Monthly Archives: February 2014

A piece of Africa in Europe

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If you´re fisherman, you´ve heard of a nile perch. Unfortunatelly, we didn´t make it to Nile, but we took a fishing trip to Slovenia in a search for a tilapia. Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish, inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes in Africa and both Americas.

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They can be found in aquariums around the world as well. I guess that´s the way how it got in a Topla Struga lake near Catez spa. Considering tilapia is an invasive species, it soon became main fish in a lake. It can reach 4 kilos and it is an omnivore, feeding on plankton as well as on higher plants, but it can be taken on artificial baits as well so we decided to give it a go. We used Slit Shad´s tails, AJ Sticks and AJ worms and baits from Berkley Powerbait line of baits. Salted and scented, as you can see. We caught some, but if you really wanna catch these, you have to use maggots. Down side of fishing with maggots is that smaller fish like it so much it becomes boring after a while. We used split shot and drop shot technique, with small round hook in lack of small drop shot hooks. I used Sakura Sportism UL rod, while Robbie used Garbolino Game Hunter Microlure rod.

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Lake Topla Struga is under RD Brezice administration, daily ticket costs 10 euros and lake is open for strangers on Wednesday and Sunday. You should know that there is float fishing competition going on there every Sunday, at least in winter, because this lake never freezes. Reason why is warm water from Catez spa.

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Link on where you can buy daily tickets is below, but be aware that some of places listed open at noon.

http://www.ribiska-druzina-brezice.si/index.php?display=podatki-dovolilnice

Blast from the past

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This text has been written in 2007. We are publishing it now to remember Trakoscan lake as it just to be. Slug Go was indispensable back then, Owner Rip´n Minnow was almost only small twitchbait from Japan that was available in Croatia, and Yo Zuri Arm´s Swisher only topwater lure. Bass fishing in Croatia started pretty shy. And then it exploded over the night. Couple of years before this text was made, you couldn´t find bass rod, only one store was selling soft lizards, creatures, soft jerkbaits and so on. Couple of years later, every store had at least something to offer to average Croatian bass fisherman. Some of us used rods we fished with on our big rivers, like Sava, Kupa, or Drava river. Others got their hands on some short Daiwas and Shimanos. Berkley Cherywood was a big hit when it came. I myself caught God knows how many fish with it. Who had Lamiglas, GL, St.Croix or something with a pedigree from US was a big shot. Most bass fishermen were chasing bass with Slug Go rigged on unweighted worm hook, Lunker City Fin´s nad Mann´s Shadow. Spinnerbaits, poppers, walk the dog types of baits (in Croatia known as zara), or torpedos were reserved only for those who had some relatives, or friends abroad.

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When GY softbaits came, that was huge. Selection of bass lures increased big time, all kinds of rods became available and half of fishing nation got hooked up on a bass. Including me. I found out that bass is a real sport fish, side by side with asp. Fish that will go for any lure when in mood, as crazy as veteran from Vietnam with PTSP syndrom. Who even once saw it guard and protects its nest, had to be thrilled with a pack of balls and heart that fish has. Or one was heartless. We just to open bass season as soon as in february, if winter wasn´t too long and too cold. We learned it likes to hang out by the shore, in cover. We also learned rather fast it takes all kind of baits. Some of them, thise classic ones, like wobblers, spoons and inline spinnerbaits we had. Others, like soft lizards, frogs, worms, or creatures, we embraced. Some, like jigs, weird looking topwaters (Crazy Crawler and Jitterbug, for example), even buzzbaits, have never really sat to bass fishermen in Croatia. Slug Go was absolute number one for a long period of time. Then came Mann´s Shadow, GY Senko, Fin´s and others. We found that these are go-to lure for bass in early spring, in prespawning period. We used woblers thru a day, and especially in the evening. Floating shallow runner, or mid runner with a rattle between 5 and 10 cm caught a lot of fish. Owner Rip´n Minnow was hot when it came, that little twitchbait caught me some nice bass. Same thing was with Yo Zuri Arm´s Swisher. I liked to cast it in late afternoon and evening, when minnows tend to swim and feed just above the surface, or at the surface chasing flies. Spinnerbaits were another big discovery once they came. Now we could work our way thru cover of any kind, what we couldn´to do with our conventional lures.

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We had difficulties in post spawning period, but realised pretty soon all world does, so we didn´t give it much of an attention. We just to compensate it later in the season. If you don´t live here, you´ll find this text odd. Only reason why we decided to publish it here is that Trakoscan lake was once eldorado for bass fishermen. I don´t know how many daily tickets was sold there, but it was counted in thousands. Friend of mine had a 60+ cm long fish there. Big fat female he misshooked twice. Fishes around 40 were normal. Lake was full of it. Now, 6-7 years later, we are on a start of another bass season in Croatia, but there is no bass left in Trakoscan.

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Winter joy

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I loved winter when I was a kid. Sledding, snowball fight, making a snowman.. Even that feling when you can´t feel your frozen fingers was kinda cool. With years, that love melted like snow in spring. . I guess turning point could of been when my buddy hit me with a ice snowball in the head.

Winter fishing is dull. It´s slow. Fish is in deep holes, season is closed for pike, only zander and perch are in the mood. Sava river´s water level varies a lot these days so we decided to go catch some perch. It´s been a while. We set a date with Elvis and we picked him up on a Saturday morning in a Top fishing store. It is cold as it should be in february and we don´t have problem with it. But somewhere half way to Draganići, starts to rain. I have my neopren waders and waterproof jacket with me, Robert is well dressed as well, but Elvis isn´t. He has sweat pants, Garbolino hoodie and a jacket on him. Model. Model who is cursing from the top of his lungs at the moment cause he is aware he´s gonna be wet moment he steps out of a car.

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We parked, fortunately rain stopped for now and we gear up. I am trying to tie a knot, but frozen fingers do not listen. It took couple of minutes for me to do it. Robert already caught nice chub and couple of perch. Slit shad in peppermint colour proves himself again. And again and again. He found them and he is pulling them out one after another. Elvis does the same. He is using same lure, but in ghostuccino colour.

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Then rain starts again. Elvis jacket is frozen in a moment so he goes in the cover. I park on his place and start targeting perch spot. I sign up with a fish shortly and decide to try Crispy spider jig, new Sakura lure. Fish is active, now it´s time to see does it work. I feel some poking, I guess perch are just nibbling on a silicone skirt. Finally, a decent strike, and nice perch is on dry. Understand ´dry´ as a figure of speech, because rain is falling like crazy. Our rods, guides and noses are frozen. Robert´s on a hunt, perch can´t see Slit shad, they bite like they hate it. They don´t, they love it! I am going upstream, but nothing happens. Canal floats too fast here I suppose, and majoritiy of fish is where Robbie first found them. In the end of canal, in deep and calm water. So I am coming back. I rig Slit Finesse 75 in blue back colour on a jig hook, another noveltie from Sakura for this year. I cast it, let it sink and twitch it with short twitches of a rod tip and with long pauses inbetween.
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It looks like a minnow on a deathbed downthere I guess. Sharp strike followed with short fight and pikey is landed. Only for a moment, for it´s closed season for pike from 1st of february till 1st of april in Croatia. Although rain stopped, we´re done. Robert poked each and every perch out there, they stopped biting, Elvis is wet from head to toes, and I can´t feel my fingers any more. We´ll visit this canal in spring again.

I could come in a sweat pants then as well.