By John Cahill - Ebb Tide Tackle
Having returned around 3 months ago from the April 2019 Reef Raiders trip to No Boundaries Oman I thought I might now be ready to pull together a trip report! All good things take time yeah?
Reef Raiders is always a rad trip, the fishing dishes up what it want's, but the crew are always very chill and good anglers, I always say it's the hottest ticket in GT popping. This year was an extended line up:
Ed Nicholas - No Boundaries
Ang Nicholas - CEO and boss of No Boundaries
Hixon and Phoenix (young Ed Nicholas clones)
Chrissek Fishek - the incognito and unsuspecting GT tragic from the UK
Orkatz Amegari - the famous Spanish lure craftsman
Ricardo Laferia - angler of note, fashionista and Jamon Serrano supplier to the masses
Justin Cypher - father of Flynn and all round legend
Flynn Cypher - the Saltwater Prodigy
Seth Hartwick - My Man! and also possibly the most travelled angler of modern times
Nate Tsao - the 808 Permit guy
Lydia Cahill (my wife and CEO of me) and me.
April in Southern Oman unashamedly has a big reputation for producing some of the best monster GT fishing for the year. The Reef Raiders trips are always designed around that but on this occasion proved that in fishing there are absolutely no guarantees. The fishing report from the week before showed some reasonable but inconsistent fishing with a bite that appeared to be waning, to be honest it didn't look great. Lets get straight to the fact's, we did not score a decent GT despite a fairly talented and experienced crew, who would have thought that?! Well the fact is if you know fishing, yeah it's possible, and if you fish GT's long enough it will happen, I have seen it a few times now where GT's despite being present, just will not eat! Well we did get one good bite; Justin got demo'd by a monster fish that quickly destroyed his 130lbs braid soon after impact, but that was the sole decisive action by a GT all week! Despite it being tough, fishing in Southern Oman always has it's moments that leave lasting impressions, mine was the last day when a GT the size of a small car lazily followed Orkatz lure to the boat before gliding away, it was simply immense and provides all the desire and inspiration I need for the next 12 months, it was easily the biggest geet I have ever seen in almost 10 years of chasing them
|The fish of the season and at 67 kilo's the 2nd biggest ever GT ever at NB's well done Mo! Fell to an Amegari Urpekari|
Before moving on with the report proper, it's worth pontificating at why the GT fishing was tough perhaps. We were fishing over the full moon period, not necessarily every anglers favorite time, however the raging current so loved by GT's in good force, I suggest this was not the issue, but a greater issue was present that was the likely culprit, super warm water temperature, in fact it was over 30 degree's. This is 3 to 4 degree's hotter than normal for S.O. for this time of year and was seen as the most likely scapegoat. Southern Oman has had two major cyclones in 2019 and they seemed to have really mucked around the norms and predictability of this season. Days after our trip ended the water turned over and dropped in temp the same amount it had risen, resulting in one of the most insane bites all year. with multiple 60kg fish in one session alone including an almost record breaking 67 kilo fish for Captain Mighty Mo (see pic above)! Those are the breaks.
|The queen with her queen. Ed is not the only angler in the Nicholas household, Ange holds her own|
There are two schools of thought on what to do when a bite is this tough. One is to push on and keep throwing the big lures to the last drift in an all or nothing do or die approach, as all you need is that 'one bite', to turn a trip around, or accept it's unlikely to happen and look at the other options available. Among the crew both approaches were adopted and hats off to the guys who popped to the last drift, I respect that commitment. I went for a bit of both, it's soul destroying heavy popping for 6 days without a sniff and their are so many quality fish to catch aside from GT's.
|That is a lot of $$ in premium topwater tackle|
For me this meant a fair bit of PE3 and PE1 casting from the shore and the boats, which always produces some amazing action on a huge range of species both inshore and out at the fabled islands, lucky I had brought along way too many lures for just this. Prior to the trip, I had been encouraged by Nate and Flynn to bring the fly rod as a back up for some shoreline work. No Boundaries have been forging a new fishery for saltwater fly with some amazing captures over the last year or so so it was worth packing for sure, but saltwater fly is a relatively new thing for me, so expectations were low in the fluff chucking stakes from my end.
|About as rare of a double as you may ever hope to find - Omani bream and mahi|
|Big queenie on GT gear for Lydia|
Onto the fishing -
Around the time we were working out that GT's were being super hard we were also working out other things, firstly the same water temp we were complaining about for the GT's, was the same warm water that brought with it a plague of dorado both inshore and in oceanic waters. They were in big numbers and size, and I was lucky to score my biggest ever bull in a double hookup off a piece of floating rubbish with Flynn, PB number one for the trip for me. Every session mahi were caught on top water and one day I counted nearly 20 good sized fish in ones and two's all day long. The warm water seemed to make the ever popular spangled emperor a little quieter than normal but they were still there for the taking if you wanted to risk your lure sinking it down a little more than normally is required.
|Some impressive topwater dollies!|
|I swear if they grew to 20 kilos you would not stop them!|
As a by-catch while GT fishing I managed to nail an impressive size Maori sea perch on GT tackle, a new species for me so obviously a PB. I have wanted one of these for years so to finally fulfil that species was incredible. It nearly didn't happen after looking at the leader, I was well buried in the reef but things managed to hold together just and I dragged him from his hole, whilst it didn't appear to be the most powerful fish he certainly knew where home was.
|A new species for me - Maori Sea Perch|
A bit out of odds with the time of year, there were some cracking gold spot trevally on some reefs, these dirty fighters awesome sport on PE3 and the cause of plenty of reefings unless you were completely brutal on them, I was lucky to score a quality class fish on the PE3 tackle which resulted in PB number three for me, winning on the non GT front! Equally at odds with the gold spot was the sighting of a few very large amberjack found cruising the GT reefs completely at odds for the time of year when they usually retreat for the depths. These fish were not interested in feeding at all and actually fled when they saw a lure, weird things were happening I swear, when fish are off, they stink. The inshore bream fishing was outstanding, with packs of black backed bruisers charging up to smash poppers and small sticks, they were simply ravenous and great fun.
|Absolute pit bulls - big gold spot trevally causing havoc|
This is where it all takes a slight twist away from a conventional top water trip report. Walking the shore on the islands with a flyrod in hand is unfamiliar to me and frankly I feel half naked, so I had a PE10 popping rod for good measure in case a beast GT turned up. Nate taught me that I needed to look close, in fact a lot closer to find the wrasse and parrots we were now targeting. His advice of 'look for what looks to be a blue plastic bag in the water' was spot on. I soon started to make a few casts and when I wasn't tangling myself up or whacking a crab pattern fly into the back of my head I managed to land a few casts in the water. After some time I even managed to land in the right spot and to my delight I even had a few broomtail wrasse eagerly eat. Over the next day or two short sessions with the fly rod saw black tip trevally and to by delight a feisty tippet shredding spango, yew! Nate and Flynn are a lot more adept with the long wand than me, and added some impressive wrasse, parrots, hog fish and the holy grail, a permit to the tally, forever more Nate with be #thepermitguy in our eyes.
|Arabian permit - Nate was always going to wear one down - legend|
|Beautiful Dhofar parrot for Flynn on fly|
|Check those chompers on the hog fish|
Yep this was a different Reef Raiders in terms of the fishing, but nothing lacked in terms of the fun, shenanigans and solid banter. If you fish long enough you will have a trip where the fish don't do what the script says, having a crew like ours though, that simply accept this as the ebb and flow of fishing, the oceans and the fact 'you can't always make them eat' and not get sad on it, enjoy the ride!