I left north, Ray headed south. He still had time and mine was running out. I wanted a few days of quality Permit fishing. So the plan was to head north to Ray’s favourite Permit beaches.
Ray felt it was going to my best chance of getting a Yellow Perm.
I dropped Matthew ‘Beefy’ Cocks a message to check where he was on the coast and plan was made to meet that evening. The road north was mostly barren, the monotony broken by the odd small town, dry wadis, small mosques and camels.
The drive time allowed me some thinking time. And when you have too much time on your mind while chasing Permit, you tend to start second guessing yourself. I did mental review of everything from the flies I was throwing (too big, too small, wrong colours?), the choice of destination (had been silly heading so far south into territories largely unknown?), my casting, my approach, my mindset… The missed fish were starting to play on my mind… Fuck these fish, they screw with your head!
It was relief to eventually see the boats at the entrance to the beach that leads to Camel. But what I found there was not pretty. The onshore was pumping and the surf was up. The waves had churned up sand and the off colour of the sea, coupled with gusting onshore, made it unfishable. Bitterly disappointed I waited for Beefy to arrive.
His smile at least made me feel better. We had a chat, he’d been fishing a little further south and while hadn’t seen any perms, had got a few shad fish over the last few days. We hatched a plan to hit Markaz for the night. There was a general hope that conditions would improve. So further north we went.
By the time we got to the beach it was dark. The disappearing twilight made for a stunning drive down hard sand left by the retreated tide. Hopefully there’d be Permit here there the next day. By the time we were making camping under the cliffs, it headlamps that allowed us prepare supper and drinks.
We shared a few beers and whiskies and lots of laughs and stories. Beefy’s background is education and now runs the Educational Branch of Al Ain Zoo in the UAE. Between this and fishing, there was no shortage to talk about.
Beefy has been fishing this coast for a long time. He has done his time. Yet the Yellow Perms have eluded him. This fact hit home how tough these fish can be. And how I had definitely not put enough time into focussing on them. It also pays testament to guys like Ray, Karmel, Pete and others who have managed to get their Yellow Omani Perms. Again I realised how late I’d left the final push for a Perm. I’d been lured in by beaches unfished and cartwheeling Queenfish.
I couldn’t complain though, the fishing had been amazing and the experience on the whole even better.
I did still have two days left. Maybe…
The next morning, however, did not have me feeling optimistic. The wind was still up and Beefy broke it to me that forecast had said it would be getting worse for the next few days.
“Well, we might as well give it a bash.”
There was no shortage of hope to begin with. I walked the length of the beach – it’s a long beach – and back. All I saw were dead fish and plastic bottles. It just didn’t seem to the beach that Ray and Pete had so enthusiastically described. I was paying my dues still.
Eventually I conceded that today wasn’t going to my day and that it was time to pack it in. My initial plan had meant I’d get home the day before work. If I left now, I could break the long drive (about 2000km) staying over with Beefy in Al Ain instead of somewhere in the desert and be back in Doha with a day to share for washing and organising of gear. My shit was dirty!
The last months have given me chance to reflect properly and I have to say that, despite the lack of fork tailed devil, it was the most amazing trip. The friendships forged. The fish caught. The hospitality and generosity of almost all I encountered. The landscape.
I will be back.