It wasn’t the end of the world not fishing yesterday. Cameron, Granny and I traveled from Musandam back to Dubai in the morning. We got to Nick Bowles house and relaxed. We visited the spice market, fish market and Nicks Ocean Active fishing shop then I caught up on the blog. Then I did my presentation “Fly Fishing Through Midlife Heaven” for a few of Nick’s friends and customers before yet another scrumptious barbecue feast.
This morning Granny slept in and continued to relax. Nick and I went fishing one last time out in front of Dubai. Although Granny has fished her butt off this trip and deserves serious RR the last few days here in Dubai, I wish she came. Fishing was absolutely silly!
First of all, today’s queenfishing was the best I’ve ever seen. We got a very early start. Conditions were calm and fish were busting all over the place. Schools of baitfish were flying through the air looking like mini light shows everywhere you looked.
Normally Nick doesn’t fish and I was beginning to wonder if he knew how to fly fish. Today because it was just he and I, he broke out the goods and yes, he can fly fish. Nick can fly fish well and he dropped a sweet cast on the first bust we reached and landed this dandy queenie!
Nick and I went back and forth for the next two hours and brought ten queenies to hand. That’s not to mention another dozen or so we jumped and lost and laughed because the fishing was so unreal. I tell you man, these are the days you live for.
Fishing for queenies was so good we started leaving fish to find more – perhaps find some golden trevally or even the yellowspotted trevally. Each place produced more birds and more queenfish. But then we did see something special. As Nick was watching a queenie dart side to side behind his fly, behind it and slightly deeper was a golden trevally. His gold glow, dark stripes, broader shape and elongated pectoral fins gave him away.
The golden wouldn’t eat Nicks fly and sank out of sight. I had the same thing happen one hour into this trip on Day 1 back on April 4. Since then the image of that fish hasn’t left me. That day Nick told me my best chance for a golden was to go deep and strip slower. Golden’s have a reputation of being lazy and the queenies beat them to the fly every time. The idea is to get your fly below the feeding queenfish so the golden’s don’t have to compete for it.
I lost a tremendous golden trevally in Christmas Island twenty years ago and have wanted one ever since. Right then on Day 1 I took Nicks advice seriously. I switched from my queenfish catching intermediate line to my 300 grain Streamer Express and let it sink after each cast. Then I stripped at a slow trout-like pace and hoped. I sacrificed catching queenies, but I’ve caught plenty, I wanted a golden.
I didn’t get that golden we saw on Day 1 but I tried and tried. Then the next day out with Mike LaSota (fishing with Mike seems like years ago) I caught a few queenies then went back to the 300 grain and continued to try for that golden. I even tried with Granny last week. But the elusive fish eluded me again.
Today I purposely pushed the golden out of my mind so I’d bang up some fish on the final day. I fished my intermediate all morning and caught a bunch of queenies. But when that golden showed up behind Nick, that was it. Out came my 300 grain and the dredge began – unsuccessfully for over an hour.
Nick and I were literally finished and were heading back. In order to get back we had to pass where Nick had the golden follow. Nick asked if I needed anymore casts and I said the usual, “Ok I’ll make a couple more then let’s beat it”. It was a good call, on my first cast, as my fly was plummeting I got a thud. That’s all it felt like at first. A thud. But then the thud took off. I’m no expert on queenfish, but this didn’t feel like a queenfish!
I rarely let a queenfish take me into my backing. Whatever this was got me to the backing quickly. Not only that, he easily took fifty feet of backing with him and was running deep. My Ross Momentum LT 5 was cranked and the pull of the fish actually turned the boat.
It’s key not to let a fish get too far away if you can help it. When you hear someone say, “The fish took me 300-yards into my backing” that angler either lost that fish or is an expert on exaggeration. I don’t know what kind of snags lay in the bottom of Dubai Harbor but I’ll guess whatever I had on did so we stayed close as possible. I tightened my drag after the first big run and Nick fired the engine and followed.
The consistent pressure on my fish began to pay off. Within minutes my fly line was back on the reel and Nick had me directly over my fish. I could tell I had a member of the jack family because I could feel the fish swimming in circles down deep and he was using his wide flank to make my lifting difficult. But what kind of jack was this?
After a long wait we saw him. It was a jack alright. A full size golden trevally. His stripes were faint as was his golden glow but his extra wide body and long pectoral fins gave him away. I held back my happiness remembering the disastrous ending I had with an Africanus two weeks ago.
I hoisted with my 9-weight and Nick got ready to pounce. I got the hefty golden to the surface and in one quick sweep Nick clenched the boomerang sized tail. I landed a new species – a long sought after species – the golden trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus)!
My persistence paid off. There’s nothing better than working hard for something then finally succeeding. And best of all, like many times before, this was a last day fish. In fact this would be my last cast of the trip.
To say Nick and I were pumped up doesn’t hardly describe it. We were ecstatic. So excited we went directly by boat to the Dubai Yacht Club for beers. Unfortunately it was too early. They don’t begin serving alcohol till noon. We’ll remember that for our next celebratory fish which will hopefully happen again soon.
I officially broke down the Winston’s and packed away the Ross and Abel Reels. I have tons of salt to clean off at home in a few days. Granny and I fly home late tomorrow night and get in the front door in exactly 50 hours. Jet travel is incredible. Now we’re headed out Nicks door for the Dubai Mall to check out the aquarium then out to party down on our last night. Tomorrow I’ll close the books on Sudan, Oman and UAE with some final photos and thoughts from this incredible trip.