Back on the road for the long journey east once again. The first Rompin trip of the 2019 season. For this visit I was fishing with Paul Miller, on his second trip to Rompin; and David Press, making his first ever foray into the world of offshore sport fishing.
Following his experience on his previous first visit, Paul was keen to put some tenggiri (narrow barred spanish mackerel) into the cool box. David, on the other hand, was keen to capture his first sailfish.
As per the usual routine, we were to be fishing with Anthony Sullivan (http://www.hook-line-sinker.net). The weather reports were reasonable and the recent fishing had been good – although the sailfish catch had been dominated by small and juvenile fish. There were also tenggiri to be caught …. So, after the usual evening of Tiger beer and fish & chips it was off to prepare tackle and get a good nights sleep before the coming weekend’s adventure.
Day #1 (06.04.19)
The day dawned with some scattered rain clouds but only light wind. David had awoken early and captured this early morning sunrise over the river:
After a breakfast of omelette, teh tarik and iced lime soda we were ready to face the day. The usual routine of searching for and endeavoring to catch baitfish before heading further offshore to the current fishing grounds. For day 1 we were to be guided by Jim, whilst Anthony took his other party and a second boat. Our plan was to gather bait and then spend an hour or so trolling for tenggiri before finally moving to the sailfish grounds to complete the afternoon.
It took a while to get the required amount of bait and we didn’t start trolling until c.10.45 am ….and it was slow. I had the usual 15 cm Storm Deep Thunder red head out on the heaviest trolling rod and a 12.5 cm Halco Socerer axel pattern crazy deep plug on the lighter set-up. Just as I was beginning to despair we took a big strike on the trusty Halco (this lure is tenggiri candy) and I quickly worked a decent mackerel to the gaff. A well conditioned 6 kg fish …. with no teeth …!
I was pleased to get this fish on the deck and we decided to give it another 20 minutes to see if we could snag another. But soon our time was up and we decided to switch to fishing for sailfish.
We made the short move about 5 km further east from where we’d picked up the mackerel to join Anthony’s boat. But when we arrived the reports were of slow fishing – there were fish about but they were only appearing in briefly and in small numbers at the surface. The strategy was to locate small groups of birds marking feeding sailfish and try to set up the boat’s drift to allow the baits to pass close to the action. It was difficult and frustrating. We slowly started to get the odd take, but the fish were not feeding enthusiastically – bites were slow and tentative. I was leaving the drop back for a long time, without the fish moving off with any purpose. I was also concerned and trying to avoid deep-hooking fish. I managed to connect to 3 fish, each time I passed the rod to David but this hook pulled immediately or on the first jump. It was very frustrating.
Finally, we got a good strike when we were on the very last drift of the day – we’d located birds and set the baits only for the fish to move away from us and out of reach. Then, out of nowhere, the line suddenly snapped out from the restraining elastic band and started ripping from the open spool. I quickly flipped the bail to set the hook and past the rod to David. The fish put up a good fight, making an initial long run followed by a number of shorter runs punctuated by the odd jump and aggressive head shaking. It was only a small fish …. a teenager … and just like their human equivalents it was petulant, feisty, moody, temperamental and aggressive ..! David was surprised by the power and intensity of the fight …. and I was too when we finally got the fish to the boat for a picture and release – it was only about 15 kg but seemed like a much bigger fish during the battle. Still, Rompin and coughed up a fish at the very last moment to deliver a first sailfish for a new angler once again.
This fish ensured that the first day was ok, poor by Rompin standards, but it had produced nevertheless. We were hoping for a better return on Day 2. On the run back to port we were reminded of what we wanted, painted on the side of one of the fleet’s sport fishing boats:
Day 2 (07.04.19)
Once again David was up early after a poor night’s sleep blamed on his room mate’s snoring ….! But it did enable him to take this spectacular dawn over Sungai Rompin:
The plan for today was the same as yesterday – catch live-bait / troll for tenggiri / fish for sails. The only difference was that we were going to be hosted by Anthony for today’s trip.
Things started off slow. after a number of stops to collect bait we then spent around an hour trolling for mackerel without success. We then switched to live-bait fishing for sailfish. As soon as we set our first drift, at c.11 am, the first bait in the water was taken almost immediately. “Normal service has been resumed” I exclaimed as Anthony set the hook and Paul stepped up to take his first fish of the trip, the biggest sailfish so far …. still a teenager but pushing 20 kg:
We then went through a quiet period as we went through the early afternoon lull, and then started picking up bites at regular intervals. It was my turn next as I cast a live-bait as soon as we positioned close to a melee of bird activity and my bait was taken as it was swimming away after the cast. I set the hook and had a decent tussle with another small, but spirited sailfish:
We then endured a torrid afternoon where we had a succession of lost fish – missed takes, pulled hooks, a leader knot failures (the captain’s FG knot). Finally, right at the end of the day once again, we got in position to some surface feeding fish only for them to move away from the boat and off the track of our drift. I cursed as I though that we were done for the day when, suddenly, we had a double take. The mate hooked up one fish whilst I hooked up on my light outfit (PE 1-3 rod, Stella 6000 & 30 lb line). David took the rod from the mate and I passed my rod over to Paul. Within a few minutes Paul had a lost fish – we initially though it was another leader knot failure, but on closer inspection it was a chaffed off hook (50 lb leader). David, meanwhile, stayed button up on his fish and now, with a little experience under his belt, was able bring the fish to the boat in good time, another teenager in the lower teens in kilogram, for his second sailfish of the trip:
We were now well past the 5.00 pm mark and it was time to wrap up the trip and head for the port for the usual Sunday evening scramble to clean & pack up the kit, load the car, shower, eat and then make the long drive back to KL. A summary of the trip’s action is given in the following video:
Toothless Tenggiri & Teenage Sails (06-07.04.19) – Summary
It had been a reasonable trip, if a little slow on the catch rate. We didn’t help ourselves with the poor statistics though:
- Day 1 – 1 from 4 sailfish hook-ups caught & released
- Day 2 – 3 from 8 sailfish hook-ups caught and released
Definitely room for improvement on the next trip …..!!
When I caught the tenggiri I was surprised to note that my lure was undamaged by the mackerel’s teeth. The captain commented that he’s once caught a tengirri that had no teeth. I recalled that I heard a similar story from a friend’s friend about a 12 kg toothless tengirri that he’d once caught. I didn’t think to check my fish at the time but the next day I asked Paul, who’d taken the head (as part of his split of the spoils, for his in-laws to make fish head soup) to see if this specimen was also toothless. And indeed it was:
Paul went even further and did some research. It seems that there is a genetic sub-population of toothless mackerel found in Malaysian waters:
So, the mysterious case of the toothless tenggiri is solved! Its just a pity that all the ones that that have struck my live-baits meant for sailfish, on mono leader, over the years have all been of the toothed variety. And this one, caught whilst trolling lures on wire leader, specifically for tenggiri was … thoothless. How ironic!