16th April 2012
Not sure if anyone ever wrote a line quite like that!
On Friday, armed with fishing rods, barbecue equipment, chairs, and a few other essentials I went, with a couple of mates, up to the shores of the Qatar inland sea to try my luck with the fish.
Like the last time I went into the desert, half the fun was getting there. We stopped on the way to stock up with ice (3 Qatari riyal for an Esky full) and some cold drinks and then headed out, past El Wakra, the more industrial areas of Qatar, and the recreational area where the dunes are alive with quad bikes and desert racers.
This time we took my car and, after stopping to deflate the tires at the Sealine resort, we travelled south toward the inland sea, about 20 kilometers northward, toward the border with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the desert is a lonely place… not in Qatar. There were literally hundreds of four wheel drives negotiating the dunes and the wide open spaces, quite a sight to see a fleet of cars making tracks across the flats. In one way this was a little disappointing (so much for getting away from it all), in another it is comforting to know that if you break down (as some of the non-Japanese SUVs seem prone to do), then help is never far away. Of course the sheer number of vehicles and the lack of marked roads or tracks indicates a need for as much care off-road as you would exercise on-road. A common courtesy as you drive head on toward a group of 5 to 10 four wheelers is to indicate clearly and move to one side. It is also sensible to take just a bit of care when you launch your vehicle over a blind ridge, either coming up or going down from a dune.
On reaching the inland sea my heart picked up the pace as we watched a flock of birds diving on a large shoal of small fish. This is always a good sign when you are going sea fishing as where there are shoals like this there are often palaegic predators like kingfish and barracuda. The beach is quite a nice spot, and given a bit more daylight I would have been keen to go for a swim as well as the water is very clean and the sand drops off sharply to a depth of about 15 metres where we were.
Unfortunately though by the time we had found a place on the shore, unpacked the car and were ready to cast, not only was the sun pretty low on the horizon and swimming looking increasingly unlikely, but the shoal of bait fish had moved off. You can’t win them all! I set up to do some bottom fishing instead. We baited up with pieces of prawn and some mussels and before long had caught our first fish for the day, a pan sized catfish. This was the first of only two that we caught for the day.
The sun seems to set very fast in the desert and it was soon dark, quite sublime sitting and listening to the waves, watching the lightning across the desert and the glow of four wheel drives circumnavigating the inland sea toward KSA.
Luckily though we hadn’t yet got to the point of lighting up the barbecue as, about an hour and a half after dark, the weather started to turn. When we arrived it was probably about 28c and there was a very light breeze blowing. Soon the wind increased substantially and it became quite cold.
Being hardy fishermen we thought we might weather the storm; then the rain started. The final straw was when the wind got to the point that it was whipping the sand up so that fishing became impossible and we had to make a strategic decision to pack up.
We drove back pretty much the way we came, the desert is not as featureless as one might imagine and it was relatively easy to find the best travelled path and then pick landmarks that took us back, with a hoard of other vehicles, to our starting point at Sealine resort. At the resort we queued with other drivers for about 20 minutes to have our tyres re-inflated (cost 5 riyal) before driving back in teeming rain to Doha.
I will be back out there on another occasion and will aim to camp out overnight and have a swim and some lure fishing the next day. Hopefully the chances of being rained out twice in a row will be fairly low.