A short paddle from his home in Qatar, Fred Davis discovered a fine new friend, the Sobaity seabream. 


The love child of a silver steenbras and a Bohar snapper, the Sobaity seabream, or Sparidentex hasta in fancy speak, has a striking appearance with jet black, intelligent eyes and sports a titanium blue finish that frames the gunmetal scales. This predator is armed with a serious set of teeth that hints at its diet of fish and crustaceans. Despite its predatory nature, it has a rather reclusive attitude; you don’t see them too often. Based in Qatar, it has become one of the objects of my fishing desire. And they grow big, my heaviest so far had a fork length of 66cm. Adding to this, they are pretty fussy and can be exceptionally difficult to convince with a fly (or lure for that matter). There has been no shortage of “Aaaah man!” and shaking hands. But when they do eat, they fight hard and dogged and are not shy to run you through the bricks. If you do get them to hand they are spent, having fought to the end!


This enigmatic predator likes to hang out around rocky structure and on the edges of the flats of the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea – an area that they are endemic to. Not much is known about their breeding and migratory habits (if there are any of the latter), but we do catch them inconsistently all year round (even in the heat of summer!). It is epic when you find them herding baitfish into rocky corners, but normally they tend to play an ambush game, lurking in the deeper holes and crevices, appearing out of nowhere to attack prey.

Sobaity seabream


Finding them working bait is the best way to target these fish. It’s mayhem with big hits on surface flies that make for bent rods and weak knees. However, it is rare to find them in this mood and it is normally a combination of knowing the area in order to identify possible structure and a good dollop of luck in terms where they are hanging out. While I dream of sight fishing one on a crab pattern, my favourite and most successful method of catching them is by working the holes and cuts in the shallow reefs from a paddle board. Slow methodical working of these areas with a surface slider or even a popper produces the best results.

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