Monday, September 05, 2016

Light game fun in Croatia : Pula.

When we arrived in Pula to begin the final part of our holiday last month we dropped our stuff off at our accommodation and then I returned the hire car. Our apartment was located on the outskirts of the city and was quite far from the middle of town and the sea but we took a leisurely walk down and had a stroll around. As we explored we passed a scale model of Pula. 

Pula has one of the best examples of a Roman amphitheatre outside of Italy. 
The real thing was nearby and it was quite impressive. Being surrounded most of the way round by other buildings it was difficult to get a good photograph of it. Some gardens to the north of it seemed to offer us the best view.

Walking down to the waterfront nearby there were lots of tour boats and some large fishing boats moored as well as a large marina full of yachts. There were also incredible amounts of mullet swimming around near the surface. I've never seen so many mullet in fact and they were of a reasonable size. I thought of the fun I could have catching them but being aware of the fact that fishing in Croatian harbours isn't permitted I was pretty sure the area was off limits and was left feeling a bit frustrated. We spent some more time wandering around the city's narrow streets in the evening before having dinner and heading back to our apartment. 

The next day we jumped on a bus and headed to the Stoja Peninsula. Located to the south of Pula it is home to a large campsite. We headed all the way through it and found a quiet spot on the rocks where Lillian could relax and I could fish. I quickly caught lots of rainbow wrasse and painted combers. After a while we moved to another spot where I discovered it was a bit shallower and I was hopeful that perhaps I'd catch something different. All it produced to begin with however was more rainbow wrasse and painted combers. I was getting a little frustrated by the lack of variety so I tried jigging some small metals and paddletails on jig heads but sadly this didn't produce anything at all. Switching back to soft lures on a drop shot rig had me catching fish again and just before we left for lunch my persistence was rewarded when I caught a nice little gilthead seabream. 

A great looking spot. Not a great variety of species though. 
What a cracking little fish. A most welcome change from the wrasse and combers.  

In the evening we had a slow wander about town again before having dinner and a few drinks. It was fairly busy with lots going on but it didn't feel crowded and the atmosphere was relaxed. I think Pula was probably my favourite of the three Croatian cities we had visited. 

The next day we head to Verudela to visit an Aquarium. This one was located inside an old fortress which was quite good. There were lots of great displays and I saw some species that were found locally that I'd never heard of before, the longstriped blenny and the longsnouted wrasse. I tried to take photos of them both in their tanks but didn't manage to get any good ones. It's sometimes hard to take photos using a phone's camera in aquariums with the subjects swimming about constantly behind glass and the glare of multiple light sources reflecting off of it. Here are a couple of photos of them I found online. 

A longsnouted wrasse. A wrasse with a long snout!  I think this one is a male in breeding colours. I hoped I'd get lucky before we left Pula and catch one.
A longstriped blenny. Another highly original name choice.
 This seahorse was a much easier subject capture due to the fact it stayed motionless. Lillian loves seahorses. They mate for life she always tells me. 

After lunch we went for a walk around the coastline of the area. We soon found a nice quiet spot and clambered down onto the rocks from the clifftop path. Once again rainbow wrasse and painted combers made up the bulk of my catch but I also caught a few annular seabream and some nice East Atlantic peacock wrasse. 

A nice example of an East Atlantic peacock wrasse. Lovely shades of blue throughout its fins and big rubbery lips. 

Trying a second spot further round the coast I soon found out the water was incredibly deep. It was taking about forty five seconds for my seven gram drop shot lead to reach the sea floor after splashing down! It was the deepest water I had fished during the trip by a fair margin so again I was hopeful that it might throw up some different species but disappointingly, despite trying a few different methods, I didn't enjoy a great deal of action. As well as a few rainbow wrasse and painted combers I did catch a couple of small garfish that took my lure as I reeled in which was pretty cool. Even though they were tiny they put up a bit of a fight, launching themselves out of the water a few times.

Garfish are pretty weird fish. They stink as well. Their acrobatics are impressive though. 

After a while we headed back to Pula and the evening was spent in town again. The following day was our last full one in Croatia and in the morning we headed into town to see the Temple of Augustus. We'd passed it several times in the evenings without realising what it was or how old it was.

The Temple of Augustus has certainly stood the test of time. It's over two thousand years old!

Before heading to lunch we went for a walk along the waterfront. I was quite surprised to see quite a lot of mullet in an area well away from the marina and where there were no other boats moored. We popped to a shop and got a small loaf of bread and headed back. Freelining a small flake proved very effective and three thin lipped grey mullet were quickly caught and released. Seeing some large white seabream swimming deeper down I tried drop shotting a piece of Angleworm and caught a small common two banded seabream.

When fish are competing for food they become easier to catch. This applies to mullet as well, a fish some anglers will tell you are hard to catch which isn't always true.

A nice little common two banded seabream on good old Angleworm.

Whilst I was having fun I wasn't entirely sure if I was in an area where fishing was prohibited and not wanting to push my luck I packed up and we went for lunch. There was a Croatian dish I was keen to try. I doesn't look very nice but I fancied a change from fried squid, which we'd been eating regularly during the holiday. 

Black cuttlefish risotto. Looks a bit nasty but tastes amazing. 

Afterwards we jumped on a bus and headed back to Verudela. We went to the deep water mark where I was again hopeful I'd catch some bigger fish or perhaps a new species but sadly the fishing was pretty poor again. After a while I ended up joining Lillian under a tree and we relaxed in the shade for a while before deciding to walk all the way back to the apartment instead of catching the bus. On the way back I spotted a nice shady area and had my final casts of the trip. As well as a few painted combers and rainbow wrasse I caught a few greater weevers and also some little seabream too.

I think this is the smallest couch's seabream I've ever caught.
My last fish of the trip was this common pandora. 

In the evening we went out for dinner to a nice restaurant called Dva Ferala where we had eaten a couple of nights before to have another wonderful meal and a few drinks. The next morning we packed our bags and headed to the airport to fly home. We were sad to leave but it had been a great holiday and we had enjoyed our time exploring a little bit of Croatia. Lillian as always was very tolerant of my angling addiction and let me fish every day and I had a lot of fun. I didn't set myself any goals for the trip but I ended up catching twenty five species including two new ones which was great. Here's a summary of what I caught. The two new species are in bold.
  1. Annular Seabream
  2. Axillary Seabream
  3. Black Goby
  4. Boxlip Mullet
  5. Brown Comber
  6. Bucchichi's Goby
  7. Common Pandora
  8. Common Two Banded Seabream
  9. Couch's Seabream
  10. Damselfish
  11. East Atlantic Peacock Wrasse
  12. Five Spotted Wrasse
  13. Garfish
  14. Gilthead Seabream
  15. Golden Grey Mullet
  16. Greater Weever
  17. Madeira Rockfish
  18. Ocellated Wrasse
  19. Ornate Wrasse
  20. Painted Comber
  21. Peacock Blenny
  22. Rainbow Wrasse
  23. Rusty Blenny
  24. Saddled Seabream
  25. Thin Lipped Grey Mullet
I'd love to return to Croatia and explore some more of it. It's a beautiful place and if I did go back I think I'd start off in Zagreb and explore the country's interior region, it would be a great opportunity to target freshwater species abroad again.

Tight lines, Scott.

1 comment:

  1. Do you know anyone who ever caught a sea horse on hook and line? Would be epic!