Location: Sifa (c. 2km from shore)
Weather: Flat calm initially (AM), stormy and choppy PM (3’+ seas, 15mph winds)
Water Temperature: ~28°C
Time: All day session
This was an excellent trip …… although it started off badly in the early hours ….!! I’ll explain. I’d been invited out with Mohammed Jahwari, who’d been having an impressive run of catching large tuna, often catching multiple fish in a session. Mohammed had found that the fish had been holding for the past week in shallow water (c.30m), close to shore, off Sifa, and invited me out for a trip, leaving early Friday morning ( around 6.00am). The problem was that the night before was the Caledonian Society St.Andrew’s Ball at the Intercontinental Hotel. This was an annual event, and was an event that, as you can imagine, involved lots of alcohol, a late finish, and lots of people with dubious or tenuous links to Scotland claiming Scottish ancestory and wearing kilts ….!! I went with the wife, but, by around midnight, was keen to go home:
(a) before drinking too much, and
(b) to try to get at least 4 hours sleep.
The plan didn’t quite work. Wifey was enjoying the do and wanted to stay. I, on the other hand wanted to go. A marital disagreement ensued, with us finally leaving at 1.00am, a little more the worst for wear and another hour eroded from my (already limited) sleeping time. Wifey was also pissed off, muttering about me being selfish …. so, altogether a good result …..!
I awoke at 5.00am with a groggy head. Got the car packed with kit and headed off, with anticipation of a good trip, to the marina. The day started well – it was flat calm and the marina was full of seema (goggle eyed scad). We quickly made c.100 live-baits and were off on our way eastwards to Sifa by c.6.30am. The temperature was cool and the seas flat calm. Perfect!
When we arrived in Sifa Bay you could see the Omani fleet stretched out before us. As the water was shallow (very shallow for Oman), they were all anchored up and were live-baiting, periodically chumming with handfuls of seemas. Every now and then, the surface erupted with tuna attacking bait, and the fleet were catching tuna at regular intervals.
We drifted into the edge of the group and put out some baits on trolling rods and slowly drifted our baits. We waited patiently, but without any takes. We finally got a double hit from barracudas (as the water is shallow at this location, we also had a shot at kingfish and ‘cudas). My fish cut me off. Mohammed (who was using circle hooks), brought his fish to the boat. We then saw Pascal Richards (PDO Fishing Club Captain) arrive with his father. Pascal had a couple of Daiwa Saltiga casting rods paired with Shimano Stella 20000 reels – ideal tackle for casting live-bait for big tuna. He spotted some birds wheeling high overhead and made his way over. As he cast 2 livies below the gulls the surface erupted in a tuna attack – both his baits were hit simultaneously. He broke off on one and his father fought the other. We watched as he landed a good (c.40kg fish). Shortly thereafter he landed another, slightly smaller fish. That was it – I had casting tackle with me, a 15-30lb class Penn Slammer with a Penn 7500ss spinning reel loaded with c.300m of 29lb mono …. and I was going to use it! I cast a live-bait and waited. Bang – whilst holding the rod a tuna struck and started ripping line off the spinning reel. I started off near the starboard bow side, but soon ended up on the stern port side. I was worried as there were a lot of anchor ropes in the water (the Omani’s had tied buoys to the anchor lines so that they could take their catch to a large storage ship that was buying fish directly from the boats before returning to their anchor spot to continue fishing), and, sure enough, the tuna ran under one of the lines.
“Back-up, back-up” I shouted to Mohammed.
He reversed the boat as I stabbed the rod tip into the water as we pulled the fish out from under the lines. With the fish clear I was able to work it to the boat where Mohammed sunk the gaff into a fine 18kg fish – relatively small compared to the average in the school, but a decent fish on light tackle none the less. I was satisfied with this catch, but the day was still young.
After the first tuna, the action started to slow down and we had no further takes as we approached noon. The Omani commercial boys were also only getting the odd fish. To add to this, the weather started to turn. Storm clouds gathered over the imposing mountains to the east of Sifa and a storm began to brew – the winds freshened and a chop developed. Mohammed suggested trolling. We both put out an Omani rigged rebel – I fished a blue lure (painted red under the head), Mohammed pulled an orange lure. As we started to troll we got some thunder and lightening accompanied by rain. The lures danced and twisted in the chop and suddenly we started to get strike after strike as tuna crashed the surface chasing small trevallies. As we trolled we tossed live-bait chum into our wake, often enticing tuna to the surface which resulted in a strike on the blue lure (fished further back, c.40-50m behind the boat). I got 8 strikes, resulting in four solid hook-ups and managed to bring a 30kg and a 27kg fish to the gaff. A third fish pulled the hooks near to the boat and one was lost early on. I checked my leader after each fish, and noticed some wear caused by the lure’s eye (see previous entry 7.11.05). I changed hook-length and made a mental note to rig rebels on 10’+ lengths next time!
Mohammed was having his share of lost fish too. For some reason, the fish were striking but not hooking up well. Mohammed finally got a good hook up on a decent sized fish. After fighting it for 15 minutes or so he passed the rod to me. This was a strong fish and, whilst I could have fought it and landed it for my personal best biggest fish to-date, I was knackered after already fighting a number of good tuna in heavy seas and still suffering the effects of lack of sleep and too much booze from the night before! After 10 minutes of fighting this fish I gave-up and passed the rod back to Mohammed to finish the job. Another 10 minutes later a big yellowfin came to the gaff – I hit it under the head, but it was still strong and pulled free of the gaff, making another run that Mohammed had to chase around the boat before I finally secured the fish at the second attempt. It was late in the afternoon by now, and we decided to call it a day and return to the marina. We had four good fish and had had a memorable day.
Back at the marina the fish weighed in at 43kg, 30kg, 27kg and 18kg. We gave the big fish to our boat boy Suleima to share with the pump attendant at the fuel dock. I took the two middle sized fish whilst Mohammed had the smaller fish (better meat, he said!). I spent the next 2 hours gutting and cleaning the fish to complete an exhausting, but enjoyable day.