Diving Oman by Anthony Dunne

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Rainbow and rockie shot at Fahal Island (Oman) by Ant DunneAs most of you who know me probably know by now, I have taken a job in the Middle East - in the Sultanate of Oman and in the city of Muscat.

No Spearfishing

I moved here about 6 months ago and my family joined me about two months back. It is pretty much a desert here and gets really hot in summer but the last while has been winter and the temps have been quite pleasant about 18-25C though lately it has warmed up slightly to about 30-35C.... The diving looked quite good when I first arrived but as I had no spearing gear with me the fish had a break. I did a snorkel with a nipple pink mask and snorkel with yum-yum yellow fins and a (Wahoo Diving Club) t-shirt out at the island back then and saw two good Ignoblis (Giant Kingfish) of around 15 and 25kg and a shoal of Rock Salmon (River Snapper) averaging 8kg at least - enough to make me break out in a cold sweat!! Tried to grab one of them as they mobbed me but all I got was frustrated - hm, brings other things to mind ;-)) A few weeks later I managed to pull a 30kg yellowfin Tuna with rod and line after a 2hr fight on light line which only got my blood up to get in and shoot one.

Ready to go

Well, I managed to get my spearfishing gear in through customs and then I was organized!! But a couple of months of hard work later and no time for diving left me REALLY frustrated! Finally got in the water on Thursday (FYI weekends here are Thursday and Friday - Muslim country, in case someone thinks I am pulling my old stunts here), it is still only just spring and the water is still a bit cold so have to put on the hood of my REALLY old and flat 3mm Picasso collapsible open cell suit - what a bummer!! The water hasn't been clean lately though, upwelling causing plankton bloom I guess with surface vis of about 5m and opening up at about 15m to maybe 8-10m.

Shark Thoughts

At least there are basically no sharks here too so it isn't too bad but it is still difficult to shake the feeling of old zipperface (Zambezi shark) leering over your shoulder or maybe the old favourite from Aliwal Shoal - old comma-nose (Tiger Shark), especially in the warm water. I have seen dumped Yellowfin of 30-40kg floating around in the ocean here just rotting away so my guess is there are no sharks here to speak of compared to back home.

Fahal Island

Well first my mate Shaun and I went out deeper to trawl rapalas for tuna but there was just nothing happening so we headed over to this island called Fahal Island which is about 3.5km offshore and comes up from about 200-300ft so it is quite a rise!! The sea floor drops off very quickly here and gets to 300m as close as 3km from shore and 500m by 4.5kms!! Well I jumped in and found the water not too clean as mentioned but I was so keen for a dive I would have done it in 1m vis... Anyhow lying on the bottom at about 15m had a rockcod come in a bit and then leave but he came back the next down, sliding in above and behind me with me hiding in the shade of a big overhang at about 20m - he was about 6kg. But nothing more there so I moved away along the drop-off.

Gamefish about

While waiting on the surface I was mobbed by huge shoals of fusiliers and expected cuda to pitch up so when I saw a shape below me that is what I thought it was and found I had not quite forgotten the art of easing up to a gamefish below me. It was a nice seapike of sorts of 6kg, which I shot easily, but he gave me fair rev on my reelgun - good warm-up! A few dives later found me just off a really nice coral mound in about 15m again and I saw a long thin shape darting below some baitfish - thought it was a seapike again but the tail looked wrong and then it came in for a closer pass. A really nice Rainbow runner. I took a rather long shot after chasing it for a bit and having it disappear only to pitch up on my left side and then turn away - only just got it a gut shot so it took off and by the time I hit the surface it had stripped off close to half of my reel as I wasn't putting much pressure at all due to the poor shot (which I am quite consistent at) but after that I started trying to winch it in carefully. Took a while but finally it gave up and I had a beautiful 8kg Rainbow in hand. Got my mate to take some pics for the list and headed off home, as this was enough fish for the moment and freezer space was limited.