It’s no secret that Southern Oman, the Hallaniyat Islands and the NoBoundariesOman operation there is one of my favourite places in the world. Between 2012 and 2017 I found myself there no less than 7 times, and doing my best to figure how to get there even more often..
Somehow between April 2017 and today, all manner of things (like a very expensive Seychelles and St. Brandon’s habit, and of course our good friend Covid-19 ) kept me from its hallowed waters.. But thankfully the end of April 2022 saw me back again, for a two week stint with NoBoundaries.
After a rather inauspicious start on arrival – when I managed to get my shoelace stuck in the escalator on arrival to passport control in Salalah, which sent me flying while carrying 2 litres of Rum in each hand, and having one of those litres explode on landing, during Ramadan, and spraying Havana Club 7-year-old all over the poor folks in front of me – my return to this amazing place couldn’t have gone any better.
This was the first time I’d been prepared and focused on the fly fishing options available. Previous trips had me solely focused on the (gasp) heathen gear side of things. With my fly fishing obsession having taken root again so strongly over the last couple years, coupled with seeing all the incredible fish being targeted from the likes of Ray Montoya, Fred Davis, Peter Coetzee and others, as well as seeing all the incredible fly captures Ed and his guests have been getting with No Boundaries, I was psyched on flicking the long rod a little more on this trip.
Additionally the inshore areas of Southern Oman have in the last few years rebounded tremendously after a bit of a downward trend due to fishing pressure from commercial fisherman for a number of years. The Omani Government clamped down, and clamped down HARD on this, which saw almost all of these indiscriminate operations being shut down, the result being that the fisheries have rebounded incredibly, to levels that would have been hard to believe just a few years ago. Shows just how quickly our oceans can bounce back if just given a chance.
Ed and his team at No Boundaries have recently custom built a magnificent Mothership, the Notus Temptress, based on the classic Arabian Dhow. She’s been built from the ground up to be the best mothership platform to host anglers and fish the waters of Southern Oman around the Halliniyat Islands. Simply put she’s amazing with every creature comfort you need, a superb crew, unbelievable food, and the best part, being able to base yourself out at the islands. With 3 x massive centre console fishing machines ready to get you to the fish in double quick time, that means you can get on the water earlier and stay later to maximise fishing times during the best parts of the day. At the risk of this starting to sound like a No Boundaries Oman brochure and sales pitch, I’ll stop harping on now, and just leave you with this – IT’S A FUCKING AMAZING SET UP.
Ok, on to the fishing. I’ll leave the heathen gear fishing report for another day/place, other than to say we experienced probably the best week of GT fishing ever during that first week in both size and numbers.. Madness.
My focus with the long rod was on a couple species I have been slightly obsessed with over the years. Number 1 on that list is the Omani Bream. I first encountered these fish 10 years ago on my first NBO trip, and have been in love ever since. Our first morning saw them out in big numbers whilst dabbling along the inshore cliffs for a couple hours, with pack attacks and multiple hook ups on topwater with ultra light spin gear and fly rods..
Later in the week I got to target them over the sand in the surf on crab patterns, while duffing shots at Indo Pacific Permit. At the same time I was getting terrorized by Satanic Pufferfish who stole and destroyed multiple flies of every sort ( crabs, streamers, poppers ) before the marauding Queenfish could get to them!
Both inshore and offshore the Dorado were absolutely galeforce, easy pickings on the 8-weights and 10-weights and a popper. Matt Pickering managed the biggest of the week, a truly special capture as he took it on a fly tied by his young son Tom, who is 8, and who tied a fly for his dad to take with on the trip. Matt stuck it on and proceeded to hammer a beautiful Bull dorrie on it! Special capture indeed!
Another wishlist species on the cards was the Dhofar Parrotfish… Endemic to this region, these beautiful brawlers live in some truly foul ground around the offshore islands.. We got dropped of on pristine deserted beaches, armed with fly rods, boxes of crabs, as much water as we could carry, and were let loose to explore.
A challenge to hook, and fight to say the least, we had multiple shots at these beasts, with Nate and myself both hooking big ones , but sadly pulled hooks on both. I did manage a juvenile version on a Orange Merkin which had me absolutely over the moon with stoke! But those lost giants are all the more reason to go back again…
In between chasing parrots, the species list pilled up, as did the bust offs and straightened hooks. Blue Spangled Emperors in Oman grow BIG, and seem to all be on steroids and PCP when it comes to their fighting prowess. We landed large numbers of these, and lost even bigger numbers to the bricks, and straightened hooks.
Two Bar Bream, and Broomtail Wrasse are two other unique species on the menu that we tangled with, along with Blacktip Trevally, Amberjacks, numerous other snapper species as well as a few mystery fish that cleaned us up.
One of the highlights for me was a simply GIANT Batfish that Nate took on his 8-weight glass off the back of the mothership one evening after returning from a day’s fishing. These things go like absolute STINK and had Nate in all sorts of trouble after eating his crab fly off the back deck.
In my opinion Oman should be on everyone’s radar. Species diversity, unique species, challenging environments, incredible operation, beautiful surroundings, and the chance to fish to some truly giant versions of so many species means I am already planning my next trip.
And the next, and the one after that…