It’s a hobby that will quickly reel you in once you master the basics, and the seas around Oman are the perfect place to start, says Kate Ginn
There’s a saying that all fishermen tell tales about the monstrous catch that got away, but in the case of Oman there would probably be no need to exaggerate.
Apparently, the country boasts some of the best surf fishing in the world – for the uninitiated, that’s the sport of catching fish from the shoreline or by wading into the surf.
Big game fishing, heading out on a boat to deeper waters, is equally bountiful, making the Sultanate a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts from the Middle East and around the world.
What makes Oman so special is its location between the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, and the fact that fish fanatics can enjoy casting their lines pretty much year round thanks to the warm climate and wide variety of fish that visit the shores throughout the months.
Even just popping your head under the water with a snorkel gives you a glimpse of the amazing marine life that can be found in the seas. From marlin to dorado, the teeming underwater world is a fisherman’s dream.
In particular, the coastline from Al Khaluf down to Salalah is a fertile ground for surf fishing, with shoals of different varieties drawn by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Here, a well-placed fishing line can hook anything from trevally to grouper and, as different species take turns feeding day and night, intrepid fishermen can head out in the darkness to try their luck under the moon and stars.
Musandam, on the far northeastern tip of the Sultanate, is also a hot spot.
If big game fishing is more your thing, you’ve just missed out as the season is all but over. The best times for a decent haul are from October to April, and, by now, the fish are beginning the move further south to avoid higher waters in the summer.
During peak season, though, you could hook yourself a yellowfin tuna, sailfish or dolphin fish. The largest black marlin caught off the coastal waters of Muscat was a whopper, weighing in at a reported 400lb. That’s a big fish.
The beauty of fishing is that, in the beginning at least, you don’t need massive amounts of equipment or expensive gadgets. These are all available, of course, but not necessary when you first start out.
If you want to get out into the deep sea around Oman, you can charter a boat or take a spot on one of the numerous fishing tours that head out on a daily basis and cater to both serious anglers and novices alike. Most boats around Muscat leave from Marina Bandar Al Rowdha.
All equipment, such as rods, reels and bait, is usually included, so there’s no need to worry about kitting yourself out, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some friendly dolphins or turtles during the journey. However, be aware of conservation and over fishing – some fishing hobbyists follow a policy of catch and release.
Once you start to get serious about the sport, then there’s a plethora of fancy equipment from rods to reels and bait to buoys that you can splash your riyal on.
A basic saltwater boat rod will set you back around RO13 bought online, while at the fancier end you can expect to pay RO127. A top class saltwater casting reel could set you back a not inconsiderable RO199.
However you decide to get into fishing, it’s sure to have you hooked within no time.
For more information, visit: www.fishingoman.com
Tuna: Fast, strong and fun to catch, the yellowfin tuna is the most sought after and the most common in Muscat. Yellowfin tuna can grow up to 2m and weigh more than 200kg, but an average catch is around 30-40kg.
Sailfish: On the wish list of many fishing lovers all over the world, Muscat is a great place to hook this beauty. It also shows up near Salalah.
Grouper: One of the tastiest fish you can get, coming in a variety of types and sizes. The Arabian grouper (greasy grouper) inhabits Oman’s coastlines and reefs, and weighs 20-50kg.
Dorado: Also known as the mahi mahi or dolphin fish, it’s famous for its bright gold, green and yellow colours. It’s fast, acrobatic, beautiful to behold and tastes good too. The average weight is 7-13kg.
Kingfish: Sometimes known as king mackerel, it’s fast, strong and big, with razor-sharp teeth. It can grow up 2m in length and 70kg in weight.