This was my second visit of the season to the Sailfishing mecca of Kuala Rompin. This time my good friend Glenn Orr was visiting from Baku, Azerbaijan, and we’d planned to hit Rompin plus try for some Pacu at the Towfoo Pond. However, I was in the process of monitioring a difficult well being drilled on the Kikeh Field – the trip was only saved at the last minute when insurmountable drilling problems led to the well having to be sidetracked. Luckily, a boat was still available for the Sunday & I took a day of in-lieu of upcoming operations work for the Monday. The trip was on and we headed west on Saturday afternoon after spending the morning on a flying visit to Petaling Street doing the tourist circuit!
Day 1 – 15.08.10
We awoke slightly groggy after arriving at the Rompin River Chalets at 6.30pm and joining Anthony Sullivan (our fishing guide) for dinner and beers. We then headed out, stopping for live-bait at a FAD and then ran offshore to be greeted, in stark contrast to the first day of my previous trip in late May, by wheeling birds and breaching sailfish! We set-up our drift and Anthony started running the first live-bait out. After a minute, he turned to Glenn, with a glint in his eye, and said “are you ready for your first sailfish”. Glenn looked bewildered as Anthony engaged the drag & a c.30kg sailfish erupted from the sea. Glenn took the rod with shaking hands and proceeded to fight, and land, his first ever billfish! What a great start to the day!! After pictures, and reviving and releasing the first sail we reset our drift.
Glenn hooked-up to his first ever Sailfish
Glenn with his first Sailfish
I also decided to try out my new 12-30lb Pro-Tech IM-7 Titanium casting rod. I’d paired it with my old Penn 7500ss spinning reel spooled with 30lb braid. This proved to be a handsome pairing, and a good light-tackle set up. I kept the reel in free-spool but kept the line under my index finger to under light pressure to stop the bait swimming to far behind the boat. Suddenly, the line jerked from my finger and started streaming off the spool. After a pause, I flipped the bail-arm and tightened into a good sail. This fish put up a good fight on the light tackle and made repeated dives under the boat as I brought it in for leadering, pushing the light rod into an extreme arc. Suddenly, with most of the wind-on leader on the reel, the fish turned and the hook pulled – an IGFA legal release! This fish was soon followed by another for Glenn plus a garfish before the mid-afternoon lull set in.
Glenn & me with another decent Rompin Sailfish
After lunch, I busied myself casting poppers, plugs, spoons and jigs from the bow. Whilst doing this we slowly drifted towards surface commotion and bird activity. Glenn was free-spooling livies on the Pro-Tech. Suddenly the surface erupted and a decent fish broke the surface right in-front of me. It took a few seconds to register (for both Glenn and me), but Glenn had hooked into a decent sized (and out-of season) Dorado! Keep him in the water I shouted at Glenn as I quickly changed terminal tackle on my light (17-25lb) spinning rod, tying on (pre-prepared) a small circle hook on 50lb hook length. I ran to the stern, hooked a live-bait and casted it out, leaving the reel in free-spool. Within a 30 seconds I felt line pouring off the reel, flipped the bail-arm & set the hook on a nice Dorado, which gave me a good tussle on the light spinning gear. Glenn, meanwhile, boated the first fish. Before he could rig up a new bait, the bait still out under a balloon went off with Dorado number 3. With that, the school disappeared and the action stopped. We returned again to sailfishing, and finished the day with one more apiece, to finish a very satisfying first day. The day was capped off with a feast of fresh Dorado and french fries!!
A nice brace of dorado
Me & Glenn with a nicely coloured Sailfish
Final score for the day:
· 5 from 5 sailfish hook-ups
· 3 dorado
· 1 garfish
Day 2 – 16.08.10
We started day two trolling deep diving red/white plugs for tenngiri (kingfish). We had one strike, which didn’t hook up (I don’t seem to have much luck with the elusive kingfish), and, after an hour decided to resume with the sailfish fishing. Again, the sailfish grounds were active with lots of bird activity and lots of breaching sailfish. Glenn took the first of what was to become a steady stream of strikes & hook-ups throughout the day, including a couple of double hook-ups. I managed to christen my virgin Xzoga Takadum-Saltiga 4500 set-up, but not before pulling the hooks on three fish after extended fights – I was tying the circle hook, as usual, with a uni knot. Anthony suggested using a type of rappala knot, leaving the hook in a loop & more free to rotate and set on the hook-up. That seemed to have solved the problem and I finally landed one on the Takadum. As the day wore on, the ratchet on my Penn 320LD reel finally started to give in (for a long time there was a loose piece of metal in the left side of the reel, which I assume was a ratchet tooth) and becoming too loose to use, so we retired that set-up for the day.
Andrew Griffin with a c.40kg Sailfish
Me with yet another chunky Sailfish
Glenn was, by now, becoming very accustomed to striking and fighting sails. His preference was to use the casting rod in free-spool, feeling for strikes with his finger and then setting the hook like a pro after letting the fish run for a while. He finished the day with 5 sailfish and a garfish. My tally was 3 sailfish, but should have been more after losing a number of fish & missing one good take late in the day by setting the drag too early in the run! Infact, there were so many sailfish around, that at one point, 4 or 5 fish followed a popper in and then swam lazily under the boat, followed by 2 further fish swimming back under the boat a few minutes later. None of these fish attacked our baits that were swimming 30-40m off the stern!
Glenn Orr fighting a Sailfish on a light casting rod
Glenn with another nice Sailfish
Unfortunately, as Glenn had to fly out the next day, and I had to work, we couldn’t enjoy after fishing drinks on this occasion. After eating a meal of fresh squid and kerisi (a type of small red bream) we packed the car, showered and then set off for KL. We left around 8pm but had an easy drive back, reaching home just after midnight. It was a great trip – classic Rompin & 100% better than the slow fishing that I’d encountered just a few months back in May. I was glad that Glenn had experienced such great fishing and hope that he makes the return trip next year!!
Final scores for the day:
· 8 from11 sailfish hooked-up
· 1 garfish
13 Sailfish (C&R)
2 Garfish (C&R)