Kuala Rompin – September 2009

Hari Raya Sailfishing (19-20th September 2009)

Highway to Heaven (2)

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After waiting so long for my first Sailfishing trip of the season (see previous entry, Kuala Rompin – August 2009), the arrival of this trip was almost an anticlimax! I was taking the whole family for the first time – I was looking forward to seeing if my youngest son, Ceri, could handle his first big fish (Ceri had, finally, started to show some interest in fishing and seemed keen to try a sailfish …… or two!). We’d planned the trip for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri (end of Ramadhan celebration) long weekend. Unfortunately, traffic out of KL was expected to be bad – it’s traditional for Malays to spend Hari Raya in their home towns / villages (Kampongs) with their extended families. We had to wait for the boys to return from school & I was hoping to leave by 4 o’clock, but I expected the traffic to be bad.

We set off just after 4, and once again the Highway to Heaven (the new Lebuhraya Duke) provided a fast route out of KL. We did hit some traffic through the Genting Highlands, but, once we’d reached the Karak Highway toll road to Kuantan, we made good speed, despite hitting some bad rainstorms along the way. We didn’t stop, and reached the Kuala Rompin River Chalets (the Sailfishing dock and accommodation) at 8.30pm, a respectable 4 hours 15 minutes, just in time for cold beers and dinner!! I heard that people who left a little later took 7 hours to make the journey …………….!!

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After dinner, I set up my tackle and hit the sack for a well earned rest. We were set for a good weekend’s fishing – again as guests of Anthony Sullivan (Hook, Line & Sinker fishing Charter Company).

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Ceri Scores a Sailfish (Day 1 – 19.09.09)

Weather: Calm, overcast.

Water Temperature: ~28°C

This was the first ‘full’ family day fishing since our days in Oman some years ago. We started off in the usual fashion, searching for bait fish. We didn’t need to go to the fads however; we found bait and predator surface activity in a seemingly structureless sea. Mako, Siôn and Ceri set about jigging up baits on sabiki rigs. Mako was particularly adept (as she’d proved in Oman) at this task and we soon had a bait-well full of slimy mackerel, scad and red snapper type fish. And then we headed further offshore, hunting for sailfish.

We soon found circling groups of seabirds and occasional fleeting signs of sailfish. We set out the live-baits and waited. It was a little slow, except for the constant stream of bait-fish and meal sized snappers and bream that my wife was jigging up. We had two rods out & a casting rod armed with a Shimano Stella 16000 at the ready. Eventually, we got the first strike which made my Saltist 40A reel scream. I flipped the spool engage and felt saw a good fish explode on the surface. I passed the rod to my eldest son, Siôn (already an experienced fisherman in his own right) and watched as he calmly played Sailfish #1 to the boat, a fine c.40kg specimen (pic).

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 Siôn Griffin with Sailfish #1 c.40kg

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http://youtu.be/Rk8aWY1_JgY

 Siôn Griffin –  c.40kg Sailfish (Sailfish No.1 of the day)

We re-set two baits and awaited the next hit. It wasn’t long in coming. This time the Tallus-Tekota 700 combo got struck by a reasonable sized fish. This time, my youngest son Ceri (10 years old) took the rod after I hooked-up the fish. This was Ceri’s first big game-fish & we weren’t sure how he would handle it. We needn’t have worried, after some initial trepidation; he followed my instructions and soon got into a smooth pump-and-wind rhythm, and brought a respectable c.30kg fish to the boat in about 15 minutes. He was very, very happy (pic) – he’d caught a big sailfish about a year younger than his older brother’s first sail (very important in the competitive world of sibling rivalry)!!

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 Ceri Griffin’s first Sailfish!

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http://youtu.be/vEhJ8wx9mWY

 Ceri Griffin’s first Sailfish! – Video

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http://youtu.be/0cDdi5tn4wo

 Ceri Griffin’s first Sailfish! – Year 6 Challenge Version

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Meanwhile, Mako was still busily catching bottom fish.

We then went through a frustrating period where we managed to lose every fish that we hooked. Mako took over after the mate (we christened him “Shrek” – he was a gentle giant – see pic) hooked up on casting gear at the bow. Ceri, for some reason, after landing his first Sailfish, now decided he was an expert & “helped” Mako. I don’t know what he did, but minutes later, the fish was off!!

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 Siôn & “Shrek” with a good Todak

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The afternoon continued in the same vein, we hooked and lost 3 further fish (from 4 strikes) on free-lined live-baits on the casting setups and on the trolling rods. Anthony also enticed 4 half strikes on popper, but again without any serious hook-ups. The action was interspersed with the odd “Singapore Marlin” (Todak = garfish), both Ceri & Siôn landed on apiece, both good sized fish in the 3kg+ range.

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Meanwhile, Mako was still busily catching bottom fish …… (and, apparently, she doesn’t even like fishing ……!!). I thought we would need to operate to get the rod from her hands!! She must have hauled up 200+ fish during the day, including 2 squid. It was a sabiki jigging fest!!

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On our return to port, we feasted on fresh squid sashimi, fried squid, and a feed of red bream & snapper – although small, we had plenty, the meat was white and sweet. Delicious. Washed down, of course, with cold Tigers & Heinekens!!

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Hari Raya Sailfish (Day 2 – 20.08.09)

Weather: Calm, slightly overcast. Sunny in the pm

Water Temperature: ~28°C

Day 2 started of much the same as the previous day. We encountered surface activity about half an hour after leaving port and were soon making bait. At each bait stop I lobbed a live-bait out the back on my casting kit …. just in-case, as there was a lot of bird activity and the odd glimpse of a sailfish. We didn’t get our first strike, however, until we were further offshore amongst a loose gathering of c.5 boats.

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The first strike came at ~10.00am on our first drift. Mako was up for this one, so I passed her the rod and coached her through her first large game-fish – a reasonable sail of c.30kg. She fought it for about 20 minutes before it finally came in. She was sweating and a little surprised at how hard it was to bring in (I suspect that she thought it was going to be easier after seeing Ceri get his first the day before).

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http://youtu.be/fjRWbyz1btw

Mako with her first ever Sailfish (c.30kg) 

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Shortly after this, Shrek hooked-up a good sail at the bow casting a live-bait using a light spinning rod. I went to the bow to take-up the fight. This was a good fish, and it was tearing line of the small Penn fixed spool reel. The rod (Anthony’s, bought initially as a freshwater toman rod), was bent over in an extreme arc. After fighting the fish on my knees in the bow, I passed the rod back and moved to the stern. The fish was making repeated powerful runs, with sudden changes in direction, and was proving difficult to control on the light tackle. Eventually, though, I gained the upper hand and brought in a 40kg+ fish. What an experience! The day was shaping up well, with two from two.

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Andrew Griffin fighting a big Sailfish on spinning tackle ….. hard work!

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 Me and Anthony Sullivan with the big Sailfish (c.45kg)

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http://youtu.be/xbSiYPXpW1U

Big Sailfish on spinning tackle – Video

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Siôn was next on the rod rota, but, after some extremely bad behaviour against his brother, he forfeited his chance. Ceri stepped up to take the next fish, full of confidence from his previous days first Sailfish. This fish soon wiped the smile from his face and gave him a kick in the confidence. It was a beast of a fish and screamed off towards the horizon against a heavy drag setting. Ceri struggled to hold on as the fish put on a short aerial display before slugging it out below the surface. Ceri had to work hard to bring this fish in – I had to hold the base of the rod to stop it twisting in the gimbal. I also held the fighting belt & a safety line attached to the rod to prevent Ceri being accidently pulled over!!

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Finally, the fish tired and Ceri was able to regain line at a steady rhythm, eventually bringing in a c.45kg sail. Not bad for a 38kg boy! He was pretty tired as evidenced by his flushed red faced.  He announced that he was done for the day on Sails. As my wife had also opted out, that left the rest of the session open for me and Siôn to catch as many as we could (Siôn had had to grovel to Mum big time to get redemption for his previous bad behaviour)! It was lucky for him that he had grovelled, as the next fish was a beauty, another 40kg+ beast that Siôn calmly brought to the boat. 4 out of 4.

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Ceri’s monster – c.45kg Sailfish, 38kg boy! 

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http://youtu.be/D3YSB09mBK8

Ceri’s second Sailfish

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http://youtu.be/qd2Gjd4bNhc

Siôn with the 4th and probably largest fish of the day …… c.45kg

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Throughout all of this Sailfish activity, Mako was still busily catching bottom fish on the sabiki rod. Suddenly, the rod doubled over and almost instantaneously a Sailfish breached on the opposite side of the boat. Yep, a Sail had taken a baitfish on the sabiki rig. I took the rod from Mako but in the next instant the fish broke the terminal tackle and was gone!

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Now, I’ve mentioned that I’ve got a 35 year old Abu 7000 multiplier that I wanted to test on a Sailfish. With 4 good fish already captured, I decided to put out the light Lemax-Abu 7000 combo (20lb line) to see if we could put it to test. Barely 10 minutes later, the ratchet on the old reel screamed as a sail ran with the bait. I set the hook and commenced fighting a spirited sail. I was concerned about the drag on the Abu 7000 – it seemed to be very snatchy, and, when tightened and loaded up, it was. Very snatchy. I don’t know if it is because the reel is an old design, or because the reel is old and the drag has some binding issues. In any event, I had to land this fish. I backed off on the drag and used my thumb to control the fish’s runs. Fortunately, it wasn’t a big fish (c.30kg), & I was able to land it in 15 minutes. Very satisfying – my father spent a lot of money on this reel for me all those years ago, and since starting game-fishing in 2004 I’ve landed good sized Dorado, Longtail tuna and now a decent sail using this kit. I need to upgrade the drag & I’m sure I’ll get many more years of light tackle use out of it!

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Me & Siôn with nice Sailfish taken on the 35 year old Abu 7000 reel

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http://youtu.be/WgoZywlNpf8

Sailfish taken on the 35 year old Abu 7000 reel

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We finished the day with two further fish – Siôn made short work of an average sized fish and then I hooked and landed another decent fish touching the 40kg mark once again. Finally, I managed to miss the last strike of the day before we had to make our return to port. We finished the day with 7 sails from 7 hook-ups and 7 from 8 strikes. Not bad, and the complete opposite from the previous day. We also had one bait cut-in half  from a Mackerel (Tenggiri) that failed to even register on the free-spool (with ratchet) set-up!

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 Final fish of the day – another beautiful Sailfish

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We again enjoyed a nice dinner at the riverside dock of snapper and bream together with nasi goreng (fried rice) to mark the end of an enjoyable fishing session. My next trip to Rompin is planned for the first weekend in November, just before the start of the Monsoon. The fishing should be superb- I’m hoping for 10 or more fish per day during that session. Watch this space!!

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 The Rompin Marlin Statue!!

Trip Summary

Day 1

2 Sailfish – released

2 todak (garfish) – released

2 squid (kept for dinner!)

 

Day 2

7 Sailfish caught & released

This entry was posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.01) - Kuala Rompin, Sailfish. Bookmark the permalink.

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