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!

3 comments:

  1. nice place to do reef fishing. however, I suggest you try Reef fishing Vanuatu. you'll surely love to do it there.

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  2. Hi Lucy,
    Fishing in Vanuatu looks great. Maybe you would like to visit Israel and try the fishing here.

    Nigel

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