In Oman I finally pinned a Two Bar Seabream. They’d been frustrating me here in Qatar; I’d seen them but hadn’t been able to convert the few chances I had had. They’re a fickle bunch; Ray Montoya said to me that they had considered them impossible on the fly until a few years ago. Turns out, in the right conditions, they’re rather partial to a crab fly! And I got a stack!

Twobar Bream live in a variety of conditions but I had best success targeting them in washy broken white water – you can see it in the background – with a drifted crab!

Once back from the desert, I hit the interwebs to find out a bit more about this strikingly distinct looking fish. was consulted and came up with two Acanthopagrus as possible matches to the search term “Twobar seabream”.

So I clicked on bifasciatus and sure enough, there it was, that yellow-tailed, face-painted bream. The page didn’t really give much more information than I had already figured out.

So, curious, back I went and clicked on catenula.

And there it was again, that same yellow-tailed, face-painted bream. Exactly the same. Surely not!

Perplexed, I scoured the two pages. How one earth can the same fish have different scientific names? Surely a mistake had been made!

Turns out that no, a mistake had not been made and they’re not quite identical! There are minor differences in scale counts, a possible difference in ray counts of the anal  in the dorsal and anal soft rays and a catenula has a distinctive black bar along the top of the dorsal fin.

I know this is a bit of a random post, but I find it fascinating that two seemingly identical fish have been classified as different! It goes to show how important the small details are. I would have never realised that there are two types of these guys! Looks like a got a catenula in Oman. Now to find a bifasciatus…


For more from this trip, check out my story, ‘A Long Walk Home’ in Issue 17 of The Mission below.


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