BaitYourHook Guide to Seas: The Adriatic

The Adriatic Sea is located in the South of Europe. It’s squeezed between the Italian Peninsula and the Balkans, the coastline belonging to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania, and the Greek island of Corfu serves at its southern border. There are numerous other inhabited islands, many of them serving as bases to fishing charters. The coast of the Adriatic Sea is home to a number of popular seaside resorts, including Rimini and Split. 

The northern part of the Adriatic Sea is relatively shallow, with numerous lagoons. The water in the lagoons and the adjustment parts of the sea is rather bracken, and dull with particles of soil carried down from the rivers. The combination of low depth, warm water, and natural organic fertilizer provides an excellent food base for plant-eating fish and, consequently, for predators. 

Dentex is one of the prime targets for sports fishing in the northern part of the Adriatic sea. Another popular species are the gilt-head bream and the European sea bass, tasty and not bony fishes that come in a convenient size, normally just right for a one-person meal. Sardines and mackerel are also common, as well as eels, and sandy bottoms provide excellent habitat for flounder. Some species, including the sole and the gilt-head bream, use the lagoons as nurtheries, where they grow from fry to subadult size.

A John Dory fish on a rock on the coast of Croatia.
The Balcan coast of the Adriatic Sea is mostly rocky, with numerous bays and islands. Photo Credit: Sparus Boats

 The southern part of the Adriatic is considerably deeper. The water, especially near the Balcan coast, is deeper and clearer, with the maximum depth of circa 300 meters offering offshore and deep sea fishing, and the fish population is there to match. In addition to the gilt-head bream, seabass, mackerel and dentex, you can hope for a big catch up to and including the tuna. In fact, the Adriatic Sea, especially near the island of Sibenik, is one of the breeding grounds for bluefin tuna. You can also catch grouper, mahi mahi, and a variety of other deep sea species.  

Fishing has always been an integral part of the local way of life. Traditional huts made of reeds, built by fishermen who used a variety of netting techniques to ensure their catch since times immemorial, are still to be seen on the banks of the lagoons. These days fishing opportunities along the coast of the Adriatic Sea range from primitive handlining from piers or vertical cliffs, to first-class offshore sea chapters. Most fishing charters are located on the Balkan side of the sea, and offer a variety of fishing techniques and trip options. 

The Dalmatian coast has been described as “one big sweet spot for fishing”. WIth fishing charters, the most popular methods are trolling for pelagic species, or bottom fishing for seabass, and common pandora. You may also catch amberjack, bonito and dentex. Some of the fish species found in these waters are amazing and exotic looking, for example John Dory, a serious-looking fish with big and sharp spikes on dorsal and anal fins. Those fins aren’t poisonous, but other species of the Adriatic, including some rays and the aptly named scorpionfish, may incur quite painful stings. 

John Dory
John Dory, featuring the threatening fins and an eye-looking spot on the side that deters predators. Photo Credit: Sparus Boats.

An interesting phenomenon found in the Northern Adriatic is the so-called Tengue. Those are rock-like formations that are found on the bottom of the sea, at the depths between 30 and 50 meters. They are not connected to the underlying rocky bottom, but have formed as the result of pertifying organic matter. The process of their formation is different to the coral reefs, but the organisms that comprise it thrive in low-light conditions, extracting food from organic matter carried into the sea by the rivers. The locations of these reefs were long known to the local fishermen, as the mussels and other organisms that live on them attract fish.  

Reefs, including rocky formations, tengue, and remains of long-dead coral reefs, are to be found on the eastern Adriatic coasts as well, and serve as a popular destination for fishing boat captains. They are especially suitable for a family trip, as reefs provide a great opportunity to diversify fishing with swimming, snorkeling, and watching small and brightly colored fish and crabs, an irresistible attraction to children. 

The best time for fishing in the Adriatic Sea depends on the location. In the northern part, especially in the lagoons, the winter is a very dull time. Shallow waters are strongly affected by air temperatures, and with cold weather many fish species migrate to warmer waters of the deeper parts of the sea. In the Southern Adriatic, the best time for bluefin tuna and other deep sea big game fishing is believed to be from August to January.

adriatic 5
Fishing charters and captains of the Adriatic offer trips for all tastes, from serious deep sea fishing to relaxed family fun. Photo Credit: Obrt za ribarstvo Nefali

The Adriatic Sea coast is a place well worthy of a visit, for different reasons. History buffs would savor the area where the Roman Empire rose, prevailed against the Greek, and fell, as well as vivid traces of the struggle between the Christian and Islamic civilization which continued well into recent times. Art lovers can’t miss the collections of old masters and modern art, the tradition rooted through Italian Renaissance into Antiquity, as well as amazing architecture of cities, of which Venice is a rightful crown.

Warm water and sandy beaches of Veneto and Rimini are perfect for children, while the clear mountain air with aromas of spruce trees and sea salt mixing together on the Balcan coast is a treat to any big city dweller’s life. Taverns and restaurants will offer you delicious and affordable meals, wherein fish and seafood take a prominent place. And of course there are excellent fishing opportunities. Explore them with! 


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