My Revenge on the Africanus

by | Dec 9, 2019 | fly fishing for africanus | 3 comments


April 2015

One of my most memorable fish isn’t one I caught but rather one I lost from the rocks in Oman in 2015.  It was the Southern Pompano, better known these days as the Africanus (Trachinotus africanus).  One of four highly prized permit species that can be taken on a fly.  I lost him after more than 45 minutes of battle right as I went to surf him up on the beach.  It was a shattering loss of a fish that not only would have been a new species for my list, but also one that very few have ever caught on fly.  Especially from shore.


Nick-BowlesI wrote that species off that day.  Surely I’d never get lucky enough to fish to an Africanus again let alone fool one and land one.  I wasn’t even certain I’d ever be in Oman again.  But friend Nick Bowles from Dubai, owner of Ocean Active Fly, thought differently.


Nick and I didn’t run out and make plans for an Africanus pursuit.  We only talked about it the last few years.  But recently Nick caught his first and teased me with a photo.  That was it.  The ball started rolling and we made a plan to try to get my Africanus on my way home from my trip to Providence.


Ocean-ActiveAs you know, a cyclone ruined my Providence trip last week and I bailed from the Seychelles prematurely yesterday. I contacted Nick to see if I could fish with him earlier than planned.  He had to finagle but he invited my friend Sammy and I down to Southern Oman where he’s already been searching for his next Africanus with his friend Mark Taylor of Norway.  It turns out they got one yesterday.


Jeff-Currier-flyfishingLast night Sam and I flew to Salalah, Oman and met up with Nick and Mark.  Nick has a boat here and he’s been exploring the area the last few months.  The goal is to eventually add this destination to his already successful Ocean Active guide service offerings of Dubai (We fish together every time I pass through Dubai) and Musandam Oman (I fished here in 2015).  I’m just a lucky friend that gets to see his places before most people do!


Oman-permitWe left the dock in front of the Juweira Hotel where we are staying at 6 AM.  We had two boats and seven of us.  Only Nick, Mark, Sammy and I were fishing but Nicks business partner, Yousef who owns Around the Ocean, and his two man crew, came to show us some of the nearby waters.  We brought two boats, Yousef’s big boat so we anglers could split up and to carry supplies and a small boat for fly fishing near the rocks.


Ocean-Active-flyOur run to the fishing took over an hour.  It was a beautiful calm morning with temperatures in the low 80°s.  Once there Nick and Mark jumped in and swam to a remote beach.  Yousef and one of his mates took Sammy and I to the rocks to hunt Africanus.


Oman-permitAfricanus are permit that have evolved differently than the Atlantic permit and the Indo-pacific permit.  Instead of feeding on crabs on the sandy flats, the Africanus thrive on ripping mussels off the shoreline rocks where surf waves crash violently.  No doubt they prey on crabs knocked off the rocks and likely baitfish as well, but their number one food is mussels.


permit-fliesThe rocky shoreline is a treacherous place to fish and even harder to present a fly because it gets tossed around and usually gets snagged.  Throw in the finicky permit feeding habits and this species is flat out hard to catch.  While Nick and Yousef will be experimenting with flies that look like mussels, for now I’m using a crab fly.  The exact pattern that hooked my Africanus in 2015.


Africanus-permit-fishingYousef isn’t a fly fishing guide.  In fact, he’s entirely new to fly fishing.  This being said, he’s a fisherman and a fishy individual.  What I mean is, Yousef knows where different species live, understands the habits of fish and best of all, knew how to hold the boat for us to fly cast.  Off we went to where he knew some Africanus lived.


Sure enough, the first frothing rocky area had Africanus feeding aggressively on the rocks.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was indeed going to get a shot at revenge on the Africanus.  Water flushed in and out.  When waves rolled in we saw Africanus clinging to rocks by their lips yanking on mussels.  When the waves rolled out they let go in a nick of time to sweep back out to sea.  But as soon as the next wave pushes in they ride back and do the cycle again.


fishing-OmanMy heart beat like I was casting to my first permit on the flats in Belize again.  Like it thumped 30 years ago.  I observed for a few minutes in awe that the fish gods were giving me this second chance.  Then I made a decent cast and let my crab sink where I saw an Africanus.  One strip and I went tight!


As I already mentioned, you get snagged often fishing to Africanus.  Damn if I wasn’t snagged.  I told Sammy to go for it and held on to my snagged rig.  He too then got snagged.


flyfishing-OmanCasting flies to Africanus requires perfect timing or it results in an instant snag.  When I fished them from shore in 2015 I lost a ton of flies.  It was unbearably frustrating.  Today from the boat was the same at first.  Sammy and I lost three crabs in a matter of minutes.  The rocks are far too dangerous to drive in to retrieve a fly with a boat.  Instead you pull until it comes loose or snaps your 30lb leader.


southern-pompanoWe fished hard to those fish before finally spooking them away.  Yousef knew several places that had consistently feeding Africanus so we went to the other spots.  Each time however we spooked them away without a hook up.  Yousef suggested we rotate back through each spot where we found fish.


Winston-fly-rodsIt was about 9:30 when we returned to our first spot of the morning.  We couldn’t see any Africanus like earlier but we knew they were there.  I was using my 9-weight Winston Salt Air with the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Grand Slam taper floater.  I tossed my crab to a spot where I had a hunch.  It was basically a drop-off from the rocks.  So deep that I waited long enough for my heavy crab to pull my floating line down a few feet.  I started a slow strip and immediately felt weight.


I know this feeling and despite the subtleness I knew my fly was in the mouth of a significant fish.  I strip set and then came the headshakes.  Then all hell broke loose!


Jeff-Currier-permitI instantly went into my big fish fighting trance.  I could hear celebration in the boat between Sammy and Yousef but in my mind there was nothing to celebrate nor talk about.  I got brutalized by this species years ago then lost him just before meeting my hands.  This time I was going to put on the best fish battle performance of my life.  First step was to get this fish from the rocks.


Currier-permit-omanKeeping an Africanus out of the rocks is easier said than done.  And boy this fish went for them!  The fish surged and I stopped him inches from disaster.  I trusted my 30lb leader not to break thanks to the bend in my rod.  Lucky for me the two worked together and nothing broke.  The next move of the Africanus was to peal line and backing off my Bauer Reel and head out.  That wasn’t good either because there were fish trap buoys everywhere.  I bent my rod deep again and stopped him once more.  I had so much pressure on this fish and such a bend in my rod that Yousef told me later he never saw so much torque on a fish without something breaking!


Despite continued threats, I kept my focus and I kept winning the fight.  After ten minutes I was able to crank back some line in and felt the fish tiring.  Now his fight was deep but straight under the boat.  Inch by inch I collected line.  That turned to foot by foot.  Soon I saw the butt of my leader.


Jeff-Currier-Africanus-PermitI don’t know Yousef but I could only assume he knew how to tail a permit.  Several times I eased my fish up in range and Yousef made a cautious reach then pulled back.  I like this approach.  He didn’t grab my leader and he didn’t do anything crazy.  Finally the fish came up tired.  In one swift move Yousef tailed my Africanus permit and handed him to me.


Shock and awe is the only way to describe my feelings.  At first I screamed with joy.  Then I quieted and studied every inch of this amazing creature.  As I always do I ended staring deep into its eyes.  Sammy and Yousef clicked off photos all the time.


Jeff-Currier-Oman-permitAfter 30 seconds I lowered the Africanus to the water and leaned over the side.  I held the tail tight to begin the release.  Despite being in such a cumbersome position I admired the fish all over again.  By the time I was done he was ready.  I eased my grip then in one flip of the tail he was gone.  Did this just happen?!?!


fish-OmanThere’s no celebratory beer on a boat in Oman but that’s ok.  I reeled in and popped a coke and kicked back and smiled.  I couldn’t believe I caught an Africanus.  The moment was surreal.  I was done fishing for a while.  No more Africanus nightmares.  Proof to myself that any fishing goal I have is possible.  UNREAL!


flyfishing-Middle-EastI enjoyed my moment while Sammy and Yousef continued working the next group of Africanus like a well oiled machine.  I watched but was more checking out the scenery of the cliffs and beaches.  Then I heard a confident, “I got him!” from Sammy.  Sammy went tight!


Sammy-Vigneri-permit-on-flySammy was maneuvering his crab like a champ through the rocks and now he was hooked up.  The fight was as dirty as mine and after ten minutes of avoiding every catastrophe imaginable, Sammy landed the second Africanus of the morning.  Incredible!




Did we have the Africanus figured out?  A near impossible fish to catch on fly and now we had two.  And Nick and Mark landed one yesterday.  We must have it figured out – right?  I’ve seen fishing luck like this before.  I doubt it.


That would be the last Africanus Sammy and I would hook today and when we returned to pick up Nick and Mark they’d not caught any.  Honestly, in my mind we had one of those rare fishing miracles.  Marvels that only occur because I fish so much.  Every once in a blue moon they happen.


ocean-active-flyWe returned to the Jumeira Hotel in late afternoon.  Because it’s a fancy hotel they serve alcohol – a rare circumstance in Oman.  However, funny thing, you can’t order a beer at the bar between 3 PM and 6 but you can have them delivered to your room.  We headed to the balcony of our quarters and celebrated with a handful of beers.  The Africanus nightmare story of 2015 can now be put to rest.


fish-southern-omanWe’ll be headed out again tomorrow.  We just finished a great dinner at the Island Bar and Restaurant.  This is a neat little area – almost a Disney land for adults.  There’s actually a few bars and restaurants in this area which again is unusual for Oman.  Ok, its been a wonderous day.  Bedtime. . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. RM Lytle


  2. Kevin Yoshida

    Wow, what an incredible fish! Congrats Jeff!!!

  3. Jeff

    Thanks guys. That fish meant a ton and I needed one good one after all the struggles this trip. Happy Holidays!

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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!