The annual slow-down arrive as water temperatures soared through June and into July, reaching their seasonal peak in July. This year, the temperature only reached c.31°C through July. A stronger than usual Khareef (monsoon) related cold water event brought water temperature down to around the 30°C mark towards the end of July / early August, and tuna started to appear from the middle of the month, 3-4 weeks earlier than usual.
Early in the month I made a couple of solo trips but, despite trolling with pods of dolphin, I drew a number of blanks. Then, in the middle of the month, Mohammed Jahwari trolled up 17 school yellowfin c.40kms offshore. They had arrived! I managed to get myself on a trip with Mohammed the following week. But, despite running c.150km along the coast and offshore, and eventually finding tuna surface activity, we failed to elicit a single strike! We also spent time trolling rebels with a large pod of dolphin, again without success. Whilst running with the dolphin, I suddenly saw a large, triangular dorsal fin break surface some 200m from the boat. At this point, the dolphin pod went crazy and took off. I believe that we’d witnessed a Killer Whale stalking the pod! We called it a day late afternoon with no fish. Undeterred, Mohammed went out the next day (23.07.08) and promptly caught 17 fish!
My turn was to come towards the end of the month, my first July yellowfin tuna:
July Yellowfin – 26/07/2006
Location: Muttrah Shelf (40m+ water) – from Muttrah Port entrance to near Fahal Buoy
Weather: Calm AM / Light chop with onshore breeze PM.
Water Temperature: ~31°C
This was another trip with Martin Healey aboard his 31’ Gulf Craft Walkaround. We’d initially planned to go to the shelf break-canyon intersection just off the marina to fish for tuna. They were being caught in healthy numbers, brought into the area with a large slug of cooler water from the south (See Map). As we were motoring out, we saw Omani fishing boats heading westwards towards Muttrah. We changed course and followed the boats. They ran quite close to shore, just east of the entrance to Muttrah Port, where pods of dolphin were working bait only ~2km off the Muttrah coast in around 40m of water depth!
As soon as we reached the dolphin pod, we put out two rebels – I ran the magic orange rebel; Martin put out a white/red head rebel. My ratchet buzzed almost immediately as I had a good strike which failed to hook-up. A few minutes later I got a solid hook-up and brought a frisky 12kg school yellowfin tuna to the boat – first fish by 11.00am. Martin immediately change lures for one of my orange numbers and we commenced trolling, as tuna started hitting the surface. We got periodic strikes, including a double hook-up until around 2.00pm, when the bite (on lures went off). Locals fishing livebaits continued to catch, but for whatever reason, the fish just weren’t interested in lures anymore. We finished the session with 4 strikes each, I landed 3 from four whilst Martin took 2, all schoolies in the c.11-14kg range. These were my first (and only) July yellowfin during my 4 years in Oman!