BaitYourHook Guide to Seas: The Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Sea literally translates as the sea that lies in the middle of the land, and as far as European civilization is concerned, this is a very accurate description. It lies where Europe, Asia and Africa meet, and is joined to the Atlantic Ocean only by a very narrow straight. The Egyptians, the Phineceans, the Greeks and the Romans lived on its banks and sailed its waters, creating the world as we know it in the process.

The Mediterranean Sea is broken by countless gulfs, bays, peninsulas and islands, that divide it into a number of smaller “marginal” seas, such as the Alboran Sea between Spain and Morocco east of Gibraltar, Balearic Sea between Spain and the Balearic Islands, the Thyrennian Sea between Corsica, Sardinia, and Italy. Between the eastern coast of Italy and mainland Europe lie the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas. The coasts of Greece, Turkey and the island of Crete mark the borders of the Aegean Sea. 

These divisions are not arbitrary, as the seas differ from each other in depth, water temperature and salinity. Often the difference can be seen by the naked eye, and in critical points where one sea meets another you can stand forever, mesmerized by the play of the colors of the water, shapes of the waves, and even, it seems, the structure of the foam on their tops, varying as you cast your eye to the left and to the right of the cape. 

the bay in santorini, greece

But you will be even more thrilled if you cast your line into that sea, as there are thousands of available fish species to be caught there. Interestingly enough, the waters of the Mediterranean Sea are rated as low in both chlorophyll and nutrients, making it a marine equivalent of a desert. This doesn’t prevent the sea from having absolutely wonderful fishing opportunities.

Dentex and gilt-head bream are some of the most popular fishes in the Mediterranean, offering both exciting sport and excellent table fare. Bottom fishing, spinning, and simple handlining from piers or overhanging cliffs are some of the most popular fishing methods with locals, and not to be despised by a tourist, too. 

Bottom fishing is often practiced in the night; as the main force of the vacationers retreats from the beaches to bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs, you will see small groups of commandos armed with tackle boxes and long poles take their position on the shore. They will cast their rods, baited with chopped squid or similar natural bait, far out, where it would be discovered by smell by the fish that moves over to the sandy or overgrown bottoms to feed. To know when the fish takes the bait, they will use lighted or fluorescent pole tips, bells or electronic warning devices. With three or four lines in the water, and rods secured in holders, they will relax in their picnic chairs, sip their beers, and look at the stars. Wouldn’t it be a much better way to spend a night than a noisy bar?\

The tourist, however, is mostly drawn to guided fishing trips, to compensate for the lack of local knowledge and gear (who ever carries four or five surf rods on a family vacation?) And near to any Mediterranean resort you will find an ample supply of captains and charter boats.

Some of the most common and affordable offers are nearshore fishing on relatively smaller and slower boats built for traditional local fisheries. This is a very flexible experience, with captains easily adapting to your requirements. It can be a serious minded  fishing adventure or a relaxed family outing, trolling in the deep or handlining for flounder, a visit to a reef or a wreck, or perhaps a swim in an unspoiled lagoon, inaccessible from the shore – you name it. 

Mediterranean Sea also offers outstanding deep-sea big game fishing for sailfish, marlin, and especially bluefin tuna. The pelagic species enter the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Strait in the spring, move through the deeper southern part of the sea to Sicily, and then to their spawning grounds between Italy and the Balkans. After spawning, they will return to the ocean, and will complete the journey by the end of summer. Both sides of the Alboran Sea, the islands of Mallorca, Sardinia, Malta and Sicily provide bases for the captains and charter boats that take sports anglers out in pursuit of the wonderful pelagics. 

The Mediterranean Sea is suffering from overfishing, so if you are debating between catch-and-release and keeping the catch, think about future generations and choose the former. Of course, nobody would hold it against you if you keep a couple of the more widespread fishes; in just about any Mediterranean town you can find a place where they will cook your catch for you, and what can be a more satisfying culinary experience than a fish you’ve just caught, accompanied by a plate of spaghetti, Cyprus potatoes, or Greek salad made of local grown vegs, and a little pitcher of ice-cold white wine!

My favorite part of the Mediterranean is the Libyan Sea on the Southern coast of Crete. I had often read the phrase “plum-colored sea” but could not imagine what it could look like until I stood on the beach in the little settlement that is said to be the birthplace of Aesclepius, the legendary founder of medicine in ancient Greece. Wild and primal whoosh its waves over timeless rocks, mesmerizing is its unfathomable depth. If I ever win an advance to write a novel, I thought, I’d go here, where I could on a terrace overlooking the sea, and when I get tired, I’d borrow a boat and go trolling along the coastline, like a survivor of Ulysses’ crew.

Millions of tourists visit different resorts on the Mediterranean Sea, from Spain to Egypt, each year, and while there are other astonishing vacation areas around the world, from Florida to Hawaii, and from Thailand to the Maldives, any point of the Mediterranean Sea can rival any of them. Friendly beaches and tender water, beautiful buildings and historical sites that reach into the dawn of civilization, sophisticated art galleries and rustic cuisine, there is something for everyone. And wherever you may go, you will have excellent fishing opportunities. As you settle on a destination for your next family vacation, check it out on and be sure to book a trip with one of the excellent captains and charters that post their trips on our online marketplace. 

Image credits: Fishing Tour Santorini

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