fishing

30AED quick wash Jig/lure box

 It has been a while since wrote a Do It Yourself article, so after a while of thinking about what to write here, I decided I was going to write about my most recent project.

Shopping around the tackle shops for a decent box to hold most of my jigs, I found that there were some for sale that tick the boxes off my list, but none except for one (which I found online) ticked everything except for the price box.

I wanted a lure box that I could put my jigs in or my chosen lures for inshore trolling, I don’t know about you, but often times, when I get home, I am so tired from the fishing and driving that each time I get home, I usually do as much of the chores as I can then sleep. The one of the things that takes me a long time is cleaning the lures I’ve used. It’s a tedious and time-consuming job and more often than I want it to happen, I skip it just to save up on time. After replacing hooks on my lures several times, I decided to think of way for me to wash them down without taking a lot of time.

With this box, I can wash and dry everything in the box without worrying about missing out lures that I forgot I used and foolishly dumped back into the pile.

You only need PVC piping and a small icebox you can get at the Carrefour for about 30AED. I already have some PVC pipes from a previous project so there wasn’t really much spending on this except for the icebox.

I’m sure someone out there will make a better version, but here is the basic idea from start to finish.

 

How to Create The Perfect Fishing Buddy

Start them young
Unlike most kids, I hardly had any support from my Dad when it came to fishing. At one point I was the one who forced him to take me fishing in the piers. This was not by his choice as hunting small game was more his thing then, and to be fair with him, he had me tag along and it was fun and for a kid, it was very interesting and a great introduction to the outdoors. Hunting was just not for me. I loved going out with Dad and his friends, but it was too messy for me. The long hikes with heavy gear to a good spot were not interesting – however, the part that really got me was to sit still and not talk for extended periods of time. If you know me, then you would know that it would be easier to stop floodwater than to keep me quiet.

Well before his hunting days, Dad was a noted angler in his hometown, after hearing this from my aunts, uncle and my paternal grandmother, it added to the frustration of not being taken fishing, especially when the interest was there. It was only when I was in my early teens when my Dad took me on our first fishing trip. This was shortly after his brother came into town and gave me my first rod and reel. When we got around to go fishing and when it started, it kept going. Since he gave up hunting, fishing has been his favorite pastime and till this day, fishing is the bonding medium between my Dad and I.

My Turn
I have been fortunate to teach kids how to handle a rod and reel before it was my turn to teach my own how to hold one. A few years ago, friend and I started a small program back home to teach people how to fish with a rod and reel, the turnout was good and we divided the groups into adults and children, I handled teaching the kids, while he handled the teaching the adults. When the time came for both parent and child to fish together, it gave me a kick. From that time on, I have been looking forward to the chance to teach my own kid how to fish. A few years later, I have my own family and since she was born, I have been looking forward to the day I take her out fishing for the first time.

I had to get some things in order for the little one, after 4 years and a few months of observing her, I had to look for a place where it would be easy for me to keep an eye on her and also make it more interesting for her, which means a place where she could see boats, birds, some space for her to run around safely and some fish to catch. I found a place with a big bonus, a clean beach and a playground, just in case she got bored, 4 year olds are not the easiest to teach, especially those that have very short attention spans.

Creating a Life Long Fishing Buddy
Fishing, as with a lot of things in life, is all about preferences – that being said, it is the single most reason for an argument between you and another angler. Anglers tend to not see 100% eye to eye because we each have our own formula for success – What works for us, doesn’t mean it works better than other people’s methods. Kids don’t have their preference set yet, and are the perfect mediums to work with the bonus – your preference will be their starting point until they discover their own preferences and they will evolve from there.

Either you are a hardcore fisherman or a weekend warrior – one thing is certain, you have to take it easy on kids. They might love fishing, or they might hate it down the line. What you are in control of is the experience that would lead them to the right path. Starting them with bait instead of lures will make it easier for them to understand things, A rod tip twitching is less appealing than a bobber or float going underwater – it gives the kids a very visual experience and an image of something big taking the bait. Although my little girl knows what the concept of fishing with lures is, I started with bait just so she would know that fish eat pieces of shrimp, marine worms and crabs. She isn’t afraid to touch them too! She loved her first time out and is already looking forward to the next fishing trip.

Gear
Kaylee has her own rod and reel – she even named the rod and reel. This is one of the factors that made her look forward to fishing. Since she plays around with the rod and reel at home, she is familiar with the functions and teaching her on the field was not a challenge. I took the time to show her which part was and what they do so she is familiar with them. Now that she has expressed her liking for fishing, I will get her a tackle box loaded with some useful tools. I will give her a few of my floats and sinkers. Keep the hooks in your box and away from their hands, but do show them how to tie knots and explain what the function is for each piece of tackle. I took my time and showed her how to rig a sliding sinker rig, explaining what a sinker, swivel and leader is.

Looking forward
Kids are able to absorb a lot of information and are natural knowledge sponges, so always explain as much as you can to them but don’t assume that they would be able to learn everything fast, repetition is the key.

From Day 1, I taught her probably the most important lesson of all. After taking a quick picture, I had her release the fish. I also told her that I release a lot of my fish so that she will have a few to catch when she gets older. This is very important, as we are responsible for their generation’s fish stocks. She was happy to see the fish swim away – and she even said that they would see each other again soon.

The 4 Soft Plastic Rigs I use most often

I have spoken to a few guys that were very interested in soft plastics but were clueless on how to start going about them. I was a little bit confused because there is practically no way to fish soft plastics the wrong way – however, I do understand that the soft plastic jungle is not an easy place to navigate; there are thousands of designs, shapes, scents, sizes and come in a few thousand color combinations. How to rig them is also another headache, there are jig heads and special hooks that fit one lure type but are too big or too small, there are weighted hooks and how about rigging the odd shaped ones like the Berkley Gulp Alive crab?

There are people who express their frustration because they have been using it for sometime and have not caught anything yet, and gave it up because “they don’t work” or say “it’s all hype”. There are those that say soft plastics are only for shallow water, and that if they could find a way to fish them in deeper water, it would be such a cool thing to try out.

Things to remember

  • Don’t give up. If you find yourself not catching fish, chances are, you are not fishing the right place, or targeting the right fish
  • Take the time to go on YouTube and learn how to put the lure on the hook straight
  • There are three predominant tail types, the curly tail, paddle tail and straight tail – the curly tail is used for slow speed presentations, the paddle tail for medium speeds and the straight tail for fast presentations.
  • Use the lightest weight you can to get to the bottom
  • Using braid as your mainline enables you to cast farther and get down deeper and because of the reduced stretch that braid gives you, you tend to feel event the slightest takes
  • Scented soft baits like the Berkley Gulp baits can be fished like non-scented plastics or fished off the bottom like live or dead baits.

 

 

The Rigs:

Jig head

Using a jig head has become the standard rigging used in saltwater fishing. There are a number of styles and sizes; all of them share the basic design and function. It makes casting easier and gives the soft plastic a very natural motion. The weight is at the “head” of the lure, which gives it a diving action when worked through the water column. When you jerk the rod tip, the jig head gives the soft plastic a darting motion.

Most, if not all, soft plastics can be rigged with a jig head. The size of the jighead dictates the distance you can cast as well as the depth you can reach – I have used near weightless jigheads for very shallow presentations (for bream and grunter) and heads as heavy as 4oz (113 grams) for tuna and dorado.

 

Weighted swimbait hook

In more recent years, swimbaits have become popular and there was a need to present a soft plastic swimbait with a more realistic swimming action on the fall, this means the time when you let pause your reeling and let the bait free fall (a move that usually triggers a strike from a following fish). With a weighted swimbait hook, the lure has a more life like forward sliding movement than one rigged with a jighead which seems to just plummet down immediately. This matters a lot on pressured fish that are almost always very finicky. When the lure slides down and forward, it also has a nice subtle wobble to it, much like an injured fish trying to head down to the bottom. This rig is perfect for swimbaits, but will also work well for long and slim lures such as jerkshads.

 

Weightless rig

There are a few instances that require the use of a weightless rig. There are times when you don’t need to cast far and the fish are feeding on top, there are also times when you are fishing in shallow areas where the fish are more likely to get spooked with a weighted lure. These are just some of the instances where a weightless rig would out perform any other rig. I remember finding a place recently, where the bream are hugging close to shore and were very alert of the surroundings, the splash of the weighted jig landing even 10 meters away spooked them enough to stop them from hunting the shallows and they immediately went on a bee line to the safety of deeper water. After a few hours of trying to figure out how to coax them to bite, I finally found the solution with a Gulp Alive Crab rigged weightless.

 

Sliding sinker rig

This is another rig that sees a lot of use in freshwater but don’t seem to get a lot of attention from the saltwater crowd – big oversight. The sliding sinker rig is probably one of the most versatile rigs there is for soft plastics. If you need to cast far or fish deep, this is the ticket. You can go fancy and use a bullet sinker and make a weedless “Texas rig” or add a swivel and a long leader to make it a “Carolina rig”. I mostly use a round sinker and it works well for me. These rigs are what I mostly use with the Berkley Gulp Alive soft plastics. I fish it almost like I fish natural baits – I just cast them out and reel it in slowly with very long pauses in between. This enables me to cover a lot of ground in the process.

 

As I mentioned earlier on, there is really hardly a wrong way of using soft plastics, in fact, they work as soon as they hit the water, and I have caught a lot of fish that way – a fish intercepting the lure on the drop, just after the lure lands – their tails start moving as soon as they hit the water!
The list of fish that can be caught on soft plastics is exhaustive. Basically, any fish that would eat bait would almost always bite a soft plastic as well. The main thing to remember when using lures is quite straightforward – they won’t catch fish if you keep them in your box, you have to tie them at the end of your line and use them.

 

 

Saltwater Ultralight Spinning

In recent years, technology has grown and gave way to a new breed of rods and reels that are lightweight and tough enough to stand up against the harshness of the saltwater environments. Anglers were quick to recognise the potential of these new rods and reels for finesse applications that were previously only used by freshwater anglers. With the number of bigger fish dwindling or the fishing pressure increasing, as anglers we have to evolve with the conditions and look for ways around it and be successful in our outings. It has been an accepted fact that the lighter you fish, the more strikes you get. The problem with this is also the fact that when you go lighter, you also need to ensure that everything you do, from tying knots to selecting and presenting to fish, is going to get more challenging. Your knot tying should be better than just good. Fishing with light line means you have to scale everything down – if you tie knots with nothing less than perfection, it would mean lessening your chances because you are staring with lines that test less than 5kg, tying a knot with lines as light as these would further weaken it, resulting in knots breaking, lost fish, bruised egos and endless cursing.

The Tackle
Rods
There are a lot of brands to suit each angler’s preference and pocket depth. For anglers, such as myself, that is very budget conscious; there are rods from Abu Garcia and Berkley that fit the bill well. My choice is almost always a rod with a rating of 8-17lb. (4-10kg) with a minimum length of 7 feet (213cm) if I can get a longer one, I would. The perfect length for me would be around 9-10 feet (274-304cm). Although you will find rods of this length, they are almost always Japanese Domestic Market models (JDM) and are mostly expensive. If you can afford these rods, I highly recommend them because they will take off a lot of limitations (such as casting distance, better backbone power, sensitivity, etc). Of the few rods I use, my favourite is a 9-foot (274cm) Majorcraft Solpara Seabass series rod, about 500AED in Barracuda Dubai. Of course there are times when a shorter rod is best and that is when I’m fishing in a place where I don’t really need to cast that far to get to fish or when I’m on a kayak or boat, in which case a more traditional (short) ultralight rod is used.

Reels
Spinning reels were initially invented because there was a need to cast small and light lures – I believe, we are in the Golden Age of Spinning reels right now. People skip all the headaches and use spinning reels for this purpose, most are priced reasonably and are very easy to use – for this type of fishing, you are looking at reels within the 1000 to 3500 sizes.   (Shimano and Penn sizing) with 2500 and 3000 being the norm. Depending on which size of line you want to use, these reels typically hold about 300 meters of braided line (or PE line if you want to go the Japanese sizing system). You don’t have to go overboard – you want a reel that would be able to take the punishment of table sized fish – realistically, nothing over 5kgs. Spending on an expensive reel is a matter of choice. I use a Daiwa Aird 2500SH, it has 9 ball bearings, a light composite body and a large capacity extra spool – All those features for under 300AED (and if you don’t mind the funky colour scheme!)

Line
Braid is the line choice of the modern era in most situations. It gives you a thinner diameter line that enables you to cast small, light lures farther than you would with monofilament. Braid is also three times stronger than it’s equivalent mono diameter. Which means braid that has a breaking strain of 10lb (5kg) would be the same diameter as 3lb (1.5kg) mono. Braid also over tests, 10lb (5kg) braid would break at about 15-16lbs (7.5-8kg). Braid has very little stretch, which helps keep you in contact with your lure even if you are dealing with long casts. Paired with a very sensitive rod, you could almost feel the fish breathe on your lure before it strikes! Braid makes your diving lures dive deeper because it has less resistance, cuts down on drag when you are fishing areas with high current so you get your lures or bait down and keep them in the strike zone. Because of these qualities, braid would also enable you to use lighter lures to reach the bottom. Seems like the perfect line? It’s not. It works in most situations and you have to be a bit experienced to really make use of it. If you are still starting out, I suggest you use mono because the main drawback of braid is the cost. The best ones will set you back about 300AED per spool, the mind end ones will cost about +/-200AED on average – stay away from the cheap ones. They will give you more frustration with wind knots (tangles) and you spend time mending your line than fishing. I use 4lb (2kg) to 6lb (3kg) braid (+/- PE 0.3-PE 0.4). If my braid is not enough to fill the spool, I use a length of mono for backing, or old used braid.

Leaders

Nylon is in most cases good enough. Although a lot of people use fluorocarbon leaders nowadays, I don’t really use a lot of it unless I am fishing for tuna. As fishing is mostly personal preference, if you feel that your chances are higher if you use fluorocarbon, go ahead and use it, it will most likely make you fish with more confidence and will have your lure in the water more as a result and if the lure is in the water, you are always in for chance at a fish.

Lures

In my opinion, you spend most of your money on lures in the long run, than you do with your rod and reel. I label lures “consumables”. You can’t have just one, you can’t use them forever, you lose them even if you take good care of them, one way or another, they get banged up and will eventually need to be replaced…and you need more than one colour for a specific one, two or more if the lure is “that good”.

There are a ton of lures in the market available to confuse the angler, you could easily get lost with the choices even in the smallest of tackle shops. To make the choice easier lets break them down to the 3 types I use most often:

  • Soft plastics – These are made of gummy plastic and shaped like small fish, shrimp, crab, worms and other small critters – basically these are the closest thing to real bait. They are the easiest to use but also the one that gets chewed up the fastest. You mount them on a jig head: a hook with a weighted head or a weighted shank. Using them is as easy as casting them out and reeling them in on or close to the bottom. Their tails move on their own and just as long as it’s moving fish will bite. There are some brands with scents in them (like the Berkley Gulp! baits) that have fish attracting enzymes, even if you don’t move these things, they can catch fish – It is that easy! Jig heads of 3-5 grams with plastic bodies will catch fish in almost any fishing condition/situation.
  • Small swimming Jigs – these are chunks of metal shaped like fish. They wobble when you reel them in slowly, reel them too fast and they spin. These lures are perfect when you want to cast a long way like when fishing off the beach, jetties and piers. They cast like bullets and are easy to use, just cast them out and reel them in a slow and steady retrieve, when you feel the lure pulsing you know you are doing it right. Nothing over 10 grams for these, but you can check your rod on exactly what your lure weight is. My rod takes up to 12 grams I believe, but I
  • Plugs – These are the fish shaped lures made of plastic or wood with “lips” and armed with treble hooks. Again, very easy to use; cast out and reel in. These lures are great, but I don’t really like using them that much because of the treble hooks and they take up a lot of space. If I do use them, I like the small stickbaits and poppers – when fishing for fish like Gold Spot Trevally or Golden Trivially, the explosion they create when chasing after these top water lures are more than enough to get you addicted to them.

 

You might have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about lure colours, this is because I believe that any coloured lure will catch fish because of movement rather than anything else. Fish feel what’s around them by feeling vibrations in the water with their lateral line, and only switch to visuals when they are very close by. In muddy water, they don’t even see your lures! In my opinion, colour selection is a personal preference and that the more you like the colour, the more you fish with it. If by chance you are standing in front of a row of lures and are confused of what to buy, or what to stock up on, get the ones that look natural, or ones that attract you the most. I like using whites, pinks in clear water and dark colours like black and brown in stained or muddy water.

This type of fishing is not for everyone; the expense alone on mid end gear will set you back about 1000AED. But the fun and challenge it gives you is something you don’t outgrow till you get old and grey. It is very applicable in the UAE and when do you go with this type of fishing, you end up packing a little less because everything is scaled down. Add a small bag to hold a small box of lures and leaders and you set yourself up as a very mobile and flexible fishing unit. Smaller lures and lighter gear doesn’t really mean smaller fish – Elephants eat peanuts as they say. Think about it this way – instead of feeding the fish a meal, you are feeding them snacks, and we all know you eat more snacks than you do with full meals.

The trip that almost didn’t happen

Year in and year out, I wait for the weather to turn a bit cooler so I could once again, go out and fish the flats. Since moving here, it has become an addiction that’s pretty hard to shake off. Even with the promise of bigger fish in deeper water, the challenge of sight casting to a tailing fish gets my blood pumping more than any other type of fishing I could do here in The Gulf. The limited species of fish we have on the flats does not really dampen my enthusiasm. The few that do bite a fly on the flats and in the edges of these flats are fussy enough to keep me challenged and wanting for more. When the weather started cooling up this year, I was looking for the perfect excuse to explore new flats and perhaps revisit my old favorites. The first outing to an old favorite that produced well for us some years ago threw me a curve ball. It was the first time I got stumped in that place. Not a single nibble even on our faithful soft plastic lures that some residents there love so much. Fishing is very unpredictable, and although there are certain things that give the angler the advantage, it is still up to the fish to choose to bite or not. A lot of things influence their behavior, the presence of food source, tides, current, wind; the list goes on and on (read between the lines – our excuse for not catching). You could be fishing in the worst of conditions and experience the best time on the water – however it may be, the old adage: “the worst day fishing is still better than the best day at work” rings loud and true. The only better time is when you spend it with friends. On one such occasion, I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with a friend who came over from the UK. For months, Steve and I have been corresponding about a trip we’re going to make when he comes around for a visit. Nothing fancy, just a day trip to catch some of our species on fly rods. The chosen weekend coincided with the F1 qualifiers, nothing wrong with that we thought, but while we were getting ready to set up in the outskirts of Yas island, a car came around with a friendly CID officer who informed us that for security reasons, they are closing that part of the island. Off Steve and I rode to find another place to wet our fly lines.

The only other place I could think of is a crowded place just outside of the capital. It involves a long walk, something I wasn’t sure we were both ready for. The prospect of catching one of my favorite species got the better of me. Steve did not need to be convinced either. As it turned out, this would be his first shallow saltwater trip. When we arrived, the water was on the rise and we had a long walk ahead of us. 3 kilometers in fact, I was tentative and thought we could get by with the closer spot. We stayed at the first spot for a while before I made the decision to just bite the bullet and walk the 3 kilometers in the hopes of catching a few fish.

A few slips and bumps later, the shallows of the massive flat in front of us greeted us, the tide was rising fast and we had to get to a small island before the water was too deep for us to wade in. The water rushing into the flat made it a challenge to walk forward, but the prospect of catching a silver grunter on a fly was so close and urged us to go forward. Halfway though, we were seeing fish darting around us, we were close but not quite there yet.

Another few minutes have passed and we were in knee deep water, in this section, the current is being pushed sideways and behind an island, white sand with a bit of rubble with shallow channels that look like veins streak though the pale color of the bottom. The channels form an eddy just behind the island; this slows the velocity of the current and with the break in current speed it acts like a buffer zone for bigger fish to ambush their prey.

Before approaching the area, I explained how the tailing fish would be visible as soon as we reach the place where the water starts to slow down and the flow starts to bend. I asked Steve to cast to some riffles where I saw a tail appear seconds before. Nothing. Unconvinced, I tied on a fly, casted out t the same riffle and my fly immediately got inhaled. The fight was quite surprising, although the fish was not that big, the shape of the fish, together with the force of the current made it tough for my 5-weight fly rod to muscle in. This got repeated for a few times before I finally stopped so I could stand beside Steve and coach him so he could catch a fish.

A few minutes and a couple of expletives later, one finally decided to bite the fluff and feather we had at the end of the line. With each run the fish made, Steve’s smile kept on getting bigger and bigger.

On the walk back to the car, Steve and I spoke of how the day was just a little shy of magical. From being informed that we cannot fish our chosen spot to one of the best fishing days both of us have ever experienced in recent memory, it really was a day that both of us will talk about for years to come, and more importantly, it was Steve’s first time on the flats; it was really an honor to show a friend the kind of fishing I liked to do a lot of.

Uncluttering your tackle box

The Curse That Rules Us All
When you watch a very experienced angler closely, you will we see the choice of lures they stick with. They only carry a few small boxes in a bag filled with lures that they know will produce for them in a set of conditions they might encounter.

Not all of the anglers you encounter are like that, a lot of us are guilty of taking more than what we need for a days worth of fishing – however, this seem to be something common with the ones that know they’re doing – they don’t take a lot of lures with them on their fishing trips. Even the fishing guides themselves will only have a handful of lures they use day in and day out – they might have a lot of them, but they stick with only a small variety of lures. For example, you will see about 5 lures they stick with, but they might have about half a dozen of these lures – and they only have about 3 or so colors of these lures, not the full range. Mind you, these are professionals that earn a living from fishing.

There are exceptions to the rule, as we see with the case of bass angler that have to prepare and adapt to the tiniest of changes, and the fact that you need to stay on top of the competition, there is a need for them to have everything they can comfortably carry on their boat (which is mostly almost a tackle sop worth of lures and rods). However, there is really no need to take a whole tackleshop with you for a weekend’s worth of fishing. Although I’m pretty sure that many of us tend to overlook the fact that we take too much gear with us when we fish. Think about this: do you ever recall a day when you needed to throw everything you had to catch a fish?

Needless to say, we have to accept the fact that we must carry all that we can to give us a better chance of catching fish and with that, we need a storage system that fits our needs.


Dealing with the Clutter
To organize things, you will need a few boxes. There are a lot out there and after looking for a brand that suits me, I settled for the Flambeau Tuff Tainer with Zerust.

These containers are waterproof and rust proof so I don’t have to worry about my hooks rusting out. I have been using these boxes for quite a while now and I keep adding more because they make a lot of sense to me – as for the Zerust, I still make sure to dry out the lures before putting them back in the box, but so far, I have had lures on there that have been rust free for more than a year of exposure in saltwater.

I have been doing a lot of shore fishing lately and have been using what the Japanese call a “floating fishing vest” it’s quite a departure from the traditional fishing vest as these vests are more like tactical fishing vests, they are life vests with big pockets on them and a few accessory holders in the sides, mine has a lip grip holder as well as a holster for my pliers. Everything I need is basically just a pocket away and are always easy to access. These Flambeau boxes fit perfectly in the main pockets and as a bonus, I can fit two of long slim ones (Tuff Tainer 3000 size) inside the main pockets. Two of the 4000 or one 5000 series fits the back of the vest. In total, I can carry up to 4 small boxes (3000 size) and two 4000s, this equates to almost the convenience of a small tackle shop – IF I choose to go that way.

I mostly go with a small box filled with different weights and makes of metal jigs, a box to hold split rings, snaps, extra treble hooks, single hooks, assist hooks and all other small hardware, 1 box of plugs and 1 box of soft plastics. If I am walking a long stretch of beach, I carry a few spares in two bigger boxes stored in the back of the vest.

It might sound a lot of things to carry, but when the boxes are in the vest pockets, you don’t even think of them anymore. Although it takes some juggling, you eventually settle to a set of lures that you are very comfortable with and a handful that produce well for you.

I change lures a lot to find what works in a particular area and carrying as much as I could has continually proven to be a formula that works – at least for me. A very good example was when a friend invited a few of us over to fish in his back yard in the Palm Jumierah one afternoon. I was happily casting a small jig for Queenfish and Spangled Emperors when I noticed there was a boil not too far from where I was standing, I ran over to the boil and started casting my jig, I didn’t know what they were as they were a bit of a distance away from shore, I kept on casting and was not getting bit. If I didn’t have good selection of lures on me, I would have been forced to run back to my tackle box and take some lures, run back to the boil and cast again, losing the window for a hook up within the timespan. Of all the lures that would interest them, one finally took a pink bucktail jig I had in one of the boxes.

How I avoid carrying everything in the vest is an investment of a few of those boxes, I don’t need to label them because I can clearly see what I have inside them. I basically fill the boxes according to what type of fishing I would be doing in the weekend and replace the boxes in the vest accordingly – I ended up with a very flexible modular system centered on the fishing vest. All the boxes are loaded in the car and I take only what I need (or think I need) for the fishing ahead.

Topwater Tuna in Fujairah UAE

A long cast towards the chaos of birds and busting fish, the short pause while waiting for the top water plug to land was almost unbearable. The pandemonium of fish and birds have moved quite a bit to the right of the boat before the lure landed and I was almost certain that I was out of the strike zone, was it us that moved or the fish? I asked myself. Closing the bail of the reel, I pointed the rod tip up and reeled the lure just fast enough so it skitters on top of the choppy waters, doing this mimics the movement of fleeing baitfish; suddenly a huge eruption behind the lure sent my nerves on high alert, I reel faster and got rewarded with another bigger eruption behind the lure. There were two as I have come to realize as they were side by side it was almost difficult to tell had it not been for one of the fish launching itself airborne, then suddenly I felt a sharp tug that stopped me in my tracks, the rod buckled over and the line started to leave the reel at an alarming rate with the familiar song of the drag filling the air. Looking behind my shoulder I see two other guys with bent rods, we were all screaming, elated by the fact that these were our first tuna of the day, and a triple hookup all from our first casts.

Tackle
A decade ago, fishing for tuna with topwater lures was uncommon, a handful of people did it with cumbersome rods and thick monofilament lines but the majority of those that chased after tuna were more than likely trollers and live baiters with stout conventional outfits. Even the ones that were doing it stand up style were using cumbersome heavy outfits. These days, you’ll find that most of those going after tuna with topwater lures are using relatively light tackle – Who would have thought that a decade after, using light tackle on mid sized tuna would be commonplace and of all things with spinning gear!

Using light tackle means quite a few things for us:

The entire outfit isn’t heavy, this enables us to fish longer and when we do hook up, we fight more of the fish and less of the weight of the gear. It enables us to cast lures father, reaching fish that become aware of danger because of the boat’s unnatural noise. But because our subject is Tuna, a fish notoriously known for bait profiling, that’s when the fish will strike only bait/lures that are the same size of baitfish they are feeding on, the biggest advantage of using lighter tackle means it enables you to cast smaller lures that are otherwise difficult, if not impossible, to cast a good distance with the tackle used before.

Rods and Reels
My standard is a Shimano Twinpower 8000; it is an excellent reel that’s been serving me well for some time. It is a mid sized reel that is light enough to be used from shore yet heavy enough to be used offshore on small to midsized Tuna and Dorado. Yet there are still some that find this reel is a bit too big for their liking. I would not recommend a reel that doesn’t have a metal body – I’m not saying that it won’t catch fish, but the flex of the composite body will give you problems and faced with a strong fish such as tuna, the reel will not have a long life. I have seen a few people fishing for them with a 5000 – 6000 size reel (Shimano Sizing), for me, this is ok unless there is a possibility of encountering bigger fish, if they do decide to show up, an 8000 size reel will give you the drag power and line capacity to dog it out.

On the conventional side, which is my favorite, I love casting with my Avet SX Raptor. It can cast just as far as my Twinpower but is more comfortable for me to use as my preference leans towards conventional tackle. Since the lures we cast are heavy, casting them with the SX Raptor is a breeze. Although I set mine to zero, the magnetic cast control system is there in case it’s needed making casting towards the wind a worry free task.

Like the reels, rods have come a long way since. I pair my Twinpower 8000 with a spinning rod designed for popping. The one I’m using isn’t sold in the UAE, but there are lots of qualities popping rods available to suit every budget. It will be a challenge to look for a rod that could match a conventional reel such as the Avet SX Raptor as casting with conventional reels isn’t practiced a lot in the region. The thing to remember about casting for tuna is – Buy the best possible metal bodied reel that you can afford and pair it with a good rod for the purpose. I have seen rods broken and reel drags burnt just because they thought their gear was good enough for the task. If you aren’t familiar with this type of fishing, I would suggest you do a little reading online and also ask people who have done it before to get advice on which rod and reel are suitable for the task.

Line
Braid is used to give you more distance, more line capacity and an overall stronger line. Don’t even think about using monofilament. It will work but you’ll get less line on the reel, shorter casts and if you do get a long runner, you’ll feel like you’re fighting the fish with a long piece of rubber band.

A note about braid and something you should be careful about – there are some that cast better than others and for that matter, I stick with braid specifically designed for casting. There are quite a few Japanese brands specifically made for casting, so with western brands like Suffix. The most important thing before buying braid is to ask your friends for feedback on the castability of the line. You don’t want to be out in the middle of a tuna boil dealing with a huge tangle while your friends are catching.

Leaders
I’m not fussy about leaders; I mostly use mono instead of fluorocarbon. I have used mono and fluorocarbon and to tell you honestly, I haven’t really seen a big enough gap between the two. I believe, if you feel like you’ll catch more fish with fluorocarbon, then go ahead and use it. If you’re more confident about something, you end up fishing a lot more and not fiddling about. I like really long leaders and usually tie on a fresh length for each trip. I find that I have better control over the fish as soon as the leader material gets wrapped at least a couple of times around the reel.

Connections
There are primarily three schools of thought on how to connect braided line to the leader. There are those that prefer to cast with the knot that connects their braid and leader outside the rod tip and feel they cast farther – Primarily, these are the guys that feel they get more distance with this system.

Another group is those that use very low profile knots that act more like a splice with the leader material, Knots such as the PR and FJ knots. Using long leaders that get wound around the spool, this system enables the caster to cast long leaders with very little impact to the distance because of the knots – not everyone agrees though and there are varying accounts.

The last group use premade wind on leaders – using a very strong knot that terminates in a loop and attach the wind on leader via loop-to-loop connection. This is an expensive way to go and for me, doesn’t really give a lot of advantage, but some guys prefer this system.

Test all three and see what feels comfortable to you and go with that. I prefer long leaders because I mostly cut back on my leader when changing lures, preferring to create a new knot for each lure change and not rely on one knot with a snap at the end when changing lures – it’s a practice that has become a preference over the years and although it would be more convenient for me to just use premade wind on leaders, I prefer to tie a PR or FJ knot. I tie a fresh PR or FJ for each trip ensuring I have my desired leader length (which is usually about +/- 10 meters) for each fishing trip. I use this system for all my spin/conventional fishing.

Lures

It is easier to catch tuna with subsurface lures, it’s less complicated, and probably an easier bet to get hooked onto one especially when they are fuzzy. However, catching one on top is explosive and very addictive, the visual aspect of the strike makes you crave for more and gets you addicted to a point where you just want to see the strike and don’t even mind losing the fish.

Poppers and stickbaits top the list, the most important thing to remember when choosing one for the task is ensuring it has a through wire construction – this means the wire that holds the hook/hooks is one solid piece that runs the length of the lure ensuring the lure stands up to the massive pulling power of tuna and not bend out of the lure.

I like stickbaits more than poppers – I have caught tuna on both – this is a personal preference, I just like catching them more on stickbaits than I do with poppers. I carry an assortment of poppers, stickbaits and casting jigs so I would be able to adjust according to the conditions at hand.

Getting out there

There are a couple of companies operate in Fujairah that would be able to get you out there. I always go with Soolyman Sport fishing (www.soolymansportfishing.com) as they have an impeccable track record and so far, have been very reliable. There is a couple charter companies that would be able to get you out there, I’m sure it will be worth your while to snoop around online.

It’s summer but fishing doesn’t have to stop. There are alternatives and opportunities unique to this season, you just have to know where to go and put a bit of effort to the trip and you should be able to enjoy one or a few that would forever change your summer time fishing here in the UAE.

Why we Fish

What’s your version of my fishing?

Men have an innate need to go hunting; it’s our natural programming, the urge to hunt and test our skills against the wild, the elements, and the unknown. We take what lessons we’ve learned in the last weekend and apply it to the next one. It is a never-ending cycle of learning and application.

Each week, we wake up to an alarm clock, which we would normally want to put on snooze the second we hear it go off, in the weekends, they become our best friends. We all have our reasons to go fishing, we risk driving to remote places to find better spots, driving half asleep yet eager to start the day before the party animals go home to roost. We are anglers.

How many times have you gone home fishless, frustrated and even more determined to catch whatever fish you were chasing. We are the few that look at the moon, the tides, the barometric pressure, the air and water temperatures, wind, swell, water depth and go so far to get all the electronics like a fish finder, plotter and GPS to help us get the best spots, then go home without anything in the cooler, yet have the best time in the world without catching anything. We have seen more spectacular sunrises than a typical person would see in a lifetime and see the same number of sunsets that even the best cameras can’t capture.

We wake up in darkness and excitedly drive to our fishing holes even with the uncertainty of the day, even with the string of fishless days, weeks or months, we still go out each time we can knowing that the odds are against us. We still go, because we are Anglers.

Have you ever found yourself “shadow casting” while walking around in the mall? While others walk around in that concrete structure, in our minds we are transported somewhere else, in the shallows casting a soft plastic grub to a cruising fish or trolling for that monster near the deep-water ledges. Fly fishermen would be transported to a remote flat with tailing fish happily grubbing along the bottom.

How many times have you lost track of time because you were too busy concentrating on getting a bite, waiting patiently, almost willing the fish to take your baited hook, but they don’t, fishing isn’t like that and you know it. When they eventually bite, you miss the hook set and curse the high heavens, then restraining yourself because you know that if you make too much noise, you scare the fish away…then you ask yourself, what would Mom say if she heard me swear like that. You put more bait on your hook and cast again…because this is what an angler does.

It takes you half an hour to drive to the mall, choose a pair of pants, drive back home then go online and spend 2 hours on tackledirect.com, cabelas.com, basspro.com and ebay.com (all on different tabs) to check out the newest stuff for your type of fishing and spend double that time going through the tackle shop you visit almost every other day yet you know they get their stocks every 2 months.

We are those who travel halfway around the world to catch something we normally don’t in our local waters. It doesn’t matter if it’s a monster or just something a bit more challenging. We will travel by land, sea and air, just to have a chance in catching it, if successful, we are more than happy to let it slip back into it’s home, wiser and no doubt a bit more challenging when we return to catch it. Even when unsuccessful, we just want to catch a glimpse of whatever we are after, be happy to walk away wiser and already planning for the next visit.

We are those who wear suits and uniforms when we’re between fishing trips, then happily shed them for our comfortable fishing wear when the weekend comes, we wake up earlier than we normally do in those days of work, yet not a single grumble can be heard. Without a single shred of hesitation, we leave the comforts of our home for a sandy bank, a wet boat or a kayak. We endure heat from the sun in the summers and the biting cold of the winter dawns.

Our trips are remembered not by the number of fish we’ve caught, but the memories forged with the company we keep. Some people will wonder how a few absolute strangers from different countries could become good friends for life after going on a single fishing trip together.

We are accused of being obsessed with fishing by some around us and we feel sad that they don’t get to experience what we live each time we go out. We are blessed with this passion; we are a group of people with differing ideas and methods united only by a single drive – to outwit the fish, yet with that single commonality, we forge bonds that grows stronger as time passes.

Fishing empties my thoughts and makes me feel I exist in this world. Wherever I may be, it transports me to place of serenity and tranquility that exists only when I fish. Where all the thoughts in my mind grinds to a standstill and I have nothing else in mind but the act, the fish comes as a bonus.

Fishing is my escape from the man made reality we all live in, to commune with my peace. It gives me an inner sense of my existence not just for myself but for my family, it makes me appreciate everything around me even more.

It makes me appreciate nature not because I think it’s grand and pretty, but because of how it can influence an individual like myself to want to protect it’s wonders and generosity and preserve it for my daughter and her generation. To show her the same things I’ve experience and hopefully, hopefully, they would also get to experience the kind of peace and tranquility that I experience now.

I often ask people what their version of my fishing is – most draw a blank, not having the faintest clue of what the question really means. Even if they try to answer the question with something they are passionate about, I know deep down they don’t have the faintest idea. Maybe I should just keep it a secret so people don’t really get into it and find out. But then again, fishing is also about sharing and showing others its vast greatness…so here we are now.

For those of you that can relate to this, I didn’t have to commit a few pages of my words for it. For those that are just getting into fishing and those that are just reading this just because it’s in the magazine, let me ask you this – What is your version of my fishing? Email me your answers; I would love to hear them.

Till next tide change,

Kit

thefishingkit@gmail.com

 

Working with Wire

Wire. The mere sound of it has always put me off. It kinks, the ones that don’t kink are too visible and it’s stiff, almost always killing the action of an otherwise very attractive swimming lure or bait. There are quite a few kinds available for the angler, however, the fact remains; that they are a necessary evil when fishing for fish we collectively call “The Razor Gang.”

The single strand wire is the mainstay, these days, there are predominantly 3 types you can easily find – coffee colored, unfinished stainless, and titanium.

The coffee colored wire has been the standard, while titanium wire has gained a following, it is thinner for the strength it carries making it a bit more stealthy, the main drawback is it’s springiness. It doesn’t kink as much or as fast as standard stainless steel wire the main drawbacks are the cost and the springiness (at least for me) so I stick with the standard and have been perfectly happy using anywhere between a number 7 or a number 10 for my swimming dead baits.

Next in line is the 7strand wire – 7 strands of thinner stainless steel wire twisted together to form a cable. It’s not as stiff single strand wire; the main drawback is the fact that it is more visible. The coated varieties you see in the shelves are made of this type.

They further reduced the stiffness of wire by creating a 49-strand cable, 7 strands of 7-strand wire. Although the most visible type of wire, it is also the most flexible and the easiest to work with. They come uncoated and are usually coffee colored, however there are also some plain stainless versions sold.

I usually work with either a single strand wire or the 49-strand cable since I find the 7 strands too stiff for my liking. This is a personal preference though.

There are also versions of the 49-strand wire you can tie knots with, this variety is great to use on lures because they are almost as flexible as mono.

Not using wire will undoubtedly give you more strikes, the cost of losing a brand spanking new lure or even worse, a really good fish forces you to just bite the bullet, close your eyes and use it. I often use wire when rigging dead baits as swimming baits and putting them in front of smaller lures for trolling or casting when fishing for barracuda and kingfish in the waters of the Gulf.

It’s typical for anglers, both experienced and otherwise, to use up to a meter of wire before their lures or bait. That does work, but when the going gets tough, a shorter piece would work better. I seldom use a length more than 16cm. Over the years, I have found that other than sharks, which tend to roll and wrap the leader around their body which in turn chafes your line with their skin, a trace of 16 centimeters is more than enough protection for toothy fish such as barracuda, narrow barred mackerel (kingfish) and wahoo.

Working with wire is intimidating at first, however, with a little time and practice, you would be able to make your own rigs and you would be able to construct them in a short amount of time.

With the exception of “knotable” wire, different types of wire are fastened in different ways.

Single strand wire, both titanium and regular stainless steel are the most commonly used. Loops are created at the ends to fasten them on to a swivel or lure. There is a special type of way to tie the wire onto itself.


The Haywire Twist and Barrel Roll

The most common method is the haywire twist. There are a lot of videos on how to tie this on youtube,and I advise you to check them out to learn how to tie one correctly. The main drawback of this “knot” is the fact that it is a permanent connection. If you want to change your lure, either you take another lure with some wire pre-attached, or you snip the haywire twist and make another connection after.

 

Greene Twist
The Greene Twist addresses the main problem of the Haywire Twist. Which is the inability to change your lure, bait or fly once the connection has been made.

The Greene Twist is not as unforgiving. It has for years been used by the commercial fishery off Florida, so it’s really nothing new, just that a lot of people don’t really know about it outside the commercial fishing circles.

Fastening Cable

Stainless steel in 7 strand or 49 strand cables are fastened via crimps, this is true for either coated 7 strand cables or uncoated, my preference lies with the uncoated variety.

 

Crimps can be bought at tackle shops and they come in different shapes and sizes. The tube type crimps work, but I like the double barrel types, which are a little bit more expensive, but the difference isn’t even a few dirhams each. The double barrel type is easier to work with. Crimps are compressed with a special type of crimper called a “swager” (pronounced swedjer). You can also use an ordinary crimper, but since it crushes the crimp to compress it, it also crushes the wire inside and weakens it.

 

There are a lot of tutorials online that can help you with wire rigging. It’s another arrow in your fishing quiver that would help you when the razor gang are in town and will save you the frustration of losing your favorite lure or worse, that fish you just hooked up that has a mean set of dentures.

 

Till next Tide change,

Kit

Picnic Seabream

Picnic Seabream

The Picnic Seabream (Acanthopagrus berda) belongs to the Sparidaey, or the seabream family. Like most fish, the Picnic Seabream has a few common names, however, one the most popular name it is commonly called is the Yellowfin Seabream, a name that best describes the bright yellow fins contrasting the darkish body of this fish. Shaam is its Arabic Name.

They are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores. Most species possess grinding, molar-like teeth. Some of the species, are overfished

, however, the yellowfin Seabream is marked as OK to fish for according to choosewisely.ae.
Where to find
The Yellowfin Seabream is a native of the gulf and is probably one of the fish with the widest distribution. It is commonly found schooling in estuarine waters and other sheltered areas such as docks and jetties. It is a shallow water bottom dwelling fish preferring structure and sandy muddy bottoms.

How to catch

Although easy to find, you will discover that they are often picky biters. As these fish are often bait profiling, meaning, they will only eat the bait or lure when it is the same size of the fish or crustacean they are foraging on in that particular day or week. We do know for certain that they will not bite big lures, which cut down on a lot of guesswork. A few lures work on them just remember to cast your lure as close to structure as possible.

Since the areas they inhibit are a challenge to bait fish in without snagging, a lot of fishing for the Yellowfin Seabream is done with lures and flies. If you find yourself fishing for them with bait, the standard up and down dropper rig works well, use just enough weight to get your baits down to the bottom. They will eat pieces of shrimp, squid and if you can find them, small crabs.

Small jigs dressed with soft plastic bodies of about 3 inches (7.5cm) work well for them, the same size for any subsurface lure works well. Poppers and stickbaits work well in dawn, dusk and very cloudy days. When this condition presents itself, catching them on topwater lures makes for some serious fun.

Because of the small lures and weights and because they don’t really run long distances when hooked, you can effectively catch them with light tackle. A long rod will help you cast a good distance and longer rods have sensitive tips that help you detect them as they peck on the lure. Lines of up to 12lbs (6kg) paired with a reel of a 2000 to 4000 size (Shimano or Penn Sizing) round up the ideal tackle for them. Staying within this range gives you an efficient and sporting outfit that will make the fishing more exciting and enjoyable.
Availability and conservation

A thing to note about any Seabream is the fact that they are slow growing fish; good specimens such as those pictured in this article are about 10 years old. This means it is very easy to do some damage on the stock if you take out the breeders (the big ones!). The main challenge with this fish is also the fact that they are good table fare.
Choosewisely.ae have listed this fish in the green and that it’s ok to harvest them. I personally return most of the big ones I catch because I know how slow they grow.  Just keep in mind that detail when you catch a few of them. Leave some for our children to enjoy so we can take them fishing for these great fish when they are old enough to fish with us.

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