For over 20 years, as a company we have always sought the road less traveled when it comes to our sport. Whether this is local fly fishing on the small streams or a different take on how to approach old favorites like the Yakima and our steelhead rivers, it is important to us to create memories with our trips from local to far flung locales like this one.
We have been working with and become friends with the guys at Tourette Fishing out of South Africa for about 10 years now and over the past few have been paying close attention to the trips they have been guiding on the other side of the globe. A few years ago, one in particular caught our attention, fly fishing for Giant Trevally and Triggerfish in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan…yep, Sudan!
A little over a year ago Dave McCoy, owner of Emerald Water Anglers assembled a group of young sticks to make the jaunt and as it turned out, was a good thing this group was hungry because it warranted fearless fly fishing and skills with the 12wt most other trips simply do not ask of its participants. In a nutshell, we like these types of trips and of all we have done globally which are considerable this was the most demanding and hence rewarding…period!
So we depart Seattle, 14 hours direct on Emirates to Dubai for a few days to acclimate to the new 10 hour time difference and spend a couple days fishing in Dubai and taking a short overnight trip to Oman to pursue Queenfish, GT’s, Dorado and anything else an fly angler might find in the cobalt waters of the Persian Gulf region. It is a striking backdrop to spend a day fly fishing against and the fishing is terrific as our group lands the aforementioned species as well as Kingfish and Barracuda.
A warm up session in Oman is in order so we schedule an overnight trip up to tease up a bunch of different species and get our 12 weight arms ready for what is come. Tons of border crossings and a late arrival leave us pretty well whipped for the next day before we even start. The instructions from the captains are to drink as much water as you can through the day to stay hydrated. Collectively we drink well over 40 bottles of water and between 6 of us only take one leak through the entire day, it is that hot and hucking big rods and big flies only exacerbates the situation.
After a half day chasing Queenies in the bay below this epic Dubai skyline, it is time to take in a few more of the city sights such as ripping some turns on the indoor ski hill at the mall and visiting the tallest building in the world. Our guides and captains were Nick and Damon from Ocean Active Fly in Dubai and are as professional as you will find, know their water and also where to locate a non virgin drink in a dry country! Dubai and the rest of the Arab states are dry so you must seek out your favorite apre fishing beverage of which we landed ourselves at the incomparable Bar at Pierchic under the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel…we will take it as a final send off into the unknown of Sudan where we head early tomorrow AM.
After a short flight from Dubai to Port of Sudan, we board our bus for the 3 hour drive to the port where we board the Scuba Libre, a modest 60ft catamaran which we will call home for the next week as we cruise the northern coast of Sudan along the Nubian Desert in search of Giant Trevally, Triggers, Bumpies and if lucky maybe an Indo Permit or Napolean Wrasse. Either way, this is going to be an adventure beyond any we have a previously experienced with a fly rod.
First night on the boat is the typical familiarization process of getting to know the guides, guides seeing how inept everyone is going to be and setting up lines, rods, leaders and flies for what they know is an epic battle soon to come.
We have good light the first couple days allowing some to rack up some species counts while others get their first taste of what GT’s bring in this neighborhood which amounts to the local thug. These fish rule their water and everyone knows it including the humans. By end of day two, each has had their proverbial and literal asses handed to them shredding fly lines, breaking a rod or two and blowing up a couple of drags on reels.
It should be known, most reels are intended to “slow” fish down, help to tire them to a point of being landed. Here, that is not a luxury afforded the fly angler. Fishing on small flats or at the edge of the reef means that fish, that mere 60-80 pound freight train must stop NOW or all is likely lost. So we are asking our reels to stop these fish almost on a dime, most drags are not intended to do this and it shows as several companies reels fail and fail quick and in spectacular fashion. When you loop 150 pound test to your fly line to 75 pound gel spun and point at these beasts with a drag cranked to the stopping point, something is going to give and it is a toss up as to where the failure will occur. Despite efforts by the talented guides to circumvent the inevitable we still pace through fly lines each day, shredding them on the coral walls below.
The end of every day is riddled with stories unlike any of us well traveled anglers have lived before. Challenges met with failure left and right and coming from every possible direction. Weather was one major factor which took this from an advanced angler trip to what was termed Heavy Metal or full contact sport of fly fishing. Low light forced us into fishing situations where we are chest deep on the edge knowing full well a hook up means a swim if any hope at all is going to bring the fish to hand.
As the week progresses, weather has followed us from wetter and windier parts of the world. The Nubian receives about 2 inches of rain annually and we brought it! With it came thunder, lightning and our first full on dust storm. We watched as it formed on land, miles from us, the dust elevating and swirling and moving across the water in our direction like a swarm. Not knowing what to expect we just sit tight on a small reef in the middle of the Red Sea as it engulfs us. At one point all land was invisible, no way for our boat to find us so we had to just sit it out. Slowing the world began to show itself again and we eventually are retrieved only to have another dust storm brew and over take us yet again.
Eventually it happens for most of us on the trip, shaking hands with both Triggers and GT’s and for those with the first time experience of pursuing these giants they are truly changed individuals. Focused on GT and GT only for some time to come for all future exotic travel. Tahiti, Fiji, Christmas Island, Seychelles and India immediately spring to mind each evening as we talk ourselves off the cliff of addiction to these fish.
Legs beat up and still in slow bleeds from the week we reluctantly come back from our last day on the water with mixed emotions. Having been taken to school on so man occasions some are ready to whimper home and lick wounds, well, all of us are actually but we are also enlightened and ready to put ourselves in harms/GT’s way yet again and soon.
Dinner becomes a release event where we make every effort to dry the boat, awarding GT Angler of the week to one of our team. As stories are told yet again with new twists and exuberance Stu, one of our South African guides shaves the outline of a GT into the winners chest hair as a parting gift and memory.
Equipment of all forms exhausted, bodies, cameras and fishing equipment are ready for a vacation. More images below and hopefully you find yourself on our next adventure with us, thanks for reading.