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fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus

Black Bass Bliss: Fishing Cyprus’ Dam Reservoirs

Cyprus’ Dams: Hidden Gems for Anglers

Over the past few seasons, while visiting our dad and stepmom in Cyprus, we’ve started exploring the stunning dam reservoirs to see what fishing opportunities they offer. Most dams contain species commonly found in the UK, such as carp, perch, and zander. However, during our three-week visit in May this year, one species truly captivated us: the black bass! We’ve previously targeted them a few years ago, but this year was another level!

Cyprus boasts a total of 108 dams, and black bass can be found in the majority of them. We chose to stay fairly local, targeting five dams within the Pafos district. Although the habitat doesn’t vary as much as it does in the US, these dams are hidden oases surrounded by incredible trees, cliffs, and crystal-clear water. The aggressive topwater explosions made for some of the best lure fishing we’ve experienced so far.

This year, we found that most of the fish were post-spawn, with one notable exception that we’ll discuss later. There were lots of small fry everywhere, and the males were still protecting them. Additionally, there hadn’t been any rain for a long time, and the water levels were sitting at approximately 30%-40% capacity. This was very different from previous trips and meant that many of the features we had targeted before were now bone dry. However, it also opened new features to target, making for an exciting and dynamic fishing experience.

Getting Started: Essential Gear and Preparation

The first task was to secure a freshwater fishing licence, which costs a very reasonable 30 euros and allows you to fish the dams for a year. We chose to use spinning combos for their range and flexibility, as the water levels can reach up to 90 metres. Although baitcaster combos are more common among the locals, we opted for fast action travel rods rated to around 25g casting weight, paired with 2500/3000 sized Shimano reels, 20lb braid, and a fluorocarbon leader, similar to the setups we use for sea bass in the UK.

To avoid the popular choices locals use, such as suspended jerkbaits and spinnerbaits, we packed a selection of different lure types:

  • Topwaters: Poppers, walking pencils, and Zman Pop Shadz.
  • Weightless soft plastics: A selection of shads from Savage Gear, Keitech, and Megabass for fishing near and within snags, paired with a variety of weighted EWG-style hooks.
  • Senkos: We opted for Yamamoto Senkos, which have amazing action in the water even without added weight.
  • Crankbaits: We added a few crankbaits and suspended jerkbaits just in case!
  • Metals: A few spin tails, chatterbaits, and blades to cover water quickly.

In addition to tackle, we carefully chose our clothing, prioritising sun protection and appropriate (grippy!) footwear. The terrain surrounding the water can be treacherous with steep loose rocks, and there are also poisonous creepy crawlies and snakes nearby. Small backpacks and hip bags allowed us to travel light and finally plenty of cold drinks and snacks were packed away in the car as we planned to do first light sessions each morning for up to 4 hours before leaving.

Early light fishing

The very first session showed how much had changed since we’d last visited, and after some footwork Sam was soon attached to the first fish of the trip. He cast a topwater pencil close to the bank up a shallow arm of the dam and a nice 3lb plus fish smashed it a few yards from the bank. Following this we continued to cover ground and eventually spotted a lovely dark fish patrolling a tall brush out in the deeper water. Rob made a quick cast nearby with a weightless senko and it shot out to investigate the splash, arriving at the area after the senko had sunk out of view. Another quick cast intercepted it as it headed back to the brush and this time it shot forward and engulfed the senko, leaping clear of the water multiple times during the explosive fight. These fish are very powerful and it’s amazing watching them fight in the clear water! This was the first serious fish of the trip and we estimated it to be about 5 pounds in weight (we’ll never know as our scales packed up the night before flying out, typical!) and was immaculate apart from the spawning damage on its tail.

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
First serious toad of the trip!

During the following sessions, we started to work out patterns and try different dams, fishing topwaters at first light to find aggressive fish and swapping to weightless soft plastics when we found features worth exploring underwater such as sunken brush piles, large rocks and drop-offs. We managed numbers of black bass with a much better average stamp of fish than previously.

2 lures quickly became our favourites for topwater strikes depending on the scenario, with a Fishus Espetit 95 in open water and the deadly Zman Pop Shad near snags. The very next trip Sam had another decent fish on the latter in white pearl. Rob then went on a losing streak, with a few bigger fish slipping the hooks.

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
The best Zman lure of all time? Sam thinks so!

Some dams were right up in the forest/mountain regions and whilst a slight pain to drive to in the very early morning, the rewards were worth it as aside from some carp anglers with bait boats we had the entire dams to ourselves and could cover a lot of water in the first few hours of the day. 

One area in particular seemed to have a large concentration of decent bass and Rob landed a few of these in quick succession, with one on a topwater and the other on a Strike Pro Cranky X. Several other decent fish followed this one in!

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
Fishus Espetit strikes again!
fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
This one hit a Cranky X on the pause whilst it was dragging bottom!

Midday Fishing

As the sun gets higher the topwater bites usually fade as the fish drop in the water and congregate around the structure. You can still get the odd topwater bite in shallow areas but this is where we found that weedless shads really excelled. Like we do with sea bass in the UK, targeting black bass with weedless soft plastics gives you the option to fish close to (and sometimes through) the snags. In a time where we would usually be going back to the car, we ended up catching multiple big bass on slow sinking soft plastics made by Keitech and Savage Gear. A slow fall rate is crucial as it’s usually when you feel a big thumb on the line.

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
A white Keitech Swing Impact Fat tempted this absolute chunk at the time of day we’d usually be walking back to the car. The sun was high and there was no movement on the water!
fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
Fishing shads through the spawning bass is also a good tactic when the bass are protecting their young!
fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
A bonus Perch was also caught fishing a tail spinner in a deeper section!

Safety first!

If you fancy giving the dams a go yourself there are a few bits of gear we feel are essential for staying safe in the Cyprus terrain. 

Starting with footwear, we wear Salomon trail runners as the grip gives us a lot of confidence on the loose gravel and the larger boulders. A friend of ours, Nick, did tag along on one of the trips hoping to catch his first lure-caught bass and unfortunately slipped over and broke his right leg in two places. This may not have happened if he was wearing grippier shoes, but it showed us what could happen if you slip and lose your balance, so we now take this aspect really seriously. We were lucky it happened in a location accessible by car, and we certainly didn’t expect to be splinting a broken leg with two bank sticks tied up with strips of a slime towel, but Nick made it to the hospital quickly and was operated on a few hours later.

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
A relieved Nick once we got him in the back of the car!

Thick-ish trousers are also a must in our opinion. The vegetation is rough and spiky, there are also blunt-nosed vipers around. Bites left untreated can be fatal. We saw a couple of snakes and you want to make enough noise to let them know you’re coming but enough to scare the fish, there’s a little grey area in the middle!

Hooded tops and gloves, the sun gets intense quickly and we kept as much skin covered as we could. Any exposed areas were protected with factor 50 sunscreen.

When there were large sticks around we’d pick these up and use them as a third point of contact to prevent slipping over. We’d also use them to prod any likely looking snake spots so we didn’t surprise any vipers and end the trip prematurely with a trip to hospital to get a shot of anti-venom.

A true giant for Sam!

We arrived for our last session already satisfied with the fish we’d caught in the last 2 weeks but couldn’t resist one more visit to a dam we’d only visited once. Anything else was a bonus at this point!

Rob started off well with a solid 3 pounder. The water had dropped a foot and a half in the week since our last visit and there were now branch tops visible in a swim we’d blanked in previously. There was no wind at all and the water was eerie and calm. With both of us fishing Zman pop shadz, we covered the areas surrounding the now visible tree branches. We like to move quickly covering lots of water, but Sam stayed behind to cast through the exposed branch tops and retrieved the lure with a VERY slow pop and pause, 10 seconds between each twitch. 

As the pop shad moved slowly through the branches it was subtly sucked out of sight, and didn’t pop back up. Feeling a slight movement on the line, it was clear the lure wasn’t snagged on the branches and Sam wound down and struck. What followed was large, wallowing head shakes and  a bass so large it couldn’t jump clear of the water, only showing its head and shoulders. It made a powerful run to the nearest branch stripping line like nothing we’d hooked before. Only a hand on the spool and a low side strain stopped it, the thicker fluoro we use for sea bass holding up. As it turned and headed to us, it was now deeper than the water it was in and slid sideways up the marginal shelf before it was landed. 

This fish was absolutely head and shoulders above any bass we’d seen (or seen pictures of!) in Cyprus, and was clearly just about to spawn. The single size 3/0 hook was only just caught on a small flap of skin in the corner of her mouth and we were very lucky to land her. It would have been great to see how she compared to the current Cyprus record of 8lb 4oz (according to CY.F.A.A). A few of our friends who have a lot of experience in bass estimated between 8 and 9lbs, that’s good enough for us! 

fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
We won’t be beating this one for a while!
fishing for Black Bass in Cyprus
The lure and combo which caught her!

Tips for fishing the Cyprus Dams

  • Travel light! All you need is a medium-light combo, a handful of lures and appropriate clothing to deal with the hot conditions and rocky terrain. Don’t forget sunscreen as well!
  • Look for signs of bass activity, they usually give themselves away fairly easily in low light conditions and find baitfish and the bass won’t be too far away!
  • Google maps is a great tool for scouting likely areas to fish, and also access as you’ll need a car to get to most dams.
  • At first light topwater fishing can be fantastic, with soft plastics and crankbaits triggering fish when the sun is up.
  • Most snags and bush piles have bass nearby, and weedless presentations allow you to cast right into them without snagging.
  • Speak to local tackle shops, as they will happily share information.
  • Safety first! Like wrasse fishing in the UK on the rocks although the fishing itself is relatively simple, getting to likely spots can be dangerous and always look out for poisonous snakes.
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The Lloyd Twins
The Lloyd Twins

Predator angling duo Rob and Sam Lloyd fish for multiple predatory species throughout the UK and abroad. Well-versed lure anglers this pair really do catch some great fish. Pro team members for Predator Tackle and The Lure Lounge.