Anyone can go fishing in Oman, and what fun it is. You don’t need a boat, or a great deal of sophisticated fishing equipment, and best of all, it is something the entire family can do together.
Certainly, my initial fishing experiences in the Sultanate were on the sea, firstly with Sulieman Al Hajri, a PDO engineer, as he would take me out on his 20 foot, outboard powered, purpose-fitted, recreational fishing boat based out of Ras Al Hamra. Sulieman loved bottom-fishing at depth, anywhere between 100 and 250 meters of deep sea, where the big Hamour and Andag lurk, and he is not only enthusiastic about it, but very good at ‘finding’ big fish. Reeling up these big fish can be demanding, but the end result can be very gratifying.
Later, I spent a lot of time on Franz Kohler’s neat little 14 foot, distinctively red, walkaround fishing craft, and doing a style of fishing known as ‘trolling,’ when lures are dragged through the water, mimicking the behavior of small, frightened fish, and tempting the aggressive predator fish, such as tuna, mahi mahi, and kingfish to strike. It’s more of a, I think, contest, in every aspect, physical and mental, and Franz, now based in Jebel Sifah Marina, is a real expert.
Going out with either Sulieman or Franz was a privilege and a pleasure, but I always felt bad about not being able to return the favor. After all, Nizwa has ‘mafi bahar’ as a knowledgeable gentleman once told me... so I decided on a change of approach, and to make my fishing something Lena, a photographer, and myself could do together. So, swapping my expensive deep-sea fishing equipment for some much more modest beach fishing gear, Lena and I took up shore fishing.
We did try fishing off the cliffs and rocks of the Sharqiya coastline, but we lost a lot of gear to the rocky bottoms, and also hooked a lot of sea snakes, especially near Quriyat, which appears to be a nursery for these unsafe, complex, twisty, winding creatures that can tie your equipment up in no time, making it irretrievable. Then we opted for the fishermen’s beach at Shiyah, south of Sur and there we learned from the locals how to fish the shallows, and began to enjoy ourselves. We even took our friends Vishal, and Yesha Srivastava, and taught them to fish.
Going further South, we found a wonderful beach at Al Asalah, and during the next three years we made some amazing catches of Sea Bass, Tiger Perch, Flounder, Sole, and even Sea Trout, all dependent upon the temperature and sea conditions. We also caught and released sharks, stingrays, and the poisonous puffer fish at the same beach to add a little more ‘spice’ to our exploits.
The best times though, were when we went to Masirah Island, which we did three times, staying at the Masirah Island Resort, where a local bird photographer Darrell Pinto was on the staff, and he directed us to where we would most likely catch fish. The highlight was Lena catching three 4kg Dart fish within 15 minutes one morning on a very basic fiberglass rod and baitcaster reel that cost all of 30 rials, and using shrimps as bait, proving that fishing need not be an expensive pastime.
If you are looking for some inexpensive family fun, try it someday... Go to one of the many Muttrah fishing tackle shops and let them recommend some budget priced equipment, and see if you like it... I’m sure you will... as, even now, just writing this, I can recall the looks on the faces of Vishal and Yesha when they hooked and landed their very first catch. Don’t let you be the one that got away. Try fishing... it’s cheap, easy, for all ages, and fun!
Photos by Lena Petersen