Return to Oman (Feb.-Mar.08)

Return to Oman (February-March 2008)

It had been a long time since I’d done any saltwater fishing and it was beginning to drive me crazy. Before coming to Malaysia, I’d been fishing on average 3+ times per month for 3 ½ years! Suddenly, since arriving in KL, I’d managed 2 days in almost 7 months …..! Ouch! The more time that passed, the more miserable I was becoming. I was in regular contact with my mate, Kamal, in Oman. I hatched a plan to make a return visit to Oman, to make the lads trip to Ras Madrakha, on the Omani South Coast, that we’d tried to do in 2007, without success (see entry: Ras Madrakha South Beach (April 2007)). After several false starts, when I had to alter travel plans to fit with the ever changing drilling schedule on the Kikeh Field (don’t you just hate it when work get the way of fishing ….!!??), I finally got my travel plans fixed. I was going to fly over-night, leaving KL on the Tuesday evening and arrive in Muscat very early on the Wednesday morning. If all went according to plan, Kamal would meet me at the airport & we would drive straight to Ras Mad (c.6 hours drive) on Oman’s South Coast.

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South Coast – Two Palms Lagoon (27.02.08)

Weather: Calm

Time: AM-PM.

All went smoothly – the flight arrived on time & Kamal was waiting, with the 4WD packed for the trip. My rods & bags made the transfer (I changed at Abu Dhabi) & we set off at the crack of dawn. I was pretty tired & wanted to sleep on the long trip down but was only able to snooze on & off for about half an hour or so. When we finally arrived at Two Palms, we were greeted by the wreck of a large ship close to the shore (a victim of last Junes Cyclone Gonu) and my old colleague Norbert Janusz & his friend George. Now, George had been in the area for the past week & reported that the fishing was poor. Kamal, with his vast experience of the south coast, was not convinced. After setting up camp Kamal set off on foot along the shore armed with his spinning rod. I was pretty tired (& inexperienced of fishing the beach) & stayed in one spot, casting jigs. I was just  happy to be on the beach in Oman again. I stayed in that spot for a good few hours, picking up mostly puffer fish & one small croaker (I was on the trash fish trail again ….!!). Norbert & George went c.500m further east towards the wreck & picked up a few bream & a croaker. Kamal return a few hours later – he had been sight casting to bream & had caught a fair number of fish.

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Cyclone Gonu wreck at 2 Palms Lagoon Cyclone Gonu victim

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Small croaker fish

small croaker fish

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George with a breamGeorge with a bream

 Norbert with a croakerNorbert with a croaker

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Kamal fly fishing for mulletKamal stalking mullet on the fly

 Kamal with breamKamal with a bream

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Griffin playing a breamGriffin playing a bream

... and here it is!… and here it is!

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As the afternoon past into early evening, we got some beers and sat near the surf bait fishing. I put out pieces of prawn on a light spinning rod and a beachcaster (travel version) baited with a whole scad on a circle hook – I was hoping to pick-up a guitarfish. It wasn’t long before the rod tip was rattling with bream & the occasional cursed catfish. Suddenly, I got a good hit on the beachcaster & tightened into s spirited fish – it wasn’t big enough to trouble the heavy gear, & I soon beached my first ray – a nice 7kg guitar fish …… the Ras Mad trash slam completed (once again):

Puffer fish / Catfish / Guitarfish ………)..!! (“I just need a shark for the fantasy slam”, I thought).

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Guitar FishGuitar fish. Not the giant that Iwas hoping for, but, never-the-less …!

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I finished off the session with a decent bream for dinner. I was, by now, shattered. Kamal had started on the hard work – cleaning the fish, starting the fire & preparing dinner. We had grilled bream in soy sauce, bread & sundried tomatoes washed down with red wine & beer. I mentioned that I loved sundried tomatoes, but I also liked grilled peppers. Norbert announced that  he had a jar of peppers pickled in a honey syrup (or something like that). It was perfect, & I  can honestly say it was one of the best meals that I’ve ever had – fresh catch, under the stars next to the ocean on a deserted beach. It was only marred by my extreme jet lag. I succumbed to sleep, aided by the devils brew shortly after.

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South Coast – Ras Madrakha North Cove (28.02.08)

Weather: Calm

Time: PM

We awoke early the next morning & it was bloody freezing. Infact, it had been a cold night accompanied by a heavy dew – everything left outside was soaked. Kamal was straight out & after the coffee. After a quick brew & a light breakfast we had another bash at the fish. The action was slow, so we made a decision to move to Ras Mad – we packed-up camp & set off. After a brief stop at the south beach (no fish action evident) we continued on to the north cove.

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Ghost ship (2) Ghost ship (1)Ghost ship of the Oman south coast

 straight from the airportstraight from the airport …..

 Exotic destination!exotic location, with sea views …..!

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After negotiating the difficult drive in we stopped for a quick beer before setting off to fish for the afternoon. Kamal & Norbert headed for the flats to try for permit. I headed towards the rocks with a bag of prawns & some lures to try for bream & bluefish. It was slow going – no sign of the blues. I did pick up a couple of plump sharry and a 2 barred bream (both new species for me) on prawns fished on circle hooks – all fish were released. With evening drawing in I headed back to camp. Kamal had stalked a permit with the fly rod without success, but had picked up the odd fish. Norbert had managed a barracuda from the flats. At camp, Norbert decided to leave for home – his plan was to get off the beach & make some distance before stopping to sleep in his car, and continuing on early the next morning. After he left, I did a little bait fishing in the north cove, picking up a couple of bream for dinner. I was also putting out whole scad hoping for a big guitarfish before a desert fox snuck up & stole all my bait! I can’t remember much about dinner, but I slept well!

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Kamal stalking permitKamal stalkin permit on the Ras Mad flats

 Norbert with baraccuda

Norbert with a baraccuda taken on the flats

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Emperor fish (sharri)Emperor fish (Sharry)

 Two barred breamTwo Barred Bream

 Ras Madrakha North Cove campsiteCampsite at Ras Madrakha North Cove

 Sunset as Ras MadSunset over Ras Mad

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South Coast – Ras Madrakha South Beach (29.02.08)

Weather: Calm, 3-4’ breakers

Time: AM

We awoke with the long drive back to Muscat ahead of us. After breaking down the a camp & packing the car we made the hazardous drive out of the north cove. As we reached Ras Mad village we decided to take a look at the south beach. “Bluefish” shouted Kamal as we reached the surf. Sure enough groups of 3 or 4 fish could be seen darting through the waves. Kamal was soon patrolling the beach, casting a 40gm pink Yozuri metal sardine & was having some success – he had a couple of strikes before beaching his first fish. I started, alternating between poppers and a jig with a soft plastic tail, without much luck. I followed Kamal’s lead, scouring the breakers for signs of fish & then firing off some casts. Finally, after Kamal was on fish number 3 & got a strike & brought in a c.6kg fish to the beach on the jig head. Magic. Kamal quickly followed with his 4th fish before deciding to call it a day. I borrowed his magic lure and spent a further 20 minutes looking for action, but all the activity was out of casting range. Finally, I saw some fish in the shallows 100m to my left. I scurried down the beach towards them & let off a cast. Bang, I got an immediate strike and brought in a nice c.5kg fish, unfortunately deep hooked. It was then time to go – not a bad session to end the trip ….. 6 bluefish, 4 released (2 deep hooked fish retained for the pan), very exciting sight fishing. This was the sort of fishing that I’d come for & we’d finally found it at the end of the trip. I took a long look at the south beach – harsh, unforgiving and hauntingly beautiful. I will be back to this place again, I thought. With that we set out for Muscat, a long drive through the harsh desert landscape to Oman’s capital.

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Picture1Kamal with the first Bluefish of the day

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Picture4 Picture3 Picture8Andrew Griffin with his first Bluefish on lure from the Omani surf – catch & release

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Picture5 Picture6 Picture7Bluefish No. 2 on a yozuri sardine

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Picture9 Picture11Kamal releasing another Bluefish taken on a pink yozuri sardine

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Banda Rowda Canyon (4.03.08)

Weather: Calm, clear

Water Temperature: ~23°C

Time: PM

Before I left Oman, I had an afternoon trip chasing big tuna courtesy of my friend, Mohammed Jahwari, aboard his boat Al Waleed, with his charter captain, Sahim (Mohammed runs Nomad, the gamefishing charter company). Mohammed told me that the tuna fishing had been very slow (February-March is typically the time for the big yellowfin tuna in Muscat’s waters). I knew that in the Nomad boats were struggling, then things must be bad (they are the most successful charter company for catching tuna in the area). Sure enough, me & Kamal headed out, located the dolphins & commenced running ahead of the pods & dropping livebaits. We did this for a few hours without a single strike. We were approached by a couple of Omani fishing boats – they’d also caught nothing (a very bad sign), and gave us all of their scad live-baits before calling it a day & heading back to their village. Just as all seemed lost, we saw a big tuna jump behind the boat. We continued fishing with renewed hope, chumming live-baits as we went. However, we could not get a single hit & called it a day. We were treated to a spectacular sunset as we returned to port.

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Tuna Hunt - Dolphins (4.03.08)Dolphins in Bandar Rhowda canyon

Tuna Hunt - Sunset #1 (4.03.08) Tuna Hunt - Sunset #2 (4.03.08)

Sunset over the Quantab cliffs

This entry was posted in (2) Oman, Bluefish, Bream, Emperor fish (Sharry), Guitar Fish, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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