Ready for the sea: A Happy Days Seacruising boat at the fishing harbour in Jumeirah 1, Dubai

Dubai: It’s winter and it’s time to get hooked – quite literally so. As the air gets nippier, it is best to get out and feel it – and what better way than go fishing.

Whether you are a beginner or a professional angler, a fishing trip could leave you with a good number of fish including cobia, travallies, groupers (hammour), snappers, barracudas and, on a lucky day, a giant kingfish. All you have to do is just go on a fishing tour conducted by any of the authorised operators.

The types of fishing that are popular in Dubai are trolling and bottom fishing with October to April being the busiest months.

“Bottom fishing is when the boat stops in the middle of the sea and we use bait like squids to attract a variety of fish. Trolling is done when you want to catch big fish. The boat keeps moving and we use trolling lures or rapalas (plastic fish) as bait. Whether it’s a short corner or a long rigger we have the lure to match your prey and desired trolling speed,” explained Wassim Hachem, owner of Happy Days Seacruising.

Tour packages

Happy Days rates for trolling and bottom fishing, on a 31-foot (accommodating up to 10 people) open fishing boat, is as low as Dh150 per person for four hours. “Normally, fishing tours in Dubai are unlikely to take individual bookings, but we do, as we want to encourage everybody to enjoy this activity. Group packages on a working day are Dh1,000 for the entire boat for four hours and on the weekends it goes a bit higher – Dh1,500. All the fishing gear and refreshments like soft drinks are provided on the boat for free. We also give people a free fishing package if they do not catch any fish on their first trip.”

Jameel Abedin, Managing Director of Go Fishing Tours, also has some exciting packages. “For Dh3,500, 10 people can go fishing on a 33-foot luxury boat for six hours. The package includes cruising along Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab. People can fish on the boat and, around sunset, we take them to Shaikh Hamdan Island overlooking Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah shoreline, and Burj Al Arab. We set up a full camp there with bonfire, tables, a sitting area and a barbeque.

“Refreshments like water, juice and soft drinks as well as snacks like assorted sandwiches, mini pizzas and sausages are provided free on the boat. In addition, the bait and fishing gear are free too. Only the barbecue comes with an additional charge of Dh100 per person as we collect all the catch (the fish), clean it and cook it for you,” said Abedin.

According to Hachem, more and more corporates in Dubai are booking fishing trips for their staff as part of their team building exercise.

“Fishing is a great stress buster and more companies are taking packages to reward their staff,” he said.

Willie Gamboa, Commercial Manager at a private firm, is one lucky person who recently got to fish with his colleagues as part of a company reward on a Happy Days Seacruising fishing package. “Apart from being a fun activity, fishing also teaches you patience, precision and teamwork.”

It was Gamboa’s lucky day and he ended up with 20 Sultan Ebrahims, Red Sherry and Cherry Barb fish. “Fishing is a great outdoor activity. The quality of water here is so pristine that you can be sure of a good catch,” he said.

Jeron Arances, another fishing enthusiast, said: “To me fishing is like a sport; it’s relaxing and is a de-stressing exercise. The tranquillity of the sea is so overwhelming that it has a great calming effect. And when I am relaxed, I catch more fish.”

Fishing boats can be hired from any port in Dubai. Boats are allowed to go a maximum of 40-45km out to sea.

The trips, offered by over 40 operators, are held in three slots: 6 to 10am, 10am to 2pm and 2 to 6pm. Some tour companies offer bespoke fishing packages to suit your time. People booking a fishing trip must have their Emirates ID or passport or driving licence with them on the boat as boat operators need to pass these details to the coast guard.

Happy Fishing!