Kuala Rompin – 29-31st May 2010
Finally, after 8 months, a saltwater game-fishing trip. Once again chasing Sailfish at Kuala Rompin, east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, courtesy of Anthony Sullivan (Hook, Line & Sinker fishing charters: http://www.hook-line-sinker.net).
Day 1 – 29.05.10)
Weather: Calm, sunny
Fishing reports had suggested that things were slow, and they were not wrong! This was my first ever day fishing out of Rompin without hooking a sailfish. In fact, we didn’t even see a sailfish, birds, or any signs of surface activity , at all …… nothing …. nada! What has happened to Rompin?? When we returned to dock, one other boat chasing sails had also blanked, but there were reports that the only other boat chasing billfish had scored 4 sails and one juvenile black marlin. What was annoying was that we’d been at the location where they fish were caught earlier in the day, but had moved on after an hour or so with no activity!! We planned to hit this spot again the next day. Other boats had gone for bottom fishing, and around 10 decent sized Cobia (up to c.10kg) were brought to the dock.
We finished the day with 1 (from 2) garfish and got bitten off by a (probably) tenggiri – my worst return to-date (and by far) for a day’s fishing out of Rompin. It was eerily reminiscent of some of my worst days of fishing off Muscat when the pelagics were not at home!! Still, after 8 months it felt great to be back on the water again, and we did enjoy a feast of small breams when we got back to the dock.
Day 2 – 30.05.10
Weather: Calm, turned choppy late pm. Overcast am, sunny pm
The second day started with a run out to the producing mark of the previous day. After catching live bait we set up the first drift. The location was near a rocky seabed reef, which was marked by an anchored-up fishing junk, which had no signs of life – it was like the Mary Celeste! The boat was rigged with lights, so presumably was waiting it out for the night shift, chasing squid, etc.
It felt a bit more “fishy” today – there was sporadic bird activity and it just felt better than Day 1. It was still slow, however, we did start getting subtle touches, presumably from garfish, which we didn’t connect to. We did get 4 takes which we attributed to sailfish, however, they were often finicky and half-hearted. We hooked up one fish, early in the afternoon, which my youngest son, Ceri, fought to the boat. Unfortunately, with the wind-on leader on the reel, the fish made a sudden turn and pulled the hook – so no pictures of the first sailfish of the trip!
My eldest son, Siôn, meanwhile, busied himself at the bow. We had two popping rods set-up – a 30lb Xzoga-Daiwa Saltiga set-up with a 50gm popper; and a light spinning rod paired with a Shimano Ultegra 6000 spooled with 15lb braid. The latter was used to spin with Rapala Magnum plugs, metal jigs and 30gm poppers trying for any tenggiri, barracuda, queenfish, etc that may be around.
Despite all the effort, it was still slow. We finished with 1 (from 4 takes) on sailfish and had around 10 touches and knocks, presumably from garfish, that didn’t connect. We also spend some time soaking baits near the bottom for cobia but couldn’t buy a bite (unlike a boat about 50m away, which brought in 4 or 5 fish during the same period). As the surface activity started to pick-up in the late afternoon, we were suddenly buffeted by a stiff breeze as a storm cell passed through, chopping the sea into whitecaps. we had to call it a day and run back to the dock a little earlier than usual. Still, we’d manage to catch an elusive sailfish. Back at the dock, the only other boat out chasing sails had skunked, so it was another exceptionally slow data for Rompin.
Day 3 – 31.05.10
We started the this third (& final) day of the trip with some trepidation – we decided to start off chasing cobia before switching to sailfish later in the session. We got to the cobia mark, and, although seeing cobia on the surface and marking several fish chasing bait (which was present in abundance), we had an unproductive 2 hours. finally, late morning, we decided to return to the previous day’s mark to hunt for sails.
When we reached the location, there was an immediate sense of improvement compared to the previous day, with a lot of bird activity in and around the location of the anchored fishing boat. We put out baits and made repeated drifts – it was slow at first with only garfish troubling the baits. After a couple of misses, we decided to hold in the most productive area by tying up to the anchored fishing vessel (as we did the previous day). The action started to increase – we finally hooked up a decent sized garfish that Ceri brought to the boat for pictures before releasing the fish. Siôn, meanwhile, was patiently working the popper from the bow. “I dream of having a fish follow the popper” he said to me. Shortly after, he spotted a large (?) garfish chasing the lure, and redoubled his efforts working the lure.
Finally, by mid afternoon, after missing a couple of sailfish strikes, I got a take as I was letting out a new live bait. I let the fish run under a lightly thumbed free-spool & then set the hook on a reasonable size, but very spirited sailfish. We cast off from the fishing boat and I fought the fish to the boat. After bringing this fish to the boat, we returned to drift fishing (another game-boat had taken our spot at the fishing vessel).
Andrew Griffin – Sail #1 on Day 3
As we drifted, the other boat scored a sail and cast off. We quickly returned to the boat and continued fishing, but, despite a few missed takes, and more trouble from garfish, it was slow. Finally, Anthony set the hook on a smallish fish that stayed deep – probably a cobia, unfortunately the hook pulled as Siôn worked the fish to the boat.. We decided to drift once again, and soon we had a number of Sailfish periodically breaching around the boat. I got a knock on a popper, and then a sailfish passed under the boat. This enthused Siôn, and he resumed working the popper, before finally becoming disillusioned. “The popper doesn’t work, I want to cast dead bait”, he told me. I said that we already had enough live-baits out the back & to resume with the popper to attract fish to the surface. To my surprise, he listened, and continued working the poppers. Suddenly, I heard the reel scream and turned to see Siôn hooked up to a smallish sailfish on the light spinning rod & 15lb line set-up. The sail made repeated jumps and then ran towards the fishing vessel – lots of snags there, ropes, hull, etc. I got the captain off our boat, Ah Ken (Shrek from our previous trip) to position our boat between the fish and the anchored fishing vessel to try to get the sailfish to change direction – it worked, and the sail headed into open water. Siôn, meanwhile, continued to fight the fish skilfully, maintaining as much pressure as he could on the 15lb line. After a scare, when the fish doubled back and went under the stern of the anchored fishing boat, Siôn finally managed to guide the c.20kg fish to the boat for some pictures before reviving and releasing the fish.
This fish had transformed the day, however, it was now late and time to finish for the day. We had about half an hour left, time for a couple more drifts. As we completed the last drift, we suddenly got a good strike on the starboard rod. I set the hook into a good sailfish the quickly stripped line from the reel on a long run. Ceri took the rod for a tug-o-war with a large fish. He was up to the task, working hard (with rivulets of sweat running down his face) to work a big fish to the boat. Anthony had to drop the leader on the first attempt as the fish made a strong surge before finally coming in. This was a great catch, a c.50kg fish, to finish the day off. The late afternoon had made the session and the trip – Rompin had finally produced a good 3 fish haul. We returned to the dock satisfied, to find that we were top boat for billfish this day.
Ceri Griffin fighting big Sailfish
Ceri’s c.50kg Sailfish
Final score for the day:
· 3 from 6 sails
· 1 cobia (?) lost
· 1 from 5 gar takes
4 Sailfish (C&R)
2 Garfish (C&R)