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FEATURE: DEEP-SEA FISHING
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DEEP-SEA FISHING
The lure of the sea is powerful at any point in time. Head out to open ocean this August

The line snapped and was followed by the unmistakable whir of a reel unwinding. The twin 250hp engines were cut and the line was steadily reeled in. Although the fish that had been hooked was not particularly large, it was not small enough to dampen our spirits either. Yes, deep-sea fishing is fun ?and satisfying. With nearly 1,700km of coastline and plenty of tuna, marlin and dorado to be found off its shores, the sultanate is an excellent destination for recreational fishing. As the 29ft Azzan II ?one of the two fishing boats that can be chartered from Water World Oman ?moved out of the Marina Bandar al Rowdha at eight in the morning, the haze shimmering on the surface of the water indicated that the day ahead was going to be hot and uncomfortable. But no one really cared. The anticipation of going out to sea to catch something overwhelmed any negative vibes that might have detracted from the trip.

The boat picked up speed having cleared the marina and ploughed forward, its twin motors leaving a white trail of churning foam on the azure surface of the water. As the Azzan II moved away from shore it grew progressively less hot. Although it was sufficient to make one sweat, it definitely felt better than the uncomfortable heat of the city. "This is funny weather. You feel cooler here because of the breeze, but when you get back on dry land you quickly realise that you're burnt because you've been sitting out in the sun for too long," said Alexander Baines. Baines is the director of T7 Adventure, which is based in the UK and specialises in adventure sports travel. "As long as you have swathed yourself in sufficient quantities of sun block cream you'll be fine." Apart from Baines, our companions on board the Azzan II included Baines' colleague Darren Medhurst from England, Issa Sultan al Ismaili ?partner and business development manager of Oman World Tourism, Lakshman Biswas ?a sailor from India and the boat's pilot, and Gasim, the captain and fishing expert.

About 20 minutes' cruising later the boat was stopped for the fishing lines to be strung out. For a first timer the complete silence after the comfortable hum of the engines, broken only by the sound of the sea lapping the hull, can be pretty unsettling. Until one gets into the rhythm of the boat's rocking, that is. Gasim was quick to dispense with the task of baiting and then putting out the fishing lines. The task completed, Azzan II set forward again in its search for prey. Gasim and Biswas soon spotted a school of dolphins. "Dolphins are usually a sign of fish, food for these aquatic mammals, in the vicinity," said Gasim.

With the dolphins guiding the boat's path, one of the lines on the starboard side had soon hooked a catch. The lazy stupor shattered; there was a sudden flurry of activity on the boat that was now quietly bobbing up and down in the swell of the sea. Grand hopes came to an end as the last bit of line was reeled in, revealing the fish. A rather small tuna of no more than four or five kilograms was what the day's first catch was. Not a particularly encouraging omen for those who take fishing very seriously, but for us this was to be a day of fun devoid of all the pressures of performance, in this case of catching fish.

The more we headed out to sea the more the shoreline looked like a mirage. Through the layers of haze that was the result of the heat, the coast of Oman shimmered tantalisingly behind Azzan II. "We are about ten nautical miles from shore," Biswas declared. On land, that would amount to nearly 19km. It is amazing how far out you can see when you're at sea.

At 9:15am the line on the portside snapped, indicating that we had a catch. Again, there was that flurry of activity. Alexander reeled the fish in, furiously working the tackle and heaving on the line, while the rest of us watched on. This time, there were three tunas that had swallowed the bait. Each of the three were carefully unhooked by Gasim and Biswas and stowed in the storage chamber in the boat. The aft deck was then washed with water before setting sail again. After another hour's cruising without any further luck, the boat was turned around and Azzan II headed back for the marina. Back on land, the mind quickly returned to the mundane but the experience of the sea, the salt spray and the excitement of the catch would remain.

With the sea remaining calm through most of the year, cruising along the coast, watching dolphins or fishing in deep waters can be extremely relaxing. Besides, it provides a fantastic view of the coastline, the beaches, Fahal Island and of ships sailing into port. We would certainly recommend that you try this trip out at least once while you’re here. It’s worth the effort.

?span class="BLDMAROON">The Guide

Cruises and fishing expeditions are organised by Water World Oman. They have two boats for hire or charter ?the Azzan II and the slightly smaller Azzan III. The rates at which these cruises are available are:

FISHING HALF DAY (4hrs) FULL DAY (6hrs)
Azzan II RO180 RO250
Azzan III RO150 RO200
Charter N/A RO400
Equipment Hire: RO50
CRUISING HALF DAY (4hrs) FULL DAY (6hrs)
Azzan II RO 140 RO 180
Azzan III RO 120 RO 160

For further information, log on to www.waterworldoman.com or call 24 737438.

?span class="BLDMAROON">Gearing up for the game

  1. Reel: A reel is a device used for deploying and retrieving the fishing line. It uses a spool mounted on an axle. The first records of a fishing reel were Chinese paintings dating back to 1195AD. At Water World Oman's marine supplies stores, you'll find reels ranging from RO34-330.
  2. Rod: The fishing rod is a long pole on which the reel is attached. Fishing rods can vary between 24 inches and 16ft. Fishing rods range from RO41-180.
  3. Line: A cord that is specially made for fishing, the line should be strong enough for the type of fish you want to catch. It should also be as close to invisible as possible in water. Fishing lines can cost anywhere between 400bz per 100m to RO35 for 1000m.
  4. Bait or lure: it is an object designed to resemble prey, thereby helping to lure the fish towards the hook. There are various kinds of baits or lures. The lure is attached to the line and thrown into the water. Lures can cost between RO1 to RO20. Different types of fish require different forms of lures.
  5. Everything else you need: Water World Oman also has a range of electronic equipment like fish-finders, radars and global positioning system (GPS) receivers that are used for deep-sea fishing. You can also hire fishing equipment from them for RO50 per person.
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