Muscat, Oman – Al Ghubra beach – 15 January 2016

Friday

Friday would be my last chance to fish the beach in Muscat, Oman. I woke well before dawn and pulled on my back pack. It is always difficult to know what types of lures and leaders to bring to a previously unknown fishing spot. I brought a packet of mixed GULP 3” Minnow soft plastics in various colours, a packet of GULP 4” Minnows in Lime Tiger, a packet of GULP 4” Swimmows in the Peppered Prawn colour and a packet of mixed coloured GULP Jerkshads. I also had 1/4, 1/8th and 1/6th ounce jigheads and 6lb, 10lb, 16lb and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I packed three Maria MJ Twitch small hard bodied minnows in different sizes and a few bigger DUO Realis Jerkbait hard bodied minnows.

On Friday I walked in the opposite direction along the beach, past the Al Ghubra market and a big camp of tuna boats. The beach was pebbly with patches of sandy bottom and I could see some rocky structure beneath the waves. After about 600 metres I crossed the mouth of a shallow wadi.

I had been fishing all the way along with a GULP Minnow with no luck. Now I decided to swap to a small MARIA MJ twitch suspending hard bodied minnow. I could cast this a bit further out, beyond the wave break. This soon stirred things up and after two or three retrieves I was on to a fish. It was another grinner/ lizard fish. I had seen these in the market, so they obviously eat them here. At home in Queensland, they are pretty much considered to be only good for bait. I let it go and cast out again. I had obviously found a solid school because for the next 30 minutes I caught grinner after grinner. I swapped to a GULP Swimmow in the peppered prawn colour, but this just caught a few more grinners.

It was now well past sunrise and I was moving back towards the Chedi resort. I had tied on a heavier, 1/6th ounce jighead and loaded a GULP 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour. I cast this around leaving it for long pauses on the bottom. After a while I felt another good bite and paused. When I lifted the rod tip the fish was hooked. It was another flounder, but a much bigger one. I decided to keep it. I dispatched it and put it to one side. The soft plastic was all mashed up so I put on another GULP Swimmow and carried on casting. I had found a good patch of flounder (or goat fish as the locals call it). I caught about four more and released them all.

I wandered back to the Chedi, where a helpful waiter arrived with a plate and whisked the still flapping flounder off to the kitchens. I had a shower and made my way to breakfast. The fish was cleaned, filleted and grilled and arrived at my breakfast table with some fresh lemon, olives and hummus.

I had loved visiting Oman and was delighted by the friendly people and the beautiful scenery. It is a Muslim country but I never felt threatened or uncomfortable. The Ibadi Muslims who are the religious majority, preach tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures.  It is a pocket of calm in a troubled part of the world. I hope it stays peaceful and I will get the chance to come back.

Advertisements

Muscat, Oman – Al Ghubra beach – 12 January 2016

Tuesday

Jetlag and the call to prayer had me up early again on Tuesday.  I rigged up the travel rod and headed out on to the beach in front of the resort. I was staying at the Chedi Hotel – http://www.ghmhotels.com/en/muscat/ . There is not much you can say about this place – it is basically heaven on earth, with a price tag to match. I am pretty sure I am the first guest they have ever had who wanders out to flick soft plastic lures in front of their manicured beach and pristine lawns.

Muscat has some fantastic scenery. The Jebel Akdar mountain range rises to about 3000 metres, just behind the coastal strip. The range is dotted with fertile wadis where springs and snow smelt make it possible to cultivate irrigated gardens, all year round.

It was still dark when I started casting at about 5.45 am. The sun was starting to redden the sky behind the mountains. I was walking along the beach casting with a GULP 4 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. The tide was running in and there was virtually no wind. I was using a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.  After two or three casts I waded out a little as I could see some baitfish jumping around. I cast straight at the action and as the lure sank a fish grabbed it. It was much faster than a flathead and I saw a flash of silver. It took a bit of line and made some persistent runs but soon I had it under control. I pulled it up the beach and let it settle. It was a King Soldier bream – Argyrops Spinifer. I took a few pictures and released it.

I carried on moving and casting as the sun came up. I swapped through a few different soft plastic lures. I caught a couple of flathead on the GULP 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour and then a couple more on the GULP Swimmow in the Peppered Prawn colour. They were all bar/ flag tailed flathead and all would have been between 35 and 45 cm long.

The sun was rising and the water was crystal clear. As I walked back towards the hotel. I felt a slightly different bite on the Swimmow. I paused, then lifted the rod. I had another fish and this time it was small flounder. I released it and caught another on the next cast.

It was time for breakfast so I gave up at about 8.00 am. There is no shortage of fish here.

Muscat, Oman- fishing in the Middle East – 9 January, 2016

Sunday

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.