Kuala Rompin – Tenggiri & Teenage Sailfish (06-07.04.19)

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:

Day #1 sunrise (06.04.19)

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 …!

Tenggiri, 6 kg ….. toothless!

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.

David Press with his first Sailfish, c.15 kg

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:

Sailfish sport boat returning to port

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:

Day 2 – Sungai Rompin dawn (07.04.19)

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:

Sailfish #1

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:

Sailfish #2

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:

Sailfish #3

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:

http://youtu.be/4W-u3zFu14g

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 …..!!

Post-script

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:

Toothless Tenggiri

Paul went even further and did some research. It seems that there is a genetic sub-population of toothless mackerel found in Malaysian waters:

http://www.fishingworld.com.au/news/fish-facts-spanish-mackerel-revisited

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!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.01) - Kuala Rompin, Mackerel - Narrow Barred Spanish (Kingfish, Tenggiri), Sailfish | 1 Comment

Wales – Grand Slam 2019 (16.03.19)

WALES – GRAND SLAM

Guinness Six Nations Championship 2019

http://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/47596437

Hadleigh Parkes’ try 

Wales – Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam Champions 2019

 

Posted in (7) United Kingdom, (7.1) Wales, UK | Leave a comment

Singapore – Maroon 5+ (07-10.03.19)

A short, but very welcome break down to Singapore to celebrate my wife’s birthday. The big treat was to go and see Maroon 5 in concert at the Singapore National Stadium …. and very good it was too:

Maroon 5, National Stadium Singapore

We flew down to Singapore on Thursday afternoon and after checking in to the hotel, had just enough time to get some Japanese food in the mall adjoining our hotel before heading out to the concert. We returned back late in the evening in time to enjoy a few beers at Clarke Quay, where we stayed at the Novotel:

Clarke Quay at night

Day 2 was for relaxing – after a late breakfast we strolled around Clark Quay and down the Singapore River before returning to the hotel. 

Clarke Quay by day

View down the Singapore River from the Novotel

We had a gym session and an hour in the pool before finishing the day off with a nice steak dinner and a good bottle of red wine to complete the birthday celebrations.

For Day 3 we once again headed off down river. This time we decided to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum. We had to cross the splendid Victorian era Cavanagh Bridge en-route to the museum:

Victorian era Cavanagh Bridge

Once inside, the museum had an excellent collection of regional artifacts including some stunning treasures preserved from a c.1,100 year old Arab trading vessel that was shipwrecked just off Belitung Island on the edge of the Java Sea, giving a unique insight into inter-continental trade at this point in man’s history:

Tang Shipwreck artifacts

Besides the shipwreck the museum documents the changing influences, skills and  crafts and that shaped the development of the region:

Indian Lattice Jali screen & Mother of Pearl door

On the way back to the hotel we chanced upon these bronze statues depicting a more  recent scene from Singapore’s history of trade and development:

Alexander Johnston, Chinese trader & Malay Chief bronze sculpture

The event of the evening was to watch Wales vs. Scotland in the penultimate match of the 2019 Six Nation tournament. So it was down to Boat Quay to see the game at the Penny Black pub. After a victorious evening for the men in red (setting themselves up for a Grand Slam encounter with Ireland for the following weekend) we made our way back to the hotel. Once again being rewarded with some picturesque Singapore night scenes (and another 10,000+ steps day):

New Bridge, Boat Quay

Clarke Quay – night view panorama

The last night – Clarke Quay

Finally, the mini holiday came to end end. This was an enticing sight at the airport, but it was one left to try on the next visit …..!

Tiger Den, Changi Airport (10.03.19)

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Besut, Perhentian Islands (09.02.19)

I’d been hoping to have a chance to fish the FADs located outside of the Perhentian Island protected marine reserve since my mate had an outstanding trip there the year before:

http://www.fishyology.com/2018/02/perhentian-island-terengganu-11-feb-2018.html

So it was with building excitement that I headed north-west out of  KL en-route to the state of Terengganu eith Noru (of fishyology.com). It was almost exactly a year since his previous, spectacular visit, and our expectations were high.

After arriving in the early hours of Saturday morning there was the chance to grab a few hours sleep at a local hotel in the town of Besut before getting up early and heading to the river to join our party. The plan was to start off jigging on some reefs before moving on to try out some of the numerous FADs dotting the waters on the edge of the marine reserve.

Besut & The Perhentian Islands

It started out well – I got a small grouper on my first jig drop …! And the other anglers were also connecting with a mixed bag of groupers, snappers and other reef species. But all small. We moved location a number of time in near perfect conditions – calm seas and a slight breeze. A perfect break in the east coat monsoonal weather: 

Early morning at The Perhentian Island 

However, as the day progressed it became evident that the large pelagics were not at home. We heard from one boat that we passed that there had been some tenggiri (Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel) at one of the FADs earlier but that the bite had gone off. We chased the FADs from mid morning to late afternoon with out any luck despite trying a variety of jigs, plugs and even soaking live-bait. Nothing was on except for one brief bit of excitement – as we arrived at on large FAD the angler next to me had his jigged grabbed almost as soon as it hit the water by a large bull dorado. The fish quickly ran under the boat and, before the angler could react, ran his line past the engine skeg and prop and promptly cut him off. It the proceeded to teases us, jumping repeatedly until it managed to spit the jig. And that was it for the day!

As the afternoon progressed, the wind picked up and the seas started to chop up. We passed close by the island to get a few pictures and then headed back to the dock – it had been disappointing fishing but we were treated to some spectacular views. Definitely a place worth a second visit. Thank you to Noru for organising this trip – we’ll have better luck next time.

Perhentian Islands pan

Pulau Perhentian Kecil

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.18) Perhentian Islands, Terengganu, Grouper | 1 Comment

Kepong Metropolitan Park Lake (13.01.19)

This was a rare opportunity for fish at Kepong Metropolitan Park Lake courtesy of Mahfudz – this lake is usually off-limits for fishing, but occasionally an angling club has permission to stage an event here. Fuz had managed to secure some places at the event and generously offered me a slot. Fuz was excited to visit this location but tempered his enthusiasm with a statement along the lines of “I’m not expecting to catch much but it will be a great place to try” …. or words to that effect. 

So, I set off just before dawn to make the short trip to from my house to the lake, with little anticipation. I was to be fishing with Fuz, and his friends Sabri and Liya. The main target was snakehead (toman), and Fuz was bringing live-baits (small catfish) together with pellets for carp.

I arrived early and walked down to survey the pond. I was impressed by the number of people arriving at the parking lot to walk and jog, often in family groups, around this superb location.

Kepong Metropolitan Park Lake pan

As I walked the banks in the dawn light I was impressed at the signs of fish activity – bait fish in the shallows and fish rises punctuating the glassy surface of the lake:

Dawn lake views with numerous fish rises

Anglers from the club were already arriving, in matching club fishing tops, armed with bait caster reels and surface buzz baits for snakehead (toman) – the prized quarry for the day.

Fuz and the gang arrived soon after and we set up camp on the small headland on the south-east side of the lake. Here we were sheltered from the sun by the trees, and commenced fishing in earnest.

Camp for the day

Its fair to say that it was extremely slow going. I started off lure fishing using a range of surface and diving lures that I knew worked on snakehead (from my previous forays to FV Semenyih) but to no avail (except snagging and losing my expensive 35g orange pintail lure ….). None of the Angling Club lure fishing experts were having any joy either. 

Eventually I joined Fuz and Sabri floating live-baits. Again, with no action. Meanwhile, Sabri was amusing himself catching lampam and small carps on pellets to supplement our stock of live-bait. The weather was perfect and the views out over the lake were pleasing on the eye:

Kepong Park Lake early-afternoon view

Then, just as it seemed like we were going to blank for the day, Fuz got the first hit on a lampam live bait. He didn’t manage to hook-up but brought in his bait with its side slashed open – a sure sign of toman attack. This provided the proof that we needed and spurred us into concentration and effort. It was still slow, and we had to fish the baits shallow (I managed to snag two live-baits and lost the float and terminal tackle) – the bottom was evidently rough and of varying depths. 

Fuz then got another hit, with the fish being on for a few seconds before fulling the hook. finally, it was my turn. I was fishing a lampam on a short wire trace only 25cm below the surface. Suddenly my float jerked under and a picked up my rod as my line came tight. I was fast to a big fish. My rod buckled over and my reel whined as the fish made a powerful run against a firm drag setting. I started regaining line but felt the line chaffing against structure. Then, suddenly I felt the line slacken. I took a couple more turns and then was snagged. I put the reel in free-spool but there was no sign of the fish still being hooked. I tried to jig my line free but with no joy. Then a guy from the angling club came to help – he put the line in tension and plucked at the braid and we gear came free to reveal a badly mangled and partially straightened hook:

The one that got away …

Damn, that was clearly a big toman – at the previous event here toman up to 12kg were caught. I was angry to lose this fish, which would have been a personal beast snakehead. Another painful angling lesson. Still it was good to actually have had some action. We fished on another hour or so until c.4.00pm without further event. 

It had been an interesting visit, and we definitely pick up some tips that we will use if we get the chance to fish here again.

 

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.17) Kepong Park Lake, Snakehead (Toman) | Leave a comment

Tokyo (26.12.18 – 04.01.19)

A family trip to spend the New Year in Tokyo plus a short ski trip to Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture.

Lads on Tour – the Shinkansen to Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture (27.12.18)

Liquor shop at Echigo Yuzawa station (27.12.18)

Heavy snow in Yuzawa (29.12.18)

Echigo Yuzawa Station – waiting for the train back to Tokyo (29.12.18)

Buddhist Cemetery, Adachi-Ku. Visiting past relatives (31.12.18)

Delicious New Year’s Eve food at Auntie Keiko’s (l) / Information sign (r)

Kids, cousins, nieces and nephews – New Year’s Eve at Keiko’s house (31.12.18)

Marishiten Tokudaiji Temple & Ameyoko Market, Ueno (02.01.19)

View towards the Sumida River from Hamarikyu Gardens (03.01.19)

Hamarikyu Gardens pan (03.01.19)

View from Tokyo Twin Parks Shiodome (03.01.19)

Posted in (4) Japan | Leave a comment

Natural Exotic Friday afternoon (30.11.18)

My first visit to the Natural Exotic at Behrang for quite some time. I’d been waiting on a repair to my 45 year old Abu Ambassadeur 7000, and it had finally been completed after sourcing a replacement part. The plan for this trip was to try to test the repair (to the drag system) on some big catfish. 

I was supposed to be meeting Fuz (of Reelyology Reel Workshop, https://www.facebook.com/reelyology/) who’d done the repair for me to see the reel in action. Unfortunately, Fuz had to pull out due to high workload at his shop. So it was just me and my friend’s son, Abdullah, who ventured out for an afternoon’s fishing. Once we arrived at the location, the plan was further thwarted by a lack of lampam live-baits – I wasn’t expecting to be able to cast very far with the set-up that I had but I wanted to free-line livies at the end of the central pier. In addition, there were a number of anglers already in the prime spots at the pier ….!

We decided to fish cut dead-baits (keli) together with larger prawns that I’d brought along (I described these as “Amazon Catfish candy” to Abdullah). Well, we started withing at a number of locations, but with very little action. Abdullah finally started getting a succession of tentative takes on the west side of the pier, finally hooking and landing the first fish of the day at c.5.30pm, an hour and a half after we started. And that was it until just after 7.30pm, almost the end of the session when we got a double hook-up, Abdullah taking a large Chao Phraya Catfish of c.15kg and me pulling in a smallish Amazon Redtail. We decided to fish on for an additional hour as the “bite” had started. It did indeed pick up but it was still slow and we finished off with an additional Amazon Redtail each, with Abdullah taking a fish probably approaching 20kg. 

Abdullah got to fight two big fish on his Nasci 4000 reel and gave the new carbontext drag washers a good burn. I will need to try again to test out my vintage Abu. Oh, and the prawn “candy” baits failed to garner even a single bite on this occasion ….!!

Abdullah’s Amazon Redtail Catfish ….

…. and big Chao Phraya Catfish

Amazon Redtail Catfish

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