First fish off Muscat (24/03/04)
We finally got the keys to Sirocco on Wednesday the 24th March. Mike and I both snuck off from work to meet the owner at the Port Authority Office at Muttrah to officially transfer ownership and register the boat. The process was relatively smooth and I got back to the office by 10.00am to find that all the computers were down. A colleague informed me that there had been a fire in the computer building and we were unlikely to be back up and running until the start of the week. Mike came to my office …..”we’ve got the keys, the weather looks great ……lets go”. Every cloud’s got a silver lining!!
We both went home to collect our gear and dash back to the marina to have our first trip. We’d bought our first batch of tackle in the weeks following our agreement to purchase the boat. I had a 20-40lb class Penn Senator rod coupled with a Penn 10kg trolling reel spooled with 30lb mono. Mike also had a Senator matched with a Penn 320 trolling reel. We got to the marina and headed out about 2.00pm in the afternoon. We had little idea of the sub-sea structure and the fish-finder wasn’t working too well! So, we simply ran about 2-3km offshore and started to troll – Mike ran a C&H purple hard-head with black and white skirt, whilst I tried a large eddystone eel in blue and white. It should be pointed at this stage that we didn’t have much idea at this stage of building game-fishing leaders – I had rigged the eel up on 30lb mono & weighted it with a 1oz bullet lead, running the lure about 5’ behind the lead. Mike had already started experimenting with rigs, so his kit looked more ‘professional’!!
After about an hour, Mike got a tremendous strike, with line smoking off his Penn 320. It was a good fight, lasting about 15 minutes before we started to see some colour. “Kingfish”, shouted Mike when we first sighted the long bar of silver in the depths. However, as the tired fish came to the surface it revealed itself to be a decent sized Great Baraccuda. I got the gaff to take my first ever gaff shot ….. I gingerly set the gaff in the lower jaw and we slide the fish aboard. It was a beast of a fish, about 2/3rds of the width of the transom, all mouth and fangs! We estimated the fish to weigh around 12kgs – the biggest ‘cuda that we would ever catch in Oman!! As the fish was only jaw gaffed, we slipped it back over the side where it swam off, apparently none the worse for wear. After clearing the deck we continued to troll again for another hour of so before calling it a day and heading back to the marina in good time to refuel and dock before nightfall. As we reeled in I felt a light strike on my eddy eel and reeled in a small kawakawa (bonito).
All in all, it was a very satisfying first trip – a couple of fish, including a boat record ‘cuda and some valuable experience learned, and we planned to go out in the morning the following day.
.My first Kawakawa
Second Trip (25/03/04)
Following the euphoria of our first trip the previous day, we set off with high hopes early Thursday morning. We were joined by Mike’s son, Pete, and my eldest, Sion. Conditions had changed, with breezy winds and choppy seas. We saw no surface activity, had no strikes and the trip was only memorable in that my son suffered recurring bouts of sea-sickness which made us curtail the trip early.
Sirocco’s first skunk …………!!
After work (29/03/04)
Our final trip of the month came a few days later. With flat calm seas visible on the drive to work, we decided to bunk off work early and take a short afternoon trip to target yellowfin tuna. We found dolphins with occasional tuna’s boiling on the surface a few km’s offshore of Muttrah port. We trolled without success but watched Omani boats charge up to surface feeding frenzies and throw what looked like lures into the mayhem on handlines and then quickly retrieve to elicit strikes (in hindsight, they were probably freelining livebaits). Anyway, they were catching about 15m from where we were blanking. It was a sobering lesson.
The next day, I went to one of the tackle shops near the fish market in Muttrah and asked for the lures that the Omani commercial fishermen use for tuna. The shopkeeper showed me some Rebel lures, in orange or blue. He then proceded to rig two for me by burning a hole in the bib, turning the eyes so that they ran facing forward, & then ran the leader through the eyes & snelled on a large J-hook. “These will work”, he said. I put them in my tackle box, ready for the next trip offshore!