Mission Oman 2 – The neon army

Getting soaking wet and full of sand first thing in the morning from my navy seal style entry into the backline was now routine.  After the shore break deposited me on the reef I ran up the rocks and took off everything, bar my chafe shorts.  I even brought an extra bottle of water to wash the salt off today.To warm up I ran up on some rocks to look for fish, and there it was, the neon army.  I had to get clever with this now.  After a hook up (and subsequent lost fish) I would rest the shoal for a timed 30 minutes .  The break was particularly big today, to big to stand and take it on the shoulder.  I had to try and jump over each set. I was 6 lost fish in, but id learnt exactly how they threaded me through the reef on one of my snorkelling rekkies.So I decided to go to even deeper water, where the holes in the reef were big enough to swim through.  On getting there I spotted a geet surfing down waves, and immediately swam back to the beach for my 12.  On return there was nothing, and the sets were too big to get casts over, in between diving under the waves.

F&ck it I thought, I need to land one of these bastards.

I got back out to the deep section when three fish started tailing my way.  Unlike triggers, parrots seem less spooky in deep water so my hopes were high.  The crab took forever to sink in this deep water, so I had to lead the fish and time the lul in the surf simultaneously.  On the third or fourth time it happened perfectly, and the lead fish inhaled the crab, and as usual, took off like a hydrogen rocket.This time I didnt stand around to wait for the line to pop or hook to open.  I pulled my mask down and sprinted forward.  The fish was behind the first set when I felt the line was snagged.  I dove through the wave and could see the hole he’d threaded me to.  He was already out the other end and still running.  I pushed the tip of the rod into the hole and pushed it out the end.  By some miracle it came out the other end, scored and scratched but in one piece.  The fish was now around a bommie, and headed for its next hole.  It was too deep now to walk and I managed to swim around the bommie. When I got there the bugger was nose down, kicking as hard as possible for its next thread through the reef, inches away.  When I saw this I pulled as hard as I could, but this thing wasnt giving up.   A few meters away now I reeled my entire leader into the rod and lifted up.  I grabbed the leader in had and finally turned the fish a bit.  Then, rather stupidly I grabbed the green fishes tail.  The reaction was not what I expected from a green fish.  It stopped moving completely, like id induced some sort of tonic. Eurika! Fish in hand.  It was fish 28, and I was elated.  The massive swallowtailed monkey was off my back.
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It was time for lunch and a pepsi, which in my fish drunk state was done on the back, in just my tights.When the adrenaline finally wore off and my stomach was full, I picked up the 12 and headed down the beach.  I hadnt gone 100 meters when I spotted it; a massive GT riding seriously shallow in the shore break.   He would sit high in the waves and then ride the wash permit style, but with about as much grace as a GT could have.I knew what he was doing, those blue tailed mullet had been nervously hiding on the colour line, and I knew in this murky water this would be my best shot.The shore break made presentation near impossible, and a meter or two in front was too far to spot in the sand churned mess.  Cast 4 was horrific, and the fly landed on the fishes head.  Before I could even strip and before the fly could even sink it sipped the fly off the surface like a brown trout (apparently) I ran back to clear my line that was around my feet, and my now the fish had turned and circle hook seated beautifully.

It shot off to the horizon, but there was instant trouble.  Within seconds I was fouled.  I just held, and then a little fishing miracle.  It came loose and the fish raced back along the backline with the fly line rooster tailing behind it.   The 150lb leader must have caught the reef and it turned in desperation.The surf cleared for that perfect second and I spotted the fish, not far now, and ran up the beach in reverse and winding, I knew I could get him close in and lock him down and he would run out of water to tread in this sandy mess.  When it was all on the reel (about hald my fly line).  I locked the reel and held the spool.  Down on one knee and held.  It looked like the fish was being attacked by a shark as it desperately tried to get away on the surface, banging my rod into the water each time.  I could clearly see the fish now on its side, high up in the water column.

Ive always considered a geet in the backing, a geet lost, so the extra fly line on the spool made me smile.  Id kicked ass here.  This was basically 150lb hand lining.

These next few paragraphs will haunt me forever, but the worst kind of failure was waiting for me.  As I began to reel, something odd happened, I could feel the spool reversing, with no pawl.  In an instant I felt it once or twice, and then the drag slipped properly.   I dont have a high pain threshold, particularly on my right hand which is full of plates and screws from all sorts of accidents, so that probabably made it worse for me.  The reel spinning at almost free spool in reverse was making mince meat of my hand as I tried to hold. It was now past the black and blue stage, the entire side of my hand had turned maroon and purple from blood, and I had to fight the flight instinct to not just let go.  I was shell shocked, stunned.  I didnt know what to do.  It was the worst pain ive ever felt.  Itried to hold the rod with my right hand and spool with the left, but I couldnt close it at all or move my three fingers. This is bad I thought.

Sensing this the fish started getting some traction, and was pulling off a few meeters in various burst, accelerating, sensing its freedom.  As I looked up my heart sank further.  My third snake guides foot was loose on the butt side.  The hike? The jump?The reef? I dont know.  In an instant, the reel made more mince meat from my fingers, and the backing connection (now in rod) touched this sharp edge.  The pressure was all the braid needed, and as it let go I fell on my ass in the sand.  For the next few minutes I screamed unthinkable profanities, threw my rod in (had to swim in to get it- serves me right), and then sulked.

Im not sure how many GTs have been hooked from terra firma in Oman, and im not sure many GTs that size have been caught without boat assistance either.  I felt that fish was deserved.  I’d worked ridiculously hard, i’d literally bled for that fish. Even today, writing this, it hurts to think about it, and whenever I do I quickly change my train of thought.

Thinking back I justify it by the immense amount of luck Ive had with big predatory fish, and maybe it was time for neptunes retribution.  The walk back had a surprise for me.  A consilation perm.  I didnt even give that fish a moment to consider eating or not.  Get on my fly.  It did.  A forced smile.

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4 thoughts on “Mission Oman 2 – The neon army”

  1. Leonard Flemming says:

    Aaaaargh, I feel your pain! What a story…Very very well done with the parrot though, they are not easy to hook or land.

    PS – that thing will execute a finger with its guillotine-mouth!

  2. Michael Gradidge says:

    What happened to your reel? Why did it slip??

  3. Richard Morton says:

    Shit Peter, awesome report! Sad to hear about the drag! Looking forward to the rest of it!

  4. Herman Botes says:

    HECTIC fishing. lekka read

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