torstai 19. tammikuuta 2017

Balkan adventures

In my last blog text I promised to get back soon. So here I am a bit over one and half years later. No excuses I just have been lazy. 

Let’s go back to the July 2015. My girlfriend and I were on our yearly summer holiday trip. This time we chose to travel to the Balkans. Our flight landed to Dubrovnik Croatia but we swooped cross the border to Montenegro as soon as possible. We ended up to the town of Bar at afternoon.

Like very often on holiday trips my alarm clock was ringing at four a clock. I walked to the place I had checked last night and started to fish. It didn’t take too long to catch my first Montenegrin fish. It was a new species and my all times species number 200!
Rock goby (Gobius paganellus). Species number 200.
Later I caught couple of more Rock gobies, a Bucchich's goby and one Damselfish. I spent lot of time trying to catch some Morays cruising literally under my feet. Sadly I didn’t have the right equipments with me this time. I hooked a moray six times and lost them all.
My swim at the town of Bar.
Bit gutted I headed back to our apartment to pack my stuff. Few hours, couple of taxi rides and one border crossing later we arrived to our hotel at the city of Skadar in Albania.
Buna River.

Our hotel had some free bikes to borrow. Next morning I hopped on one of them and pedaled about two kilometers to the banks of River Buna. I caught a fish right on my first cast. First I thought it was a European chub but later I find out it was a new species as it turned out to be Skadar lake chub (Squalius platyceps). I also caught two more new species in the forms of Gjuca and Eastern mosquitofish. Few Roach took my bait too. I think they were Rutilus rutilus but there is several species from the genus Rutilus in the Skadar Lake area.  I still have to find someone who could  help me with these Roach.
Squalius platyceps
Gambusia holbrooki

Alburnus scoranza
Roach no.1

Roach no.2
Roach no.3
Couple of locals fishing at the Buna River.

On the fourth day of our trip we decided to have a beach day (day before we visited the capital of Albania, Tirana). For me it means fishing! We took a furgon (Albanian minibus) to the village of Velipoje at the coast. The beach didn’t look good for fishing so I took a hike and walked east till I arrived to the Vilun lagoon. I saw a local fisherman catching some small Gilthead bream every now and then and  took a place quite close to him. I started with small sabikis baited with dryed worms. I had several bites right on my first cast and finally I managed to hook a fish. It was a Gilthead bream not bigger than my palm but it was a new species for me. After that I made tens and tens of casts and changed places couple of times too but the fish of the first cast remained the only fish of the day.

I was supposed to get over the bay by this bridge. For some reason I didn't.

It was time to get back to Montenegro again. We took a bus from Shkodra to Ulcinj and another one from there to Petrovac. Later in the evening I was checking the fishing possibilities of the Petrovac harbour for the next morning. It was a nice little harbour with plenty of fish in it. First I caught several Bucchich's gobies but then I spotted couple of interesting looking creatures at the bottom of the dock. The first one took my mormushka right away and turned out to be Black scorpionfish. Then it was time to catch the other little critter. I wasn’t hard either and soon I was photographing my second new species of the day. Not bad for a short morning session like this. It was a short one night stop at Petrovac and so we headed to the airport of Tivat to pick up our rental car.
Scorpaena porcus

Tompot blenny (Parablennius gattorugine)

The next destination was at the mountains of Montenegro. We drove with our small Skoda in the awesome scenery until we found a nice little mountain village called Kolasin. I did not go fishing there even though the mighty Tara river was flowing right next the village. Day number seven of our trip dawned and we turned our car towards a yet new country. Couple of hours and a minor hassle with the Montenegrin border officials later we crossed the border of the Republic of Kosovo.
Nice little roads

And some moderate scenery

A small tributary of the Tara River

I jump right to the moment we were about to cross the border again. I had almost given up that I could add a new country also to my fishing lists when I saw a nice place by the lake shore just about one kilometer before the Albanian border.  Actually it was not a lake it was a wider part of the Drin river. Saddly my worms had made a mass suicide day before and the only baits I had was few slices of bread and some Power Bait worms. There was tens and tens of small minnow like fishes cruising near the shoreline but they totally ignored my offerings . I also saw couple of Bleaks but failed to catch them too. So Kosovo became the first and hopefully the last country I’ve been fishing at without catching a single fish. After that we took a ride back to the Montenegro and ended to the very busy town called Buljarica.
I left this place without catching a single fish....

Because the shoreline of Buljarica is nothing than sandy beach I decided to take a ride back to the first mornings spot at Bar. This time I was prepared to take a rematch with the Morays. I saw a tiny little fish on the rock and gave it a try with my tanago hook. Seconds later I had what I think is a Mystery blenny on my hand. 
Parablennius incognitus

Like on the first try one week earlier the Morays gave me six tries again. This time I had tied a strong number 8 hook straight to the end of 0,35mm fluorocarbon line and was hand lining with it every time I spotted a Moray between the rocks in front of me. And finally the sixth time’s a charm. After a furious fight I landed my first ever Moray species. It was a nice fish over a half a meter long but saddly it escaped before I managed to get a picture of it. Oh well, that only means I’ll have to catch another one someday.
From between these rocks I hooked all the morays (at least three different individuals)

Later on the same day we had drove back to the city of Tivat. We had one more day and night to spend before we had to drop our rental car back to the airport. So at the afternoon I dropped my girlfriend to the beach and went fishing again. I found a school of ferocious little fish and after a strike number 47 or something I finally hook a fish. That was a Five-spotted Wrasse and a new species. After couple of more wrasse and seabream I decided to take a look what was swimming at my spot. By snorkeling I saw some Peacock blennies, Giant gobies and couple of more species I’ve never caught by hook and line. Bugger, they’re there and I can’t catch them….
Symphodus roissali

After a good nights sleep we took our Skoda back to the Tivat airport and headed to the bus station. Couple of hours later we arrived back to Croatia. From Dubrovnik we took a local bus to a nice little village called Cavtat.

Cavtat is founded on the small rocky peninsula and has nice shoreline to fish from. But make sure you are there early in the morning before the sunbathers conquer all the places. And so I did. I was at the shore while it was still dark. Loyal to my style I took my microfishing gears and started to light the water with my head torch. Soon I spotted a tiny little fish which was easy to lure up. It was my second Mystery blenny of the trip. Some fifteen minutes later I saw something very interesting. Happily this fish was also very cooperative and I managed to catch it. Red-black triplefin was the english name of the fish. I caught two more tiny blennies. The first one was what I think another Mystery blenny but the second one was yet a new species. One Bucchich's goby and one Madeira rockfish later it was time to head back to our apartment.
Tripterygion tripteronotum

Zvonimir's blenny (Parablennius zvonimiri)

Later on the morning I made the last fishing session of the holiday. I caught three tiny gobies which still needs to be identified and also one blenny which is unsure by its species too. And of course I had to tease myself by snorkeling a bit. Once again there was few Peacock blennies, one Giant goby, a school of small barracudas and some other irritating creatures lurking right at my swim.
Who are you?

This blenny still needs to be confirmed

Some random picture from Cavtat.

At the end it was awesome holiday in the great countries. I added two more countries to my fishing lists. Kosovo was the first country I’ve been fishing at without catching even one single fish. Therefore I can’t add it to my list. What it comes to specieshunting I caught twelve new species and there is still few species to be identified….

maanantai 31. elokuuta 2015


I have visited our neighboring country Estonia several times but have never fished there before. At June it was finally time to fix this horrible mistake.

I arrived to Tallinn by ferry on the morning and started to drive around to look if I can find some nice looking fishing spots. After checking couple of places I stopped to River Pirita just about five kilometers east from the downtown of Tallinn.
Nice, sheltered fishing spot.

At the time I got to the river it was raining buckets. Well there was a couple of bridges nearby so I moved under the bigger bridge and found a nice sheltered place to fish at. My only goal for this trip was to catch at least one fish no matter the size nor species.
Let it rain...

This was actually a very easy job. There was tens of aggressive Three-spined sticklebacks hanging around and it took about two seconds to catch the first one. I had added a country number 21 to my list. I caught about ten more sticklebacks and few Bleak before I headed shopping (just couple of cans or bottles of beer, long drinks and wine) to the town.
Estonian Three-spined stickleback.

After packing my summer refreshments to my car I parked to the harbor and went back fishing. I was fishing at the dock and thought I’ll catch some Round gobies and maybe some Perch. The other half went right when I caught about ten gobies. I also caught one small Viviparous eelpout as a surprise catch.  
Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus).
Viviparous eelpout (Zoarces viviparus).

A nice trip in not so nice weather gave me nothing less than a one more country fished.

Stay tuned. Some more countries and fish species coming soon….

perjantai 28. elokuuta 2015

Old cars, hotels and some more fish: Cuba part 2

This picture has been taken on the western side (beach side) of the Varadero.

Two days later our second week of the vacation was starting at the touristic hell of Varadero. It’s a nice place but have absolutely nothing to do with the real Cuba. There’s only hotels after hotels with some souvenir booths between them. The bright side of the Varadero is that basically whole east side of the 20 kilometer long peninsula is unbuilt and has some decent spots to fish at.
My playground on the first morning.

On the first morning I left the hotel when it was still dark outside. I tried to find some life between the shore rocks again but failed miserably. I think I had one bite but didn't see one single fish. After the dawn I changed my gear and soon caught my first fish with my whip rod. Well, the first or second fish gave me nothing new as they were Dusky damsel and French grunt. Then I put a small piece of damselfish on my hook and soon caught couple of more grunts. This time they were Bluestriped grunt and I had caught my first new species at Varadero.
Bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus).

Soon after it was time to head back to hotel. On the way back I was fishing with a small silvery spoon in the hope of some predatory species. It started quite well when I had an angry bite right on my second cast. It was a small barracuda but sadly it got off just when I was grabbing it with my lip grip. I had few more hits and follows by what I think were houndfish until I had to go for lunch.
This is the place I saw the Cowfishes at.

Next day came and this time I was on the move after the lunch. I was starting from the place I left yesterday.  I spotted couple of Scrawled cowfish right away near the shore line and started to lurk them. Well, my bad luck continued when I had two bites by them. The first one got off and the another one broke my tiny little hook on the furious run it took. I wouldn't ever believe cowfish can swim that fast. That was it. I saw some cowfish afterwards but never got a bite again. A bit later I had some bites by the needlefish or houndfish also but failed to catch them too.

I had seen some sergeant fish day before and now I took a new attempt after them. They did not like dried worms nor piece of fish but this time I had some bread with me. It was still not easy. They did eat the freebies and even my hook bait but I could not hook them. In some point there was a school of sergeants busying around my bait when a small fish ambushed from the side and and gulped my hook. A Schoolmaster snapper (Lutjanus apodus) was a refreshing surprise after a lousy afternoon. Quite soon I finally managed to hook and land one sergeant fish as well. Two fish on a six hours session is not much but at least they were both new species for me.
Very hungry bread eating snapper.
Sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis).

On Friday we had been booked an offshore trolling day with a few Finnish guys. We decided that the first fight (if we ever have one) would go to the guy who booked our trip. After one hour we had a bite and Jukka reeled in a nice Dorado (or Mahi mahi) of about seven kilos. Then it was my turn to be...
Jukka is fighting with a Dorado.

About half an hour later we had another screaming bite and we saw a marlin splashing behind the boat. But of course it got off after few seconds and I didn't even make it to the fighting chair. Soon after our captain headed to the shallows and tried to find some barracudas for us but there was nothing showing anymore.

Next morning I was on the shore in the dark again. I did not find any fish this time either. I wonder if there's any gobies or blennies at all at the waters of Varadero. Rest of the time I was fishing with my spinning rod and tried to find barracudas and needlefishes. I was casting a silvery spoon again and I did have a hit soon after I started. This time I managed to land the fish and my first ever barracuda was finally there. It was only a small Greater barracuda but I was soooo happy with it.
My first ever Barracuda.
There was couple of local fishermen casting with their hand lines nearby so I gave the Barracuda for them. They thanked me nicely and told me they gonna barbecue it in the evening.
I had some more bites by the houndfish again but the barracuda was going to be the only fish of the day.
I'm not a car person but at Cuba you just can't look away when seeing beauties like these.

15th of February was gonna be our last whole day of the vacation. This time I decided to go a bit further to find some new fishing grounds. I took a hop-on hop-off bus (by far the best and the cheapest way to travel at Varadero) and headed to the canal on the eastern side of the peninsula. I started with a sabiki rig and caught my first fish of the day almost immediately. It was a Silver mojarra (Eucinostomus argenteus). After that I set up my other rod and made cut baits from the mojarra and casted a running ledger rig out.
Silver mojarra.
The canal.

Cause nothing happened I was going to check my bait and was slowly dragging my bait on the bottom. When it was only about ten meters from the shore I had a bite and hooked a fish. It was not a big fish but still a nice little Mutton snapper and the second new species of the day.
Mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis).

Later on I caught couple of more mojarras and happily one of them was another new species. I also caught a cute little striped fish with micro fishing gears. I was sure I had caught a new species for me but found out later that it was only a juvenile French grunt
Yellowfin mojarra (Gerres cinereus).
French grunt juvenile.

The last day of the trip was much worse I expected but at least I caught three new species. After all I had thirteen new species from Cuba and it was the 20th country I have been fishing (and caught fish from) at. And if you haven’t noticed yet: every fish bigger than my palm is a huge monster in my standards…
Having a daiquiri with the Papa Hemingway himself.