Published Dec 1. 2021 - 10 months ago
Updated or edited Dec 1. 2021

Salty Sardinia

In the summer of 2020, we were looking for a vacation spot and settled in on Sardinia, which meant that Mediterranean fly fishing was an option.

Florian and a mahi mahi
Florian and a Mediterranean mahi mahi
Florian Baumann

We went in August, enjoyed it thoroughly and, after seeing flyfishable game when snorkeling on Lanzarote, I started researching the web for fishing opportunities. The research result was that there are quite a few species on the island that would be interesting. Barracuda, seabass, and Mahi Mahi or dolphin popped up. I found a guide, and as this was a family vacation tried once for ‘cuda in the evening to no avail other than pulling a fly through breathtakingly beautiful water from the rocks. Francesco was enjoyable company and, as a marine biologist, also knowledgeable. I also learned that family vacation time is not prime fishing time.

The idea was born to return at a more favorable season. There were some unknown unknowns in this game. Francesco, being a spin fisher, couldn’t help me with gear or flies. The convenient packing lists and fly recommendations you get for booked guided trips didn’t exist. I talked to some people I know, who had been fishing in the Mediterranean, and got confirmation of my ideas and experience from other warm water trips.
Tie a couple of favorites, Deceivers, Clouser Deep Minnows, Bay Anchovies, some poppers and a shrimp or two. I also had some Merkin crabs a couple of Albie Whores and even some worm flies. For gear bring a 7, 8, 9 and even a 10 weight, floating lines and some sinktips for the heavier rods. A pair of waders in case the lagoon seabass was cooperative, which, as I learned, depends on the weather. So, I packed half the gear from the garage and the shack in the car.

My 2021 fall vacation started in Denmark on the island of Fyn, with the “usual suspects”. After Corona interfering with our ability to fish, eat and drink together, this was a nice break and the turnout was impressive. Nonetheless I packed up on Thursday went home and repacked.
All the things from my list were packed and the fly-tying material from my Fyn trip was replaced by bucktail, flash and some synthetics.

Spot for Mahi Mahi
Spot for Mahi Mahi
Florian Baumann

Direction south, stopover at my brother’s place. His family and he lives in Bavaria, and that is halfway from me to Genova. Then the final leg through the Alps to Genova. Night ferry to Porto Torres and there I was… on Sardinia.

I contacted Francesco, who set me up in a fantastic flat for the trip. His idea was to hit the water quickly. Brief unpacking and I followed him to a place in the rocks. The target species was dolphin or Mahi Mahi.
We spotted a single fish. Francesco explained to me that the dolphin is around in schools and sometimes these schools send out scouts to look for bait. So, he started to cast his jig far out and reeled in extremely fast and this approach was effective in getting them close. The first school came in. The fish are stunningly beautiful, and they move wicked fast. I offered a popper, tied according to Bob Popovics’s Banger. No interest, Francesco took a fish on a soft rubber in chartreuse and orange. For the next school I tried a chartreuse deceiver and one fish liked it enough to take it.
I had it on for a few seconds, but the hook didn’t hold. It was a 3/0 and dolphins have relatively small mouths.

Orange and chartreuse
Sunset tying
Florian Baumann
On the rocks
Rods ready
Flies, reels and rods ready
Florian Baumann

A few words on gear and conditions, I used an 8 weight, loaded with a 9 weight floating line and a 16 lbs fluorocarbon leader. Casting distances were 10 to 15 meters, fast reaction required so the “low ready” approach is needed. Keep the fly in your hand, the line either clean on the rocks or in your hand, that way you can be fast if these speedsters show up.
After the first fishing a few things became clear. Fish are around, Francesco could lure them in but it was clearly on me to figure out what they were eating. The first contact and Francesco’s soft plastic pointed me in the right direction. I had chartreuse bucktail and some orange dubbing with me. So on the first evening in my lovely flat I tied a fly on a size 2 hook with these ingredients, bucktail deceiver style.

The following day gave the opportunity to try the newly tied fly. We met at 11:00 on the spot and within a short while we had a school close enough to reach. I managed two fish from that school in the 40 cm range. Francesco scored on rubber. During this session there were more fish around but they had a classical lock jaw syndrome, following both the fly and the lure but turning centimeters before reaching it. A phenomenon that we could see all too well, the water being crystal-clear.

Out to sea
Spin supports fly
Still calm Mediterranean sea
On the boat
Florian Baumann
A post-fishing treat
Mahi meal
for the taste buds
Florian Baumann

Then we took a break from fishing. I had a couple of days doing touristy stuff on the island and there are plenty of opportunities for it.
When I called for another session, he was skeptical because the wind wasn’t optimal. We tried, nonetheless. That was a good decision. We got fish in almost immediately. They were cooperative and we scored a total of 10 fish, 6 fell to Francesco and two of his friends on spinning gear and I had 4 on the fly, the best was about 65 cm, legal limit is 60, so I kept it for the kitchen, and man it was worth it!

There were a lot of fish around, amazingly beautiful, easy to spot but again as the day progressed increasingly uncooperative. Francesco’s idea is that the fish don’t feed during the night, so they are hungry in the morning.

Mahi Mahi - gold and blue
Florian Baumann

When Francesco and I planned the fishing part of my trip, we were shooting for two boat trips. The chances for barracuda and even false albacore are there. We sailed out in sunny weather. Marco skippered the boat, a 15 foot inflatable. We started to fish buoys and stuff floating on the ocean. These objects aggregate baitfish, which in turn gets predators interested. The fishing started and we had some takes, one hard hit on a Popovics Head Banger on the surface. Then, within minutes wind sprung up and we had white caps on the waves. Marco did a fantastic job in getting the boat back to shore and to the other side of Porto Torres, which was protected. Trolling, trying to find fish, he hooked a small bluefin tuna, that was carefully released. The rest of our adventure on the water was uneventful.
The last guiding was again from the shore, the weather didn’t allow for another try with the boat. The fishing was again on the first schools coming in, and gave two fish for me and a couple for Francesco. I tried a surface fly again and had done dolphin.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! Fishing in warm saltwater in Europe is something that could be developed more. It is fun and can easily be combined with a family vacation.
I’ll be back.

If you want to chase Sardinian fish with Francesco:
Email: f.curreli@hotmail.it
Francesco on Facebook
Website

Comments

Sounds like exciting fishing...

Sounds like exciting fishing waiting for the shoals of fish to come in. Do they fight hard on the fly gear?

Fighting hard...

Hi Jack, yes they do, jumping, running and putting a nice bend into the 8 weight, ,

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