Going Big on the Final Day of Fishing of 2021

by | Dec 13, 2021 | fly fishing in the United Arab Emirates | 2 comments

flyfish-dubaiIt was another lovely sunrise here in Dubai this morning.  But Dubai Harbor isn’t where I went fishing.  While Nick Bowles hung back in the big city to work, his friend Brenton Sharp took me on adventure to some little known flats here in the U. A. E.

 

saltwater-flyfishingI met Brenton a few days ago.  Brenton does some guiding for Nick but also guides on a big boat over in Fujairah.  He’s originally from South Africa and an all-round fishy dude.  The absolute perfect angler so spend my last fishing day of 2021 with.

 

Currier-flyfishing-dubaiWe drove about an hour to fetch his boat.  We gassed up then launched and headed out.  It was short boat ride out of a bay then into a shipping channel.  Opposite the channel I could see flats and mangroves.  But instead of heading right over to the flats, Brenton suggested looking for milkfish because he sees them in the channel often.

 

milkfish-fliesI’ve had hard luck with milkfish and still have yet to catch one.  I try to always be prepared though in case I see them so I have a few algae type flies in my box.  Mine are all green and olive in color and Brenton didn’t quite like them.  He gave me a concoction he likes with red and yellow.

 

fishing-Umm-AL-QuwainWe found fish quickly and though at first they looked like milkfish they were big mullet.  I’ve tried to catch mullet many times and only caught one.  It was a small Southern mullet out of Port Elizabeth, South Africa with my friend Ed Truter.  That same day with Ed I hooked up with two striped mullet and they both got away thanks to a mad run and some fierce acrobatics.  I casted into the school and started stripping.  On my third cast I hooked up!

 

Currier-mullet-on-flyLet’s just say a really good fight ensued.  This fish smoked off some line then jumped, then changed direction and ran me a short distance into my backing.  I could feel that he wasn’t hooked good so I really took my time from there.  After a good five minutes Brenton netted the mullet.  We are pretty sure it’s a bull-nosed-mullet (Mugil cephalus) and a new species for my list.  If anyone knows for sure please let me know.  Changed to the bluespot mullet (Crenimugil seheli).  Thank you Ed Truter!

 

flats-fishingWe must have been lucky because the next 100 cast to huge schools of mullet produced nothing.  We’d even try again later and still no luck.  Though that fly of Brenton’s worked once, we certainly don’t have the mullet figured out.  Next we headed to the flats.

 

mangrove-jackThe flats are mangrove flats and they reminded me of fishing in Mexico or Belize.  Though the day started with a nice breeze, the wind dropped to nothing.  We could see a long ways down the flats.  The problem is the fish could see us easily too.  The conditions didn’t stop my luck however.  I tossed a Clouser at a sunken rock pile and pulled out another new species for me.  This is a mangrove jack (Lutjanus argentimaculatus).

 

Brenton-SharpBrenton knows these flats well and he had a target fish in mind.  It’s the picnic sea bream.  They are roundish fish that hang on the edge of the mangroves and specialize in eating mussels and clams.  This being said, like most flats fish, if a crab gets in the way he’ll get eaten so that’s what I had on.

 

It didn’t take long to spot a few bream but man were they spooky.  The first three I cast to spooked when my fly hit the water.  The next couple spooked from my fly line sailing through the air.  It had a lot to do with the flats being glassy calm but I must admit, I made some sloppy casts as well.  Maybe after all the wind in the Seychelles I forgot how to cast when its calm!

 

bartailed-flatheadThere were lots of neat tropical small fish swimming under the boat as we went along.  But then I spotted something odd.  About a 15” fish blending in with the bottom with almost perfect camouflage.  It was a flathead, and I knew if I could drag my crab by his face he’d eat it.  It took me about three tries but I finally got the bizarre looking fish.  I caught a flathead on fly saltwater fishing in Tasmania but likely a different species.  This one is the bartail flat head (Platycephalus indicus).

 

flyfishing-for-breamAfter the flathead we kept prowling the flats.  I got a few more shots at bream and finally started making some good casts.  While most bream still spooked I finally had a few turn for a look and even had one eat.  But I didn’t connect.  It turns out these fish have a healthy set of molars for teeth and not a lot of places to perch a hook.

 

It was in the last half hour of fishable tide that would bring me my first picnic sea bream.  And everything about this fish came in style.  I spotted this fish about 100 feet out coming slowly directly to us.  He was in less than a foot of water.  I made my longest cast of the day and landed my fly about 3 feet off his nose.  He pounced on it and hooked him but only for a split second.  I was ticked off and expected him to spook.  But he didn’t.

 

Jeff-Currier-flyfishing

I stripped half way back in then picked up and made another cast.  It was another long one and when I shot my line I went about five feet past the fish.  By miracle the line landing next to him didn’t send him running.  I quickly stripped my fly to him and this time he destroyed it and I hooked up.

 

Though this fish didn’t make a screaming run, he put up a bulldog type fight.  He ran towards us only because we were in the deeper water.  Then he dove for rocks and coral but my 9-weight Air would have none of it.  I hoisted back and after a couple exciting minutes Brenton got the net under him.  Yet another new species for the day! (Acanthopagrus berda)

 

flyfishingBrenton and I stayed on the water another couple hours but the tide was too low for decent flats fishing.  We tossed at the mullet again and we looked for milkfish in the channel but fishing was over.  We packed it in around 2 pm then hit a nice restaurant for beers and snacks in Umm AL Quwain.

 

fish-dubaiI start the journey home at 2 AM Wednesday.  It’s been an amazing Indian Ocean run from Astove Atoll to Cosmoledo to Dubai these last three weeks.  But now I’m ready for the good ole USA though because after a quick stop in NH I’m headed for ID to pick up Granny.  I haven’t seen my girl since we left our house on October 31.  We’re planning to enjoy driving her car back to NH.

 

That’s all for now.  It was a fantastic final day to fishing in the year 2021!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

2 Comments

  1. Kevin Yoshida

    What a trip Jeff, great way to end 2021! Congrats on the new species! Happy New Year to you and Granny! Hope to see you in Denver at the fly fishing show!

  2. Jeff

    Thanks Kevin. As of now we are fully planning to be in Denver!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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