Carrying on from Part 1, which can be read here, http://feathersandfluoro.com/?p=8903 , The heathen conventional angling adventure continues…. 

We finally arrived at No Boundaries Lodges in Shwaymiyah, and met up with Kil, Lars and Tsurusaki-San, and soon enough we all decended on our tackle bags and proceeded to start rigging… you would have sworn the contents of 4 good sized tackle shops had been dropped into the lounge of the lodges with the amount of gear we had brought with us…. But after a couple hours, we were rigged and ready to go…. Most of us were too juiced up to get much sleep that night, and come 5:00am the next morning we were out of bed eating breakfast while Ed’s crew were getting boats ready…

 

A note on the crew at No Boundaries – These are some of the coolest, hardest working, entertaining people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with… Mo and Yasser, the two skippers, along with Boy the lead deckie are all from Lamu, an idyllic island off the Kenyan coastline, and were born and raised chasing fish… they are incredibly good skippers/anglers/deckhands, and all 3 have a vicious sense of humour…

Mamun and Saiful look after the lodges and after guests like a couple of mother hens… Saiful is an incredible cook, serving up amazing dishes every evening while Marmun made sure we always had fresh linens, and clean clothes… legends, the lot of them!

Weather the first morning was not exactly mint… pretty heavy winds, and a rough sea meant we were in for a long run to the Islands… but of course we were game… Both boats have Bean Bags and we split 3 anglers to each boat ( Lars, Bertie and I in one, and Ed, Kil and Tsurusaki-San in the other ) so we hunkered down for the long wet run north, and got going…

45 minutes later we arrived at the first of the Hallaniyat Islands… These sparce and barren group of small uninhabited ( except for 1 ) Islands are like an oasis for HUGE GT’s….

On arrival, conditions were still less than perfect with a lot of choppy swell and green water… While the GT’s love the rougher water, they generally prefer cleaner warmer water … SO while conditions were not optimal, we’d all travelled along way and were keen to get at it…

Having 3 anglers on the bow of a boat in very choppy 3’ to 5’ seas, all casting 200 gram poppers featuring at least 2 x 11/0 hooks makes for an interesting dance….. but thankfully all anglers were relatively experienced, and soon we were slinging large poppers out across the submerged reefs…

3rd cast in and I felt my popper just stop dead… like I’d hooked a solid wall…. And then nothing… I couldn’t believe it… 3rd cast and I’d duffed it…. I took 3 turns on the handle to take up the slack and swept the rod again to try get the popper to the surface and it stopped dead again, and then I had the rod nearly wrenched from my arms… in truth I was not in any shape to deal with the fish properly at that’s point… not mentally, or physically… and I got my ass handed to me for a good 15 seconds where I was at a complete loss… for someone whose been fishing since I could walk ( about 33 years ago! ) I felt like a complete novice… Thankfully the advice and encouragement from Bertie, Lars and Mo had me back on track and in control, feeling like a fisherman again pretty soon, and after a short but intense battle, this sucker popped up:

IMG_0043

This are why we came here for….. Dre with his PB GT 3 casts into the trip…

I was stoked… my PB GT, on the 3rd cast of the trip!!! Unfortunately it went a little quiet after that, with us battling the elements for a good few hours with little reward…

On the other boat the boys were having a similar experience, with only Tsurasaki-San connecting to a GT, another epic fish which he dealt with in quick time:

IMG_9506

Tsurusaki-San with a 35 kilo-ish GT that he whipped on light tackle…

We decided to call it a day at the islands and head inshore to escape the wind and chase some inshore species on the lighter gear… Our boat headed inshore to hunt the cliffs, while Ed and Co decided to head to another smaller island for a brief stint before following us… This little detour and stop was to be the first glimpse into something that played out for the rest of the week on a regular bases… “The Tsurusaki-San Show”

Tsurasaki-San and his company, FCL Labo tackle, are known for some of the most innovative, and out the box lures on the market today…. He taught lure design at the Japanese Fishing University for 20 years, so the man knows a thing or two about lures and fishing… At one of the first stops, while Ed and Kil were tossing huge poppers in 25ft of water, Tsurasaki-San flipped a vertical jig out the back… Now most of us are pretty experienced jiggers, and would never think to fish a jig in anything less than 80ft of water at a minimum…. Well just goes to show that fishing ain’t got no rules, and a man who has spent 25 years designing lures, and fishing them all over the world, is likely to know a little more than you… Tsurasaki-San proceeded to put on a show, smashing fish after fish after fish… a trend which never stopped the whole week… Conservatively I think he caught 5 fish to every fish the rest of us caught as a group…. Seriously, the man is that good…

A couple from his first session:

IMG_9500

So apparently you can jig in 10 metres of water…I think this is a Malabar Rockcod/Grouper..

IMG_9493

Another on the next drop…

IMG_9488

And the next drop…another Grouper species..

IMG_9481

…and another…nice Matahari this time..

IMG_9470

And another… this time an awesome Speckled Snapper…

We hit the cliffs for a brief session before heading for the dock, and got our first taste of what was to come on the Inshore front over the next couple days… I only have 1 word to say when it comes to the inshore fishery in Southern Oman… and that is BREAM!

The Omani Bream is a fish I still cannot figure out… Take a Stumpnose, and mate it with a Snapper, and a Mussel Cracker…. Now teach it to live in the churning surf zone along cliffs, and to hunt in packs…. Now teach it to eat topwater poppers and stickbaits with reckless abandon and unrivalled aggression… and teach it to grow to 15lbs plus and fight like a demon possessed… these things are MAD!

Part of the reason I’d wanted to come to Oman, apart from the Monster class GT’s, is these Omani Bream… I grew up chasing their much smaller cousins, which we call Perch, in our estuaries here on the east coast of South Africa, so was completely captivated by these giant versions, and the fact that they hammered large surface lures in the surf zone… and these fish did not disappoint…

The first one we saw followed Berties popper about 15 metres before inhaling it right at the boat and taking him for a run around:

IMG_4151

Bertie with the first Bream of the trip…

After a couple other smaller Travellies and some other bits and pieces, we decided to call it a day and head back to the dock.

We got back to the lodge to find a massive plate of Samoosas waiting for us, which become our daily ritual while sitting round the table reviewing the day, with ice cold beverages in hand… retying leaders, rerigging lures, discussing tactics and plans…

The next couple days saw some heavy winds and rough seas predicted for the isalnds, so we decided to send one boat inshore, and the other to test the waters further offshore to chase GT’s…

The inshore environment is hundreds of kilometres of deserted beaches and cliffs, all of which are protected from the prevailing winds… meaning that even in the worst of winds, No Boundaries still has access to hundreds of kilometres of prime fish filled water…

The next 2 days fishing for me are a blur… I fished with Ed and Tsurasaki the first day, and with Ed and Bertie the next… between all the laughing and jaw dropping scenery, I experienced some of the finest, and most entertaining angling I’ve ever had… The pics below show a very small slice of what we experienced….

Dre Bream 1

Dre with one of his better Bream on the Starwalker stick bait..

Dre Bream SWC

And another….

IMG_4173

even the little ones go like hell…

IMG_4168

Ed and Dre with a Babgy GT and Bream double…

IMG_9531

Ed and a cracker Queenie on the popper

IMG_9518

Big Matahari gave us huge sport in amongst the bricks, with a good few teaching us a lesson, despite 80lb leaders!

IMG_9534

Tsurusaki-San tight again.. this time on something serious…

IMG_9550

Tsurusaki-San magic once again…. incredible fish in shallow water on super light gear…

IMG_9555

Zzzzzzzzzz……

 

IMG_9562

Tsurusaki-San and a lovely Queenie…

IMG_9606

Tsurusaki-San with a little inshore GT

IMG_9609

These bream are not shy of big lures…

IMG_9560

Typical inshore scenery… miles and miles of fish producing cliffs, and not a soul around…

IMG_9630

Dre and Tsurusaki-San: What an honour it was to fish alongside this great man…

IMG_9642

Ed with the first of a dozen or so Bream we tagged … the first inshore tagging program in Oman…

IMG_9645

Fat Bream for Dre

IMG_9668

Ed and the first Golden of the trip…

IMG_9675

The Frog and the Sheep… Breamo Doubles

IMG_9697

Ed and another bruiser Bream

IMG_9715

Bertie with his first Golden…. one happy Frenchman…

IMG_9724

Yet another Trevally species….

IMG_9730

Matahari… pund for pound there are few fish that go as hard as these around the bricks…

IMG_9745

Kak view to have to deal with while you have lunch…

IMG_9616

The Ninja and the Bream

IMG_9759

Ed and Bertie – GT Brothers in arms having a “Bromo – Moment” on a deserted beach…

IMG_2635

Bertie on the silly string…

IMG_4182

Tsurusaki-San taking in the amazing scenery at a deserted freshwater Wadi just behind a deserted beach we pulled up on for lunch…

After 2 days of hammering the inshore fishery, and thinking that I had found my fishing Nirvana, Ed, Bertie and Kil decided to push out to the Islands and see if conditions had improved on the GT front….

Long story short they landed 6 fish from 9 eats…. And Bertie smashed a nice topwater AJ too… I’ll let the pics do the taking here again…

IMG_0052

Bertie with a cracker topwater AJ…

DSCN4300

Geet 1 of 6 for the Day…

IMG_2575

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

IMG_2578

Ed with an “average” Omani Geet…

IMG_2590

LOCKED IN…

IMG_2592

Another fin perfect Omani Geet..

IMG_9774

Black Betty…

IMG_9814

Trust the Frenchy to look so cool while fishing 15 kilos plus of drag!!

IMG_9825

Bertie and another monster class beastie…

Lars, Tsurasaki-San and I decided to give the inshore game one more shot on the same day, and had a pretty slow day compared to the last two we’d had, and compared to the offshore madness the boys had round the islands with the GT’s…

But we did have an epic session on some of the bait balls along the coast line with the Golden Trevally… These fish go harder than most, and are truly a trophy catch in any ones books… the sheer size of them in Oman is quite staggering, and Lars found himself tied into an absolute PIG in the late afternoon in epic conditions… fishing pretty light gear, he had an epic battle on his hands… very stoked to have been alongside to witness…

IMG_0099

The Dane enjoying the sun, and a line ripping pissed off monster class Golden Trevally…

IMG_0124

World Class Golden….

Tsurasaki-San of course was also into the action with a beautiful Golden of his own:

IMG_0073

The ever present smile on Tsurusaki-San’s face…

The next day we decided to head out to the Islands to see if we could luck into any of the GT action that the boys had tied into the day before…

A long run out and beautiful conditions met us on arrival… 4th cast in on the first drift and Ed’s popper gets inhaled by a horse of a fish…

Ed put all his experience and skill to work on that fish, and most importantly, his fitness and technique… Heavy popping for GT;s has to be without a doubt the most physically challenging form of angling one can engage in, and it shows when watching someone in good shape, with good technique, fight a fish… I’ve always thought that heavy popping and jigging is the Cage Fighting of the fishing world… and watching Ed take on that big GT was a proper rumble…

IMG_9834

Ed locked in and giving a 45 kilo plus Geet gears…

IMG_9838

..and the result… 45 kilo plus of pissed off prime Omani GT..

Unfortunately the bite shut down soon after, and we decided to check out some other areas…

Now Ed had been telling us about a scenario he hoped we would get to experience… and it looked like we were about to get a little taste of it…

The local Omani fisherman run Panga style boats out to the islands to live bait with hand lines… The amount of bait inshore is quite staggering, so these guys have built enormous livebait wells into these old Pangas… basically 1/3 of the boat is taken up by a make shift livewell… They then net 1000’s of sardine like baits inshore, and run the 25 mile plus trip out to the islands to fish….

These guys will anchor up on a reef system, and start chumming with live sardines… then they will start fishing hand lines with live sardines… Now I know a lot of folks Stateside are familiar with live chumming… its not something we see much of, and I was keen to check it out… What we experienced was something I was not really prepared for!

I know live chumming can be very successful, but I had never seen it first hand in an area so rich with fish… the ocean literally turns to froth round these boats and every species of fish comes to the top and just crushes anything that moves in the water… we only had one live bait boat, and the action we esperienced with Trevally, Queenfish, Snapper and grouper was relentless… Ed said at times you have 20 or 30 of these boats anchored up together over a reef, all chumming, and entire acres of ocean turns to chaos….

We had an intense 45 minute session on the light gear smashing trevally cast for cast on small stickbaits….

IMG_0142

Dre tight for the umpteenth time…

IMG_0136

Ed tight on yet another hard pulling Blacktip or Yellowspot..

IMG_0145

These magnificent little bastards go like hell on the light gear…

The final day saw 5 of us jumping on board one of the boats, as Ed had to head back to Salalah early to take care of some business…

We decided to go big or go home, and head back to the islands to chase big GT’s, and give it one last crack..

Conditions were again pretty rough, and with 5 of us on board, we had to work with a rotating system to make sure everyone got in enough cast time… a weeks worth of fishing together had us in a good rhythm, and despite the wind and rocky seas, poppers and stickbaits were flying…

15 minutes into a drift at a spot called Baghdad ( so named for the deserted hotel wreckage on the point ) and casting into about 12 ft of water filled with gnarly coral heads, huge currents and foul ground, Lars had his popper inhaled by something big and brown….

In that shallow water, and with so much foul ground around, the Dane had his work cut out for him, but did an incredible job, and to all of our surprise, brought along boatside a superb Amberjack that had annihilated his popper… an insane fish from such shallow water. …

IMG_9953

Lars the Dane stuck into a monster Amberjack that ate his Craftbait 150 popper in a mere 4 metres of water..

IMG_9968

Lars almost able to smile with his monster topwater AJ…

Tsurasaki-San as usual was working his magic and hooked up to a fantastic Bluefin Trevally, which he brought boatside pretty quickly…. As it was being leadered up alongside the boat another huge brown shape materialized beside it hassling it…. Bertie was quick as a flash and slapped his stickbait alongside the boat and the Amberjack lit onto it and detonated on that stickbait so close to the boat its tail slapped into the side of the boat as it turned….

50lbs plus of pissed of AJ on a super short line, on a super tight drag in super shallow water…. That’s a a lot of supers wrapped together resulting in only one thing… a seriously amount of trouble for the angler… Bertrand “2 Clicks Back” Picarda really showed why he is one of the finest anglers out there because he somehow managed to slide along the gunwale, get his rod under both motors and back into control in less than 10 seconds… I was standing alongside him the whole time and still don’t really know how he managed it, but he did… resulting in yet another fantastic shallow water AJ on top. Full credit must go to Skippers Mo and Yasser here as well as their boat handling skills make an enormous difference in when taking on crazy class fish..

These guys and Mo-Boy, as well, chief deckhand, really need a special mention because there skills and service on the boat, understanding of what the angler needs, and when, ensure that you have every possible chance to land that fish of a lifetime…. And having seen what a big GT or pissed of AJ can do to you in a split second, you definitely want as many advantages as you can squeeze in!

IMG_9986

Bertie and his gunwale slapping Amber on an Orion Big Foot

Bertrand then followed that up with another fantastic GT out of shallow water to end off an incredible trip….

5 Days fishing… 39 species…. 10000’s of photos and 5 Lifetime friends made….. The trip of a lifetime… I can’t wait to get back in September this year… I’ve got a couple 50 kilo plus GT’s with my name on them, and a whole bunch more bream that need to be fed a stickbait or two… and lets not forget those topwater Permit….

Massive thanks to my fellow Reef Raiders – Bertie, Lars , Kil and Tsursaki-San for sharing this amazing adventure with me, and for allowing me to learn so much from all of you…I’ve never laughed so hard, or learnt so much!

And a special thanks to Ed from No Boundaries, without whom none of it would be possible… my brother from another mother… I’ll see you in September bro, fitter and faster and ready for it!

All I can say is if you ever get the chance, trust me… just go!

 

*** Stay tuned for Reef Raiders 2014 Report back which, if you can believe, had  fishing that was, unbelievably, even better! ***