Kuala Rompin – The Perfect 10 [+ 2 leviathans] (17 & 18th June 2017)

My friend and colleague Gareth, soon to be departing from Malaysia, asked me if I could organise a trip to Rompin – he was keen to get a trip in as part of his Malaysia “bucket-list” of things to try. Unfortunately I was just too busy with work and personal matters and was unsure even if I would be able to join the trip. I passed him the details of my fishing guide, Anthony Sullivan (http://www.hook-line-sinker.net).  He organised a trip in mid June and managed to get a boat that could accommodate 5 anglers. I wanted to go too, but still had a lot of outstanding commitments to sort out.

As luck would have it, I managed to get on the trip together with Gareth, Jochen and Tom from work and Gareth’s mate Justin Lewis, who flew in from Oz just for the fishing weekend. I did have some reservations regarding the fishing though – the past season had been unusually poor, me and Jochen had already had a slow trip back in April and June is not usually renowned for it’s fishing quality. In fact, this was my first ever visit during this month of the year. But the real reason for this trip was to give Gareth and bit of a send off and have a boozy lads weekend. Good fishing would be a bonus.

So, the scene was set. Me, Gareth, Justin and Tom headed out from KL just after 2 pm for the long drive to Kuala Rompin on the east coast. It was a luxury for me not to have to drive – I could sit back and relax. Jochen, as usual, was taking the opportunity to have a run on his motorcycle. We arrived in Rompin by 6.30pm, in-time to see the day’s catch come in and start on the Tigers ….! Jochen arrived within half and hour of us and we enjoyed an evening of Malaysian food, beer and banter. I also bumped into my mate Noru, who was there with a couple of Danish anglers. Anthony informed us that the tengirri fishing, which had been good the previous weekend, was tailing off, but we could expect reasonable sailfish fishing (his guys had been getting 5+ sailfish per day). We decided to start off trying for tengirri and then switch to sailfish for the afternoon.

Besides two sailfish virgins (Gareth and Justin), I also had two new bits of kit to blood. I had a Stella SW6000HG that I was going to use to lure fish for mackerel (tenggiri) and a new (but 2008 model) Stella SW8000HG that I was using to live-bait for sails. The SW6000 was on it’s first saltwater outing (it had already proved to be a “lucky” reel on it’s previous freshwater tests) – I was hoping for a mackerel or two on it and was secretly also wanting to try popping for sailfish with it (I’d only brought 2 outfits for this trip). I’d already used the SW8000 in the salt back in April, but had yet to land a fish on it.

Day 1 (17.06.17)

We were met with perfect conditions – clear skies with only a light breeze and flat calm seas as we departed Sungai Rompin:

Sungai Rompin – leaving the jetty

We left the river mouth into the open sea and headed toward our first stop to collect live-bait and commence fishing for tenggiri:

Heading out from the river mouth

We arrived at our first stop and started fishing. Whilst the others started jigging sabiki rigs for live-bait I started casting a Jackson Pintail lure for tenggiri. I had a strike third cast and hooked up to what felt like a good fish. Within a minute my line went slack and I reeled in my braid minus the leader, lost along with a wire trace and expensive pintail lure. Damn – I’d chaffed my mainline the previous week on a large Amazon Catfish and had cut out the damaged line. Whilst tying the leader with an FG knot I notice some more chaffed line but stupidly thought that it would be ok ….. and paid the price with yet another lost tenggiri …. arrrrg ..!!

Meanwhile, the boys were busy filling up the live well with quality baits. Our live baits off the stern had also been attracting some attention. Unfortunately, our single-hook rigs resulted in sancocho’d baits without hook ups. After a couple of hours, with the action slowing and only one further strike on lures we decided to troll for half an hour before moving off to search for sailfish.

Trolling for tenggiri

We had no luck trolling, so called it quits at around 12.30 pm and started searching for sailfish. We didn’t have to go far before we spotted bird activity and sailfish feeding at the surface. I clipped a popper onto my light casting rod with the Stella SW6000 and cast towards the sailfish. I was immediately rewarded with a follow, and again with my second cast with a brief pull on the lure. And again a few casts later. The fish were hot and looking to feed. A few casts later I had another follow followed by a good take – my first on popper for a few years. I set the hook and the fish took off on a screaming and prolonged run, taking at least 150m of my 30lb braid. I managed to stop the fish and start regaining line before another run, some brief surface activity, then it turned and the hook pulled. Damn, damn, damn …… lost fish number two. But I knew that we were in for a good day – the sailfish were in a bit of a feeding frenzy and it was just before 1 pm during the usual “mid-day lull” period.

We re-set out drift and put two baits off the stern. We got a take almost instantly – Anthony passed the rod to Gareth to fight his first ever sailfish. After a short fight, and with some coaching from Anthony, Gareth soon had the fish boat-side for a quick picture before release:

Gareth fighting his first ever sailfish

Sailfish #1 – the obligatory picture

Barely 15 minutes after out first fish, we were in action again. This time it was Justin’s turn as he took over the rod to do battle with his first ever sailfish. After a 15 minute fight we had fish number two on the leader:

Justin fighting his first sailfish

Sailfish #2 on the leader

Justin with his first Sailfish

Whilst  Justin was fighting his fish we had another take for a double hook-up. Jochen was up and took on the fight. Jochen is a seasoned sailfish angler and did a good job of bringing the powerful fish under control. This was a good sized fish and the biggest of the day so far, around the 40 kg mark:

Jochen with sailfish #3

4 hook-ups and three fish landed within the hour. Things were shaping up well for a very good day …..!! After these first three fish we moved slightly towards an unjam (FAD) in the distance that had large frigate birds circling overhead like prehistoric pterodactyls. This place was alive with sailfish feeding activity.

We tied up to the unjam and the first set at this new location produced yet another fish, with Tom taking over with only his second ever sailfish. Whilst Tom was fighting this fish, we continued to soak a live-bait off the stern and we soon had a double hook-up, which I proceeded to fight. The problem now was that we had to thread the fish between the floats and ropes of the unjam, which was particularly difficult with two fish on!

Double hook-up in the unjam

My fish managed to run under a line and I was beginning to think that it was going to be a loss, but the captian expertly manoeuvred the boat alongside, the mate picked up the rope with a gaff and the captain cut it clean through with a “chinese chopper” (meat cleaver). The mate freed the line from the encrusting gooseneck barnacles and I was still in the game:

Freeing the fish from the unjam … game still on!

With the line released from the unjam ropes I was free to fight the small, but spirited fish, and soon had it alongside for billing:

Sailfish #4 alongside and billed

Sailfish #4

Tom’s fish was a different story though. It was a much bigger fish and was fighting hard:

Tom concentrating in fight mode

An aerial display near the boat

Slowly but surely, Tom got control of the fish and after a good 20 minute+ fight finally had the fish landed, another good sized and chunky sailfish, probably approaching the 40 kg mark:

Sailfish #5

After reviving and releasing Tom’s fish, we returned to the unjam, tied up and trotted two baits out off the stern. This had been a fantastic hour and a half’s fishing – we now had each landed a sailfish and the pressure was off. But it didn’t take long before we were in action once again. Jochen stepping up to take on sailfish #6. It soon became apparent that this was a decent fish as it was fighting hard and taking a lot of line. The captain had to slip off the unjam once again to get this fish clear of the floats and into open water to chase the fish down.

Jochen doing battle with the hard fighting fish

It was a real tug-o-war fight, with Jochen straining against the big girl. After a number of long and powerful runs the fish eventually came in near to the boat. But it remained tantalisingly off the port stern, refusing to come in the last 10 m or so to be leadered. It was a stalemate for a good 6 or 7 minutes before finally succumbing to the pressure and finally coming to the boat.

Sailfish #6 – remaining stubbornly just outside leadering range

This was a big fish, a true leviathan of the ocean. Certainly the biggest sailfish I’ve ever seen and the biggest that Anthony has seen for at least 3 years. The Captain estimated this fish to be around 65 kg (c.140 lb), a very large sailfish specimen indeed and a great catch:

Monster Sailfish: estimated at c.65 kg

That was now 6 sailfish landed in two hours … extreme sailfish action indeed. But we were not finished yet …….

We had a brief “lull” of all but 15 minutes as we returned to the unjam and re-tied the boat. As soon as we fed live-baits off the back we were in action once again. Gareth was up for this fish – his second and sailfish no.7 for the day. Another decent sized fish, another epic battle, this one caught in detail on video footage:

Gareth in action fighting his second fish of the day

We were now approaching late afternoon, with 7 fish under our belt in about 2.5 hours of fishing. A feeding frenzy was starting to develop – first Tom snagged a fish on a sabiki rig whilst jigging for bait, whilst almost instantaneously both me and Anthony had strikes on free-lined livies. It was chaos, with the sabki hooked fish breaching on the opposite side of the boat before running through the other two line. I broke my fish off well above the leader during the ensuing tangle, meanwhile Justin took over the third hooked fish. It was Justin’s second fish and with his growing confidence following his first fish he made light work of his second, taking only 5 minutes to bring the fish to leader:

Justin working sailfish #8 to the boat

Whilst fighting his fish, we had yet another hook-up for a double, with Tom doing the honours this time:

Tom on sailfish #9

And, whilst Tom was in action we had a further hook-up for a double-double …!! This was my first decent fish on the Stella SW8000 and it tore off on a huge run, leaving my spool dangerously low on line. I started at the stern port corner and ended up going a full circle around the boat (a walk-around design) before pulling the hook …..

Fighting a sailfish on a Stella SW8000, another double hook-up

However, I soon followed up on my lost fish with another, this time solid, hook-up and brought in fish number 10 to the leader:

Sailfish #10 billed

This was another nice sized fish, well into the 30’s kg:

Sailfish #10

It was now approaching the end of the session, almost 4.30 pm. But we still weren’t completely finished. Jochen was hooked-up again at the death only for the fish to throw the hook on a jump after a long powerful run.

What a day it had been, 10 sailfish caught and released (from 13 hook-ups), 2 fish for each angler and one monster sailfish of c. 65 kg. We’d had double and double-double hook-ups. I’d also hooked-up my first sailfish on a popper for quite a few years and also managed to hook (and lose) a tenggiri – both on my new Stella SW6000HG (which is not quite as lucky as I was starting too imagine ….!).

These were great numbers for mid June, particularly given the fact that we didn’t hunt sails until well after noon.  However, it was now time to head back to the dock for food and yet more Tigers …..! We were all looking forward to Day 2 with anticipation.

https://youtu.be/ZAN4T2kIMlM

Day 1 Highlights – sailfish no’s. 1 to 5

https://youtu.be/8z_agDSknWk

Day 1 Highlights – sailfish no’s. 6 to 10

Day 2 (18.06.17)

We awoke to what seemed like reasonable conditions – still air and slightly hazy skies over the Rompin River:

Sungai Rompin and jetty, 7.30 am

After the usual Rompin River Seafood restaurant breakfast of omlet, toast and coffee, we grabbed our gear and set of down the river to begin our second day of fishing. The plan was the same as the previous day – try some unjams (FADs) for baitfish and mackerel (tenggiri) first and, depending on results, continue to pursue mackerel or switch to hunting sailfish. 

It was a surprise when we left the river mouth to be met by a stiff offshore breeze. At the first unjam it was decidedly choppy, making lure fishing uncomfortable at the bow. It was also very slow. We made good progress with the baitfish but got zero activity from tenggiri. After about two and a half hours we decided to give up on tenggiri and return to the scene of the previous days sailfishing success.

Choppy conditions, Tioman Island in the background

When we arrived at the sailfish unjam, it was a completely different scenario to the revious day. although the breeze had dropped off and the seas were calming down, there was no bird activity – the frigate birds from the previous day were gone. I though that this might be a bad sign, but as we arrived one of the two boats already in residence was already hooked up to a sailfish. We tied up in the middle of the unjam, with floats all around us and started fishing, with two live-baits off the stern under balloon floats.

We had a double take and hook-up within five minutes of arriving. Tom took one fish, Gareth the other. These were both good fish and a handful whilst still amongst the unjam floats and ropes. Unfortunately, after pulling the anglers around the boat, and with the Captain doing his best to manoeuvre the boat, we eventually ended off losing both fish. One to a pulled hook and the other tangled around an unjam and broke off. Before we had a chance to go to the unjam to free the fish, Jochen hooked up at the bow, bringing Sailfish #1 of the session boat-side for a quick release:

Jochen fighting Sailfish #1

To be continued

 

Sailfish c.55 kg

 

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.01) - Kuala Rompin, Sailfish | Leave a comment

Natural Exotic Pond Behrang – Amazons and Asians (09.06.17)

Yes, back yet again ….. it’s becoming an addiction. This will be the last trip for a while though.

Frustrated by losing what we thought to be Alligator Gar last week,  and “interested” to try the chicken intestine bait that proved so effective for fellow anglers the previous week (interested but not keen – I don’t like using bait with the potential to give me food poisoning if I don’t keen my hands completely clean), we were back for another go.

So, baits was a bag of prawns and a pack of frozen chicken guts (RM3 at the pond) plus a small bucket with a concentrated soap solution for hand washing after baiting up …… My target species were gar and Chao Phraya catfish. I was not keen on catching anymore Asian Redtail catfish!

When we arrived the pond was deserted (for the first time ever – Friday afternoon during Ramadan):

Natural Exotic Pond, Behrang

We started fish, my using prawns and the wife on chicken guts. Prawns were definitely the hot bait today. I started picking up Amazon Redtail Catfish, whilst the wife was getting Asian Redtails:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #1

Asian Redtail Catfish #1

Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

Asian Redtail Catfish #2

Despite us landing a couple of fish apiece during the first hour and a half, I was getting many more bites – almost one per cast on prawn bait. The problem is I was getting smashed – dragged under pipes at the edge of the pond and resulting in broken hook lengths and lost leaders. I spend the first couple of hours tying leaders and making up wire traces, and it was hard work in the extreme heat. Some of the lost fish were undoubtedly big Amazon Catfish, but I suspect at least one was an Alligator Gar. We saw no signs of Chao Phraya Catfish though ….!

Mako then hooked into a decent fish that turned out to be a large Asian Redtail, maybe 7 kg or more, a good size here for this species:

Asian Redtail Catfish, c.7 kg

As dusk approached, I was in action with a run of large Amazon Redtails:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #3

Amazon Redtail Catfish #4
The Natural Exotic Pond at dusk

Amazon Redtail Catfish #5

I was still getting plenty of action, but after picking up a small Asian Redtail, decided to move to the south-western corner of the pond  for the last half an hour to see if I could snag a garfish. 

Asian Redtail Catfish #4 & #5

Mako lost what she suspected to be a gar  on the opposite side of the pond to me (violent head shaking and then a pulled hook) before I had a subtle take that didn’t take much line initially, and I thought it was a gar. But as it came closer to the platform it started making strong runs, and another decent Amazon Catfish emerged from the murky waters:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #6

I finished up with another fish with the last prawn bait – a final Asian Redtail. We finished up with 6 Amazon and 5 Asian Redtails. The prawns had won, hands down, over the chicken guts, but at c. 1 RM a prawn vs. RM3 for a packet of guts I can see why the later bait is popular …. We won’t be back for a while – I want different species, I’ve had enough of Redtail Catfish …!!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Asian Redtail | 2 Comments

Natural Exotic Pond Behrang – Asian Catfish (02.06.17)

Inspired by our previous visit the week before, me and the wife were once again visiting the New NEFFP (my fourth visit in as many weeks …). I was fired up after catching a Chao Phraya Catfish, but also hearing comment from another angler that told us he’s caught six on a previous visit ….! So, the plan was to float fish live baits to try to catch this species. I’d also brought some prawns with me and was keen to see how effective they’d be at this venue.

We left KL at around 3.30pm, but had to stop for water and to check our tyre pressure. Then we headed out on the E1 (Utara-Selatan) Highway. But, we got caught in a jam following an accident. We finally reached out destination at 5.15pm, and commenced fishing at 5.35pm, with very few anglers there making it easy to get our preferred location at the end of the platform on the right-hand side. We were fishing live lampam  under a float, with the intention of trying to avoid Amazon Redtails ….!

We were in action immediately – Mako got an Asian Redtail Catfish on the first cast, whilst I was still rigging up my rod.  I followed this up 10 minutes later with an Asian Redtail of my own quickly followed by Mako’s third fish:

Asian Redtail Catfish #1

Asian Redtail #2

Asian Redtail #3

I then picked up a solitary small Amazon Redtail Catfish:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #1

Then we were hit with another onslaught of predatory Asian Redtails, these fish are streamlined hunters and they absolutely love live-baits (cf the Amazon Redtails, which seem to prefer static dead baits):

Asian Redtail #4

Asian Redtail #5

Asian Redtail #6

Natural Exotic Pond at dusk

As dusk approached I decided to finish off our live-baits on float before switching over to dead bait on a ledger rig, to see if we could entice a different species. The final couple of livies enticed yet more Asian Redtails:

Asian Redtail #7

Asian Redtail #8

The change to ledgered dead-bait brought a marked change in species. I pinned on a prawn and cast out. It was almost immediately engulfed by a large fish that ran around some unseen submerged structure (a pipe of some sort) at the margin of the pond, despite my best efforts and a decent amount of drag. I could feel the line rasping against the obstruction. I managed to get it moving towards me and it felt free before pulling me into it again. It was only a matter of time until it broke off. But, under steady pressure I regained some line and then felt it swim free. I worked it to the bank for netting – a nice Amazon Redtail, c.12 kg:

Amazon Redtail #2, c. 12 kg

My leader was chaffed along its full length. The main-line had also taken some punishment. But I decided to fish on with it as I still had the other rod to change to a ledger rig. I re-baited with another prawn and recast. Whilst I was tying a new rig, the rod took another big strike. Mako picked up and fought our third Amazon cat of the session, another decent sized fish of at least 10 kg:

Amazon Redtail #3

We then entered a very strange situation. Whilst I was clearing up and putting rubbish in a nearby bin, the prawn bait was taken again. Mako picked up on en evidently big fish that jigged violently before the line went slack. She wound in and all of the leader was gone, just a frayed tag-end of braided line remaining. Very strange. I first though it was lost because of the previous line damage with the earlier big Amazon cat. I quickly tied on a new leader with a double uni knot (no time to re-tie the FG Knot), and added a 40lb wire trace tied to 50lb mono hook-length. Once again I took a strike on the prawn, again violent and erratic jigging and a sawing sensation before the line went slack. This time, the whole hook-length to the swivel was gone ….!! What was going on?? I re-tied my hook-length, again with wire trace and re-set with another prawn bait. 15 minutes later it was exactly the same – a slow take, violent and erratic pulls and then slack line. During the take I felt the line catch against something and then go slack and thought it was gone, then I felt the fish again, experienced a grating of the line and then it went slack again. Once again, the whole 4m or so of leader and hook length was gone. It was similar to what I’d experience before on my first ever visit here, when we encountered alligator gar:

https://agriffinandrew2.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/new-natural-exotic-fishing-pond-behrang-alligator-gar-30-04-17/

I think that we’d encountered a pack of gar and that the line was taken by one fish and cut-off against the scales of other fish in the school. That’s all I can think of as an explanation. Has anyone else out there experience this? Certainly the violent and erratic jigging and subtle plucking takes were exactly the same when I caught my gar a month back.

Meanwhile, Mako had been persevering with (the usually effective) keli (catfish) bait (the head  portion cuts). But had had nothing. Finally she got a strike whilst she was away from here place. I picked up her rod and fought a spirited fish to the bank, a large (but still another) Asian Redtail (#9) for which I only managed to get a quick, poorly focused picture. My first fish on the Saragosa Sw6000 ….. very nice too!

Now, our session was nearing its conclusion. I returned to my rod and retied a leader and recast the remains of my prawn baits. Once again the prawn was quickly taken. I engaged the fish and this time managed to stay buttoned, and brought in a lively fish to the bank that turned out to be an …. yep, you’ve guessed it, Asian Redtail:

Asian Redtail #10

Mako continued with the keli dead-bait. Finally, as she was reeling in she felt a pressure on her line. It was heavy but not fighting.  She reeled in a large, dead, Amazon Redtail that she’d snagged – it was a large fish of c.15 kg, around RM 1500 worth of stock …!! Sad to see, but an inevitable consequence of catch and release, there will always be some mortality. The pond insists on (and enforces the use of) barbless hooks, which is good, but they should introduce a circle hook only policy for fishing live and dead-baits. We also saw an angler “playing” with his catch by repeatedly, and violently, striking against a fish he was fighting , showing off to his friends – this was sickening and almost guaranteed to cause damage to the fish. I wish the ghillies would be more proactive in stopping such behaviour.

Finally, as I picked up Mako’s rod to wind in for the day I felt a fish on. Mako took over and brought in a tangle of line with an Asian Redtail attached – we’d hooked another anglers broken-off line. This was the 11th Asian Redtail, and final fish our session.  It was late and we were tired, sweaty and hungry. It was time to head home. We’d caught 11 Asian and 3 Amazon Redtail Catfish, not including the dead Amazon or the fish that had cut us off multiple times, so it had been a hectic four hours.

Out of interest, the handful of anglers that were in attendance this session were having good success on chicken intestine bait. We saw numerous Amazon Catfish caught, but also a large Mekong  (of 25 kg+) and a large Chao Phraya Catfish (of c. 2o kg) also caught on this unpleasant bait. I may have to give it a try on my next visit ……! 

Stay tuned.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Asian Redtail | Leave a comment

New NEFFP Behrang – Mako’s Monsters (26.05.17)

This was my third visit to the New NEFFP at Behrang in the past month. The aims of this visit were as follows:

  1. To fish different parts of the pond to understand where the fish are holding and which areas a favoured by the different species present
  2. To fish the pond on a weekday afternoon to check out how busy it gets (I prefer to fish when it’s not too busy – more choice of fishing spots, less hassle with tangled lines, etc).
  3.  Get Wong a fish or two
  4.  To try out live-baiting
  5.  To give my new Shimano Saragossa SW6000 reel a test
  6. Attempt to catch a Chao Phraya Catfish
  7. To give my FG Knot tying skills additional testing (I’m starting to become more confident in my ability to tie this knot, but a few more trials will certainly help)

I was taking my mate Wong from the office on his second ever fishing trip (he was sea-sick on our last trip and skunked) and get him to land a decent size catfish or two. I spent an hour preparing tackle and tying new 40lb mono leader with FG knots onto my Stella SW6000HG and the new Saragosa SW6000 reel, with the plan to head out of KL by 2.30pm to fish from 3.30pm.  At the last minute, just before we were due to leave KL, the wife decided she’d like to join, and I decided we’d change and use her car as it is bigger. After packing an extra rod and reel we loaded the car and, after going to the garage to top up the Touch n Go card, finally headed up the North-South highway to Behrang in light mid-afternoon Friday traffic.

We were behind schedule, and finally arrived at the pond just after 4.00pm. It was busier than I expected, but much quieter than on my previous two visits. I put together four rods (one each plus a back-up), we signed in and collected out baits – 10 small lampam live-baits and 5 keli (catfish) to be butchered and cut into thirds to use as dead-bait. I rigged up two rods with ledger rigs for Mako and Wong and fixed a sliding float rig for fishing live-bait for myself. I plumbed the area we were about to fish – I wanted to fish about 1m off bottom – and found the depth was deeper than my c.4m of leader and hook-length, so I could use the leader knot as my float stop knot ….. perfect! This was the rig I was going to use to try to entice a Chao Phraya Catfish (I wanted to be off bottom to try to avoid amazon Redtails).

After I completed rigging-up we finally commenced fishing at about 4.40pm. We opted to fish at the end of the jetty, fishing the north-western corner of the pond. Whilst I was helping out Mako and Wong with their gear and baits, my live-bait was snatched. I picked up and started working the fish but pulled the hook. I reset and waited. It wasn’t long before I had another take and brought in the first fish of the day, a spirited Asian Redtail:

Asian Redtail Catfish #1 

Twenty minutes later, Mako got a good strike on her catfish head dead-bait and picked up to do battle with a powerful fish. She was using the new Saragossa reels, and it was up to the task of handling the big fish. Mako did a good job of turning the fish and bringing it was from the aerator paddles and associated metal-work at the northern edge of the pond. After an good fight, she brought in a big Amazon Redtail Catfish to the net, a fish of at least 15 kg:

Mako’s 1st monster fish – Amazon Redtail #1 (c.15 kg)

We now entered into an active feeding period. It was Wong’s turn next, he had a good strike fishing on the west side of the jetty, and was surprised at the power of is first Amazon Redtail, a modest fish of c.6 kg:

Wong’s first Amazon Redtail Catfish

The hits were starting to come thick and fast on ledgered dead-bait. Mako was in action again next, bringing in a spirited Amazon Redtail:

Asian Redtail Catfish #2

Barely 5 minutes later she was in action again.. This time she was into a prolonged battle with an obviously big fish, the second of her monster fish for the day. This fish fought long and hard, doggedly putting up resistance even when close to the jetty. It was a good test for Mako, the Saragossa SW6000 reel and my FG knot:

Mako (and Saragossa SW6000 reel) in battle with a monster fish

After at least 5 minutes of tug-o-war, a large Amazon Redtail Catfish eventually succumbed to the pressure and was finally brought to the net. This was a big monster fish, the largest Amazon Redtail that I’ve ever seen caught at either this or the old Natural Exotic Pond. It was at least 20 kg. Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do it justice as Mako was unable to pick it up properly to hold it, as it was too heavy for her:

Mako’s second monster fish of the day – Amazon Redtail #3 (c.20 kg +)

Meanwhile, I’d moved across to fish the north-eastern corner of the pond – Wong had told the ghillie that I was after a Chao Phraya catfish, and he’d told me to try that area. I soon had a bite on a small lampam livey, but pulled the hook. I re-cast and was bit almost immediately. I set the hook and was in battle with a powerful fish that made short, strong runs and frequent changes of direction. After a short battle, I saw a sickle -shaped fin break the surface as the fish neared the jetty and I redoubled my concentration as I knew it was my target species. A few tense minutes later, the ghille was able to slip the net under the fish and I was able to relax, content in my trophy catch – a fat Chao Phraya Catfish probably touching 15 kg. Another trophy fish on what is turning out to be (after a sort-after Alligator Gar on its very  first outing) a very luck Stella SW6000 fishing reel:

Chao Phraya Catfish (c.15 kg)

Immediately after I landed my fish, Mako was in action again, bringing in yet another  large Amazon catfish:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #4

She quickly followed up this fish with an Asian Redtail:

Asian Redtail Catfish #3

It was now only just after 6pm and it was shaping up to be a very successful visit (we had until 8.20pm left to fish on our 4 hour ticket …!). The pond was now, however, starting to get busy as people turned up to fish the early evening. Some anglers to our left were starting to have frequent strikes on earth-worm baits. Wong, was not faring so well though and was unable to get a bite, despite switching to worm baits. Eventually, he did get a hit from a decent fish (on a worm-catfish chunk bait cocktail) but unfortunately got dragged under the aerator wheel structure and got broken off. 

I was still doing ok at the NE corner as I used up the last of the live-baits. I landed two Asian Redtail’s in quick succession, one slipped out of my grasp before I could get a photo, the other was a darkly coloured specimen:

Asian Redtail Catfish #5

 We now started to enter a lull as the later afternoon dusk approached. Other anglers were starting to have success, one group in particular were getting a strike a cast – they were using offal from cow or pig – stomach and heart as far as I could gather. Each time they got a fish, they were pulled towards the north of the pond, frequently crossing Mako’s line and disrupting her fishing. They were smashed a number of times but also started landing a succession of good sized Amazon Redtails. I also lost another fish on live-bait ….. I was bitten off and could feel the line getting sawed through within seconds of hook-up …. gar??

As dusk approached, and the live-bait supply had been used up, I switched to a ledger rig to go for Amazon’s. It was slow going but I started to get the odd bit of attention and picked up my first Amazon Redtail of the session after about 20 minutes:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #5

After a quiet hour for us, we started getting strikes again. Unfortunately, both Mako and Wong got smashed by decent fish – Mako lost two to structure whilst Wong pulled the hook on one fish and then got broken off by structure. I,on the other hand, managed to land a succession of good sized Amazons, all in the 10-15 kg range:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #6

Amazon Redtail Catfish #7

Amazon Redtail Catfish #8

With broken rigs, the clock running down and exhaustion from the heat and battle, it was time to wrap-up the session. And what a great session it had been – we’d landed 14 fish to 20 kg +, with many fish 10 kg + in weight, and had got a coveted Chao Phraya catfish. Mako had landed two monster Amazon’s on the Saragosa SW6000 reel and Wong had caught his first ever catfish. My FG knots had been given a punishing test and past with flying colours. Finally, I’d learned a lot more about this new fishery, and now have a much better idea of where to fish and what to expect from different parts of the pond. All objectives had been achieved.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Asian Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | Leave a comment

Natural Exotic Pond, Behrang – Amazon Catfish (10.05.17)

Pending

Amazon Redtail Catfish #1 in the rain

Fighting Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

New Natural Exotic Pond – west side at dusk

Amazon Redtail Catfish #3

Mako with Amazon Redtail #4

Amazon Redtail Catfish #5

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail | 2 Comments

New Natural Exotic Fishing Pond Behrang – Alligator Gar (30.04.17)

It was yet another long public holiday weekend. Me and Jochen decided to give the newly opened Natural Exotic Fishing Pond in Behrang a try.  The pond had only officially opened to the public two days before on the Friday and I was concerned that it would be very busy – but we thought that the long weekend may have resulted in people taking advantage travelling back to home-towns to see relatives, etc. Well, that idea didn’t materialise – when we arrived it was packed, and the car park was full.

We took 15 minutes to check out the place before deciding to fish. It was interesting to see the new place – it was obvious that a lot of money and effort had been put into the facility. The pond is broadly rectangular in shape, approximately 140m long and 115m wide. It is bisected by a 100m long central fishing “jetty”. This jetty is a double-decked structure c.14m wide. The lower deck is tiled and with built in central seating, and includes a toilet block. Fresh water hoses are located strategically along both sides, and their are inbuilt fishing rod tube holders (flush to ground level) regularly spaced along the platform:

New Natural Exotic Fishing Pond, Behrang [Google Earth]

Angling is only allowed from this central fishing jetty, which is covered for 85m of it’s length with a metal roof. The upper deck is a viewing area and also set up with tables and chairs, presumably it will be available for private functions. There is also a restaurant on the eastern side set alongside a large fish pen full of various species of carp, arawana, catfish and gar. As with the old Natural Exotic, live-bait pens are present offering lampan and keli live (or, if preferred, dead) baits. So, very well set-up, but certainly not natural and now even more industrialised, with concrete, tiles and close proximity to other anglers. On the other hand, it is full of an impressive array of exotic, very large and hard fighting fish ….. which is why we come here ….!!!

Natural Exotic Pond , Behrang- viewed from our location in the south-west of the pond

And so to fishing. As already stated, it was extremely busy. We decided to fish but the only space available was in the south-western corner where the pond becomes asymmetric and narrows into a small corner. So, we rigged up – I was trying out a new Stella SW6000HG for the first time and was keen to give it a work-out. Jochen was using my old Penn 6500ss that he just purchased from me. Both reels were spooled with 30lb braid and with 40lb leaders that I tied with FG knots – another tackle test. For bait we’d brought pilchards that Jochen had picked up from the market (we weren’t sure if the bait operation was going to be in operation).

Stella SW6000HG and view of the western side of the venue

New toy – Stella SW6000HG ready for action

We cast out and waited. It was slow …. very slow. The occasional fish was being caught at various locations around the pond, including to our left right in the small corner. But it was generally slow, and completely dead for us. We started to doubt our (sea-fish) dead-bait. Jochen switched to a lampam live-bait from the nearby bait tank . Eventually he got a tentative take that didn’t hook up. Then, after almost two hours, I started getting a strange plucking on my line. I wound in to find my bait was partially shredded. I re-cast to the same location, hard against the eastern wall, and the same thing again. I picked up the rod and felt pressure. I immediately wound down and a decent fish started violent head shakes and short runs. It didn’t remotely feel like a catfish, and I was suspecting a gar. An then the inevitable happened and my mono leader got cut. Damn, almost certainly a garfish, one of the species on my wish list.

I was certain that I wouldn’t get another shot at a garfish. So, I re-rigged with mono leader, a larger 5/0 circle hook and re-cast my bait to the same location. I was surprised when, within a few minutes, I had another subtle plucking bite. I waited with the reel in free spool until the line started moving then I flicked the bail and wound down and was hooked-up on an evidently good sized fish. Once again the fight was characterised by violent jigging and short runs. I kept the rod vertical and high, and kept the line taught at all times to minimise the chance of a bite-off if it was indeed a gar. Then I saw it, a large Alligator Gar emerged from the cloudy green water. My first legitimate Alligator Gar. I became completely focused on landing this fish and quickly brought it to the waiting net.

My first Alligator Gar . I was elated and it certainly made up for the extremely slow fishing. A nicely conditioned fish (except for another hook in its jaw from a previous encounter with an angler) which I would guess to be c.8 kg, with very sharp scales ….!

Alligator Gar on the jetty

This was my first fish on the new Stella, which easily handled the short runs from this fish. The FG knot held up well too. A good first tackle test.

Alligator Gar, c.8 kg

Alligator Gar – ready for release

A couple of quick pictures and then the fish was released. I was very satisfied – that fish had made my trip.

Now it was Jochen’s turn. He had a similar subtle bits and was hooked-up to another fish that seemed to be a gar before he was suddenly off, bitten through the mono leader. That was 3 bites from garfish. We both switched to wire leader in an attempt to catch more, and I was soon experiencing another subtle take. I picked up the rod, felt some light resistance and then the line went slack – I reeled in only to find my entire rig and c.3m of 40lb leader gone. It was like it had been bitten off, or I theorised, cut through against the scales of a second garfish that was passing by as the bait was taken. It was very odd, but it was cut-off with a taught line, but with only mild load. Definitely a cut-off rather than a break-off …!!

As I was re-rigging my leader, Jochen was in action once again. This was another subtle bite, but the fish was making stronger runs than the previous hook-ups, and I was begining to suspect an even bigger garfish. But then the fish broke surface, an Amazon Redtail of around 8 kg or so. It turned and made another powerful run before escaping from the line. When Jochen reeled in we could see that the fish had broken the clip on his leader.

We fished on for another half an hour of so until the end of our session without any furtehr action. It had been extremely slow, but I was happy with my catch. It was interesting to see the new pond – I will try it out again soon, but will wait until it settles down, with less anglers and more space to explore and test the waters.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Garfish, Alligator | Leave a comment

Fish Valley, Semenyih – Public Holiday Pacu (24.04.17)

Another public holiday in Malaysia, and back again for another attempt at generating a pacu feeding frenzy. We came armed once again with expired buns – this time though we had two sacks of buns …..! What could possible go wrong?

Well, being as it was a public holiday it was very busy when we arrived at the pond. Our preferred fishing spots were already taken. And …. it was raining! We decided to fish in the southern part of the pond, where we’d finished our last session here. Unfortunately, I preferred spot here was also taken, so we opted for the south-east bank.

I quickly rigged up in the light rain whilst Mako started chumming with buns. We got some surface activity and within 20 minutes or so Mako was hooked up to her first fish – a decent pacu of c.5 kg:

Pacu #1, c.5 kg

After that promising start it was slow going though. Despite activity in our chum line, we had very little activity – we were getting fish taking the buns but without hooking up – presumably small fish, lampam in particular. There was also a suspicion of big-head carp in the swim – these fish will slurp off the bait, often without hooking up.

Finally, an hour after our first fish I got my first decent take, and pulled in a greedy, but small, baung:

Baung

A frustrating afternoon progressed into early evening and, finally, activity started to pick up. Mako started to get bites in a little embayment to her right.  She hooked up a big fish and fought it to the bank, only for me to miss it with the first attempt at netting. The fish turned and then bit off …..! But Mako soon got over her disappointment with another fish a few minutes later, smaller that the lost fish, but still a respectable c.4 kg:

Pacu #2, c. 4 kg

We then entered another lull, before I finally got my first pacu strike of the session, another fish of around 4 kg. I brought it to the net. But whilst unhooking the fish on the bank it managed to wriggle out of the fish grip (I hadn’t locked it shut as I’m a bit concerned that this fish grip design may damage the fish’s mouth when clicked shut- it applies a lot of pressure to the grip pincer) and managed to flop into the pond before I could get a picture.

Now, with dusk drawing in, Mako hooked up again and landed her third, and the smallest, pacu of the session:

Pacu #4

That fish was the last , in what was a disappointing session, despite us chumming heavilty with buns. Were we in the wrong place, or did we over chum? It didn’t seem like anyone was catching much around the pond on this day. Did the weather play a part?

Red sky at night over Fish Valley

I rigged down and we packed up in a cloudy, red sky, once again in light rain.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.05) - Fish Valley Semenyih, Main Pond, Catfish, Java Barb (Lampam), Pacu | Leave a comment