Friday, September 05, 2014

Species hunting adventures on Zakynthos : Part 2.

After getting back from my early morning session last Thursday Lillian and I drove up to the north west of the island to see the famous shipwreck that lies on the beach in the stunning Navagio Bay.

Rather than make a boat trip we opted to view the wreck of the smugglers ship from the cliffs above.

After this we headed east and visited the Askos Stone Park to see examples of some of the flora and fauna that is found on the island as well as a few more exotic creatures from further afield.

Some of the animals had the freedom to move around the park. We were warned not to touch the male deer. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of those antlers that's for sure!
Where's the hair you ask?
These raccoons were very funny, sticking their paws out through their cage to take small biscuits from us and snarling at each other. The park staff described them as hooligans. 

We then headed east to the lovely port of Agios Nikoloas for some lunch. A tasty plate of fried squid and a Greek salad were soon eaten and Lillian relaxed in the shade under a tree on the beach whilst I headed over to the harbour's small breakwater for a short fishing session. Fishing a drop shot rig at close range amongst the breakwater boulders to begin with I caught a couple of Madeira rockfish before I spotted a small red fish darting out from beneath the boulders to nibble at my lure. I soon caught one and it turned out to be a Cardinalfish, my second new species of the trip.

Small but nasty. Unlike their UK cousins these scorpionfish are poisonous.
Quite an odd looking little fish with a beady black eye and its head and mouth look a bit out of proportion with the rest of its body.

Spotting a few damselfish off to my left and remembering how hard they are to catch due to their tendency to nip little pieces of lure until the hook is bare I rigged up a split shot rig and #22 hook with a tiny piece of Angleworm. Lowering it in amongst them I was soon hoisting one up.

Unlike during my time fishing on Crete last year where these were everywhere, I didn't see that many Damselfish in the waters around Zante.

Next I decided to drop shot further out into the deeper water behind the breakwater out away from the boulders making it up. This produced a painted comber and an ornate wrasse before I decided to change tactics and started fishing a small Rapala X-Rap to see if there were any pelagic species hunting in the area. After casting it around in a few different directions and trying a few different retrieves I was cranking it back fairly quickly giving it an occasional twitch and pause when a fish charged out from the boulders down to my left and grabbed my lure. A lightning quick turn and the fish was charging off again. My drag was set pretty tightly however and I managed to put enough pressure on to prevent it getting into the rocks and soon had it coming towards me after a couple of very powerful runs away towards open water. As it got closer I got a quick look at it and I was fairly sure it was a small amberjack about 1lb in weight. Not wanting to risk using my rod to lift it up to my elevated position I paused for a moment to think about how I was going to land it. The fish used my delay to make a dash for the rocks directly beneath me and somehow successfully unhooked itself on one leaving my lure snagged in the process. Rather annoyed I found myself regretting not having a net with me. By this point Lillian had wandered over and we made the drive south back to our apartment.

After a hearty dinner consisting of a few stuffed vine leaves, meat balls and giant beans Lillian wanted a nap so I headed down to Porto Roma for an hour or so and fished off of the rocky breakwater there as light faded using metals and small hard lures. My efforts attracted no interest whatsoever though and as it got dark I decided to try fishing from a small floating jetty along from the harbour with drop shot tactics. This was quite slow too but eventually it saw me catch a few small seabream before I called it a night.

Saddled seabream, another species added to the tally. They smell a bit.

On Friday morning I headed to Vasilikos Cape for sunrise again. Fishing drop shot saw me catch a few species I'd caught already before I hooked something at range that gave a good account of itself before coming to the surface in front of me. It was a striped seabream and keen not to loose another fish I quickly took hold of my line and holding my rod under my arm hand lined it up onto the rocks.

A colourful male Mediterranean rainbow wrasse.
A male ornate wrasse. Who says blue and green should never be seen?
Painted combers are pretty aggressive and have sharp teeth.
Greater weevers have some nice blue markings on them.
Striped seabream have a weird protrusible mouth.

Before I left I decided to try fishing around some partially submerged rocks at very close range. I was hoping to locate a blenny but instead I caught a Madeira rockfish.

Handle with care!

Despite taking care when handling it the fish managed to thrash in my hand and caught me with one of its spines on my middle finger drawing blood. I was a bit concerned and it soon started to go a bit numb with the occasional mildly painful tingling sensation. I packed up and headed back to the apartment. On the way it didn't get any worse and running my finger under very hot water, a treatment used for weever stings, soon had it feeling OK again. I'm not sure if the reaction I had to the poison was the normal one. Perhaps the poison isn't very bad or perhaps only a small amount was delivered. Anyway I don't intend to find out and in future I'll be taking extra care when handling poisonous fish!

Next on our itinerary was a trip to Limni Keriou harbour to take a boat trip to Marathonisi sland and around the coast to see the Keri caves. Before we left the harbour though a loggerhead turtle swam past the boat. The skipper turned the boat around so we could see it and a few of the fisherman tending their nets threw in a few fish for it to eat. It swam around for a short while eating them before disappearing again. Turtle spotting over off we went and were dropped off for an hour or so on Marathonisi.

Marathonisi island has a small beach on it that the turtles use for nesting. It looks a bit like a turtle too.

Lillian and I spent the time doing a bit of snorkeling around the rocks at the end of the small beach and saw lots of fish. Back on the boat we slowly made our way past the Keri Caves before stopping for a swim in the crystal clear waters below the cliffs in a lovely bay.

The coast line was quite dramatic.

Short boat trip over we were soon back at port and after getting dried off we headed up the west coast to Porto Limnionas, a beautiful cove where you can enjoy some lunch in the taverna there and go for a swim. After our lunch however I had other ideas and found a quiet spot away from the swimmers to have a fish.

Swimmer free.

Lillian meanwhile relaxed on the rocks and went for a swim when the heat became too much for her. It was a very hot day and this made fishing quite a sweaty experience. I soldiered on through the heat and after catching a few wrasse, a parrotfish and a Madeira rockfish which was very carefully unhooked and quickly returned, I caught my third new species of the trip.

Whilst I realised this was a new species I had to do some Googling later to find out it was an axillary wrasse. The spot on the root of the pectoral fin and the spot at the top of the tail root helping me reach this conclusion.

Very pleased by this I packed up and we headed further north to find a restaurant to have dinner in and enjoy the sun setting over the Ionian Sea. We soon found one that overlooked a small harbour called Porto Vromi and with an hour or so to kill until we ate we decided to drive down to have a wander round it. Soon down at the bottom of the slowly winding road that leads down to the small harbour I had no intention of fishing but when we spotted a small Mediterranean moray eel swimming along the bottom I was given the green light to go back to the car and get my gear. Sadly by the time I got back it had swam off out of sight but I did have a cast of two in the general direction it had swam off in and was rewarded with a couple of fish. A saddled Seabream and a dusky rabbitfish, another poisonous fish that requires careful handling but also another species to add to my tally taking it to seventeen for the trip.

Fish on.
Another fish to look out for. I've been stung by one before and a swollen numb finger was the result. Not a pleasant experience and I dare say some people may suffer a more severe reaction.

Heading back up the hill to the restaurant we enjoyed a lovely Zakynthian beef ragout and watched the sun setting before making the pleasant drive back to our apartment. 

Quite a view.

Well the fishing whilst not epic was varied and still enjoyable and I was getting close to reaching my targets. We were having a great time exploring the island as well and seeing lots of what Zakynthos has to offer. 

No comments:

Post a Comment