No fly fishing in Crete – Part I
Fishing and hunting
THE ONLY fishing I did on Crete was in this tank, using my feet as bait.
So one day last fall, Dottie said, “I want to go on that trekking trip to Crete with Karen (Collins).”
Karen is a Sonoma resident who operates Going Places, a guided travel business, in which she personally leads small groups of folks on walking/hiking tours of interesting places around the world.
Knowing that Dottie's idea of roughing-it usually means a place without room service and no Nordstrom’s within easy driving distance, I responded, “You do realize the trekking is outdoors?”
I got the look, for my impertinence.
And with little more said, we signed up and became two in a group of 12 (mostly Sonomans) who last month made the trip and trek across the incredibly picturesque, mountainous and challenging island landscape.
Crete is Greece's biggest island and practically a mini-state of its own. It takes only about 45 minutes to fly from Athens to Crete, and even if you didn't trek (dare I say especially if you didn't trek) you'd love it.
Rich in ancient history, the island was home to the Minoans, the earliest advanced European civilization that peaked in about 1950 B.C., centuries before Athens became the Greek powerhouse.
Civilized the Minoans may have been, but they did not fly fish. In fact, there is no fly-fishing on Crete, in spite of the fact that there are numerous very trouty looking streams that tumble out of snow-capped mountains rising to more than 2,450 meters (about 8,000 feet). The problem is there are no trout in those streams, no bass, nothing that one can cast a fly to, which is why readers of this fishing column might want to skip the opening paragraphs and read the real fishing report (for our area) at the end.
So we trekked instead. I should have made Dottie look up the definition before we left. The term means – “a long arduous journey, typically on foot.” Arduous means exactly what you think it does.
We trained for the trip by walking three-to-five miles a day around the Valley's country roads. We should have been bushwhacking and rock-climbing from here to Napa and back every day over the Mayacamas.
Crete is beautiful – steep, green mountains rising sharply from a bright blue sea. The lower elevations are covered in fruit orchards and vegetable farms, while higher up millions of olive trees cover the hillsides. Charming villages, populated by equally charming, hospitable people make many parts of the island seem like a real-life Shangri-La.
While there are no cows on Crete, there are thousands of goats.
This is another important fact, along with the definition of trekking, that we should have known. Goats (except old goats from Sonoma) love trekking, especially on steep mountainsides.
What we did love was Greek food – the fresh vegetables and fruit, feta and yogurt made from goat's milk, coarse bread and rich, tangy olive oil. Every dish, many prepared with wild native herbs, was a taste delight, and the wines of Crete were surprisingly good.
Our guide, Manolis Mavrakis, a native of Crete (cretanwalks.com), with dual U.S. and Greek citizenship, capably led us across the challenging landscape, but perhaps his greatest contribution was his knowledge of the best inns and little family-run cafes where we were treated to the real Greek foods most tourists rarely experience. Manolis is a passionate advocate for his island and knows it as only a native son can. As much as one person can do for another, we saw the island through his eyes, and this too, was a great pleasure.
But what is pleasure without a little pain? Next week I will cover a little more about the actual treks we managed to survive.
MEANWHILE, the fishing close to home was pretty darn good. Capt. Rick Powers, at Bodega Bay Sportfishing, is still averaging about one salmon an angler per trip, along with limits or near-limits of dungeness crab. Next week he starts his combo rock and lingcod and salmon trips. The cost is $100 a day. Call him at 875-3344.
The Napa River continues to proved good sturgeon and striped bass fishing for local anglers, reports Joel Sinkay, of Leonard's Bait Shop at Port Sonoma. Joel is also seeing some sturgeon, striper and “Mud Marlin” (aka bat rays) action on the Petaluma River.
Valerie Lightborne and Joel fished the Yorty Creek arm of Lake Sonoma this week. Valerie landed a six-inch bluegill.
Kevin Wolf, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, said that sturgeon fishing near the Pump House has been fair to good this week and will get better as tides improve. Halibut fishing is also fair right now and expected to improve this weekend.
Trout fishing on the McCloud and upper Sacramento rivers is improving every day and is just coming into its prime, reports Bob Grace, of the Ted Fay Fly Shop.
Clear Lake bass fishing is starting to get better, although wind can ruin your day there.