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Catch Yourself a Whopper

Catch Yourself a Whopper

Have you always fancied fighting a massive fish from the back of a fishing boat?

 The United Arab Emirates might just be able to make that dream come true...

If you’ve never been big game fishing, then get yourself down to your nearest harbour and get out on one of the many fishing charter boats. It’s not particularly expensive, and with a group of friends, it can be a cracking day out.

The seas of the UAE are teeming with life, and in many places you can actually see the fish leaping above the surface. So, no matter if you are a first-time fisherman or a professional angler with many a tall tale, you should be able to catch something in the warm Arabian waters.

The best time to go deep sea fishing in Dubai is between January and May. Plus, you’ll need to get up early, starting off around 6 AM. In the winter months (Jan-Mar) there is also quite a decent catch in the afternoon (2-6pm) as well.

What to Expect?

It’s all about catching the biggest fish you can find. But for this you need a proper fishing boat. With any charter you should get an experienced captain at the helm, rather than a Jack Sparrow lookalike. In theory they’ll know where the top spots are to secure you a bite or two.

Decent charter boats should have a high console above the main cabin, which allows the skipper to look for fish breaking the surface. They are also fitted with outriggers, which are long arms that protrude off the side of the boat, to help spread out the lines of the many rods you run at the same time.

The good boats also come with the perfectly-named ‘fighting chair,’ which is used when someone needs to fight a particularly large and angry fish. Basically, it stops you being pulled out the boat. After a decent fish starts to run on one of the lines, one member of the party puts on a belt with a cup fitted to it and straps themselves into the chair.

The other lines are reeled in and the person fighting the fish then put the end of the rod in the cup (which is better than the other alternatives). The skipper then backs the boat towards the fish as the fighter tries to reel in the fish. It’s sort of cheating, but no-one cares.

The general rule of thumb is when the fish runs, let it run (and watch as the line you’ve reeled in unravels itself before your very eyes). Then, when it tires, get reeling. Eventually, one of three things will happen: one, the line will snap. Proceed to commiserate with the crew. Two, the fish will pull itself off the hook. Cry quietly and leave the chair. Three, you land the fish (that means you caught it). Immediately high-five your mates, take a souvenir picture, and tell everyone it was bigger than it actually was. 


Trolling Fishing

Barracuda - People describe the Barracuda as fearsome looking. But ugly might be a better word. Either way, it’s a blast to fish, as it’s a ferocious fighter. You’ll find these between November and May: Trevally, Cobia and Blue Fin Tuna

If a Trevally looks like a 747, a Cobia is a fighter jet with attitude. And most people know the famous Blue Fin Tuna. Trevally and Tuna is usually only caught between January and May, whilst Cobia is pretty much only seen from January to March.

Bottom Fishing

Sherri (Emperor Bream) - Super common and usually quite small. Not much use for those ‘check out the size of the fish I caught’ Instagram pics or the infamous ‘you should have seen the one that got away’ story. Catchable pretty much all year round.

Sultan Ibrahim (Goat Fish/Red Mullet) - Good job they renamed it. Sultan Ibrahim sounds so much better than Goat Fish! Again, very common and really popular fish in local cuisine. Despite being small it’s super tasty, so you can bring home your impressive catch and cook up a tasty meal.

Hamour (Grouper) - If you haven’t heard of Hamour then you probably don’t live in the UAE (or don’t bother eating out). This popular local fish may be rarer than the Sherri or Sultan Ibrahim, but it’s also bigger and arguable tastier. More Hamour please!  

Jas and Mackerel - Despite sounding like a dodgy comedy act, Jas and Mackerel aren’t as common as they used to be. But there’s still enough around to get hooked.

Bait and Gear

The poor little Shrimp gets the short straw when it comes to bottom fishing, along with the squid. These two effective baits usually spend their last moments being chased down by hungry Hamour.

For trolling, it’s best to use the quite awesomely named ‘rapala’. This ‘fake fish’ attracts fish by wiggling around in an enticing manner.

When it comes to rods and reels, the boat should provide it all (but you can bring your own if you want). If they don’t, you may be on the wrong boat.


Top tips

Have a sleep when heading out to sea. It gets your body used to wallowing around on a boat. Also, it can take a long time to get to the decent fishing grounds, so why not put that leisure time to good use?

If you get sea sick easily, stay as low down on the boat as possible and stay outside. If you feel queasy, focus on the horizon for a while. No-one wants to see what you had for breakfast.