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October 25, 2010

The Traveling Angler: Oh My, Oman!

Oman is a land of remarkable contrasts - and huge giant trevally

Oman is a land of remarkably beautiful beaches, green oases, rugged deserts, cool mountains, friendly residents — and huge giant trevally.

Where: Oman, between the southeast corner of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Sea. Its Kuria Muria Islands (five in all) lie about 25 miles offshore.

What: Giant trevally, says Julien Lajournade, editor of the superb French fishing-travel magazine Voyages de Pêche. Some queenfish, narrowbarred Spanish mackerel, other trevallies, but mainly GT.

Why: A chance to fish way, way off the beaten path for big fish that have likely never seen a lure and will put any tackle to the test. Lajournade reports GT well over the 100-pound mark here. (Of 15 GT he released last trip, none looked to be less than 50 pounds.) Outfitter Safari World Image has weighed and released GT of more than 130 pounds.

When: November through April. (From late spring through early fall, you're more likely to encounter rough seas and monsoon winds and, on the country's southern coast, rainfall.)

How: Fly from the United States directly to Dubai, then with Oman Air to Muscat, the main city in Oman. Alternatively, flying via Europe offers more options — with Lufthansa and other airlines joining Oman Air with flights into Muscat. To reach the Kuria Muria Islands, it's another hour-long flight south to Salalah, near the Yemen border, then (in an air-conditioned car, part of the fishing package) a fourhour drive northeast to a coastal village near the islands. There are no hotels here; anglers stay in an air-conditioned villa owned by the outfitter. Boats are 30foot open fiberglass with twin 115 hp outboards.

Besides Fishing: Muscat offers plenty of international hotels, shopping and nightlife, says Lajournade, adding, "The Omani people are friendly, and it's a safe country where crime is almost nonexistent." Rent a four-wheel-drive off-roader and explore the surrounding desert and mountains beyond, he suggests, or dive the Arabian Sea. Expect fewer tourist ops far to the south.

Who: Visit Safari World Image and click on "Oman"; at press time the English version was still in development. Alternatively, simply e-mail Laurent Laffere at laurent@safariworldimage.com, or call 011-33-1-53-20-10-85 for information and to request a PDF brochure (in English).

Dinero: A package with Safari World Image runs $4,400 for a full week of fishing (slightly shorter trips available). At press time, from Washington, D.C., flights generally ran about $1,000 round trip.

The Upsides: This, Dorothy, is about as far from Kansas as you'll get. A great opportunity for the adventurous angler to fish unspoiled waters for ferocious, truly monstrous giant trevally. Outfitter Laffere and/or his English-speaking agents will be on hand.

The Downsides: A remote area where tourists and amenities are few. Expect to be warm (though the south coast in winter is fairly ­comfortable and a far cry from the interior, where summer highs are often well into the 120s F). Also, you'll need to bring your own gear — rods, reels, line, leader, lures (mostly big poppers rigged with 4X everything) — and ibuprofen for aching muscles.