Thanks to the modern world I’m in a time warp. Only hours ago I was shooting meadow voles in the back yard and now I’m 8,000 miles from home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates listening to the call to prayer. And as planned, I’ve already relished in some fishing.
There are few flights to Sudan these days but Dubai happens to have a flight there once a week and we’re on the next which is Monday. Fearing a flight delay on the way to Dubai, Mike and I came a few days early. In fact, last year I did the exact same thing which led to an unbelievable day of fishing here in Dubai and the beginning of a new friendship with Nick Bowles, founder and owner of Ocean Active.
Nick has fished throughout the world and is an expert on fishing here in the Middle East. Ocean Active runs guided fishing trips to many locations Nick has fished but specializes in trips to nearby Oman (I’ll be fishing Oman in two weeks) and one day trips off Dubai (make sure to have a long layover when flying through Dubai!).
You’d automatically think that there’s poor fishing next to such a massive city as Dubai. The truth is that it’s excellent. Last year, despite tough winds and tumbler waves, Nick and I put a hurt on a heap of the fabulous fighting talang queenfish. I loved catching the queen’s so much that once I signed on to the Sudan trip again for this year, I immediately contacted Nick and reserved a day with Ocean Active.
Despite becoming friends with Nick only a year ago, he generously invited Mike and me to stay at his house in Dubai this weekend. So upon our arrival Friday night we taxied to his house and had a couple late beers and caught up. After a short night of sleep the three of us were launching Nick’s boat at 6 AM. Jetlag is for sissies!
For a guy nicknamed “Monsoon Currier” 2014 provided a stellar year of fishing trips. I had a few weather issues but not many. So when Nick emailed me a few days back promising threatening winds I wasn’t surprised. But luckily the winds were tolerable to start our morning. Soon we were in front of downtown Dubai catching the smaller species of queenfish known as the needlescaled.
Needlescaled queenfish aren’t nearly as formidable as their larger cousins the talangs. After Mike and I each stuck a few we went on a hunt for birds and bigger bait balls. Meanwhile the winds picked up and we took a beating as we searched for shoals of busting fish.
We made a long ride to the shipping channel where Nick and I caught several busting talang queens last year. It’s illegal to block the channel and fish but we were at that point. Sadly, even the channel was void of fish.
We kept searching and the place we found them was surprising. As close to Dubai as you can fish is well protected from wind by jetties and buildings. Every UAE weekend warrior you can imagine was out having a fun day on the water. There were boogie boarders, water skiers, jet skis and a constant line of skydivers falling over our heads. But amongst all the chaos were non-bashful talang queenfish!
The first casts we made at birds and bait led me to a hook up. Line sizzled off but before I hit the backing my fish came unbuttoned. We continued to cast and the big queens were chasing. But they were doing what they’re famous for, zooming behind dashing side to side but not eating. We changed flies and the way we stripped constantly. Last year I had luck with a fast strip but Nick suggested stopping the fly while the queen is in hot pursuit. Sure enough the move worked and Mike connected solidly with a chartreuse and white Clouser minnow.
This was Mike’s first talang queenfish but he was well aware of them before this trip. If he has three species he wants to catch on this trip the talang queenfish is one of them. After a furious battle Mike was posing with his first. And might I add it was a dandy!
Mike went on to land one other but not as big as the first. I lost another and landed a tiny orange-spotted trevally. What was most memorable for me today was almost connecting with a golden trevally. As a lifted my fly to re-cast there was that amazing gold and black striped fish, lazily refusing. The golden is a fish I’ve hooked but not landed.
Just as fast as the blitz came on the fish were gone not to be found again. We reeled it in and called it a day. On the way in Nick asked Mike and me what our plan was for tomorrow. Both of us jumped out, “Can we fish again”?
With a smile Nick said, “Why not”?
Looks like we’re on again in the morning. All three of us are stoked!
We ended the great day with a barbeque at Nicks with some Brazilian clients of his that just finished up a week of giant trevally fishing in Oman. They had a great trip and their stories got Mike and I pumped up! Beers, steaks, good South African wine – it doesn’t get any better than here in Dubai!
Stay tuned for what will likely be another great fishing day in United Arab Emirates!