Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Musings

Summer Musings

The fishing slows down a bit here in Israel during the summer months. The bigger fish move further out to deeper waters and the waves seem to be mostly higher, coupled with something I've never noticed before - that the sea level is higher too (only about 30cm) but all together it makes it a bit difficult to get out onto our favorite reefs.
Of course there are other spots to fish from and since the main target species have mostly moved out to sea, it offers a chance to change tactics and downsize for the smaller species.
I did have some fun and managed to catch a couple of small barracuda - one on an Ima Duo Nabarone that I found washed up on the beach which I cleaned up and repainted (nothing fancy just some dull green and purple auto spray - which just goes to show that a lure doesn't have to be all fancy and shiny!) The other on a Savage Gear Pencil Prey 80, which I switched to standard treble for a single hook.
The Pencil Prey is a slow sinking plastic lure and I was a bit wary of it getting snagged easily on our shallow reefs so after rigging it with a single hook I found a nice long rocky stretch of calm water between the beach and the reefs and proceeded to work it over and around the rocks - even allowing it to settle on the bottom a number of times to try and get it snagged. It worked great! Not once did it snag and it gave me a real confidence boost in fishing it over our 'lure graveyard' reefs. Not only is it a lure with a great action (you can work it several ways) it is now pretty well snag proof.

Barracuda on a repainted Ima Duo Nabarone

Barracuda on a Repainted Ima Duo Nabarone

Barracuda on a Pencil Prey 80

Barracuda on a Pencil Prey 80

So with changing tactics a bit I set of one morning at the beginning of August with my light gear (a Maya Feather, 3-15g; Shimano Aernos XT C3000 loaded with 8lb white PowerPro and a selection of small lures.
Having arrived at the Poleg beach half and hour or so before first light, I started with a small Gunfish topwater and then as the light levels started to increase, and I could make out the reefs (I'm still getting to know the southern end of the Poleg beach) I switched a few medium sized lures a few times as I made my way across the various reef formations gradually working my way further south.

Nothing doing! So I get out a Rapala Ultra Light Minnow 04 and cast it over the edge of the shallow reef and immediately I had strikes but no hookups. I changed locations to a rocky inlet and caught my first of 3 small sea bream. I then switched to some very small soft plastic grubs and again lots of hits but no hookups - these little pesky fish even bit the tails off of 2 of the grubs! Then I had the second of the sea bream with it engulfing the grub completely in its mouth.

Small sea bream on a soft plastic grub

Small Sea Bream on a Soft Plastic Grub

After having some fun with the grubs I moved back up the beach and switched to a small (3.5g) kastmaster type lure and, like the grubs before, I was have lots of hits but only after several casts did I actually manage to hook a fish. I say a fish because I really don't what it was. It was small full bodied, whitish sides with a pale green back. I did take a photo but it didn't come out at all well :-(
I then switched to a BlueBlue Mini SeaRide in pink and fished it over a small section of the beach where the sea had carved out a large area between 2 stretches of reef. The water was only about 1 meter deep but on every cast I could see (polarized sun glasses are great) several small fish hitting it on every cast. This was just before 10am and I was getting ready to call it a day (the sun was getting really quite hot I didn't bring any sun screen with me). There was an older lady stretching herself out in the water where I was fishing so I was careful where I was casting. She didn't stay long so I made a good long cast (the SeaRide casts a mile!) and started to work to lure with a twitch and sink and draw and had a good take with a small sea bass hooked nicely on the assist hook.

Small sea bass on a BlueBlue Mini SeaRide

Small Sea Bass on a BlueBlue Mini SeaRide

I had a great time that day with 7 small fish all released and I attained some more knowledge and experience :-)
I am using single hooks on all my lures now and haven't lost a single fish but have gained from better hooksets, less damage to the fish and, mostly for me, more confidence in fishing over really rough ground knowing that these single hook lures don't snag very easily at all!

Now I'm looking forward to the end of the summer when things start to cool down a bit and the bluefish and bigger sea bass start to show up.

Tight lines!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Blue Runners in the Morning

Blue Runners in the Morning

So after quite a while of not catching anything (but still enjoying the time spent) I arranged with a friend to go to Herzlia marina early one Saturday morning and fish from the breakwater there.
We got to the breakwater about an hour before first light and made our way down the rocks to the water's edge. We tried poppers, pencils and minnows but nothing until just after 6am when it was already quite light, just before the sun started to rise over the top of the breakater.
I had already clipped on a Rapala X-Rap 10, after trying a small Halco Roosta popper, and after a few cast I had a fish on.

I wasn't expecting to see a small blue runner as I thought the X-Rap was too big for them but here it was, firmly hooked in the mouth. At exactly the same moment another angler fishing next to us also had one but his was on a small Kastmaster type lure. Then Omer switched his minnow for an 11g Thomson Nordic Herring (a small metal casting jig) and almost immediately was into his first of five blue runners. I switched to a 22g original Abu Krill (the new Abu Garcia ones tend to rust quite quickly in salt water) and was soon into another blue runner.

Abu Krill and Nordic Herring photo herring-krill_zps6a37a3a6.jpg

An original Abu Krill and a Nordic Herring

Over the next half an hour or forty minutes we had 9 blue runners between us and, although not that big, were enough for the frying pan and a spicy sauce. I usually practice catch and release but the blue runners are abundant at this time of year and so a few for the table won't have any adverse affect on their population.

Blue runners photo small_bluerunners_zps549409fb.jpg

Cleaning the fish before heading home

Cleaning the fish before heading home

By way of interest, the X-Rap was rigged with two Gamakatsu single lure hooks and the first blue runner had the belly hook firmly embedded in its mouth. I mention this as the belly hook was rigged facing upwards, to reduce snagging on shallow reefs, and I wasn't sure if it would allow a good hookset - that first blue runner gave me confidence to continue rigging them facing upwards!

Modified X-Rap 10 photo modified_x-rap_zps65ba273d.jpg

A modified X-Rap with upward facing single hooks

We did try again for blue runners on a couple of consecutive Saturday mornings but we didn't hit any more shoals like that first time. No reason to give up though especially when there are reports in the Israel Fishing Forum of others at differing locations having good success.

Tight lines!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Major Craft Solpara - a bargain

Major Craft Solpara - a bargain

About a year ago I bought a Major Craft Solpara SPS-902ML spinning rod. It is a fine rod and built using good quality Fuji fittings throughout.
This particular model, with a length of 2.74m will cast lures from 10-30g and handle line between 8-14lb. It is well balanced and is one of my favorite rods.

So, over the last little while I've been thinking about getting another one but one that would cover heavier lures for longer casts and, hopefully, some big bluefish.
I looked around the web and was nicely surprised to find a tackle shop in Cyprus selling the Solpara SPS-100M (3m, lures from 15-42g and line between 8-20lb) for a very good price and with international shipping at only 15 Euros, it was a bargain that I couldn't let pass. So with a quick talk with my wife (it is my birthday in a few days time) and the deal was done.

For those interested in having a look at the shop where I bought the rod it is: Tackle4All.com

Update

Just a word of warning if you are considering purchasing something expensive from abroad via EMS: You will probably have to pay not only VAT, and maybe import duties, but also a handling charge courtesy of the Israel Post Office. I had to pay an extra 198.70 Shekels - which made the rod the same price as if I had bought it here in Israel - so in the end it wasn't so much of a bargain after all!

Tight lines!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recommended Lures for Fishing in Shallow waters

Recommended Lures for Fishing in Shallow waters

One of the problems with fishing with lures in the shallow waters of Israel's Mediterranean coastline is in choosing the right one[s].
An expensive mistake, as I and others have done, is to buy lures that folks on foreign fishing forums and fishing websites are saying are good; but the problem is that what might be good for their situation is not necessarily good for the shallow water and reefs that we have here in Israel.
So I have endeavored to put together a short list of lures that, from my own experience, work very well, will not easily get snagged on those shallow submerged reefs that we have, will cast a good distance and, most important of all, catch fish. Most of these lures are quite expensive but I'm sure the money you save on lures you might have bought and found to be pretty much useless will make the cost worthwhile.
All the lures below come with treble hooks but I have started to replace them with special single hooks for a number of reasons, most of all to lessen the damage that trebles do to the fish and to make the lures less likely to snag.

Lucky Craft G-Splash

Lucky Craft G-Splash

The Lucky Craft G-Splash comes in two sizes: 65 (65mm, 7.5g) and 80 (80mm, 12g) and is, as are the other lures below, available in a variety of colors.

IMA Salt Skimmer

IMA Salt Skimmer

This is a silent walk-the-dog lure that casts great and has a unique action. Ideal for calmer conditions. It comes in just one size - 110mm and weighs 14g.

Xorus Patchinko II

Xorus Patchinko II

Although expensive the Xorus Patchinko is one amazing lure. It will outcast any other lure in its class and you can make it zig-zag and splash across the surface of the water with the minimum of effort. You can even get it to 'dance' on the spot which is great when you don't want to take it away from an interested bass.
This version is 14cm in length and weighs 25.8g.

Xorus Patchinko 100

Xorus Patchinko 100

The Patchinko 100 is the little brother of the Patchinko II and also has a great walk-the-dog action like its older sibling.

Halco Roosta Popper 80

Halco Roosta Popper 80

The Halco Roosta Popper is a very versatile lure. You can straight retrieve it and it will bubble just under the surface like a fleeing baitfish or you can rip it to create a huge splash of water and a stream of bubbles, or short jerks like you would a normal popper. Whichever method you choose it will be sure to get the fish's attention.
The smallest version, with a length of just 80mm and weighing in at 16g you can cast this lure a long way.

Luck Craft Gunfish 95

Luck Craft Gunfish 95

The Gunfish is already a classic sea bass lure. It is possible to work it even in the surf and it will still catch fish. Like the Patchinko, it too is a walk-the-dog lure that also spits and splashes attracting fish from a distance.
The Gunfish comes in four sizes: 75mm (6.5g), 95mm (12g) 115mm (19g) and 135mm (28g).

TackleHouse Feed Shallow 105

TackleHouse Feed Shallow 105

The TackleHouse Feed Shallow 105 is a great casting lure, is a proven fish catcher and swims at a maximum of 30cm which makes it great for working over the shallow reefs. You can still get it snagged though but if you swap the trebles for some single hooks then you have less chance of loosing it to the rocks (you actually get a better hookset with singles and less damage to the fish).

Rapala MaxRap 15

Rapala MaxRap 15

The Rapala MaxRap is the cheapest of my recommended lures and although the quality is not as good as the others (the split rings tend to rust and the paint has a tendency to peel) they are nonetheless good fish catchers. They also cast a fair distance and don't swim too deep.
Rapala are probably not having as much success with them as they anticipated and so they only offer two sizes now: the MaxRap-11 (13g) and the MaxRap-13 (15g). You can however still find the other sizes on eBay.

Like I said, these are my own recommendations based on my own personal experiences. There are of course a lot more similar lures on the market but I'll leave you with a word of advice: You only get what you pay for. If you want a long casting high performing lure that will catch fish then don't waste your money on cheap imitations.

Tight lines!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where to Fish - Ga'ash and Shefyim

Ga'ash and Shefyim

The coastline between Kibbutz Ga'ash and Kibbutz Shefyim has long stretches of reefs interspersed with a few sandy beaches. There are also a lot of submerged reefs in the shallow waters close to the shoreline as well as more reefs further out. These reefs offer cover and are an abundant food source for the many species of fish that are there.

Looking North from the Reefs at Ga'ash

Looking North from the Reefs at Ga'ash

When you arrive at the beach you can either head south or north. The southern part of the beach, which heads eventually to Shefyim, is mostly a long stretch of reef with relatively shallow water and interspersed submerged reefs. They provide good fishing for a variety of species especially bass, bluefish and, in the summer, blue runner.
The northern part of the beach is slightly different in that it also has a couple of stretches of sand which is a good place to fish with jigs and other lures that would otherwise get snagged on the reefs. If you continue to walk north you will eventually come to a flat reef which resembles a table somewhat that is about 40 meters from the shore. You can get out to it by wading over the rocks that lie between it and the shore. Be careful though if you decide to fish from there as if the waves are anything more than 50-80cm they will quite easily knock you off your feet.

Table Reef

Table Reef

Although the waters are relatively shallow, around the 1 to 1.5 meter mark, this doesn't hinder the fish, especially bass and bluefish both of which like to feed in the breaking surf, from coming close to the shoreline. It is not unusual to catch decent sized fish 15 to 20 meters from the edge of the reef.

A Small Blue Runner Caught on a Rapala CD-1

A Small Blue Runner Caught on a Rapala CD-1

1 Kilo bass on a Gunfish 75

1 Kilo bass on a Gunfish 75

As you stand on the reefs and look carefully at the sea you will notice darker patches in the water. These darker patches are the submerged reefs. Find yourself a place where there is a good distance between these submerged reefs and fish there. Be careful of these submerged reefs as they are only about 20 to 30 centimeters below the surface and it is very easy to get snagged.

If you plan on fishing with lures then, unless you have found a good clear area, it is advisable to begin with a topwater lure until you get to know the area where you are fishing better. Saying that though the topwaters count for the most fish caught - especially bass and bluefish.

During the late spring and summer one can have great fun with ultra light gear. Even though the lures might be smaller you can still expect to catch some good sized fish.

Ultra Light Fishing from the Reefs

Ultra Light Fishing from the Reefs

Getting There

If you are coming from the north then exit the Coastal Highway at the Hof HaSharon Interchange and continue past the first roundabout and then turn right at the second roundabout. Follow the road (it's a bit bumpy) until it curves left. The car park is on your right.
If you are coming from the south then exit the Coastal Highway at the Shefyim turn off. Turn right as you exit the underpass and then left at the second roundabout. Follow the instruction above to get to the car park.

After you park your car there is a gate in the left hand corner of the car park. Follow the path down to the beach and reefs.
Have a look at this map to help you get to the beach and reefs.

Tight lines!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where to Fish - Poleg

Poleg

Poleg Beach

Poleg Beach

The coastline at Poleg consists of a long sandy beach with a couple of areas of rocks and a section of reefs below the cliffs at its northern end.
The sandy beach (where the lifegaurd station is), although filled during the daytime with bathers in the summer months, is ideal for beach casting. There are no submerged reefs close to shore unlike the beach's northern end, and so it is possible to fish without the fear of getting snagged. Further up the beach the reefs start to appear, first as a few patches and then developing into a continuous reef system which is a great place to fish.

You can expect to catch sea bream at any time of the year, day or night whilst other species such as bass, bluefish, greater amberjack etc. can be caught a couple of hours either side of dusk or dawn between November to April. Bluefish can be caught year round but as with the others it is best a couple of hours either side of dusk or dawn.

2.58kg Bass Caught on a Patchinko 100

2.58kg Bass Caught on a Patchinko 100

The reefs at the northern end of the beach are relatively flat and long and have a distinct edge about 10-12 meters from the shoreline. You can fish from the edge of the reef as the water is only about 5-10cm deep; there are however a lot of uneven areas where the water can be knee deep so you will need to watch your step as you move around.
After the 'edge' of the reef the reef continues underwater for quite a distance and is broken up into several large areas with a few deep channels in between. The submerged reefs are only about 30cm beneath the surface and it is very easy to get snagged on them. If you intend lure fishing and if you are not sure about how shallow the reefs are then go with a topwater lure to begin with until you get to know the reef better.

The Reefs at Poleg

The Reefs at Poleg

There is also some very good fishing for gray mullet and sea bream on the reefs and a light rod with a small bobber float, using flour dough for bait will provide some good sport throughout the day.

Getting There

Exit the main Coastal Highway at the Poleg Interchange and head towards Netanya.
Turn left at the first set of traffic lights and then left at the second roundabout. Keep going until the turning on the right which takes you to the beach car park - there is a parking fee.

Alternatively you can continue along Ehud Manor and turn back on yourself at the roundabout at the end of the road, and park on the side of the road. Then walk over the sand dunes and down to the beach and reefs.

Have a look at this map to help you find your way to Poleg Beach and the reefs (you can clearly see the submerged reefs on the map - the dark patches in the water).

Tight lines!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reef Fishing

Reef Fishing

Reef fishing in Israel generally refers to the coastal reefs that run the length of the Mediterranean coast from Rosh Hanikra in the North to below Ashkelon in the South. These reefs are not coral but rather limestone yet still have a healthy population of fish species. The reefs themselves have an abundant covering of a green and orange colored type of seaweed, which looks a bit like lichen, that the smaller species of fish feed on.
These reefs are generally made up of three distinct types. They gradually change from a flat horizontal type in the far North into a more rugged type with smooth semi-submerged plateaus in the central region to a gradual smoothing and tilting seawards with an increase of sparsity the further south they go.
The ones in the North near Rosh Hanikra are flat, sit just above the sea level (on a calm day) and extend about 5 meters out from the shore with submerged reef outcrops extending another 40 meters or so. Their edges are sudden drop offs into about 2 or 3 meters of water so be careful where you stand and where you move on the reef.

Rosh Hanikra

Coastline at Rosh Hanikra

The ones further south between Tel Dor and Michmoret are more rugged on the shoreline and the semi-submerged portions have a roundish shape and are inter-spaced with sandy stretches of beach. These reefs are flat and at their furthest point stretch about 25-30 meters from the shore also with submerged reef outcrops extending another 30 or 40 meters or so. These ones, unlike those at Rosh Hanikra, are partially submerged to an average depth of about 10cm (depending on the height of the sea - it can change by about 40cm sometimes) and have varying sizes of pot holes - some large enough for 3 people to stand in up to their waists.
Obviously you will need to be careful, especially when the waves are breaking over the reefs with the associated foam which hides these pot holes very well, this speaking from experience! Like the Rosh Hanikra reefs, these too have sudden drop offs into deep water so be careful.
If you intend fishing these reefs in low light conditions or after dark, be very careful and don't go alone; accidents do happen and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Reefs at Tel Michmoret

Reefs at Tel Michmoret

These large reefs with their surrounding deep water and their continuance underwater provide an excellent environment for an abundance of small fish species and the larger fish which feed on them.

In good lighting conditions it is possible to make out the underwater parts of the reef by their dark patches in the sea. The reef, as mentioned previously, can extend another 30-40 meters or so and usually have a varied topography with high points, gullies and sandy bottom patches. You can experiment fishing the reef's different features to find out where the fish are located. Fish such as grouper tend to be somewhat territorial whereas other species like bass, Spanish mackerel and barracuda will be on the move hunting prey; gray mullet and sea bream will also tend to move around but you can get them to hang around with some suitable groundbait. Do be careful with your terminal tackle as the reefs are very unforgiving.

Reefs at Sydney Alley

Reefs at Sydney Alley

The third type of reef begins to transform from the previous type into a more gentle sloping kind that begin just south of Netanya and continue all the way to around Ashkelon in the South. This type of reef runs mostly parallel to the shore and can stretch uninterrupted for a hundred meters or so and differ from the other two types in that they mostly (more so from Ga'ash southwards) have a gentle slope disappearing into the sandy sea bottom. They don't extend that far into the sea, only about 3-10 meters and hence don't offer much in the way of deep water like the other types, only about 1.5 meters, but the fishing can still be great. Bass and bluefish for instance forage for prey really close to the shore where the waves are breaking. Other fish such as gray mullet and sea bream also come close inshore into the shallow waters to feed.

Reefs at Ga'ash

Reefs at Ga'ash

With regards to fishing styles that will of course depend on the species of fish that you are targeting. If it is predatory fish such as grouper, bluefish, bass or barracuda, then the best method is with artificial baits -- bass wedges (commonly referred to as 'nickel' here in Israel), soft plastics and hardbaits (mostly minnow shaped stickbaits, jerkbaits, topwaters etc.). If you are using hardbaits then shallow diving floating ones are best so as to avoid getting snagged on the shallow reefs.
If you are after sea bream, gray mullet and the like then small bobber floats with shrimp, offcuts of chicken breast or worms for sea bream or flour dough for gray mullet and sea bream. For the sandy bottomed areas between the reefs it is possible to use a sinker for extra distance but just be careful of the submerged reefs that you might not be able to see easily.

Tight lines!