September 18, 2010

A Whirlwind in Europe - Ydra (Day 4)

It was early to bed since I wished to wake up early to fish. Ydra also had mediocre nightlife so there was really not much to miss. Strangely, I woke up at 2am for no particular reason and could not fall back to sleep. After laying in bed for an hour, it was just too silly. I got up to rig up my rods for the morning of fishing. At 3am in the morning, Ydra was quite active with some people about opening shops. I could only assume that these were restaurant owners and cooks preparing for the next day.

By 4am, I had nothing to do but to lay in bed again. I did get about 1 hour of sleep until the 5am alarm. Instead of getting out of bed, I snoozed for another 30 minutes until it was time to fish. The morning fishing was important since morning was said to be better time to target seabream and red mullet.

The morning was real quiet with the exception of a few restaurants getting ready for serving breakfast. The walk to the swim platform was very peaceful since there was no one up this early.

I modified the dropshot rig to include a dropper loop about 4” from the sinker. About 12” of 6lb fluorocarbon was tied to the dropper loop and a #16 hook was used. I put on a squid tentacle on the hook while the #8 hook received a shrimp.

Similar to the night before, there was no action during the dark hour…except for this new species. There was actually no indication that the fish had bit and was on the line until I reeled the entire rig to shore.

Cardinalfish (Apogon imberbis)

There was no other bite and dawn was breaking. It was time to check out another location, one that my friend Eli had suggested.

On the way to my new spot, I was looking at the deeper water and saw a bunch of bait flying out of the water. Some predators were actively feeding about 200 yards offshore.

These were two swim platforms a little further way from the port. It was set in a more secluded bay with a gentler rocky drop on the side and a very steep boulder strewn shoreline on the other side. I decided to fish the gentle area since it was most “beach-like”.

Similar to the afternoon before, the area had many damselfish, bogue and small mullet. Many attempts were in vain trying to catch the damselfish and mullet, but the bogue kept it interesting.

After a while, it was getting boring catching bogue and frustrating not catching damselfish. I switched to the dropshot rig. On the second cast, I caught a painted comber. A few more casts later, it was another new species on the bottom dropper loop with the #16 hook using a small piece of shrimp.

7” Mediterranean rainbow wrasse (Coris julis)

The combers kept it interesting for a while until the bite slowed down a little. Still looking for my red mullet, I decided to use the even smaller #20 hook and use the tip of a squid tentacle as bait. It was only 3/4” long but it looked like a little sea worm. Red mullet, being a species of goatfish, digs around the sand for small shrimp and sea worms. It was a good idea, right?

On the next cast with the good idea…surprise! I love when a plan comes together so nicely. Seriously, it was probably more luck than technique.

Surmullet (Mullus surmuletus)

It was at this time that there were the occasional surface feeding within casting distance. I took off the dropshot rig in favour for the Kastmaster. I tossed that around for a good 15 minutes without getting any hits.

What happened next was one of the most amazing fishing scene I’ve ever saw. If you remembered, I was fishing for damselfish initially and I usually use pieces of bread to start a feeding frenzy. Piece of bread with the crust attached were usually left alone until when all the other pieces of bread were consumed. Some of the bread crust were still floating around and when the crust got soft enough, fish would start feeding on it.

There was a small school of mixed fish feeding to my right. I just happened to look at the feeding school for about 20 seconds when out of the blue, the small fish scattered. A 3-4lb mahimahi (dorado) had rushed in chasing the small fish. You have to understand that Ydra has a very quick dropping shoreline and it could drop 50 feet or more within a 20 feet distance. However, where I was fishing was more moderately sloped and the mahimahi had ventured into water about 3 feet deep. YES! That’s 3 feet deep!

Here I was with a Kastmaster on my line...I just had to cast it about 10 feet from the mahimahi and reel it into the line of sight. The fish suddenly turned to inspect my lure…but I ran out of room to keep the lure moving and the fish saw the lure slow down and lost interest. It would have been too cool to hook up a mahimahi from shore. Oh well…it left me with one of the coolest thing I’ve ever saw!

I did notice a few garfish following my lure in but not hitting. In truth, the Kastmaster were too big for the garfish. So I tied on a 12” leader to the treble hook of the Kastmaster and set up a #16 hook with a 1” green twister tail.

The garfish didn’t hit the twister tail…but something much smaller did.

4” Pompano (Trachinotus ovatus)

The garfish were starting to lose interest, so I switched back to the dropshot rig to see if there were any new species I could add. I was actually desperately looking for a seabream.

Maybe luck was smiling upon me. After two casts with the dropshot rig, I hooked into my seabream! It actually fit a #8 hook in its small mouth!

7” Annular Sea Bream (Diplodus annularis)

A couple more combers later, it was pretty quiet. It was also this time that people start showing up at the swim platform and this local actually kicked me out! There were two platforms to use and he said he want to use the one I’m fishing from.

Since I was displaced from the choice fishing location, I decided to try my previous swim platform. After an hour of no action, it was about time to leave. I grabbed a quick lunch at 12pm, took a quick shower and packed my luggage to get ready for the ferry ride back to Athens.

Everything was done rather quickly and there was about an hour wait for the ferry. Strolling toward the fort near the mouth of the harbour, there were the donkey for hire waiting for customers.

The fort

Walking back to port, there was a man at the mouth of the harbour fishing. I walked over to see how he was doing. He did not speak English but I could see he was catching garfish with good success, evident by the small cooler of garfish from 8-12” long. These garfish (locally called zargana) are also table fare featured at many local restaurants.

Seeing the success, I quickly rushed back to the guesthouse to grab all my luggage and dragged them to the harbour mouth. I had just a little over 30 minutes to fish until the ferry arrived. It actually took me about 10 minutes to dig out my rod and reel, set them up, and rig up my line. The man was using a water bubble (which I had none since I couldn’t find them in Toronto). He was using a hook about #14 in size and pieces of garfish for bait.

Although we could not communicate verbally, we used a lot of hand gesture. He offered a few pieces of garfish to me. Strangely, the fishing was rather slow. The fish seemed to have moved and we were not getting bit. With about 5 minute left before the ferry arrive, the man finally hooked up a garfish and brought a small school closer to shore. I got bit as well but the fish jumped off. A couple of casts later, the man hooked up again and so did I…and this one didn’t get away!

9” Garpike (Belone belone belone)

I contributed my fish to his catch as a sign of thanks. I had to leave since I had about 3 minutes left until the ferry.

Well, as it turned out, the ferry was 1 hour late!!! Yes, ONE HOUR! It was good I didn’t have a plane to catch or a connection ferry to make. I guess it does run on Greek time here.

Back in Athens, I checked into my cheap hotel for the night (so cheap they don’t even do morning calls…more on that later). I had some time on hand so I decided to go fishing in Glyfada.

A 30min tram ride later I reached a nice stretch of beach with some rocky points. It was an encouraging sight that there were other anglers fishing. I start chatting with a local and hearing that I came from Canada, he shared some techniques and bread dough bait with me. He was trying to catch mullet and a type of Mediterranean chub.

Fishing was very slow with no one catching. Other anglers also used the algae growing on the rock as bait for mullet. My local angler friend and I chatted some more. As a sign of good faith, I gave him a few of my Gulp! Sandworm after he saw the one on my line. I was using a float rig with two hooks. The bottom hook had bread dough and the top hook was given the Gulp! Sandworm. He was so pleased with the Sandworm that he gave me some sandeel lure in exchange! This dude was super cool!

We fished some more and suddenly, my float shot down! I thought it was a big fish…but it was only a small…DAMSELFISH! Finally caught my damselfish!

Damselfish (Chromis chromis)

The sun was setting and I took a picture of the area.

All the local angler were leaving but I stayed until it was too dark to see my float. I only had one bite all evening but that was all I needed.

Back in Piraeus, I grabbed some dinner.

That would be the end of my Mediterranean fishing adventure. I had plans to fish in Santorini but due to unforeseen events, I actually didn’t have any time to fish there. The Mediterranean did leave me with a very good impression. With a total hours of 14 hours fished, 12 species were caught! It was pretty impressive. Some day, I hope I have the chance to fish the deep water of the Mediterranean for the pelagic and deep water species.

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