It was the perfect day with very little wind and calm seas to take out a group of newbie fishing enthusiasts this late January 2018 with the Columbia Adventure Academy. Onboard ten lucky winners who signed up to this free event and our fishing expert “Fishing Kit”.
Fishing is a very popular outdoor activity in the region and deeply rooted in the Emirati culture where the desert did not provide much food sources, the sea offered rich fishing grounds. The fishing from shore is very limited since it is not allowed in most areas within the city and the big catch is awaiting you a few miles offshore, so you need to get on a water vessel to get out there no matter if a kayak, a dingy or a boat. We choose the most comfortable option of a 45-foot fishing boat to accommodate the participants and also allow enough lines in the water, so that everyone was able to use the sunny afternoon to catch different species of fish.
We skipped trolling where artificial lures are dragged behind the boat waiting for a predatory fish to attack the simulated pray. trolling is a very passive type of fishing after the lures are put out, you just sit and wait for a fish to strike while the boat is driving slowly with a few knots and dragging the lures behind. Even though it is one of the fishing techniques which might bring in a big catch like barracudas or kingfish, Kit recommended to use fishing techniques where the participants are more actively involved and get a better feeling for the gear and fish.
Bottom fishing is one of the easiest and most popular techniques to learn and it is also good to give fishing beginners the chance to reel in some catch. This technique is popular with traditional hand lines as well as fishing rods. All you need is a sinker, hooks and some bait. Once the hooks (one or multiple hooks) are baited, the line is dropped on the sea floor. Depending on the current and wind the boat will drift so that you will cover bigger areas. If you are over a good spot, you will have fish feeding on your bait and eventually, you will also catch one or even more fish at once. The most popular bait used here is pieces of cuttlefish since they hold well and long on the hooks. While bottom fishing, the engines of the boat are turned off and the boat is only moving by wind and current.
Typical setup for bottom fishing with two hooks
Kit also showed a more advanced fishing technique called light jigging. Here you drop a small lure (jig) which is usually made of lead to the bottom of the sea than you bring it up with a bouncy movement a few meters and let it drop again. This movement will imitate prey but it needs the practice to get the movement right. Kit as a pro-angler, was fishing with very light gear and of course, he had to prove that he is the fishing pro on the boat reeling in a big grouper (hamour) weighing approx. 7kg compared to all the other fish which we caught in numbers all weighing less than a kilo.
After 5hrs of catch and release fishing off-shore on a beautiful day on the sea, all participants were successful to catch fish. While our participant Gianna brought in the quantity with the most caught fish our pro angler Kit did not leave it to the participants to reel in the catch of the day. Everyone enjoyed the day out on the sea and all participants want to go fishing again and bring friends and family.
You can join fishing trips all across the UAE or charter full boats if you are a group. The prices vary a lot depending on the size of the boat, how many people and the time. Most companies offer leisure fishing with basic equipment but if you go down to the east cost you will also find charter companies who offer big game off-shore fishing with high-end gear which will be much costlier than the leisure trips. The website www.fishfishme.com is a good resource to find the right boat or trip for your needs and budget.
You can find the right clothing to spend a day on the water at Columbia stores across the UAE. Recommended are; waterproof shoes, light short trousers, a t-shirt or even better a long sleeve shirt to protect you from the sun as well as a sun hat. During the winter months, you should also take a jacket or pullover with you because before sunrise or after sunset it can get cold especially while the boat is driving and you are exposed to the air stream. ■
To see the video from this and our other events check out our Facebook and Instagram page as well as www.facebook.com/columbiame and Instagram: @COLUMBIASPORTSWEAR_ME.
Please visit their website: www.columbiaacademy.ae
Words + Photos by: Daniel Birkhofer