Archive | April, 2015

Last Day Fly Fishing in Oman

blog-April-30-2015-1-flyfishing-in-musandam-omanMusandam, Oman is most famous for is its enormous sized giant trevally (GT).  I’ve gone hard for the GT’s for only a few hours each day here then been side tracked with dredging, milkfish and other fish.  There’s nothing wrong with chasing everything but now was time to focus on GT’s because conditions were perfect.

 

blog-April-30-2015-2-strait-of-hormuzToday we not only went to what I’ve labeled the “gateway” from the Gulf of Oman to the Strait of Hormuz, but it was calm enough that we went through the rocky passage then another twenty minutes out into the Straits.  We went to what Ocean Active calls the Military Base, a mere 21 miles from the Iran coast.  A special place that few guests reach due to time, weather or rough seas.

 

blog-April-30-2015-3-strait-of-hormuzWe were so close to Iran that we shared the waters with Iranians.  As we arrived at the Military Base (the base is situated on a massive island rock) you could see Iranians in their small fishing boats crossing the Strait of Hormuz to fish the Omani waters.  It’s technically illegal, but the Omani’s don’t hassle them as long as they use hook and line and not nets.  I can respect that.

 

blog-April-30-2015-5-winston-fly-rods-and-abel-reelsCameron had me start popping along the farthest northern island in all Musandam.  There were rocks and bait and a current rip moving so strong it simply had to have big GT’s in it.  I was relentless in my pursuit especially after a mini trevally (MT) (a GT under 10 kilo) exploded on my popper and I missed him.  But long story short, I chucked my 12-weight for seven straight hours, first with my sailfish popper, then I downsized to this popular concoction and finally I dredged a giant chartreuse Clouser.  Despite some of the finest looking water I’ve ever dropped a fly in, the mammoth GT’s would not cooperate.

 

blog-April-30-2015-6-granny-currier-in-omanGranny doesn’t care about catching unearthly beasts.  She stuck to the “let’s have some fun” program.  While I was laboring she kept my 9-weight bent most of the day dredging a small Clouser down deep from the back of the boat.  At one spot she caught so many fish in a row she attracted the attention of some Iranians who had to join in the fun.  Granny out fished them ten to none!

 

blog-April-30-2015-7-flyfishing-for-rainbow-runnerGranny picked up several new species for herself.  She caught a handful of halfspotted grouper, Russell snappers and a few more of her favorites, the orange-spot trevally.  She also landed this small rainbow runner, one of the finest baits in the ocean.

 

It was sad times at the Musandam base tonight.  I broke down my rods and cleaned the salt off them. Today may have been the last day of fishing on this classic adventure.  There’s a chance the 9-weights will come back out in Dubai but that remains in the air.

 

blog-April-30-2015-8-jeff-currier-rigging-for-trevallyThe last three days of the trip go like this.  Tomorrow we return to Dubai and Nick Bowles house.  Tomorrow night I’m doing my PowerPoint presentation “Fly Fishing Through Midlife Heaven” for Nick and his Ocean Active customers.  Then two days taking in the sights of Dubai with Granny.  Hopefully I’ll get out with Nick one last time for queenies and have one last crack for the elusive golden trevally.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Blacktip Trevally on the Fly – Musandam Oman

blog-April-29-2015-1-sunrise-in-musandam-omanI can’t get over Musandam, Oman.  I’ve seen most of the world but never any place like this.  The region is really unique and our ninety minute boat ride north to the top where Musandam juts into to the Strait of Hormuz provided another spectacular sunrise.

 

blog-April-29-2015-2-flyfishing-the-straits-of-hormuzThere’s sort of a gateway where you go from the Gulf of Oman into the Strait of Hormuz.  Basically you travel up the east side of Musandam in the Gulf of Oman all the way to the top.  Both mornings it’s been fairly calm and easy boating.  Then you come to this jagged rocky opening between two mountains of rocks.  Once side is attached to the mainland and the other side is the face of a rock island.  When you pass between them you go from gentle seas of the Gulf of Oman into the frothing whitecaps, wind and waves that is the Strait of Hormuz.

 

blog-April-29-2015-3-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-gtsUndoubtedly, it’s a place where big fish prowl.  Cameron has had his best luck on the turbulent side so both mornings I braced myself and launched some bombs while struggling to stay on my feet.  The entire time here yesterday I tossed the sailfish popper.  I started the same way today but despite my efforts I can’t bring up a giant trevally.

 

blog-April-29-2015-4-saltwater-flyAs always I have heaps of rods, reels and lines to cover most situations or in this case possibilities and I asked Cameron if dredging a pushy fly down deep might get the job done.  He liked the idea.  I already had my second 12-weight Winston rigged with my Ross Momentum LT #8 reel and a 700-grain Bluewater Express sinking line.  I tied on a black brush fly and handed the rig to Granny.

 

blog-April-29-2015-5-flyfishing-for-giant-trevally

Granny’s reaction was, “I can’t cast this?”  But when dredging a 700-grain line you don’t need to cast (See last day in the Seychelles).  I had her feed out the entire fly line – straight down.  Then I tightened the drag on my Momentum almost all the way.  I had her brace herself then point the rod tip straight into the water and strip as fast as she possibly could.  It’s a ton of work and the girl gave up on it way too quickly.

 

blog-April-29-2015-6-jeff-currier-fishing-omanI took the rod and went to work knowing I had to prove something.  I let that line go down then shoved half the rod down in the water and stripped so hard my left shoulder aches tonight.  As we drifted and bounced along I kept going.  Finally I got rocked!

 

blog-April-29-2015-7-blacktip-trevally-fishingI don’t know what’s down beneath the surface in the gateway as far as structure but looking at the rocks out of the water I have to assume it’s rocky below.  If you can help it in this situation, DO NOT let your fish make much of a run.  Keep a slight bend in the rod and have confidence in your tippet.

 

blog-April-29-2015-8-blacktip-trevallyThis size of this fish greatly surprised me.  Seriously, the first minute I was sure I had a good size giant trevally.  It’s hard to believe a 12-weight can be bent so much.  But slowly the fish gave up.  And when I landed him he was much smaller than expected.  But it was a new species for me – a sharp-looking blacktip trevally (Caranx heberi).

 

blog-April-29-2015-9-jeff-currier-and-blacktip-trevallyThis is actually a good size blacktip trevally.  What’s neat about this catch is that until this trip I was completely unaware of the species.  While I was at Ray Montoya’s house in Muscat he showed some fish pictures and he was holding one.  I wanted one right then and now I have one!

 

That was the first time Cameron has ever seen a blacktip trevally in Musandam.  There are plenty down south but up here this was a first.  After the catch Granny was in the game and she went to work and for the next two hours we took turns and tried several promising spots.  Nothing.

 

blog-April-29-2015-10-orangspot-trevallyI appears now the blacktip trevally was a lucky catch.  Not only was he the one and only big fish of the day but even the Strait of Hormuz went calm and like yesterday, the only fish we could find were Granny’s new favorite, the orange-spotted trevally.

 

blog-April-29-2015-11-fishing-for-sharksWhile one good fish in the first two days may not satisfy most, I am very happy tonight with the new species for my list.  One of the local boats here got a memorable fish as well.  A bull shark that took four guys to hoist up on the boat launch.  We’ll head out on our last day tomorrow. . . .

 

A special thanks to Ocean Active for making fly fishing in Musandam, Oman possible!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Musandam Oman

blog-April-28-2015-1-oman-flyfishing-ocean-activeI’ve proven that if you have a day long flight layover in Dubai you’re crazy if you don’t go fishing with my friends at Ocean Active.  But what if you have more than one day?

 

blog-April-28-2015-2b-fishing-musandam-omanMy friend Nick Bowles, owner of Ocean Active, not only offers guides out of Dubai but also to neighboring Oman.  Depending on the time of the year he runs trips in Southern Oman and to the north.  The north region is called Musandam and after spending much time with Nick, Musandam appears to be one of his favorite fishing places on earth.

 

blog-April-28-2015-2-flyfishing-in-musandam-omanGranny and I and guide Cameron Mundy arrived at the Ocean Active base in Musandam yesterday afternoon.  It was only a two hour drive from Dubai therefore if you have two days you can do this trip.

 

blog-April-28-2015-4-fishing-in-musandamBase is a simple accommodation with comfortable air-conditioned rooms, each with their own bath and an equipment room with plenty of area to rig.  Once we settled in, the manager of base, Nuru from Sri Lanka, cooked us up a dinner of fresh grilled steaks.

 

blog-April-28-2015-5-flyfishing-in-musandam-omanWe slept well but short.  Due to the wild nature of the region and long distances covered by boat, fishing starts early and you’re back early afternoon.  Cameron had us up at 4 AM and at the marina loading the boat in the dark before 5 and we took off at the first glimmer of daylight.

 

blog-April-28-2015-6-flyfishing-in-musandamWe motored north and watched the sun light creep down the flanks of the rugged Al Hajar Mountains that drop directly into the sea.  They are like Fjords in Alaska only these are bone dry and you can see desert species of vegetation.  Nonetheless the scenery is stunning and reminds me of no place I’ve ever been.

 

Our first stop was for busting longtail tuna.  The busts lasted only a few seconds and unfortunately that would be our story for the day.  We’d spot some birds and see a couple splashes then the fish would be gone.  We worked hard at this style of fishing for a good couple hours before Cameron and I agreed it was a waste of time.

 

blog-April-28-2015-7-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-longtail-tunaNext we went to a shallow reef and I started by blind casting a sailfish popper hoping to raise a giant trevally (GT).  This sounds like a tedious task but with my Winston 12-weight SX and my custom made 100lb core Titan fly line from my friends at Scientific Anglers I could bomb that thing out there.  I quickly raised a GT but he refused.

 

blog-April-28-2015-8-halfspotted-grouperSeeing the GT right away was encouraging but an hour later he was the one and only.  We saw a free jumping sailfish also but couldn’t tease him up.  I decided to make a few deep runs with my 9-weight and a 300 grain and picked up an assortment of fish ranging from Russell snappers to halfspotted grouper.

 

blog-April-28-2015-9-milkfishThe sea turned to glass shortly after 9 AM and fish activity went dead.  Calmness isn’t the norm for the ocean and just like in freshwater, most species get spooky and hide deep.  I continued blind casting for GT’s, dredged and we drove around hoping to find activity.  That’s when we found a school of milkfish.

 

blog-April-28-2015-10-flyfishing-for-milkfishMilkfish (milkies) look like oversized bonefish, or better yet like supped up grass carp.  Milkies feed on algae and other plant life like their freshwater cousins.  They are extremely difficult and rarely caught on fly.  I’ve had a few opportunities and dabbled but my best shot was in Sudan last year where my friend Mark Murray connected and landed this monster.

 

blog-April-28-2015-11-milkfish-fliesThese milkfish may not have been feeding.  In Sudan (I also watched a client fish to them in the Seychelles) the milkies swam along in huge schools with their heads above water and mouths open funneling algae soup into their mouths.  These milkfish only had the tips of their massive sickle tails out of the water and seemed to be playing with each other rather than feeding.  Granny and I tried a variety of algae like flies for nearly three hours without any luck.

 

blog-April-28-2015-12-flyfishing-for-orangespot-trevallyAt about 3 PM Cameron called it.  It sounds early but remember the day started at 4 AM.  On the way home we stopped at a place the guides call White Rock (covered in bird turds).  They usually catch lots of huge queenfish here but it was still glassy calm and there were no signs of life.  Granny dropped a dredge and picked up this very nice orange-spotted trevally.

 

blog-April-28-2015-13-jeff-currier-in-musandam-omanToday wasn’t the first butt-kicking of this trip.  I’ve had more than a few tough days.  That’s life with a fly rod in the salt, especially your prodding new waters.  According to Cameron we need to hope for some wind and stronger current lines and tidal changes to improve our fishing chances.   Today was simply too nice.  Stay tuned. . .

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Granny Lands Her Queenfish

blog-April-27-2015-1-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-dubaiGranny and I had coffee at 5 AM with Nick Bowles and one of Ocean Actives guides, Cameron Mundy, this morning.  Cameron has been guiding in Southern Oman and returned when the season ended last week.  It was time to take Granny in front of Dubai for her first queenfish.

 

blog-April-27-2015-2-flyfishing-for-queenfish-in-dubaiI’m not sure what the snafu was but the Coastguard wouldn’t let Cameron launch us from the city.  We had to drive an hour to where Nick and I went last year the day we met.  It turns out it was a gift from the fish gods, the queenfish were busting everywhere two minutes out of the marina.

 

blog-April-27-2015-3-granny-currier-flyfishing-in-dubaiWhile Granny went right after the queenies with my 9-weight and a Clouser, I continued my pursuit of a golden trevally.  You may remember I made a serious attempt earlier in the month for goldens after a big boy followed in one of my queenfish.  According to Nick and Cameron, the golden trevally are somewhat lazy and feed less aggressively underneath the pillaging queenfish.  The idea is to let your fly sink deep and strip it in at a normal pace.

 

I hooked up to a heavy fish down deep instantly.  The tug got my heart going and I got towed around for nearly ten minutes.  Unfortunately it turned out to be a big queenfish snagged in the side rather than the sought after golden.

 

blog-April-27-2015-4-granny-currier-queenfishGranny meanwhile was chucking away and getting numerous visual queenfish follows.  Queenies have a habit of darting back and forth behind a fly and not eating it.  This went on the first hour before finally she hooked up and landed her first.

 

blog-April-27-2015-5-jeff-and-granny-currierNext we broke the rule of all rules, we left fish to find fish.  We motored all the way in front of Dubai where we originally intended to fish.  The journey turned into a nice Dubai tour for Granny but no fish were found.  Here we are in front of the Atlantis the Palm Hotel.  If I was rich I’d stay here because there are glass rooms entrenched in an aquarium!

 

We caught a few more queenfish at our starting point then packed it up early to begin our last adventure of this trip.  For the next three days Granny and I are fishing with Cameron in the most northern part of Oman, the region called Musandam.

 

blog-April-27-2015-6-musandam-omanMusandam is unique in that though it is Oman it’s actually separated from the rest of Oman by a sliver of UAE.  It’s an exclave as you can see it as the red part on the map.  Musandam is so rugged it wasn’t till just recently that you could access it easily by land.  It took us about three hours to get there driving from Dubai.

 

blog-April-27-2015-7-flyfishing-in-musandam-omanWe are staying on the southeast corner in Dibba, Oman and tomorrow we’ll travel by boat to the northern tip and fish the rocky shorelines and the islands in the Strait of Hormuz.  The Sea of Hormuz is the narrow entry into the Persian Gulf and is controlled by Oman and Iran.  This area is a specialty of Ocean Active and is home of the monster giant trevally!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Recovery Day in Dubai

blog-April-26-2015-1-jeff-currier-drinking-in-dubaiToday was only the second day I didn’t fish since I arrived in the Middle East on April 3.  Though my friend Nick Bowles, owner and founder of Ocean Active, offered to take Granny and I fishing, we decided it was time for a rest.  And rest we did.

 

We arrived in Dubai almost two hours late last night.  Instead of landing at midnight we circled in a holding pattern for more than an hour.  We landed and 1:30 AM and cleared customs back into the UAE at 2 AM.  By the time we arrived at Nicks it was 3 AM.  It was a long day from our campsite in Oman.

 

blog-April-26-2015-2-the-mall-of-the-emiratesWe took the entire day to relax.  Granny read magazines and I checked in on the Cubs (I’m happy here!).  Then I played Fantasy Baseball and did some writing on the blog.  Our only physical activity was when I took Granny to The Mall of the Emirates and showed her the famous indoor ski area (you heard me correct).

 

blog-April-26-2015-3-dinner-in-dubaiNick and his wife Michelle are cool folks.  I only met Nick last year when I passed through Dubai and now Granny and I are staying at their house.  They treat us so much like family that tonight we in fact enjoyed a family dinner outside.  We could get used to this stuff. . . .  Oh and tomorrow Granny might catch her first queenfish!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Return to Muscat and on to Dubai

blog-April-25-2015-1-sunrise-in-omanGranny’s and my last Omani sunrise was a good one.  Instead of enjoying it from the camp chairs I made coffee and watched as we headed north for Muscat.  We arrived at Ray and Kerry Montoya’s house around noon.

 

It was sad unpacking our RAV4 rental.  An epic chapter in our lives has come to an end.  Once empty there was nothing but heaps of sand and salt dust on everything.  I hope the car agency doesn’t look underneath and find anything they can charge us for.  We put this car through the test!

 

Ray and Kerry were out fishing from Muscat and they kindly let us use their house even before they returned.  The first shower in ten days was luxurious and we followed that up with a few cold beers that Ray left us in his fridge.

 

blog-April-25-2015-2-ray-montoya-in-omanWe just finished up a great night with the Montoya’s with dinner, drinks and stories from our trip.  We are presently on a Swissair flight back to Dubai.  We’ll arrive in Dubai at midnight and should be to my friend Nick Bowles house by 2 AM.  We’ll likely rest up tomorrow but return to our fishing adventures the day after which include Dubai and Musandam with Ocean Active until we begin the long journey home Sunday.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

One Last Permit Grind – Flyfishing in Oman – Day 9

blog-April-24-2015-1-camping-in-omanSleeping in the wadi last night seemed logical to escape the dew that’s woke us up many a night here in Oman.  We were a few miles from the ocean so the air was dry and there was a perfect breeze.  But fifteen minutes after we put our heads down the breeze stopped and the first mosquito attacked.  Then another.  Then the buzzing of gnats.  Then another bite.  We procrastinated putting on repellent and by the time we did we were chewed up.  The dew came also and it was a poor night sleep.

 

blog-April-24-2015-2-camping-in-omanWhen daylight arrived, despite being haggard I boiled water for coffee and took in the surroundings.  Although the wadi was a tough location for a good night sleep the oasis like place was stunning to watch the sun rise.  So beautiful that both Granny and were awake and soon ready for another day of fishing.

 

Unfortunately today was our last day fishing in Southern Oman and it was shortened because we needed to make some tracks.  The wadi is about 775 km from Muscat and we return our rental car in Muscat at 2 PM tomorrow.  The plan was to pick a spot, spend four hours there and drive within 300 km of Muscat.

 

blog-April-24-2015-3-flyfishing-for-permitWe decided to get a good chunk of the drive out of the way before fishing and went to our first fishing stop of the trip, the place we named Dead Whale Beach.  The challenge with this decision was that it’s a permit beach and we needed high sunlight to see them.  We had to make it there by noon so we took off and covered almost 300 km in two hours!

 

blog-April-24-2015-4-permit-fishing-in-omanWhen we got there we were disappointed to see the pea green color we left here more than a week ago.  Furthermore the temperature felt the hottest it’s been all trip.  We opted not to drive on the beach and I burnt the heck out of the bottoms of my feet just crossing the beach from the car to the water.

 

As you should expect, my last effort for a permit was huge and I walked the entire beach and back.  I’m not sure the distance but it’s a lot.  So much that Granny sent me on my own and told me I was out of my mind.

 

blog-April-24-2015-5-flyfishing-in-sudanLooking back now I’d say Granny was right.  After the foot burning incident I walked myself into a coma.  The heat, my inability to spot a fish in the pea green water nor see a tail took the life out of me.  I made it all the way to the far end where I caught the potato grouper and back – five hours of walking and not one cast.

 

blog-April-24-2015-6-flyfishing-for-permitI must have looked beaten from miles away.  Granny met me near the car just to tell me “she told me so” (what are wives for?).  She tried to take my pack from me to ease the rest of the walk but naturally I refused.  I’m a sicko that likes to punish myself for fish and I was to finish the job.

 

I reeled it in at around 5 PM then we drove for two hours and we’re north of Duqm.  I’d liked to have traveled further but I was exhausted and the camels were out.  Hitting a camel with the RAV4 on the last night would be a disaster.  We’re presently a long way from a beach parked a few hundred yards off the main highway to Muscat.

 

blog-April-24-2015-7-camels-of-omanSadly this is our last night of camping.  Tomorrow once we return to Muscat we’ll ditch our rental and spend the afternoon and evening with our new friends Ray Montoya and his wife Kerry before catching a late flight back to Dubai.

 

THIS TRIP IS NOT OVER.  We’ll fish more in Dubai and return to Musandam in the north of Oman for three more days of fishing.  Stay tuned!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Rest Day with the Pompano – Oman – Day 8

blog-April-23-2015-1-flyfishing-in-omanI definitely lost my mind for a few hours after the Africanus episode yesterday.  Granny and I ended up in Salalah, Oman.  The trip there happened because I kept driving south looking for rocky points and a rematch with an Africanus.  Eventually I accepted that the occurrence was a rare one that may never happen again.  A fact that has me a little crabby this morning.  I was so close to landing that one.

 

blog-April-23-2015-2-salalah-omanSalalah is a big city and surprisingly green.  It’s so big that I hated driving there and spent a lot of time white knuckled to the steering wheel getting honked at.  Not knowing where we were going and one of the biggest roundabouts you ever saw were a little stressful.  We found a jumbo grocery store and loaded up on eggs, fresh veggies, pasta, water, cookies and coke.  We didn’t find fuel canisters so the canister we’ve been milking will be for coffee only and cooking will be done on a fire.

 

blog-April-23-2015-3-flyfishing-for-permit-in-omanWe figured we’d camp near Salalah but the area has tons of construction going on and much more population than the coast we’ve been traveling on.  Therefore I broke our “no driving at night” clause and after filling our cooler drove all the way back to the beach we stayed at last night.  The camels on the road had me down to 45 km per hour but we love this beach the best so far and we have only two days left.  We may as well enjoy.

 

blog-April-23-2015-4-largespot-pompanoAnother day here was a good call because the bait balls were running all day.  Largespot pompano were terrorizing up and down the beach.  We’ve really taken a liking to catching these guys.  They’re aggressive, great fighters, good looking and delicious tasting.

 

blog-April-23-2015-5-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-pompanoAlthough the largespots were corralling bait they were suckers for my crab patterns.  The difficulty was being able to reach them.  We kept the rods rigged and sort of kicked back around camp watching the nearby bait balls.  When we saw them pushing towards the beach we got up and ran there.  If you could reach with the cast you were hooked up immediately.

 

blog-April-23-2015-6-largespot-pompanoWe caught a bunch of the largespot pompanos today.  We also saw three permit.  The last gave me my best chance of the trip.  He cruised the beach in and out of the waves and I got at least six excellent casts.  He seemed to see my fly twice.  He tailed on the fly aggressively and I thought I had him.  Unfortunately I strip set and pulled it away.  The second time he was ready to eat, the smallest largespot we caught stole the fly.  The permit spooked and I thumped that largespot with a smile for tonight’s dinner!

 

blog-April-23-2015-7-wadi-in-omanWe must return our car in Muscat the day after tomorrow.  Our beach heaven is 600 km from Muscat so at 5 PM we decided we should get up the road a bit if we want have time to fish tomorrow.  The plan is to fish the parrotfish place we fished on the way down.  Hoping to sleep with less dew on us we are camped several miles from the sea in a beautiful wadi.  There’s a gentle breeze so no bugs and this pompano melts in your mouth!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The Africanus (Southern Pompano) that got Away – Day 7

blog-April-22-2015-1-sunrise-in-omanThe pace has slowed here on the beaches of Oman for us Currier’s.  I got up before sunrise and walked the beach with my 9-weight but unless there was a protruding tail I wasn’t looking that hard.  But I very much enjoyed watching the hundreds of marauding dolphin slashing bait balls in front of camp.

 

blog-April-22-2015-2-camels-in-omanAfter my walk I felt no rush for fishing.  I made coffee and Granny and I enjoyed the morning drink then went right into a major breakfast feast over the fire.  We had eggs, potatoes with tomatoes and peppers and left over pompano from last night’s dinner.  A bunch of greedy camels watched as if they wanted some.  It was a good thing we protected the food because little did I know, in the very near future I would require plenty of nourishment.

 

blog-April-22-2015-3-flyfishing-for-permit-in-omanThe beaches are so clean and beautiful here walking barefoot isn’t a worry.  Granny and I did the slow beach walk for permit for an hour.  I had my second excellent shot of the trip but once again I couldn’t fool the fussy fish.

 

blog-April-22-2015-4-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-pompanoAt the end of the beach we came to some rocks.  I told Granny I was going to peek up around the corner.  Barefoot and rocks don’t usually mix but these rocks were smooth.  It was beautiful water and I blind cast my crab and sunk it along the dark blue edges but nothing showed.  That’s when I heard Granny shout, “Those pompano things!  Those pompano things again!  Cast!  Cast!”

 

Sure enough further down the rocks six Africanus (Trachinotus africanus) tails protruded the surf. They were feeding on the clinging mussels and naturally in the worst place imaginable.  You could only see their shinny tails when they were between waves.  The breaking surf was wicked and I was barefoot.

 

blog-April-22-2015-5-jeff-currier-in-omanI barreled out of my spot to gain higher ground to assess the situation. I took a bad hit as I reached dry rocks.  My common sense said get your OceanTek boots, but my instincts said don’t waste time idiot!  This rare opportunity was now or never.

 

blog-April-22-2015-6-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-southern-pompanoOnce to high ground I had a clear view of the southern pompano.  They were going nuts and I decided to barefoot my way to them.  Yesterday’s lame pursuit wasn’t happening again.  This time it was all or nothing.  I organized my fly line for a beating and waded as carefully as I could around the sharp mussels and rocks and made my cast.  I was balancing in the pounding waves by a thread.

 

I made my cast without fear.  I landed it right in the faces of all six feeding pompano.  They would either spook, eat my fly or I’d be terribly snagged.  The biggest tail whipped around and demolished my fly!

 

Nothing messes with adult Africanus.  I’m sure he felt the same prick he often does with eating crabs.  Instead of taking off, he wallowed as if it was another day in paradise.  In order to keep tension I started stripping him towards me.  It was the last thing I wanted because I was dragging him deeper into the rocks.  I wanted him to run out to the sea.

 

blog-April-22-2015-7-jeff-currier-fighting-an-africanusWhat happened next was a blur.  All I know is that my 9-weight was raised as high as I could lift it in my left hand and I was down for the count looking for my next breath.  A rogue wave bounced off the rocks from behind and knocked me down.  I was underwater pushing off the rocks with my right hand struggling to get to my feet.  I was hurt but there wasn’t time for it.  The Africanus wasn’t wallowing anymore, he was 100 yards gone and still going but somehow my tippet cleared the rocks and mussels!

 

I limped my way back to the rocks with my rod high.  I had my back to my fight.  I simply wanted high ground as fast as I could get it to save my body from more thrashing and most importantly to get my backing as high and away from the rocks as possible.

 

blog-April-22-2015-8-oyster-injuryAs I pressed for higher ground I could see my blood splatting on the rocks.  I saw Granny cringing.  There was no time for it.  “Get the camera!”  I shouted!

 

I turned to my fish and was delighted to see my backing was high and clear of the rocks and mussels.  The next problem was my 9/10N Abel was nearly empty of backing.  I tightened my drag to the max and although the Africanus kept pulling it slowed him.

 

blog-April-22-2015-9-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-africanusThere was a break in the rocky shore and a small beach about thirty feet from my perch on the rocks.  That’s where I needed to be.  By now I’d stopped the Africanus so I pulled him as I went for this beach.  He was more than 200 yards away.  The rocks gradually thinned.

 

blog-April-22-2015-10-jeff-currier-in-omanWhen I got to the beach it lowered me and my backing was skimming off the rocks where I’d hooked the Africanus.  I speed waded out as far as I could.  By miracle it was a gradual drop and wading to my chest put me past the rocks.  Unless there was a hidden obstacle out to sea I had this rare fish under control.

 

For the next twenty minutes I did the bullying.  Inch by inch then foot by foot I regained my backing.  If you’ve ever fought a big permit, this was the exact same fight.  Soon I saw my fly line to backing knot cutting the water not too far from me.

 

blog-April-22-2015-11-jeff-currier-landing-an-africanusWhen I got my line on the reel was a relief.  I trust my knots but now the exhausted pompano was close in comparison to the start of this battle.  I began backing up to the beach.  When I got there he sensed the rocks where I originally hooked him and surged.  My only defense was to clamp down and trust my 30lb flouro.  I survived yet another near catastrophe.

 

That was the last fight in the southern pompano.  I lifted and reeled repeatedly gaining ground fast.  Granny and I could see this beast for the first time.  His size was shocking.  He was at least three feet long and two feet wide.  What a creature!

 

blog-April-22-2015-12-jeff-currier-fly-fishing-omanAt last I had him fifteen feet away.  We were making eye contact.  His eyes weren’t as dark as a permits but there was a life story and no doubt he was sizing me up.  I waited for the next big wave to surf him up on the beach.  The Africanus was beaten, floating on his side waiting for this to end.  He was getting released but of course that’s beyond him.  Certainly he thought his life was over.  Then the wave I needed came towards the beach.

 

My timing was perfect.  I’ve surfed many big fish up on beaches.  This was routine.  But what happened next will haunt me to my grave.  As the wave progressed under the huge Africanus I pulled to begin surfing him up the beach.  To my horror the fly pulled out.  Before I could think to grab him he bit by bit up righted and swam little by little away.  We watched him go.

 

Shock was the first emotion that took effect.  Certainly I’ve lost incredible fish before.  But never a fish of this caliber.  I’d survived so many hindrances from rocks at hook up, the backing stealing run and the fight itself.  And I’m in Oman.  Fishing has been tough this entire trip.  This fish had to be caught.

 

blog-April-22-2015-13-big-fish-that-got-awayI went through the whole cycle of emotions.  When the shock left I got angry.  Then I felt sorry for myself.  Then I didn’t want to fish anymore.  I needed a beer but that wasn’t happening.  Then finally, an hour later, I said lets go find more Africanus.

 

After Granny tended to my wounds we hopped in the rental and returned to where we saw the Africanus yesterday.  There were none.  Then we hit every similar looking habitat we could see within 50 km of camp.  There were none.  I was so possessed we packed up camp and continued driving south and looked at every spot within 200 km.  There were none.

 

blog-April-22-2015-14-hadbeen-omanAt 4 PM I was done.  I snapped out of it.  I wasn’t possessed anymore.  The Africanus was gone and it was time to move on.  If only it “hadbeen”.  We were close to the city of Salalah, Oman, the last before Yemen.  We decided to check it out and resupply our cooler and maybe get that fuel canister we’ve been after for days.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Pompano Beach Oman – Day 7

blog-April-21-2015-1-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-omanWe had a long day yesterday, another dewy night and Granny got chewed up by some sort of gnats.  We slept till sunrise for the first time.  Instead of hanging my sleeping bag to dry the dew I let it dry with me in it and watched the sun, waves and birds.

 

blog-April-21-2015-2-lobster-fishermen-in-omanWhile the coffee was brewing I went for a walk.  The terrain has changed immensely. We’ve gone from the long beaches and small rock cropping’s to the opposite.  There’s lots of lobster traps in sight and signs of local fishermen in the area.

 

blog-April-21-2015-3-sea-food-in-omanOn the way into Hasik last night we saw some fishy looking water so we decided to backtrack and check it out.  We passed through Hasik again and did a more thorough job of looking for fuel canisters.  No luck.  We did however find a few fresh tomatoes, peppers and each ended up with tall icy cold cokes which perked us up from our lousy night sleep.  Oh, and we learned there’s a fresh “See” food” restaurant in case we get skunked for the rest of the trip!

 

The fishy area we checked out was located close to a military checkpoint we went through last night.  Before I got our rods ready one of the military jeeps with the machineguns attached to the roof confronted us.  Our language barrier slowed the communication down but it was pretty easy to show we were fishing.  They smiled and told us if we needed anything to let them know.  Once again I asked to take a photo but got shut down.

 

blog-April-21-2015-4-sea-turtles-in-omanDespite being incredible looking water with huge bait balls in every direction we caught nothing more than a couple of small needlefish.  I saw a big fish that in this strangely murky milk colored water was hard to confirm but it may have been a huge milkfish.  Granny too saw something but couldn’t identify it.  The highlight was the hundreds of sea turtles swimming around us as we waded.

 

blog-April-21-2015-5-sea-habit-fly-patternWe packed it up from there around 11 AM and continued our drive south.  The rocky outcrops got better and better looking.  I stopped at several and tossed a size 3/0 blue and white Sea Habit with no results.  How could this be – great water and no fish?

 

blog-April-21-2015-6-jeff-currier-africanus-fishing-in-omanAs we continued our drive south the water continued to gleam but the amount of lobster traps and fish trap buoys grew making our confidence nosedive.  Oman was appearing to be like the rest of the world’s oceans – overfished.  I continued to try but was taking a beating navigating the rough rocky terrain under the inferno of the sun.

 

As I was mindlessly dredging I gazed left and my excitement level exploded.  On some outer rocks where the surf was pounding I spotted some aggressively feeding tailing fish.  The tails were permit like but no black color and their shapes were similar to permit but slightly narrower and longer.  They were southern pompano, better known on this side of the world as the famous Africanus (Trachinotus africanus)!

 

blog-April-21-2015-7-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-africanus-pompanoThank goodness I trained for this trip.  After all the slow fishing today I had nothing with me but the fly I had on.  These fish eat mussels and crabs.  Without any regard for my body I sprinted across rocks back up to the car for flies and tippet.  I had no idea how long these feeding Africanus would stay in range.

 

blog-April-21-2015-8-flyfishing-for-african-pompanaI grabbed the resting Granny and we tore back down there.  They were still there.  Planning my cast was hard.  These fish were in the heart of snag central and from my point of view, if I hooked one I’d be broken off in seconds because on the run they’d pass through jagged rocks covered in razor sharp mussels.  Then there was the surf.  Even an Atlantic salmon would have trouble holding ground in the frothing surf these guys were in and I had to wade out to them.  I felt hopeless, but went for it anyway.

 

blog-April-21-2015-9-jeff-currier-flyfishing-for-southern-pompanoAs I look back I feel as though I wasn’t aggressive enough in my pursuit.  I waded out like I was afraid of getting hurt from a wave and fished my fly like I was in fear of snagging.  For those two reasons I never put my fly on their nose and eventually snagged anyhow and spooked them for good.  This is a fish that I don’t believe has been taken on fly and now I see exactly why.  They’re as finicky as permit, spooky as carp, live in an impossible place to successfully present a fly and it’s safe to assume the fight is dumbfounding!

 

blog-April-21-2015-10-flyfishing-for-bream-in-omanWe continued our drive south and came to our first good size beach in two days.  It was a welcome sight and we decided right then and there it was our home for the rest of the day and night.  We parked and I walked right out and caught two new species, this yellowfin seabream (Acanthopargus arabicus) and a fish that flopped off before I clicked a photo.

 

blog-April-21-2015-11-bait-balls-in-omanThere were some major bait balls up the beach.  As we approached I could see we finally had one on the run.  A five pack of speedy gangsters could be seen pushing the bait and breaking them apart.

 

blog-April-21-2015-12-granny-currier-flyfishing-in-omanGranny stripped my bonefish taper off my Abel and launched a perfect cast with my 9-weight.  Though these fish were chasing baitfish there was no doubt they’d crush a sinking crab.  Granny doubted me but in a split second she was hooked up and a fly line and ten feet of backing separated her from her fish.

 

Tblog-April-21-2015-13-granny-currier-flyfishing-for-largespot-pompanohe largespot pompano gave every ounce of fight he had.  You can see by permit-like shape and boomerang tail that this fish can pull.  It was all Granny could do to bring him in.

 

blog-April-21-2015-14-largespot-pompano-for-dinnerAfter some nice photos Granny gave me the nod.  We’re low on food and sick of pasta.  I conked the poor guy over the head and prepared him for dinner.  Tonight would be a scrumptious night of fresh pompano over an open fire.

 

blog-April-21-2015-15-living-off-the-landWe’re camped in a good place.  We saw numerous more largespot pompano, a few bream and yes – we have permit here.  I saw two along the beach but still can’t get one to eat.  Tomorrow hopefully will be the day.  Time for a feast!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

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