Oman … the name alone conjures up images of the desert, sand dunes and camels. This is the place that I now call home and where my husband and I have started our fishing business: Arabian Fly Sport Fishing. Most people’s first reactions are “Oh yeah, I saw the movie Fly Fishing in Yemen. Is it like that?” Well we haven’t built our own river and stocked it with wild salmon, that’s for sure. Our business is saltwater fishing. Oman has over 2000 kilometers of coastline - from rugged, unforgiving cliffs that plunge into the depths of the ocean, to beautiful flat sandy beaches that stretch for miles. There is an abundance of exciting saltwater fishing to experience.
Situated in the Middle East, below the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the next question I usually hear is, “How safe is it?” I can honestly say, as a blonde female, I have never felt safer. The Omani people are THE most welcoming and friendly community I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I would quite happily, and often do, travel the length of the country on my own and camp out under the stars without any worries whatsoever.
We arrived here in September 2014 and spent over six months exploring every inch of shoreline we could access by car, camping as we went. I’m not going to lie, it was tough and there were days I would have loved to give up and go home. In the end, the experience gained, as well as the outstanding fishing we have discovered, has been worth all the blood, sweat and tears shed along the way. Well I have shed … my husband is South African, so he’s a little tougher than I … on the outside anyway!
Our aim was to create a company that offers professionally guided, tailor-made fishing trips throughout Oman; giving the global fishing community a chance to experience the adrenaline-pumping fishing that has been hidden away in this rugged, remote and beautiful country. Rich in culture and history, with so many exciting outdoor activities like diving, camping, desert safaris, trekking, whale and dolphin watching and wadi bashing, (swimming in the natural freshwater pools), it is the perfect destination for the avid fisherman, as well as their family and friends. Over the past decade, Oman has been working diligently to improve their roads and promote tourism destinations across the country. Our clients now have access to beautiful, newly built, 4 and 5 star hotels, even in very remote locations. After all, a comfortable night’s sleep is a necessity after an adrenaline-packed day on the water.
We now have two fishing locations up and running. There are not many places in the world where you can sight cast to Indo-Pacific permit, tailing in only a few inches of water, with your feet firmly on dry sand. Although slightly smaller than their Atlantic cousins, they are just as feisty and just as nerve-wracking to target on fly. Imagine standing on the beach, waves lapping gently around your toes, not a care in the world, rod at the ready and scanning the crystal blue water in front of you. As a wave picks up, you spot a flash of silver and an oval silhouette riding in towards shore. With your heart rate rapidly increasing, you run to get ahead of the fish as he reaches the shallows and starts scouring the sandy bottom for tasty crab and shrimp morsels. You can see him so clearly. His mouth agape, large eyes scanning the bottom as he hunts. Putting a cast out, you wait. Time stands still.
Strip. Strip. You move your fly in front of him. He sees it and stops to tilt on his side for a better look, as you hold your breath. Tail up and mouth wide open, he inhales your fly and you set the hook. From here on it’s a blur; the water erupts and line starts to scream through your fingers as he angrily takes off, attempting an escape to the deep blue depths of the Arabian Sea … and that’s only half the excitement of catching your first piece of Omani gold.
Our second destination is boat-based fishing and allows our clients to target multiple species. Our boat is docked right in front of the hotel our clients stay in, and the drop-off is just meters from shore, allowing you to maximize your fishing time on the water without traveling long distances. It also means we have the unique ability to fish both in-shore and off-shore within minutes of leaving the dock. Every day is tailor-made to our clients’ needs and requests. The mornings can be spent fishing the secluded coves and beaches or casting poppers along the cliff faces, sight fishing to schools of queen fish, large pods of milk fish, a group of big hungry bluefish, 3 spot pompano, Omani bream or one of the many trevally species we have here. Your fishing skills will certainly be put to the test.
The afternoon, after a hearty lunch, is the perfect time to sit back and relax while you troll the edge of the drop-off in search of billfish and dorado. But don’t get too comfortable, for when the bite is on, all chaos breaks loose. The sight of a billfish hitting the teaser, being teased in, swimming under the boat before turning back in search of your fly, his bill breaking the surface of the water as he clamps down on your fly and you set the hook is not to be missed. Once hooked, their aerial displays and tail-walking on water will leave you hoarse from screaming. If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, you can end the day casting to large schools of tuna and bonito busting on the surface while you are surrounded by a pod of over 5,000 dolphin or a friendly local whale shark.
Now heading into our second official season, I am excited to see what it will bring. With new areas to explore and exciting species to target, no day is ever boring. I feel very privileged to have this amazing fishing at my doorstep.