we were on Crete five years ago. The Scotsman who started it, John McLaren, and his lovely wife who helps him run it are great and it may be a fairly small place but I enjoyed it much more than the much larger Cretaqurium. There were lots of species on show but the tank with the weevers, stargazers and scorpionfish in it was my favourite.

These streaked weevers were quite big. I'd love to catch one!
You lookin' at me? Quite a friendly bunch really.

Out the back there are lots of reptiles on display and I got to cuddle a snake again. This time it was a bit bigger than the one I got to handle the last time we visited!

This large male iguana kept jiggling his dewlap (flap of skin on his neck) and jowls and generally showing off. 
This albino Burmese python was rather heavy. It seemed quite friendly though. 

Incredibly this was the first and last day of the trip that I didn't do any fishing!

Lillian has this thing about castles so the following day we made a three hour drive to the south west of the island to see the fortress at Frangokastelo. After having a look around I was allowed to fish the harbour there and from the rocks at the end of its outer breakwater. The fishing was pretty slow but I persevered and managed a few Buchichi's gobies, a rainbow wrasse and tormented another octopus that kept grabbing my bit of Gulp! and letting it go again. I really wanted to catch one so Lillian could see it up close but after a while it got bored with me and crawled off.

Tough going here in front of Frangokastelo fortress.

After lunch we headed further west to Hora Sfakion. It was another very hot afternoon and while Lillian took the opportunity to relax in the shade I fished for an hour in the fairly deep harbour there and caught a few lizard fish followed by some rainbow wrasse, including a couple of males.

Slightly more colourful than it used to be as a female.

I then moved to another part of the harbour and soon caught a marbled rabbitfish and a parrotfish before I caught something else at range that felt a bit different as I was reeling it in. When it came to the surface I was very pleased to see my first greater weever. This would be my last new species of the trip.

A small specimen but I was chuffed to catch it and laughing in the face of danger handled it in a manly manner.
Nice light blue and gold markings and a jet black dorsal fin with venomous spines just like its smaller UK cousin. Note the sharp spines on the gill plates too.

The day before we left I had an hour at "The Lake" after popping to Agios Nikolaos to buy some gifts for folk back home and caught a few more fish. My last fish of the trip was a small, but very angry, white grouper. Lillian said it was trying to bite me but I could have sworn it was talking to me!

Maybe it was saying goodbye.

Well I had a great holiday and was very sad to leave. The fishing was great fun too and again I was sad to be returning back to a cold, wet and windy Scotland! At least I was coming back with some happy memories, some of them fishy. Here's what I caught...

  1. Annular Seabream x 13
  2. Bass x 1
  3. Black Goby x 1
  4. Black Scorpionfish x 1
  5. Blue Runner x 9
  6. Bogue x 23
  7. Buchichi's Goby x 6
  8. Cleaver Wrasse (Pearly Razorfish) x 1
  9. Comber x 9
  10. Common Pandora x 1
  11. Common Two Banded Seabream x 6
  12. Damselfish x 9
  13. Derbio x 4
  14. Dusky Grouper x 2
  15. Dusky Rabbitfish x 5
  16. European Barracuda x 1
  17. Grey Wrasse x 1
  18. Garfish x 1
  19. Giant Goby x 5
  20. Goldblotch Grouper x 2
  21. Greater Weever x 1
  22. Lizardfish x 14
  23. Madeira Rockfish x 13
  24. Marbled Rabbitfish x 9
  25. Ornate Wrasse x 24
  26. Painted Comber x 7
  27. Parrotfish x 4
  28. Red Porgy x 3
  29. Rainbow Wrasse x 11
  30. Rock Goby x 1
  31. Rusty Blenny x 3
  32. Saddled Seabream x 5
  33. Salema x 11
  34. Slender Goby x 1
  35. Striped Seabream x 1
  36. Thick Lipped Mullet x 1
  37. Tompot Blenny x 1
  38. White Grouper x 2
  39. White Seabream x 11
  40. Wide Eyed Flounder x 1
Next year I plan to return to the Mediterranean. At least once. Slightly heavier tackle will be taken next time as well as my ultra light gear so as well as targeting tentacled blenny, flying gurnard and stargazer I can target some of the larger more powerful species like leerfish and mahi mahi that can be found there. I'm looking forward to it already!

Tight lines, Scott.

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