Now for the fishing….
We booked a six-hour session with Ocean Active to fish for Queenfish. I had only caught a couple of small ones in Christmas Island, but Nancy had caught a beauty in Australia during our 1994/95 extended honeymoon so I wanted to “even up” the species-on-the-fly count!
We were met at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and taken to the marina to meet our captains. The boats were perfectly set up for fly fishing, had equipment on board, and were fast on the water. This is not your relaxed hunting/stalking type of fishing this is hard core “run-and-gun”, chase the birds, don’t fall out of the boat, get your cast out as fast as you can, start stripping like a mad man and hang on type of fishing!
Queenfish, when all of it comes together, slash and chase the fly (sparse #1 Blue and White Clousers basically) with a “kill it” attitude that is impressive to witness. They are in the Carangidae family - Jack Crevalle, Giant Trevally, Amberjack, Permit to name a few others - which puts them in VERY good company as a sport fish. You have to keep stripping fast otherwise they quickly realize something isn’t right with your offering and veer off to eat the real thing.
But if you keep up your strip and they eat your fly be prepared to hang on. Queenfish pull hard, some jump like crazy, others sound and pull similar to a Tuna and some do both! They are a very impressive game fish. Some of our shots were behind a hookless teaser which was exciting to watch. Imagine a small surface lure with the hooks removed tearing across the water’s surface toward the boat and having to cast within 5 feet of the teaser when the Queenie was in hot pursuit crashing on the surface intent on killing it. This made for exciting fishing.
We had no lack of shots and did very well in our few hours of fishing. We landed over 20 with some up-to about 10 pounds (including a rod breaker!) You know you’re dealing with a strong fish when an 8-10 pound fish can break a 10wt rod bent to the cork.
Once I had landed 4 or 5 I decided to switch to a gurgler surface fly to really watch them eat it. The very first cast got an impressive reaction. I cast out to the bait-crashing group under the birds and started the strip - not as fast with the Gurgler so a bit easier on the arm! I started the strip and watched as two good-size Queenfish literally shouldered and pushed each other out of the way in an attempt to eat the fly. I ultimately hooked up with one of them 10 feet from the boat. Very good for the the adrenaline level and heart rate!
If you are ever in Dubai I can 100% say it’s worth it to go fish for Queenies. Look up Ocean Active and you will be well looked after.
So to sum up our 3 days in Dubai it was rather amazing. We met people from all over the world who live and work there! We never actually met a UAE citizen though other than the immigration official who, for literally 20-30 seconds, looked at my passport stamped it and said “Enjoy your time in Dubai”. We certainly did.
End Part 2