“How will I know when I’ve caught a fish?” I asked as my fishing rod was dangled over the edge of the boat and we were bobbing up and down on the Arabian sea. “You’ll know” said the skipper of our boat. Sure enough after a while the rod took a dramatic dip and after a bit of an excited yelp I started reeling in my catch suddenly feeling like a fishing pro. All too soon the excitement peaked as we pulled on board a fish about ten inches long which, once we had photographed, we released back into the sea deeming it not lunch worthy.
The day had started early, well ok, early for me on a weekend, and by 7.45 am a group of media were boarding our boat on the beach just in front of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in JBR. Setting out to sea we were on a mission to catch our lunch. First stop was not too far off the beach, in fact we were quite close to the trunk of the Palm. With two rods on the back of the boat, we were trawling for fish, trawling with rods I might add not a fishing net (fish are caught in line with sustainability rules).
The sea was a bit choppy for Dubai standards and some of us were feeling a bit queasy, but with a croissant and coffee in hand, I was able to watch the first catch of the day being expertly reeled in and landed. Chef Eric from the hotel had joined us that morning and quickly sprung to action when the first of the rods bowed under the weight of a fish. Sure enough and almost with no effort we caught two reasonable sized barracuda which, after a short fight ended up in the cooler box destined to become lunch. Our luck changed shortly after and the fish disappeared, so we hauled in the lines and moved the boat around to quieter water in front of the Palm Jumeirah where the catch was smaller and more frequent and the sea was calmer and my queasiness dulled into a nagging feeling and I began to enjoy fishing.
After about four hours we headed back towards the hotel giving us some fantastic views of the Dubai skyline from the sea. Haul of the day included two barracuda a dozen or so small Sultan Ibrahim and one squid which gave an almighty fight before it was reeled in. There was of course, my massive fish, so strong to reel in that it actually turned out to be a rock ! My days as a fishing legend it seems are not to be for now ! Once I got my sea legs and the queasiness died down, we fished on a day after a storm which is obviously quite rare here, I began to can see the appeal of fishing, bobbing up down on the ocean, watching and waiting for fish to take a bit was quite relaxing and I would be tempted to try again perhaps going further out next time.
We landed back at the hotel about noon time, and spent the day relaxing by the pool, pausing only once to head to Palm Grill, the hotels casual beachside restaurant where barefoot dining is actively encouraged and there’s a relaxed vibe as you dine on the beach overlooking the sea.
Lunch was a three course lunch featuring our catch of the day and a few other fish too along with grilled veggies, starters and dessert.
After an afternoon napping and digesting lunch, we spent the final hour of the day watching the sunset and feeling a sense of accomplishment for a newly learned skill and a relaxing day, proving that getting up early on the weekend was worth it.
I was a guest of the hotel sampling their new package ‘Catch & Grill’ which includes a four hour fishing trip with breakfast, day pass for the pool/beach and lunch or dinner at Palm Grill available Sunday-Friday (lunch only on Fridays) for groups of 2-8 guests.Advance bookings are essential. The cost for two guests is AED 2,700 and AED 350 for each additional guest.