Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. This trip was supposed to be me, my son Ceri and my friends from work, Irshad, Gareth and Ben. Unfortunately, Well Operations conspired to take both Gareth and Ben out of contention for the fishing trip – and that handed a silver lining to Irshad’s son, Abdullah, a recent convert to fishing (see previous post). Now, both Irshad and Abdullah were both on their first ever saltwater fishing trip AND their first ever Sailfish fishing expedition! To add to this, I was also using my new Shimano Baitrunner 6000D and Twin Power SW8000HG. So, we had a number of Sailfish fishing virgins to blood on this trip…..!
Day 1 (26.10.13)
The day dawned with a cool (by Malaysian standards) breeze and overcast skies – the autumn monsoon was almost upon us. As we headed offshore seas were calm, but with a long swell that Anthony described the monsoon swell. We stopped to gather live-bait, which was quick and efficient, and then headed NE to Berhala Island. I’d seen a number of decent tenggiri brought in the when we arrived the previous evening and I was keen to try and catch one, so we started off trolling. But after 15 minutes, and with every boat around us hooked-up to sailfish, I felt guilty about my indulgence so decided to stop and go for Sails – Abdullah, in particular, was keen to catch his first Sailfish. Despite the limited bird activity, the sailfish were in a voracious feeding mood – so I’ll summarise the key points of the day, and then let the pictures and videos tell the story:
The first live-bait off the stern was immediately taken by a Sailfish and was well fought by Abdullah:
Abdullah’s first ever Sailfish
At the same time I cast a live-bait from the bow at a group of prowling Sails. I was using my new Baitrunner 6000D and had an immediate take. The bait runner feature was excellent. The fish made a strong first run, stripping off half of my 20lb braid, c.150m. I got a couple of strokes with the rod before it suddenly made an insane second run and basically spooled me. We couldn’t chase and follow the fish as Abdullah was still fighting out the back. As I got into the 30lb mono backing I was palming the spool to try to slow the fish but, just as we released the fish at the back and fired up the engines to give chase I broke the fish off with c.1om of mono left on a very hot, bare spool….! Damn!
On the next drift we got another hook-up, and Irshad fought and landed his first Sailfish:
And that was the pattern for the day. We got consistent hook-ups (and often double-hook ups) throughout the day, with the exception of the customary mid-afternoon (an early, lunch-time) lull. It was fast, furious and, at time, frenetic! It was incredible fishing. Abdullah soon got his second fish, and a chance for the customary “holding the fish” photo (denied on his first fish as we were trying to stop the fish that was in the process of taking all my line).
We got a close call with a double hook up. As Ceri brought his fish to the boat, it made a series of repeated jumps, slashing the air with its bill. On reflex, I jumped back as it launched out vertically a few centimetres in front of me. Abdullah didn’t flinch, however, when it jumped again. The video footage shows how close the bill came to making contact with him:
Abdulllah & Ceri’s double. Note the near miss with the Sailfish jumping boat-side
We opted to release the majority of the fish in the water, taking pictures at the boat:
Ceri Griffin – Sailfish in-water release
Whilst I was fighting my third Sailfish of the day, Ceri managed to hook-up at the bow on the Saltiga Z4500 outfit, giving us another memorable double:
One interesting aspect of the day’s fishing was that we got 3 or 4 fish either tail hooked or tail-wrapped. The tail hooked fish put up ferocious fights, with extremely long and powerful runs, and needed some careful reviving prior to release. On reflection, I think that the fish that spooled me might have been another tail hooked beast.
Ceri’s Tail hooked Sailfish
Whilst we were getting a lot of action from the live-baits off the stern, after getting spooled on my Baitrunner 6000D / ProTech Titanium 12-30lb set-up, I changed my light popping rod (ProTech Titanium / Saltiga Z4500) to live-bait casting. I managed to catch a couple of fish at the bow casting and free-lining live baits, including one fish just after Irshad also hooked-up at the stern. We had a frenetic few minutes as the fish jumped and almost tangled our lines:
Me and Irshad – double Sailfish frenzy
On the other hand, the popping action was slow. Despite getting a number of follows, often by two or three Sailfish at once, I only had one fish strike, half heartedly, at the lure with its bill. And no take at all, which was a surprise given the action on the live-baits.
I wrapped up the day with fish no.17, and, with a long run back to the dock from Berhala Island we finished fishing at about 4.15pm.
Unfortunately, the hard work and fresh air took its toll on the teenagers……! Too many video games and not enough exercise, I suspect!
The finally tally for the day was 17 sails landed from c.20 hook-ups, not bad in only about 5 hours actual fishing. The catch split was as follows:
- Adullah – 4
- Irshad – 4
- Ceri – 5
- Andrew – 4
All fish were revived and released, with the exception of one fish that was tail-wrapped and came to the boat dead. This was the first time that I’d seen this in 7 years of fishing at Rompin.
Day 2 (27.10.13)
When we returned to the dock at the end of Day 1, another good catch of Tenggiri (Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel), in the 8-10 kg size range, were brought to the dock. Given that the Tenggiri were obviously around, and because we’d already caught so many sails the previous day, we decided to spend the morning trolling for tenggiri at a location marked by fish traps not too far from Berhala Island. We would then go for more Sailfish in the afternoon.
We hit the area with fish traps and trolled unproductively for c.2 hrs. The weather was starting to worsen, with a slight chop to go with the swell, and the wind was a bit breezier. Despite getting no stikes trolling, Sailfish were evident and were occasionally seen breaking the surface chasing bait fish. After two hours we headed in the direction of Pulau Berhala, arriving at a FAD to troll again, for c. 30 minutes before stopping to stock-up with live-bait. We then spent the afternoon drifting live-bait for Sailfish.
Now, if we could do no wrong yesterday, today we could do (almost) nothing right….! It started off ok – I’d switched my Twin Power SW 8000HG – Takadum popping outfit to live-bait casting. First cast from the bow and I hooked up a decent Sailfish to get the afternoon session off to a good start, and to get a first fish on the new reel (another virgin broken in ….!).
However, after that things started going wrong. First we pulled the hooks on consecutive hook-ups. I had mentioned to Irshad on the run out that, given the intense fishing of the previous day, I should have replaced my 65lb mono wind-on leaders (we always check / replace the 80lb hook-lengths, however, after every fish). Well, sure enough, we then broke the next fish off at the leader knot……! Added to this were a number of missed strikes and a couple of broken hook-lengths, and it was getting well into the afternoon before we picked up another fish and slowly started to build up the numbers.
Next we got a good hook-up. Abdulllah was up and unfortunately pulled the hook. This was followed in quick succession by another good fish. This fish, however, was a beast. It set off on a scorching run that didn’t seem to end. It had soon dumped 350m+ of 40lb braid off my Shimano Tekota 700 against heavy drag. It only briefly broke surface and there was some speculation that it might be a marlin. For the first time ever it was almost into the mono backing. Captain Ah Ping fired up the engines and we backed up on the fish, Abdullah starting to regain line. It then screamed off again. After another short respite, it set off on another powerful run. By now, Abdullah was struggling and starting to lose his grip on the rod. Ceri took over for the latter part of the battle. And then it was revealed – a decent sailfish, but foul hooked in the tail…. what’s going on this weekend? I’ve never had a foul hooked sailfish until this season, and this weekend we got so many foul hooked fish?!
Abdullah & Ceri in an extreme Sailfish fight
We finished off the day with 5 sailfish from c.13 hook-ups. A respectable number of fish caught, but a poor return on the number of strikes and hook-ups. And definitely no comparison to the previous days madness.
- Abdullah got his first ever Sailfish (and 3 more).
- Irshad caught his first ever sailfish (plus 5 more).
- I took 5, Ceri got 7.
- I broke in my Twin Power SW8000HD and, although not landing the fish, gave my Baitrunner 6000D a good drag burn!
- All-in-all, a very successful trip. I’m looking forward to next season!