FishingBooker’s 2018 Fujairah Fishing Tournament

It’s been a busy year at FishingBooker. We worked hard throughout the season, creating memorable fishing experiences for our customers and captains along the way. With hundreds of successful trips in the books, we thought a celebration was in order. And what better way to celebrate than to do what we do best – yes, FishingBooker went fishing! Our destination: Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. To fire up some friendly competition, we set up a contest – our very own Fujairah Fishing Tournament. Today, we’re inviting you to relive our team’s fishing adventure.

FishingBooker girls holding a Mahi Mahi

Our trip was scheduled for mid-November. With the season’s peak months behind us, we needed to choose a locale that would be able to offer us great fishing while keeping odds for bad weather at a minimum. Sounds familiar, right? It did not take long for us to choose, though. Albeit commonly overlooked, Fujairah offers a wealth of diverse offshore fishing. And the best part – fishing is good all year long.

Upon choosing the location, we decided to split into two groups of 34 people. One half of the company went first, followed by the other a week after. I still vividly recall the excitement building up in the office as the trip was getting closer. The tournament was only adding to the craze. Our two competition categories were:

  • The biggest catch
  • The most fish caught

We had chosen two of our local charter operators and six of our very best captains to take us out. These were:

Fujairah International Marine Club – two boats

Soolyman Charters – four boats

Day One

The trip day finally came and off we went. We were scheduled to arrive in Fujairah late that evening. Naturally, we expected to get to our beds right after our check-in. Few of us did. We were so eager to get on our boats, we couldn’t stop talking about the adventure lying ahead.

Luckily, we’d previously agreed with our guides to start our first day of fishing a little later, around 10 AM. Morning came quickly, and we gathered for our final talk before embarking. I took a good look at my teammates at that moment. Eyes gleaming with enthusiasm, there was no telling that we’d slept only a couple of hours at best. These were some hard-working guys and gals – a sleepless night was never going to stop us. Happy to feel the warm morning sun on our faces, we set out to the marina.

The marina was not a big one by any means, but it was dotted with shining white sportfishing boats of all sizes. You’d be hard-pressed to find a boat older than five years here – these captains mean business. We met up with our guides, had a brief chat on what the weather was supposed to be like, and proceeded to board our vessels.

Boats in the Fujairah Marina

Captains Sasha, Johnson, Luke, Dylan, Ricky, and Brad welcomed us to their boats. All six were spacious and clean, but the thing I was happiest with was how well the boats were equipped. My eyes were fixed on the rods perched on the hardtop of our Gulf Craft 31. Heavy tackle, light tackle, it was all there, shining against the sun.

One by one, our boats left the marina. Within minutes, all the other groups were out of sight. Only then did I begin to realize just how vast this fishery is. We were zooming through the water at full speed now, engines roaring behind us. As the town waned in the distance, the oil tankers started appearing. We knew that Fujairah had one of the biggest oil deposits in the world, but we never imagined seeing this:

Fujairah oil tankers

So many tankers. Slowing down to prepare the trolling setup, Captain Sasha gave us a brief history of the boats in this area. It was like the World Fair of oil transporters – more than a hundred of them. Some tankers stay fueled and in place for years, Sasha said, waiting for the oil price to become just right.

As we got our trolling gear up, we set a course due east toward the tankers. Not a minute had passed when – “Fish On!” boomed the captain as the reel screamed. The fish barely put up a fight, and we reeled it in with almost no effort – it was a Bonito. Feeling encouraged, we set our gear up once again and set for the tankers. We had to wait until our next catch though.

A few hours passed with no activity. The sun was high in the sky by now and we could not get any fish to bite. It was too hot, Sasha said. The fish had gone deeper to cool down. We kept trolling for some time without a bite, but the captain kept us animated as he explained what the fishing was like here, what techniques we could try, and answered pretty much every question we could think of. Sasha really is a knowledgeable guy.

Just as we were running out of questions – bam! We had two hook-ups at the same time. Jumping on the rods right away, we started fighting. A familiar yellow-green shimmer appeared a few moments later – Mahi Mahi. Sasha was in our ear the entire time, firing instructions as we fought them. We got one, but the other got away. Despite being one for two, we felt really energized after that. We managed to catch one more before the day’s end.

In all honesty, it was a slow day. On the way back to the marina, we started wondering if the other groups had more luck. As much as we wanted to win our little competition, we hoped that our colleagues had more interesting tales to tell.

Rods set up for trolling

And they did. One boat got as many as 15 Mahis, and a bunch of Bonito to boot. Another boat spotted a Sailfish, and pretty much everyone was full of stories they were eager to share. Tired but in high spirits, we set off to a local restaurant to have our catch cooked for dinner.

There was no better way to wind down the day. The dinner proved to be a true gourmet experience, as the restaurant prepared the Mahis in three different but equally delicious ways – Mahi sashimi, grilled Mahi, and Mahi ceviche. It was exceptionally enjoyable for those of us who tasted Mahi for the first time.

Getting an early night was not a matter of choice this time. We were so exhausted, pretty much all of us were fast asleep within an hour of getting back to our rooms.

Day Two

The second day of our Fujairah fishing tournament started a lot earlier than the first – we were already on our feet at 6 AM. With so many stories shared, each of us had an idea of what we wanted to try on our second day. One thing I’ve realized is that fishing in Fujairah has a pretty steep learning curve. I can’t overstate the benefit of a multi-day trip in this area.

We met up with our captains and set off immediately after. Having trolled the entire first day, our group wanted to do some bottom fishing around the tankers. Doing the basic stuff wasn’t going to win us any awards, but boy did we have fun.

We really had a number on a local fish called Sultan Ibrahim, which we basically stopped counting after a while. We also got a Bull Mahi, and a couple Bonito. While we didn’t target any spectacular species, we just couldn’t stop reeling. The action was pretty much non-stop. Meanwhile, on the other boats…

Those of us who had more success the first day felt emboldened to try something a little more exotic. Our group aboard Soolyman Charters – 32’ Yellowfin 1 ventured further offshore to do some live baiting for Sailfish. Did it work? See for yourself:

Sailfish Caught in Fujairah
That’s a winner

After a 20-minute fight, our guys landed this 7’ monster. Captain Luke made sure the Sailfish was on board for a quick photo shoot and released it unharmed seconds later.

But if you think that was fun, wait until you hear what our Yellowfin 2 group did. Led by Captains Ricky and Brad, the FishingBooker guys and gals caught a whopping 25 Mahi Mahi, all in one day! Talk about a landslide victory.

a girl holding a Mahi Mahi

Back on our boat, after nearly six hours of fishing, fatigue started creeping up on us. We asked Sasha if we could go for a dip to cool down. What happened after that would stay with us as one of the most enjoyable things we’ve ever done.

Captain Sasha took us to a secluded beach accessible only by sea. With no one around, the untouched white sand welcomed us ashore. After a quick swim, we just lay there on the beach relaxing to the sound of crashing waves. This is what November looks like in Fujairah:

It was time to head back.

You know that “happy-tired” feeling? That’s exactly what you would have noticed on all of our faces back at the marina. No chatter, no euphoric storytelling, just smiles and the occasional lighthearted sigh. We went for another amazing Mahi dinner to round up the day.

What We Learned

We had a bunch of takeaways from our trip. I won’t bore you with the obvious ones such as “keep hydrated” and “bring sunscreen;” instead, I’ll mention some often overlooked details:

    • Perhaps the one thing we learned was how good communication with your captain can improve your fishing experience. Ask, and you shall receive. Whether it’s a technique you’d like to try or something else entirely, don’t be afraid to ask. The captains are there for you, not the other way around.
    • Choose your captains/boats wisely. Obviously, we know our captains very well, so picking was easy. Knowing exactly what you want out of your trip makes the choice a lot more straightforward (for example, we had ladies in each group, so boats with toilets were a must). If in doubt, FishingBooker’s Customer Happiness team is here for you.
    • Find a place for your stuff. The more fish you catch, the messier it will get on board. To avoid having to clean blood, salt, and slime off your belongings, make sure to tuck them safely away.
    • Sleep. Make sure you get enough shut-eye before your trip. The last thing you want is to let a keeper get away due to lack of focus.
    • Get a good grip on your fish. Whether it’s bait fish, or your prized catch, make sure you’re holding your fish securely. Don’t squeeze your bait fish too hard, or else it will slip right through your fingers like soap. If you’re placing a hook on your bait fish, clasp it with your fingers around the head (or its widest area), without squeezing. If you’re about to take a photo with your catch, make sure to hold the fish horizontally with two hands, with one around the tail end, and one just under the gill plate (without touching the gills themselves) or slightly below it.
    • Sunglasses. A quality pair of polarized lenses will dramatically improve your vision on the water. The sun reflects off the water’s surface so just keeping your gaze away from the sun simply won’t do. Luckily, there are number of good options nowadays.
    • Have patience. Battling offshore game can take time. Don’t rush trying to reel the fish in – pulling too hard can make the hook tear through the fish’s mouth and allow it to disappear.

Our Fujairah fishing tournament has been incredibly fun and eventful. Whether it be perfecting a particular skill or learning the basics, we’ve all gained valuable fishing experience. Our captains’ infectious love for the sport showed as they jumped from one of us to another, teaching us the techniques and helping out.

All in all, this has been an unforgettable fishing trip. A true team bonding endeavor. We can’t wait until the next one.

The FishingBooker team at the marina after our Fujairah fishing tournament

What do you think about our Fujairah fishing tournament? Have you ever fished in Fujairah before? If so, what was your biggest catch? Which fishing location do you think would be best for a team bonding experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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