Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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05 April 2004


Yesterday I returned from a week in the Mediterranean island of Crete. The main object of the trip was for my wife to visit a number of archaeological sites. Of course I took the fishing rod and whenever I had a chance I dangled something in the sea. The weather was rather cool and windy but, for the most part the sea was clear and relatively calm. My first walk around the harbour at Heraklion was fascinating. A few greek anglers were handlining for small fish and nobody was catching much. On my way out I saw only small bream and mullet down by the wall but at one spot, just past the old Venetian fort, three large (c. 10lb) barracuda swam, in clear view, right along under where I stood.

The following day, when we returned from Knossos (a big pile of bronze age stones) I hurried down, armed with a large (12cm) slider, to where I had seen the big fish. Needless to say I had no bites but as I fished two Greek anglers walked past. They stopped and came over to look at my lure - obviously interested. I reeled in to let them have a closer look and in return they showed me their bag of about fifty small fish (biggest about 15cm long). They had been using paternoster tackle with small hooks baited with shrimp and said they were just off to try spinning in another spot. They offered to take me in their car so I hopped in and joined them. The favoured lures were smallish plugs (about 9cm long) and I watched as one of them hooked and landed a small species of barracuda.

When I told them about the fish I had seen the previous evening I was told that there are no large barracuda around Crete. In view of the fact that I have seen lots of these fish in other parts of the world this presents a bit of a puzzle. Sure enough the internet site 'fishbase' and my various books confirm that the 'great barracuda' is absent from the Med. Apart from two very small species there is another type that is reputed to grow to teens-of-pounds but it has only been reported dubiously from the coast of Lebanon.

The following morning I had the 'hot-spot' to myself and managed to land two small 'barracuda' on a little ABU Terminator plug. The fish hardly put up a struggle but, since I usually catch nothing on a first trip, I was well pleased. Over the rest of the week I saw (but didn't catch) 'sprats', small bream and grey mullet in a number of spots. On one occasion I dined on small 'whitebait' (very tasty) and was told that they were sand smelts (I must try them this year). I also managed to find out that the bass (for which I had mostly been fishing) are only inshore in the Autumn.

Apart from the fishing I saw lots of excellent plants including well over a dozen species of orchids as well as cyclamens, anemones, irises and tulips. There were also lots of birds of prey including vultures, an eagle, harriers, buzzards and a falcon. Altogether an enjoyable trip but I would have loved to get stuck into one of those barracuda - just to see exactly what it was.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -

Heraklion harbour.

The big barracuda were just to the right of the fort.

My first fish.

This one had no bars on the sides - was it something different?.

.....and another.

Not much of a fight but definitely a barracuda of sorts.  I tried a fly for them but had no bites - I'm sure it would be effective.

Our second hotel at Istron Bay.

The beach looked really bassy but not a sniff!.

Mirror orchids.

These were pretty common among the spiny shrubs.

Barlia orchids.

These were the biggest orchids we saw, drab greenish brown but very impressive.