Monday, September 30, 2019

Species hunting fun on Kefalonia.

Well the weather of late has been pretty terrible with August being particularly dreadful and to be honest this along with working a lot of hours means my drive to go fishing locally pretty much deserted me over the summer. My motivation to write blog posts about what little fishing I have done also sadly seems to have waned somewhat but better late than never as they say so I'll be making a concerted effort to catch up over the next week or two.

Way back at the end of May I had a week long holiday on Kefalonia with my partner Lillian. Having visited both Crete and Zakinthos several times we thought it would be nice to try a new island for a change, after all Greece does have over two hundred of them! To be honest we weren't sure what to expect from Kefalonia but it did not disappoint and we had a great time. With mountains falling away straight into the sea it was lush and green with beautiful views around every corner and our hire car allowed us to experience many of them. We stayed in the lovely harbour town of Sami on the island's eastern side but every day we headed off in our hire car to explore rest of the island, returning in the evening to enjoy some great meals by Sami's large yacht filled marina in one of it's dozens of excellent restaurants. As we travelled around the island I was as usual permitted to fish for an hour or two in various spots we found that looked a little fishy and I did quite well, catching lots of different species.

The small village of Assos on the north west coast.
A stunning place to wet a line just a matter of getting down to the rocks at the waters edge.
Common combers were out in force especially around deeper areas with rocky seafloors.

As well as wetting a line at various places as we explored the island I also had a few sessions along the coastline of Sami, around its various harbours and at the back of its ferry port. These were also quite productive in terms of catching several different species.

There were quite a few East Atlantic peacock wrasse in the harbours, some like this one had vivid markings.
Normally a night time capture, Cardinalfish can be targeted during the day if you drop your rig down into dark gaps between boulders that often shore up a harbour's external sea walls.
Whilst out and about I found myself a new fishing partner.
Sight fishing a bit of freelined dried ragworm caught this nice parrotfish.
As you'd expect in the Mediterranean, I caught a few different types of bream too including this common two banded seabream.
There were plenty of damselfish down the harbour walls in Sami's main marina so a #18 hook was tied on, baited with a tiny piece of angleworm and another species was added to my tally.

One evening after another day exploring the island in the car we stopped before returning to Sami and had some delicious fresh fish in a small taverna called "The Fisherman's Hut" in the little village of Zola on the island's north west coast. It was another beautiful spot so after eating the last piece of rather tasty fried red mullet we went for a walk along a nearby beach. Being a romantic at heart my fishing tackle came along too and after only a couple of casts I caught my first new species of the trip. Being a venomous fish it was handled with extreme care and quickly photographed before being carefully released again.

Lesser and greater weever are usually amongst the fish I catch on holiday in the Mediterranean. This one however was my first ever spotted weever.

Midway through our holiday we decided to spend an afternoon climbing to the top of the island's highest mountain. Being a couple of lazy sods we took the easy option and drove most of the way up the mountain to a carpark not too far from the summit, passing several large herds of goats on the way. From there it was an very easy thirty minute hike to the top.

Driving on the island requires extra caution due to the amount of goats roaming around freely, often around blind corners!
Sami from the side of the mountain as we hiked up.
Sadly once at the top it was very cloudy so we didn't get to enjoy the awesome views of the whole island.

Towards the end of our holiday we spent a fair amount of time exploring the island's capital Argostoli. Whilst taking a stroll over De Bosset Bridge which crosses Koutavos Lagoon we were surprised to see quite a few sea turtles heading in and out of the inner part of the lagoon via the bridge's arches.

Always nice to see these beautiful creatures and it was a most unexpected bonus.

After lunch one afternoon we went for a drive along the coast just to the north of Argostoli past the main part of town and before too long we passed a nice little harbour that looked promising  so I fished there a couple of times. The variety of ground in and around it again meant it turned out to be very productive species wise. The water was crystal clear and after catching a few fish I decided to take my time to have a look for mini species on the bottom in shallow areas and amongst the boulders on the outside of the harbour walls. After catching some gobies I spotted a few very small but very colourful fish. I had an idea what they were and there were a few of them around but they were easily spooked. It took a fair bit of persistence with #18 hook that I ended up baiting with a tiny piece of mussel before I eventually caught my second new species of the trip and my first ever fish from the triplefin family.

This is a male red-black triplefin, cousin of the black faced blenny that is sometimes spotted in the UK on the south coast. Once caught they change colour and become mottled brown and red.
Here's what the males looked like when I was spotting them relaxing on the bottom with a jet black head and bright red body making them stand out like a sore thumb! Triplefins have three separate dorsal fins hence their name.
Like the black faced blenny, the male of which has a black head and bright yellow body, a female red-black triplefin is pretty dull being a fairly drab mottled brown colour. Not very colourful but certainly well camouflaged. There were probably just as many females around as males but I just couldn't see them!

Over two visits to the little harbour I caught lots of fish, had lots of fun using a variety of techniques and nudged my tally over the thirty mark which I was quite pleased about. Painted combers were a particularly exciting target as I was able to see them charging out from cover to attack my lures. There were plenty around and after I'd caught my fill Lillian had a go and caught a few of the them too.

Straight retrieving small soft plastics on jigheads fairly slowly over the boulders down the outside of the harbour wall produced lots of aggressive painted combers.
Inside the harbour a piece of angleworm fished on a drop shot rig caught this black scorpionfish.
Casting out as far as I could into the deeper water at the back of the harbour produced a few brown comber.
Fishing small pieces of angleworm on a split shot rig over shallow sandy areas produced some wide eyed flounder, striped sea bream and this Bucchichi's goby.
A drop shot rig baited with angleworm slowly worked over a rocky area caught this nice rainbow wrasse...
...and the same rig over clean sand produced a funky colourful pearly razorfish. I love these!
The biggest surprise techniques wise was catching this tompot blenny on a metal jig, a first for me.

As always before we knew it the end of the holiday had arrived and all too soon. My species hunting had been pretty good too especially as I'd kept my sessions reasonably short. Here's what I caught during the holiday with new species in bold.
  1. Annular Seabream
  2. Atlantic Lizardfish
  3. Axillary Seabream
  4. Black Goby
  5. Black Scorpionfish
  6. Bogue
  7. Brown Comber
  8. Bucchichi's Goby
  9. Cardinalfish
  10. Common Comber
  11. Common Two Banded Seabream
  12. Damselfish
  13. East Atlantic Peacock Wrasse
  14. Giant Goby
  15. Gilthead Seabream
  16. Goldblotch Grouper
  17. Madeira Rockfish
  18. Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse
  19. Ornate Wrasse
  20. Painted Comber
  21. Pandora
  22. Parrotfish
  23. Pearly Razorfish
  24. Red-Black Triplefin
  25. Rock Goby
  26. Rusty Blenny
  27. Spotted Weever
  28. Striped Seabream
  29. Thick Lipped Grey Mullet
  30. Tompot Blenny
  31. White Seabream
  32. Wide Eyed Flounder
We'd enjoyed a fantastic stay on Kefalonia and I'd definitely like to go back there again. We love visiting the Greek islands and we also want to return to Crete again in the not too distant future. With so many other islands to try as well and the potential for a trip down there with some of my mates for a week long dedicated fishing holiday I can see myself having a few more vacations there over the coming years.

Tight lines, Scott.