IFD: When people think of fishing, the Middle East might not immeadiately spring to mind, However Ed Nicholas has fished out there his whole life and is now enjoying some of the most exciting fishing in the World.
Ed grew up in Dubai where he started his fishing, before turning his attention to Oman where he has discovered some of the best giant trevally fishing anywhere in the world. Oman has now become the place to catch a 50kg GT and Ed has been instrumental in this.
If you would like to book a holiday with Ed please check out his company http://www.noboundariesoman.com
We are delighted to have some of Ed’s time now so on with the interview….
What are your earliest memories of fishing?
I have a few memories of trying to catch fish without any luck but I think I was around 7 when I landed my first one. I was never far from the water growing up in Dubai in 80’s and my Dad took me for a swim near some rocks where a few local Arabs were fishing using bread dough & handlines.
One of the friendly Emiratis was kind enough to lend me one but instead of following suit I decided to stick my goggles on and jump in so I could watch a fish eat the bait under water. Thankfully Dad was on hand when I finally hooked a fish then realized I had to unhook it. I went on to have many great sessions off these small break waters before the fish disappeared.
Can you tell us a bit about Oman?
The outdoor community never had to venture far back in those early days in Dubai but a few started heading further South and into Oman. I was always intrigued by their stories of virgin beaches and a fish every cast so i tagged along till I was old enough to drive then my poor Dad’s cars became my ticket to explore with mates.
What I love about the Country is the over friendly locals and simply some of the most beautiful landscape you will ever see. Top that off with a wild Ocean and it is one the greatest places to live and raise a young family.
Oman has great heritage especially here in Salalah which ages back to Biblical times. Job from the bible is buried here and looking at the geographical positioning of the Dhofar region you can see why the merchant ships put this place on the map all those years ago.
You have fished widely in Oman all along the coast, can you tell us what makes the Hallaniyat islands such a special place for fishing?
The coastline here is special no matter where you visit and there is excellent light tackle lure fishing throughout but the game is raised to new levels once we venture out to the Hallaniyat Islands. The archipelago of 5 Islands and endless reefs is home to the biggest & angriest GTs anywhere in the World and when you cant feel your arms anymore from tangling with the monsters there are hundreds of other species to catch including Marlin, Sailfish, Amberjack, Grouper, Permit and more.
The real Gem that makes all this happen though is the annual Monsoon (Locally called the Khareef) which descends upon Southern Oman during the summer months. The strong winds and big sea’s stop anyone from fishing for almost 4 months and bring very cold nutrient rich waters full of Sardines. All species get to scoff like pigs and get nice and fat ready for our lures!
Can you tell us about the world class GT fishing you have been enjoying out there?
Quite rightly the area has become the Mecca for GT Anglers all who come chasing the elusive 50kg+ GT. This is the equivalent to the 1,000lb Marlin club and until a few years ago was a pretty rare achievement. The leap forward in tackle coupled with this destination has raised the bar and 60kg+ GTs are now a regular coup.
What are the best times of year for them and how best to fish for them?
The whole food chain relies on the Khareef and the immense food supply that it brings therefore the best times to fish here if you are targeting the Giant Trevally is a few months before/after the huge sea’s. February, March, April, October & November are the peak months for that species but December & January offer very calm sea’s fishing inshore for the hard fighting top water Bream which is excellent sport.
No matter the species No Boundaries specialize in top water fishing. This means a lot of hard work from the angler casting all day but there is nothing like seeing your foe aggressively chasing your lure down and exploding on it in a frenzy. For the GT we use very heavy tackle consisting of 130lb braided line, 200lb leader and the best reels/rods you can buy. This still isn’t enough for many of the beasts and we often see broken rods, reels and anglers!
Can you tell us about the shore fishing and what have been the highlights so far?
After a long day in the boat its great fun to build a big fire on the beach in front of the No Boundaries lodges and watch the sunset with some dead baits launched into the surf. This is a nice relaxing activity till line starts peeling off the reel and you are connected to a serious slab of meat in for the form of a Sting Ray.
These long battles are always enjoyable to watch and we often end up walking a couple of kms down the beach to land the mighty fish. Sand Sharks/Guitar Rays are also a regular capture from the evening sessions and don’t be surprised to hook up to a number of different species.
What has been you personal favourite catch over the years?
I have to admit to been spoiled rotten living and fishing here, it is hard to single out my one favorite capture. Most of the avid GT anglers would choose the GT that I spent years chasing and that fell just short of the World Record. The fish was caught in April 2014 during the best week of GT fishing I have ever experienced. The fish just kept getting bigger and bigger .. I had landed a 52kg, 55kg, 58kg & 61kg in that exact order and was starting to question my tackle selection which was right on its limit.
The next day I decided to step up to the heaviest popping rod I own (pretty much a broom stick!) and send out the biggest baddest popper in the bag. A few casts into the morning session a huge explosion behind my lure signaled hook up and right from the first run all on the boat knew this was something special. The fight went on to last around 25 minutes running 20kg+ drag which almost destroyed me but the adrenalin kicked in again as I saw color down deep and once it surfaced everyone was speechless.
The fish was weighed, tagged and released and the needle hovered between 68-72kg, we called it 70kg which fell 2kg short of the WR.
Right up there with that capture would be my first Marlin and a Permit caught casting small lures off the beach. That was another epic battle on very light tackle.
My proudest achievement isn’t any of the fantastic fish that I have been lucky enough to catch but launching the first Tag & Release program for GTs in the Indian Ocean. We have tagged over 700 fish to date and through the fishing community raised funds to purchase Satellite Tags which we deployed last season marking the first project of its kind. Promoting sustainable fishing and encouraging the correct handling of these wonderful creatures provides me with just as much enjoyment as catching them.
What are your fishing ambitions for the future?
I guess falling just short means that I have to continue the pursuit of the WR GT, would be a shame to live/fish here and not have that ambition. Targeting a lot of these species on a fly rod is also something I need to practice more as I am pretty useless right now!
On the conservation side I will keep promoting fishing with barbless hooks and properly handling fish you are looking to release. After tagging so many fish and never recapturing one the excitement level when each fish surfaces (Does it have a tag!?) is reaching new levels and I look forward to welcoming a fish we have caught before on board again. Tight lines to all, Ed.