After the last two solid weeks exploring the Nubian flats, the final week was upon us.
It’s crazy how quickly time has gone by. It feels like just yesterday that we walked our first flat up here. What a journey it has been. The last two weeks have been great and with some old friends joining us for the last week, we are keen to get going and hopefully finish the exploratory season off in style.
We were joined this week by Keith Clover (on a sabbatical from the Tourette Fishing office), Ewan Naude (who explored with us in December 2013) and his two mates Jimmy & Craig, one of our guides from Tanzania; Greg Ghaui, and then South Africa’s Grunter Whisperer, Jannie Visser.
The wind was still blowing on day 1 but it didn’t seem to bother our guests too much, and with much anticipation we split into two groups.
The great thing about this area we have been exploring is that there are always options for whatever the wind throws at us, and having some strong wind is always good for getting the fish hungry after a few days of very settled weather. On this first day we fished an area that is well known to us now, and as expected it wasn’t long until each group was staring a tailing triggers in skinny water. Both yellow margin and titan’s were on offer and it seemed as if today each and every fish was hungry. Hats off to Ewan who got an eat on his very first cast at a Trigger Fish, and after some nervous moments in the shallows, landed a brute Yellow Margin. Not a bad way to open your account.
On the other side of the island, Greg, Jannie and Keith were having ample shots at tailing fish, and although there were some school fees, squashed hooks, snapped tippet and missed opportunities…it wasn’t long before all three of them had a good trigger in the bag.
After lunch Keith, Jannie and Greg continued the chase tailing fish on the flats while Jimmy, Craig, Ewan and I tried our hand at some teasing over one of the many deep drop offs. Although this session was slow for us we managed two inquiries of which Ewan converted a nice bohar snapper and another one left Craig licking his wounds.
On the flats the afternoon was still producing the goods and everyone managed some more trigger fish, bringing the first day to a pretty successful end.
Day 2 we moved the mother ship to a nearby different group of islands. Once again the group split into two, with
one half chasing tails on the flats while the other half went teasing again in the hope of getting some GTs, Bluefin and Bohar.
The morning session started off with a bang. Jannie Visser put his grunter skills to good use and after some impressively delicate casting and presentation, in very skinny water, landed a very nice Yellow Margin Triggerfish. We had quite a few more shots at triggers but the game changed in a matter of seconds – all of a sudden they were insanely skittish, with only a few fish showing interest in the crab and shrimp patterns. This is what makes Triggers so exciting to target, they are impossible to predict and are probably the most temperamental fish in the ocean. One moment they all happy, tailing and doing their best to eat every fly you cast at them, then next moment it’s like someone flicks a switch and they become the most frustrating target species on the planet. I suppose that’s what makes them so great, every fish is different, always unpredictable, and every single fish keeps you guessing and pushes your heart rate through the roof.
On one of the other islands, while we were being schooled by the numerous triggers, Ewan & co were getting some good fish on the tease. Some big bluefin trevally, plenty big bohar snapper, and a couple shots at big GTs kept the group busy. A highlight was when a big King Mackerel came in hot on the tease, and ate Ewan’s Semper, in knee deep water at his feet. Unfortunately the King Mackerel’s teeth found their way around the hook, and made short work of the 1.2mm Mono leader. After leaving the flat edge, Ewan, Jimmy, and Craig found some good triggers, but battled to get any to eat. Another highlight was while walking back to the tender, Ewan spotted a massive barracuda cruising the flats, after presenting a poodle to the 25 plus Kilo fish, it promptly devoured the offering. It wasn’t Ewans day, as for the second time in an hour he was quickly cut off. Not a bad morning session.
For the next three days we moved again. An area that offered some really big sand and turtle grass flats, insane bommie bashing and a few islands and flats that were yet to be explored.
On our first session on the flats, we found some insane trigger fishing. To give you and idea, in just one short session Jannie managed 4 triggers on his own, while everyone else also managed one or two fish each. Not too bad considering that was just one of four sessions, and that also excludes all the triggers that spooked, snapped off, cut through hooks or merely came off.
As with some of our other sessions in this area, the guys saw some really big GTs on the flats, as well as a big school of bones.
Unfortunately a fly was presented to neither of these species. A case where everyone gets so zoned in on the triggers, that the other species that are harder to spot often only get seen at the last second.
The highlight though, was some of the new areas we explored over these three days. There were a few small islands which we have been eyeing for some time now, and we were super excited to get out and fish these good looking flats and deep drop-offs. We found some tiny little islands and reefs offshore, all of these were wade-able(varying from mid shin to just below waist deep water) with crazy deep drop offs! You can literally stand right on top of the drop off and 1 meter in front of you is 150 meter deep water.
To give you an idea of what these drop-offs were like, we saw sailies and doggies, literally a couple meters from where we were standing in shin deep water. Although we didn’t get any eats from these sailies and doggies, it is only a matter of time before we land a few of these, on fly, with our feet on terra firma.
Although we got some great shots at big GTs and Bluefin on the flats, as well as triggers and bumpies, the area was about as perfect for teasing as you could hope to find anywhere on the planet. We explored these small islands with a combination of teasing the edge, and then fishing to free swimming GTs, Bluefin and Bohar on the flats.
On the teasing side, it is hard to describe how many fish came in.
Literally the second the tease hit the water, there would be explosions of white water around the tease, with numerous GTs and bluefin smashing the surface behind the teaser.
The thing with this fishing, is that the guys have to be properly briefed beforehand, and there is very little room for mistakes. The fish come in so fast that there is zero chance for a second shot, and loads of room for things to go wrong. It is one thing to make a good cast when everything is calm, but something completely differnet when there is when a 120cm GT is tearing the ocean apart from 100ms away, pushing everyone’s heart rate through the ceiling and making even simple tasks very difficult.
In essence when the fish comes in red hot, you have to have your A-game ready.
I’ve seen guys get pulled off their feet, GT’s and bluefin fighting with bohar snappers for your flies, lines exploding, some really colorful language, and too many shaky hands and knees to mention.
I don’t think fly fishing can get anymore extreme than this.
Ok back to the fishing, the teasing was incredible.
The amount of bluefin trevally was astounding.
The sea was literally flooded with them and almost every tease had anything from 5 – 10 bluefin coming in hot! Double and triple ups were pretty standard, and in many cases the bluefin ruined chances at big GTs and Barracuda.
During these sessions Jannie, Greg, Keith, Rob even cameraman Richard all got smoked by some proper GT’s. But all was not lost, Greg and Craig managed to land a couple nice mid 90cm fish, Keith also landed a couple in the 80 to 100cm rang.
While Ewan took his chances when they came and landed 5 solid GTs. Broken bodies, broken tackle but big smiles all round.
The last two sessions we fished the flats for the majority of the day. After a few very settled days, the wind had started to pickup again but everyone was on such a high and couldn’t be too bothered about the wind. Besides, there were still plenty fish. We found some tailing permit but no one got a proper shot at them as they spooked very quickly. Rob got smoked by a solid 8lb plus bonefish while Jimmy, Ewan and Craig landed some more trigger fish. A fitting ending to a stellar week.
One last mention goes out to Jannie Visser. In the dying moments of the last day, when everyone was too tired to bother venturing out and all opted rather to clean and pack gear on the mothership,
he went for a quick solo mission on a tiny little island right next to the anchorage and landed a beautiful mid 90cm GT as well as a one last Yellow Margined Trigger fish. Not a bad way to end your trip and also our exploratory season in the Nubian Flats.
With the Exploratory Season process now complete, we have 10 weeks of experience under our belts. Although there are still areas we need to visit, we are more than happy with what we have discovered so far.
There has been times when we have been frustrated, times of disappointment,
but mostly we have been blown away by the discoveries we have made.
We are already looking forward to next season when we will be running our first fully fledged and guided season on the Nubian Flats. For now though, Burger King in Dubai is right at the top of our priority list.
Till next time, I can’t wait to make the return journey to this amazing part of the world.
Anyone keen on info on the next Nubian Flats Season email firstname.lastname@example.org