Crete is an island with a coastline exceeding 1000 Km and fishing was traditional occupation of its people. Today though, things are a little different. There are still plenty of fishermen, both professional and amateur, but the fish stocks, and catches, are getting lower and lower. There are a number of reasons for this including:
– Overfishing, a common problem in many countries, is the main reason for the scarcity of fish.
– Secondly, environmental damage, like the now outlawed fishing with dynamite, has also had a detrimental effect.
Many of us who live in Crete used to go fishing in the past but the poor catches have dampened our enthusiasm for the hobby and now our fishing rods lay forgotten in some storage room. There is little enjoyment in driving for one or more hours to reach the “perfect” place, spending several hours there but only to return home with a few tiny fish. Finally, like many others, I ended giving up fishing for the joy of snorkelling. Of course there are still some lucky (or perhaps they are just better than me) fishermen who continue to catch some big fish.
There are still fish in Crete waters and fishing may offer you some relaxing hours if it is your kind of hobby. And remember, though the fish of Crete may not be so big these days, they are still very tasty!
Fishing in Crete – Tips
If you want to try fishing in Crete, then it may help to know what kind of equipment and bait the locals use, and the sorts of fish you are most likely to encounter.
There are various ways of fishing but we here we will stick to the simplest and the most common one. The equipment is very simple and it consists of a pliable, telescopic fishing rod 4-7meters long, a fishing line ø0.30-0.35 mm, a float and two small hooks. The line has the same length as the rod.
Common baits include worms, shrimps without the shell and cut in pieces and a paste of bread and cheese.
The fisherman would fish from a dock or on a rock with this tackle and bait, holding the fishing rod steady while he is watching the float. If the float trembles on the water or starts to sink, then the fish has taken the bait and it is time for the fisherman to strike by lifting the rod and carefully pull the fish out of the water.
Catch for this method is mainly the small fish that live close to shore: mullet, boops (bream), saddled bream, bass, etc.
Fisherman, Minoan Fresco
2. The Bait
– Shrimps. Peel them off and place them on a flat pan. Add a lot of salt to them and then leave them under the sun to dry. When they are dry on top, then turn them to dry the other side too. If you do a good job then the shrimps will last several days unrefrigerated. Do not put the whole shrimp on the hook. Cut it in small pieces with a sharp knife or a razor.
– Flour and cheese paste. You will need some flour, water, butter or olive oil and blue cheese. Make a thick dough with these ingredients and keep it in the fridge until needed.
– If you want to attract the fish close to you, then mix pieces of dry, several days old bread with sea water and sand in a backet. Throw small quantities of this watery mixture into the water and close to you. Repeat this often. This is called “malagra” or “mpasmos” and it works better when the sea is rough and the water not clear.
3. Best fishing – times and sea conditions
– A common rule is that fishing is not succesful on very hot and windless days. Fishing at times when the sea is rough is more likely to lead to a good catch.
– The best hours for fishing are early morning (sunrise until 10 am) or late afternoon (17:00 – sunset).
– Underwater Fishing
If you have ever fancied your chances of snorkelling with a spear gun to catch your fish, then you will soon learn that fish scare quickly in the vicinity of a diver with a speargun. Your chances of success will increase however if you are competent to dive and fish in waters as deep as 10-20 meters. Always be careful of speedboats and other craft.
Read more: Fish of Greece
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