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Fly Fishing Bahrain, Persian GulfThe Kingdom of Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, was warm last week, high temperatures near 90 degrees F. Since Orvis had kindly replaced my 2 piece 8 weight (tip-broken on my last flight) with a 4 piece, the rod and reels were carry-on baggage… no damage this time! Although business left virtually no time for fly fishing, I did rise early on the last day and walk within the hotel compound, past the swimming pool, beyond the lagoon and out to the open water. A little pre-flight homework using Google Earth revealed that there were flats nearby with some drop-offs. Internet info stated that the fishing had declined near the airport (visible about 5 miles across the water from my spot) since the island had reclaimed so much dry land through dredging. The hotel was built on such reclaimed land. I guess that the fishing must have been pretty spectacular before. The water was very clear and dropped off pretty rapidly to about 5 feet. The bottom was sandy with occasional coral or vegetative outcroppings. It was sunny and there was no wind for my hour-and-a-half adventure. Within the first 20 minutes, two queenfish (locals call them “Lihia”) were victims of mushy, EP-type flies, tied using Farrar material with flash included. Queenfish are members of the Jack/Pompano family. These queenfish have a row of iridescent round spots above the lateral line (barely visible in the picture) that are only slightly different than the rest of the silvery sides. Polarized sunglasses may have helped to reveal these spots. Interestingly, both of these youngsters were hooked in the fleshy meat on the ventral surface right between the two gill openings. Were these queenfish “bumping” the streamers to scare them away? I don’t know but they got caught! It is amazing that this occurred twice, especially since the flies ride hook-down and the fish were hooked on the ventral (bottom) side. I’ll take them!While I was removing the hook from the second fish, several of its dorsal fin spines pricked my stripping hand. These pricks stung for about a half an hour. As visions of my hand swelling to the size of Brooklyn danced through my head, I thought how stupid I was to be handling fish in a region where I am totally unfamiliar with the species. With a few more minutes and no swelling, I rationalized that it was just a little salt water in the wound. But, after a little research back home, I found reports that “dorsal and anal fins may carry toxins,” at least for one queenfish species. Hmmm… Mental note to myself, “This may be a good reason to hire a guide when fishing a new area!”The clarity of the water revealed curious fish chasing my offerings on the first 2-3 casts but then losing interest with each new streamer after about 5 to 10 casts, so streamers were switched up frequently. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the focus switched to deeper water with clousers. After a few casts, a nice hit led to a hook-up. This little Emperor who fell for my white clouser was quite intent on staying in the rocks, repeatedly diving into the rocks to hold. If I pulled him out he would fight like mad to get back down there. Finally he came to hand after 4 to 5 drag-singing runs. Another hotel guest (an Aussie or South African) witnessed the landing of the fish and offered to take a picture. I believe that the fish was a Spangled Emperor (locals call it “Shari”). Doesn’t it look like a snapper? It does to this novice.All the fish were returned to be caught again. The water was aquamarine and clear. Lots of fish were following streamers all morning. I know that they’re not so big; but, they are two more species for my diary. Both species tend to be found in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. Maybe the next trip, I’ll get into some of those Giant (Golden?) Trevally suggested by nicko. This American is just happy to have cast the line a few times and not gotten skunked in the Persian Gulf.