In early January I was fortunate enough to travel to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, on the Arabian Gulf. I had heard there was some great fishing. So I packed my Berkley Nomadic travel rod and reel and a few bags of soft plastics, jigheads and a couple of hard bodied lures.
After a few days in Muscat I visited the wet fish market in Mutrah. There were tuna of several types, which are caught from the Gulf, using long lines. There were many other familiar looking species – trevally, queenfish, snapper, small sharks, and piles of anchovies/ whitebait. There was a large fish that looked a little like a grunter bream that they call Hamour or Kingfish. There was also the head of what had obviously been an enormous garoupa.
This visit had me fired up so the next morning I decided to walk south, in front of the resort, along the long flat Al Ghubra beach. Oman has very little fresh water so there is an enormous desalination plant at the southern end of the beach which constantly discharges warm water into the Gulf. I was sure this flow would attract fish so I walked in that direction.
The morning call to prayer comes at 5.30 am and is a useful alarm call for a light sleeping fisherman like me. As I walked along the beach in the pre-dawn light the locals were making the most of the cooler northern hemisphere weather for morning exercises. Typical temperatures at this time of the year are between about 18 and 25 C, but there is very little humidity – so it feels quite cool. One lady had decided to read her Koran looking out over the waves and it looked like a pretty calming way to start the day. Despite the cooler weather both women and men were fully covered up – Men in their long white dishadashas and small caps and women in their black abayas and head scarves. The only thing their outfits had in common with a typical Aussie exercise kit was the occasional pair of Nikes, poking out under their robes.
There is virtually no swell in the Gulf but the wind can kick up a few small waves. There were a few patches of flat rock sticking out from the shore but the rest of the beach was flat and sandy. The tide was coming in and would be high at about 8.20 am. Sunrise would be at 6.15 am. The water felt very warm on my feet and the new moon was a few days away.
The Berkley Nomadic NMS761 rod is a five piece – so it will comfortably fit in my suitcase. It is rated 2-4 kg and 7’ 6” long. The action on the rod is a little slower than I would like. I prefer a very flexible, fast (whippy) tip, but this is very difficult to achieve in a 5 piece rod. It’s a pretty good compromise and has enough power to stop a reasonable fish. I rigged up with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead, loaded a 4” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic lure and started casting.
It took a little while to get used to the feel of the rod and the jighead was a little light for this rig but I gradually found my rhythm and started to feel a few small bites. As the sun came up I could see tight schools of what looked like small mullet finning around on the surface. Every so often they would scatter as something came at them. I swapped soft plastic to a smaller 3” minnow in the New Penny colour. Just as I was about to pull the lure out of the water on the first retrieve, a fish grabbed it. It pulled and splashed and was brown and sandy coloured. When I got it to the beach it could see it was a lizardfish or grinner (as we know them in Australia). I released it and carried on.
A few casts later I was on to a fish again and imagine my surprise when a small sand/ bar-tailed flathead came wriggling up the beach. It was now a bright morning and getting warm. I caught another grinner and as I moved back along the beach, another small flathead.
I swapped back to the bigger 4” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour and after about 10 minutes I was on to another flathead. By now I was back in front of the resort. The cleaners who were raking the beach and sweeping the paths watched intently. This was a better fish, about 45 cm long. As I landed it one rushed over and asked if he could have it. I was happy to oblige. A few moments later, I caught another and by now, the team had found a bucket and were keenly following my progress along the beach.
I caught two more big grinners which they also happily accepted and one small flathead that I felt I should release, much to their disappointment. I finished up and declined the kind invite to a curried fish supper.
What a great session – remember – wherever you are, it’s always worth wetting a line.