“Like being on the edge of a waking dream, they appear, those damn Omani permit, melting in and out of your vision as they float through the mess of the shore break. But they are the type of dream that never quite makes it to the best part, the type of dream that leaves you waking up, feeling alone and frustrated, clutching at a vision that you can’t quite piece together, despite its clarity just moments ago.

It’s that unmistakable flash of a silver silhouette in the wave face, framed by a dark tail and fins or that tiny flash of gold that first jumps out at you from the wash. But whatever you thought you saw disappears again so quickly. That is when the demons arrive and you begin to doubt your sanity and wonder if what you know you saw was actually what you thought you saw…

But then at the edge of your vision, it will appear again, wraithlike. And never where you expected it. You cast once, twice, four times. The wash of the shore break picks up your line, moves your fly in unpredictable ways and obscures your view. It seems an impossible task…

And that’s when the demons arrive, whispering little thoughts of doubt and frustration.”

  • Post Oman trip journal entry. 2015

 

***

“Tell a fly fishermen you’re going on a permit fishing trip and they’ll envisage palm-lined beaches, miles of *marly flats and being followed around by some dude carrying your spare rod and beers.”

“Tell a fly fishermen you’re going on a permit fishing trip and they’ll envisage palm-lined beaches, miles of *marly flats and being followed around by some dude carrying your spare rod and beers. Drenched in the dry burnt oranges and rich yellows of the desert, Oman is not a common topic when the fireside chatter turns to the next fishing trip. But, when it is mentioned, I’ve heard the voices drop into tones of awe, wistful maybes and respectful mentions of those who have already trudged those lonely beaches.

In 2015, as I dodged the shifting sand dunes along the edge of the Empty Quarter, I had high hopes of completing one of the ultimate fly fishing DIY rites of passage. I went home with hard lessons and a score to be settled.

Three years later, I again found myself on a flight bound for Muscat I landed with a 4×4 booked and those demons from the last trip on my shoulder. The weather forecast was indicating growing winds from the south and the yellow and orange bars on the Windy app did not instill in me a bubbling optimism. But I was here and I couldn’t wait to hit the beaches…”

 

Qatar-based Fred Davis tried bloody hard to get some of us to join him on his most recent Oman trip but, whether it was due to lack of time or money, there were no takers. So, the Norman No-Mates of Arabia, he went off into the desert on his own and spent a week catching perms, writing in his diary and talking to himself. This is his account from issue 17 of The Mission.