Saturday, April 28, 2018

Species Hunting on Cyprus.

Earlier this month I had a week's holiday in Protaras on the island of Cyprus with my partner Lillian. My fishing expectations weren't very high as before I went I had been warned that the fishing wasn't as good as other parts of the Mediterranean. The chances of catching something new including a lionfish were good though so I was excited about that prospect at least. I only took a small amount of ultra light tackle with me to fish two styles, light rock fishing and to do a bit of bait fishing too. I treated myself to a new reel prior to the trip and loaded it up with fresh braid.

My new Daiwa Fuego LT 2500 loaded with 0.3PE Sunline Small Game. Lovely.

I fished for an hour or so every day and as I had been forewarned overall the fishing was pretty tough. During the first session it soon became apparent that there were a few puffers around. I wouldn't have minded these so much if I'd caught a silver cheeked toadfish but instead all I caught was a puffer species I'd caught before whilst on holiday on Crete.

The yellow spotted puffer. A species that's originally from the Red Sea. Known as Lessepsian migrants they are named after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who proposed the building of the Suez Canal, the commercial waterway they use to make their way north to the Mediterranean.

Over the first few days pretty much all I caught was yellow spotted puffers, with just a solitary rainbow wrasse and a couple of small parrotfish managing to find my lures and bait before them. Most of the coast was extremely shallow and the water was incredibly clear too. I'm not sure if this had anything to do with the lack of fish but I soldiered on trying several different spots.

The coast looked great but there didn't seem to be many fish around. Fishing in the sun is still hard to beat even when you're not catching much..

Eventually trying new spots paid off when I found an area that held loads of fish. Unfortunately it was a series of ponds full of koi carp outside a sushi restaurant. How annoying!


I've been known to carry out covert fishing operations in corporate ponds in the past and I was slightly tempted to carry out a dawn raid but they were just too cute and friendly so I let them be.

Despite the seeming lack of fish in the sea the locals were out having a go almost everywhere we went which was slightly encouraging and as ever Lillian was very generous allowing me to fish whenever I thought there might be a chance of catching something. At Ayia Napa harbour we saw a few bluespotted cornetfish as we walked around so I got permission to try and catch one.

A local float fishing at the mouth of Aiya Napa Harbour with a very long pole.
A tourist fishing at the mouth of Aiya Napa Harbour with lures on an ultra light setup.

Fishing small curly tail soft plastics on a 2.3g #10 jighead quickly near the surface I soon had several elongated fish following and having a go at my lure. After several hits I hooked up with a couple of small barracuda and then after a quiet spell where the fish seemed to loose interest I caught a small bluespotted cornetfish, a truly bizarre looking fish and a very slimy one too. I was very pleased to catch my first new species of the trip.

My first ever bluespotted cornetfish.

Midway through our holiday I decided to use the depth charts on Navionics' website to some deeper water, something I probably should have done sooner to be honest. I located a mark with good depth close in down the coast towards Cape Greco and had a few sessions there in the evenings as it got cooler. I was hoping to catch a lionfish there but had no luck sadly. The mark was a bit more productive though and I caught quite a lot of combers. Mostly the common variety but I also caught a few painted comber too, with the odd Atlantic lizardfish and some more yellow spotted puffers taking my drop shotted scented lures too. I also hooked something a little larger that I suspect was a bream but it managed to throw the hook unfortunately so I didn't find out what it was.

A nice colourful painted comber.

On the morning of our final day on the island we stopped at a small harbour on our way to Larnaca so I could have a few final casts. Unsurprisingly it was full of yellow spotted puffers although I did manage to add a couple of goby species to my trip tally as well. I also spotted a small wrasse that I couldn't positively identify but the puffers and gobies were way more aggressive and repeatedly beat the wrasse to my bait. Just before we left to get some lunch I fished over a very shallow sandy area and was pleasantly surprised when I caught my second new species of the trip.

My first Red Sea goatfish, yet another Lessepsian migrant.

Incredibly I picked a restaurant for lunch that was right next to Larnaca harbour and as we had an hour or so to kill after we had eaten before having to make the short drive to the airport I got the green light for a few more final casts. This proven fruitful and saw me adding a few more species to my tally in the shape of a few rock gobies, some axillary seabream, a plain red mullet and a marbled rabbitfish. From under the shade of the pontoon I was fishing on I then caught my final new species of the trip, another little invader from the Red Sea.

I knew this was a cardinalfish but I had to do some Googling in the airport departure lounge to discover it was a pharaoh cardinalfish.

So the fishing had been tough but I still managed to catch seventeen species including three new ones which are in bold below. Also worth noting that just over a third of the species caught are Lessepsian migrants and I've underlined these below.
  1. Atlantic Lizardfish
  2. Axillary Seabream
  3. Black Goby
  4. Blue Spotted Cornetfish
  5. Bucchich's Goby 
  6. Common Comber
  7. Marbled Rabbitfish
  8. Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse
  9. Ornate Wrasse
  10. Painted Comber 
  11. Parrotfish
  12. Pharaoh Cardinalfish
  13. Plain Red Mullet
  14. Red Sea Goatfish
  15. Rock Goby
  16. Yellow Spotted Puffer
  17. Yellowtail Barracuda

So whilst we had an enjoyable holiday on the beautiful island of Cyprus I'm not sure I could recommend it for the saltwater shore fishing. I think if I were to return I'd have a go fishing in the islands freshwater instead.

Tight lines, Scott.