My second foray to Kuala Rompin in 2014. This was a repeat of last October’s trip, once again fishing with my son, Ceri, and my good friend Mr.K and his son Abdullah. We were to be guided on this trip by another good friend, Mr. Aziz Daud (of Hook, Line and Sinker fishing guides).
Day 1 – Big Sails, Cobia (11.10.14)
We were greeted on Day 1 with clear skies and calm seas, with just a gentle swell lapping across the South China Sea. We followed the usual Rompin routine – stop and a FAD to catch live-bait and then head further offshore to the prospective sailfish location for the day.
Bait was plentiful at the FAD and we soon had the live-well filled with small mackerel, scad and sardines. We then set off to Berhala Island to hunt the sailfish.
The first drift of the day produced a smallish, but spirited fish for Ceri:
We then had a run of bad luck, missing or dropping 4 fish on the trot, before Abdullah was hooked-up to a good sized Sailfish which he duly landed for the biggest fish of the day:
It was my turn next as I picked-up the rod after a good hit on one of the balloon baits and set the hook on a smallish, but spirited Sailfish. This fish had an abnormally short bill:
It was Mr.K’s turn next, another rdecent fish that unfortunately got tail-wrapped. But it revived ok and was soon sent on it’s way:
It was now approaching the mid-afternoon lull. We’d been picking up fish at a steady pace throughout the morning and now Ceri got his first post-lunch fish. This was another good sized fish, and we got some excellent under-water video footage on the GoPro:
We now enter the mid-afternoon slow period. The teens were getting restless and getting overly excited and smack-talking about beating us (the adults) in some ficticious fishing competition that they were fntasising about (ok, I may have baited them a little bit and fired up their competitive teen spirits ….!!). Anyway, I’d cast a livey out on my Shimano Baitrunner 6000D, but I couldn’t get the bait to settle from the minute it hit the water – it kept taking line off the light bait-runner setting. I realised that it must be something else on the line and engaged the main drag. I felt a heavy, ponderous pull on the line. It made a few short, slow runs but came to the surface relatively easy. I knew it wasn’t a sailfish, but was quite surprised to see a large cobia breach the surface (given the relatively weak fight):
This was only my second ever cobia, the previous one coming at Rompin six years before (that one didn’t put up much of a fight, either ..!!). I was pleased to get an “exotic”, and we now had a nice fish for dinner. Oh, and I think that that put the “adult” team in the lead in the battle versus the teens.
Whilst we were in the throws of landing and dispatching the cobia, the afternoon exploded into life as another sailfish took one of the balloon baits drifting off the stern. Abdullah took the rod and landed another nice sailfish, again caught on video camera:
Mr.K took the next, fish, the 7th and last of the day:
Mr.K with the last Sailfish (no.7) of the session
It had been a good first day, with seven sailfish and a cobia landed. The judge (me) ruled that, with 4 fish each, the “adults” team won because 3 sailfish and a cobia beat 4 sailfish because of the relative rarity of a cobia catch. The teen team accepted the result graciously.
Day 2 – Berhala Island, Baby Sails (12.10.14)
The plan for day 2 was to head close to Berhala Island to try popping and live-baiting for some different species – maybe a few large Talang Queenfish, a GT or even a Great Barracuda, all species know to inhabit the waters around the island.
We arrived at the island and immediately set up a drift between the main island and a small rocky outcrop, and area also scattered with buoys marking fish traps. Aziz had first cast and a large fin broke surface and a fish swirled behind his popper. “Right”, I thought, “the fish are at home, this should be a frenzy”. Despite the early interest, and at least two people constantly popping plus drifting live-baits for the next two hours, it was slow. We got two more strikes on the poppers, but unfortunately nothing hooked-up.
Abdullah, meanwhile, had been struck with the fisherman’s curse – he managed to break off two lures in quick succession as he tried his luck with light spinning tackle. He was rewarded a little later with a garfish:
It became clear that the Island was not going to give us much joy. We made a collective decision to head back offshore and look for sailfish. I was approaching 1.00pm by the time we located bird activity and signs of surface sailfish activity. We set-up a drift and waited, whilst we took the opportunity to eat our lunch.
I saw some splashed at the surface and went to the bow and started popping. I soon enticed a small sailfish towards the boat and it suddenly came up on the popper from below, right next tot he boat. I was hooked-up, but only for a second. Anthony had already told me that there had been an early spawn this year, and large numbers of baby sailfish were around, and it looked like we’d found them!
The sight of a sailfish chasing the popper got Ceri and Abdullah excited (infact they were shaking), and they started to work hard with the popper, taking it in turns to have 15 minute sessions on the rod. They were soon raising fish and bringing them near to the boat. whilst they wer edoing this, I rigged up a medium spinning rod (10-25lbs, paired with a Shimano Biomaster 5000w and 20lb line) with a 50lb leader and a small circle hook and pinned on a small live-bait. The next time that they got a sailfish to the boat, I flicked out the bait and boom!, got an instant hook-up from a baby sailfish:
For the next 2.5 hours we had a mini frenzy of baby sailfish, landing a total of 9 fish (and dropping a few more), almost all on light spinning tackle. These fish were small, ranging from maybe 3 to c.8kg, but they were feisty and aggressive, typical teenagers ….!! But they were fun to catch on light gear. I particularly enjoyed throwing a live-bait at them and waiting, rod in hand, with the bail arm open ready for a take. We all got a slice of the action, I got 3 fish and the others got 2 apiece each:
Juvenile Sailfish – 9th and last of the day
It was, once again, another fantastic trip to Rompin. The only downside was the late Sunday evening white-knuckle drive home in the rain and crazy weekend return traffic. Next time I’m going to return on the Monday morning!
Day 1: 7 Sailfish (C&R), 1 Cobia.
Day 2: 9 Sailfish (C&R)