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What comes to mind when you think of Abu Dhabi? Skyscrapers, shopping, and glitzy hotels? Or deserts and oil rigs? It’s easy to forget that the capital of the United Arab Emirates is actually an island, surrounded by the rich warm waters of the Persian Gulf. And even though the city has grown exponentially over the last 50 years, fishing in Abu Dhabi offers a rare glimpse into its past.
Before the oil boom of the mid-twentieth century, the people of Abu Dhabi mainly lived off date farming, camel herding, pearl diving, and catching fish. Nowadays, fishing is still an important industry, and you can take a glimpse at its inner workings. Here’s what to expect when you tackle up.
Types of Fish in Abu Dhabi
Well over 250 species of fish live in Abu Dhabi’s warm waters, with 20 of them being important commercial – and recreational – targets. Some spend their whole lives around the local coral reefs. Others migrate through the Gulf and into the Indian Ocean, stopping by for a few months of the year on their annual migration. We’ll walk you through the top targets.
One of the most popular fish in the UAE, “Shaari” are delicious bottom fish that live close to shore around Abu Dhabi’s numerous islands. They’re so popular that they’ve been heavily overfished over the last few decades. Authorities are working hard to boost their numbers through stocking programs and size limits, so make sure you only keep fish that are a legal size, and don’t take more of them than you can eat yourself.
The main rival to the Spangled Emperor in any local kitchen, “Hamour” are mouth-watering Grouper that live around the Emirate’s reefs and jetties. You can actually find them lurking around any sort of structure! These fish can grow to huge sizes but have also suffered from overfishing. Stay mindful of size limits and think about releasing any fish that can survive being put back in the water.
Narrow-Barred Spanish Mackerel
What locals refer to as Kingfish or “Kanaad” is actually a type of Spanish Mackerel from the Indian Ocean. Whatever you call it, it’s one of the most exciting fish to catch in Abu Dhabi. These agile ocean predators grow to enormous sizes, weighing in at up to 70 pounds (31 kilograms) and reaching a whopping 2 meters long.
Kingfish visit Abu Dhabi’s waters from November to March, when you can catch them by trolling offshore. You even sometimes hear of Kanaad hookups from the shore during this period!
Fishing for fun more than food? Pack some jigs and medium-weight tackle, and look out for Queenfish. These attractive fish have four local names in Abu Dhabi depending on their size. Small ones are known as “Abu Shwaika,” medium fish are “Bassar” and “Seen,” and the biggest ones are called “Dela.” Queenies of all size put up a good fight and attack jigs with gusto – and they’re very easy to find within a few miles of the coastline.
Just like most Abu Dhabi fish, Queenfish are most common in the colder months from November to March.
Some of the most common fish to catch from shore or a fishing charter are real ocean predators – such as the mighty Barracuda. Fish over the reefs and around structure, and you can find various species of Bream and Emperor, as well as Trevallies and Rabbit Fish (locally known as “Saffi”). If you’re lucky, you might even hook into a Cobia, which appear sporadically all year round.
How to Fish Abu Dhabi
Spend enough time at Abu Dhabi’s fishing ports, and you’ll see locals using a variety of traps, cages, and handlines. Traditional “dhow” boats still lumber below the skyscrapers, taking their crews far across the Gulf to find fresh fish for the market. Take to the water yourself though, and you’ll probably be using more modern techniques. They’ll look something like this…
Fishing Trips in Abu Dhabi
The best way to explore the local waters is aboard a fishing boat with a local captain. This gives you a head start with finding and catching fish, takes care of your licensing, and gives you a scenic view of Abu Dhabi’s skyline to boot.
A typical fishing trip in Abu Dhabi takes you around the islands or to the deep sea aboard a modern sportfishing boat.
Deep Sea Fishing
Venture out into the Persian Gulf, and you’ll quickly be in pelagic fish territory. Deep sea fishing in Abu Dhabi usually starts by handlining for bait, before trolling for Kingfish or jigging for Queenfish, Grouper, and Emperors. Barracuda are another common catch, while Cobia are always a possibility. These trips are usually best between November and May.
Taking a boat around Abu Dhabi’s islands is well worth it in its own right. Doing so with a hook and line is even more so. Abu Dhabi island fishing generally targets quite small fish, but lots of them. Bream, Snapper, small Groupers, Leatherjacket, Trevallies, Queenfish, and even Puffer Fish are all potential catches. All this takes place in the shallow waters, channels, and mangroves where fish love to shelter. You never know, you may even spot some flamingos – or a dugong! These trips are best from January to May.
Whether you’re fishing the open sea or the islands, always check what tackle is included. Some boats only provide hand lines by default. This is a fun way to try out a traditional local technique, but it isn’t for everyone!
Shore Fishing in Abu Dhabi
If you want to go it alone, there are several places around Abu Dhabi where you can fish from shore. You can join locals fishing near Marina Mall, or you might prefer to travel to one of the Emirate’s more distant islands. Either option can be productive, with Queenfish, Barracuda, and Trevally coming quite close to shore in the right conditions.
Fishing with light tackle or a handline is common, but you occasionally see people casting flies into Abu Dhabi’s warm waters. This can be an enjoyable way to tackle the local Jacks, Barracuda, and Queenfish.
Fishing Spots in Abu Dhabi
The city of Abu Dhabi, along with its islands and shorelines, is constantly evolving. Shorelines shift, access changes, new ecological zones mature, and today’s fishing spot could well be tomorrow’s construction site. But throughout all this, one thing remains constant: there’s plenty of water here to explore.
Before you cast, just check that fishing is allowed in the area you’re planning on casting a line from. Swimming areas, marine port areas, construction sites, and commercial areas are all off-limits. But right now, some of the best fishing spots in Abu Dhabi include:
- Al Bateen Beach. One of the most picturesque places to relax in Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen Beach looks out onto Hudayriat Island and the bridge of the same name. You’ll find everything you need here, including washrooms, drinking water, family beaches, and cycling trails. The best fishing is close to the bridge, offering beautiful views and occasional small fish.
- Yas Island. The buzzing tourist attraction of Yas Island doesn’t exactly scream “secluded fishing spot.” But the area around the Iron Bridge in the north is a favorite with many locals. Barracuda, Queenfish, and Snapper are all potential catches, and you often hear of multiple hookups (a rarity this close to town!).
- Al Aryam Island. The shallow waters around Al Aryam attract a large number of fish, including Queenfish, Barracuda, and even Spangled Emperor and Mackerel. At the time of writing, land-based fishing is restricted here, but the local waters are well worth visiting on a fishing charter.
- Hameem Beach. Historically one of the best places to catch Mackerel in Abu Dhabi, this is another area that’s worth exploring. Check current regulations and look out for “no fishing” signs to make sure you’re fishing in a zone that’s currently open.
Abu Dhabi Fishing Regulations
Before you go fishing in Abu Dhabi, you need to purchase a license via the government portal. These are available for everyone aged 18 and over. Children can fish without a license but need to be with a license-holding adult.
The good news is that you won’t need one if you’re going out with a charter. Abu Dhabi fishing charters cover licensing for everyone onboard. Just bring your passport with you for proof of identification.
The rapid urbanization, population explosion, and land reclamation in Abu Dhabi have been devastating for some local fish populations. To combat this, the environment agency has strict rules about how and where you can fish. Fishing is banned in protected marine reserves in the mangroves, and you aren’t allowed to fish for Sharks and similar species. View all the current rules here or ask your licensed charter operator what you can target.
Finally, if you’re spearfishing, you must display the alpha white and blue diving flag on your boat and there must be at least three people on board.
Abu Dhabi Fishing FAQs
1. Register for UAE PASS2.
2. Apply for a Recreational Annual or Weekly Fishing License
3. Pay the license fee
4. Download/print your license and keep it with you when you fish
1. Register for UAE PASS
2. Apply for a Recreational Weekly Fishing License
3. Submit a copy of your passport
4. Pay the license fee (currently 30 AED)
5. Download/print your license and keep it with you when you fish
“name”: “How do I apply for a fishing license in Abu Dhabi?”,
“text”: “Residents and non-residents can apply for an Abu Dhabi fishing license on the TAMM website. Just follow these steps:<br><br><strong>UAE Residents</strong>:<br>1. Register for UAE PASS2. <br>2. Apply for a Recreational Annual or Weekly Fishing License<br>3. Pay the license fee <br>4. Download/print your license and keep it with you when you fish<br><br><strong>Non-residents</strong>:<br>1. Register for <a href=\”https://selfcare.uaepass.ae/\” target=\”_blank\” rel=\”noreferrer noopener\”>UAE PASS</a><br>2. Apply for a <a href=\”https://www.tamm.abudhabi/en/life-events/individual/SupportCommunityEnvironment/Community/RequestforIssuanceofRecreationalWeeklyFishingLicence\” target=\”_blank\” rel=\”noreferrer noopener\”>Recreational Weekly Fishing License</a><br>3. Submit a copy of your passport<br>4. Pay the license fee (currently 30 AED)<br>5. Download/print your license and keep it with you when you fish”
“name”: “Is fishing allowed in Abu Dhabi?”,
“text”: “Yes, you are allowed to fish in Abu Dhabi as long as you have a license and are not in a no-fishing area.”
“name”: “What’s the best bait for fishing in Abu Dhabi?”,
“text”: “As always, you should match the bait to what you want to catch. You can catch smaller fish and even Spangled Emperor with <strong>prawns </strong>and <strong>squid</strong>. You can then use the fish you catch as live bait for Hamour, Barracuda, and Cobia. ”
“name”: “What’s the best time for fishing in Abu Dhabi?”,
“text”: “Fishing in Abu Dhabi is best during the colder months from <strong>November to March</strong>. This is when the fish come closer to the shore and are generally more active. This is also the most pleasant time to be out and about – temperatures average above 104°F (40°C) in July and August.”
Abu Dhabi’s Wild Side is Calling
It can be hard to see Abu Dhabi’s deep connection with nature beneath all its glitz and glamor. But take your time to explore the waterways, and you’ll glimpse a truly unique ecosystem.
The Persian Gulf’s waters are home to the world’s largest population of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins. And the second largest population of dugongs in the world lives in the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, in the west of the Emirate. Even though urbanization has hit this desert land by storm, world-leading ecological programs study and cultivate the nature that remains. So get out on the water – it’s time to experience all this for yourself.
Have you been fishing in Abu Dhabi? What’s your favorite fishing spot? Share your top catch and any questions below. We love hearing from you!
Title: Fishing in Abu Dhabi: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-abu-dhabi/
Published Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2023 13:22:15 +0000