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.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 June 2014

Wednesday

After a pleasant but not very successful session at Whitepatch Beach on Bribie Island, it was time to head back to my favourite spot, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, beside the old oyster jetty, just south of the Bribie Bridge.

Low tide would be at 7.37 am and the fishing has consistently been good in the last few hours of the run out tide, in this area. First light is at about 6.00 am, at the moment and I drove up to Bribie so that I would be in position at about 5.30 am. We were about a week into a new moon.

I put my waders on. I have seen a few people trying to brave this area without them, lately. I would not recommend wading around this area without a pair of waders. The crabs often try to nip your heels as you walk past and I have kicked plenty of stonefish. I have stepped on rays and been stalked by a few big wobbegongs and the whole area is littered with oyster covered clumps of rock and debris. To round things off, the water is now cold, so you will get fed up pretty quickly if you are soaked.

It was still dark so I started fishing under the bridge lights with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Curried Chicken colour.  I had a couple of tugs and follows from the pike, that where circling under the lights and then a grab from a flathead. It suddenly appeared, almost on the surface behind the soft plastic. It snapped at the lure, but perhaps it felt some resistance or saw me standing a few feet away, either way, it turned and disappeared with a tail splash.

I moved towards the jetty following the line where the seagrass gives way to sandy bottom. The sky had turned bright red and it would be a fantastic sunrise. I felt a solid bite and dropped the rod tip for a few moments. Then I lifted it and felt a wriggle and a head shake and knew I had another flathead. It was about 45cm and the first keeper of the day. I caught another fish, a couple of casts later, in about the same place. I noticed a few small squid in the shallows but not much other bait.

I moved to the south of jetty and swapped to the small, hard bodied DUO Realis Shad 62. It was light now and the water was fairly clear. From about the third cast, this little hard body started catching fish. From 6.45 am through to about 8.00 am, it caught a steady stream, probably about 10 to 12 flathead in total, of which more than half would have been big enough to keep.

 

 

At around 8.00 am, the water was calm and shallow all around and it was a very bright and clear morning. The trebles on the Realis Shad were now all bent out of shape so I took it out of service and tied on a MARIA MJ Twitch 90 mm suspending hard bodied bibbed minnow and cast it out.  This is a big lure to throw at flathead but when they are around they seem happy to go after it. I varied the retrieve until I felt I was slowly moving the lure along, just above the bottom, with plenty of pauses. I felt a few aborted strikes and then there was a solid whack. The line started slowly peeling as the fish swam away with the lure, then it took off, as the treble hooks set. The first run was long and powerful, but fairly slow. I thought it might be a ray. Then it started shaking its head and I realised it was a flathead. There are only a few rocks in this area but there is small group that have sprouted tall seaweed clumps.  I soon realised the fish had the line wrapped around one of these. Fortunately the tide was still a low and I waded out to it and freed the line. I gradually tired the fish out and pulled it up into the shallows.

Unfortunately, in the prolonged fight, or perhaps in its initial hard strike, it had got the big hard bodied lure stuck a long way down its throat. I later measured it at 68cm – normally I would release a fish of this size but with the lure lodged where it was, I did not think it would survive the process of removal, so I decided to keep it. I would rather eat it, than let a shark have it!

I decided to give up at about 8.30 am and as I wandered back to the car, there where flathead lies everywhere. It seems the fish are back, in large numbers.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – again – 12 March 2014

Wednesday 12th

I paused, reluctantly, to dry out the fishing bag and finish filleting and skinning a few flathead, on Tuesday. By Wednesday I had spotted an opening for another fishing session. I was working around the low tide on the flats at Bribie.

I drove up to arrive at about 10.00am – very civilised. We had the same wind pattern as we have now had for about ten days – a 10 to 15 knot east-south easterly wind. It was a bright, sunny day and the wind was building. The water was clear and running out and the full moon would be on Saturday. Low tide would be at 1.10 pm.

I started to fish the small patch of reef just south of the Bribie Island Bridge, on the mainland side. The rocks were just visible above the receding tide. I started the day with a soft plastic. As you will have noticed I prefer to prospect with a soft plastic lure – once I find the fish I will then start to experiment. Today I chose the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was fishing with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook, jighead.

I soon found a fish, just to the south of the bridge. This flathead was just below 40cm long. I would release everything I caught today – there is plenty of fish in the fridge. I cast back in the same area and found another, smaller fish.  I moved closer to the jetty and caught 3 more, before wading under the jetty.

As with the previous sessions, the fish kept coming. I swapped from soft plastics to hard bodies and these were even more successful. I caught a 60cm flathead on the MARIA 90 mm MJ Twitch suspending minnow and a 66 cm fish on a RIO Prawn lure, in the 13 g size. The DUO range chipped in with some good flathead on the DUO Tetraworks Toto and, my current favourite – the suspending DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. This one really is a flathead slayer – the action and rattle seems to drive them wild.

I fished from 10.30 am to about 1.30 pm and I rarely went 5 minutes without a fish. I finished the session with some good sized flathead on the Powerbait 5” Rippleshad paddle tail soft plastic, in the black and gold colour (which I usually reserve for chasing Jewfish).

For the fish to be here in such numbers I can only conclude that they are feeding up to spawn. A few of the fish I kept last week were full of roe. It is early but apparently flathead can choose to spawn at any time and do not do it on mass, like bream.

Whatever the reason, I hope they stay for a while –  it’s a great time to be out there fishing.