I was chatting with Noru (of Fishyology Blog fame) about the potential of the Tiger 5 Saltwater Game Fishing place in Perak – he’d visited the previous year and had posted about the trip. I was impressed with the size and quantity of Groupers that his fishing group had caught. I was keen to give it a try as I like fighting big, stubborn fish!! No sooner had I expressed an interest, Noru went about organising a trip. No mean feat as the place is booked up in advance and requires a pre paid deposit of RM1000. They allow a maximum of 10 anglers and the total cost is RM2000, so to keep costs down per head you need to get a committed group of anglers. Then there is accommodation to book too! Anyway, Noru was good to the task and soon had us a date booked for Saturday 29th of November. The final group was to consist of 9 anglers – me, my son Ceri, Irshad and his son Abdullah travelled up late on the Friday afternoon. The second group, comprising Noru, Badrul, Eddie, Salihin and Doug were travelling up later and were to meet us at the Evergreen Garden Hotel in Ayer Tawar, close to Tiger 5.
We all met up for breakfast in a local Mamak place. Me, Irshad and our son’s had eaten there the night before – with the late hour and our limit Bahasa Melayu, we struggled to get decent food and came away hungry and disappointed. We certainly weren’t looking forward to breakfast!! However, the Malay boys sorted us out and we had a decent breakfast of various dishes including nasi goreng ayam, roti ikan sardine, roti canai, eggs, teh tarik and coffee to name some of the dishes. Once we finished we went to rendezvous with our guide, Hanson, and the proceeded in convoy to the fishing destination.
Tiger 5 currently comprises two fishing ponds – the larger, rectangular Pond 1 and the smaller, more irregular and snaggy Pond 2. Both ponds stock Giant (Queensland) Grouper, ranging in size up to 30kg …. together with Barramundi (Siakap) to at least 10kg.
We started out in Pond 1 – it was a beautiful clear morning but the sun was intense and the humidity high. Between us were fishing a variety of soft plastic lures and metal jigs. It was slow going, initially, but then Badrul hooked-up this first grouper which he unfortunately pulled the hook on after a brief fight. Noru followed next, hooking a good sized fish on a light rod and reel combo – this fish put up a dour struggle before eventually bringing a nice sized grouper to the bank:
Pic – Noru’s Grouper
Meanwhile, I was starting to wrack up a succession of strike, hooking up briefly or even for a few minutes but each time losing the unseen adversary – it was extremely frustrating and I began to curse the barbless hook that we had to use. The others were faring no matter, and the hours started to slip by. It was hot, the bite rate was dropping off and we still only had one fish landed between the nine of us! By about 2.30pm we were advised by Hanson to move to Pond 2, where, apparently the fish were less reticent!
When I first saw Pond 2 I was disappointed – it was small and narrow, and had a number of low hanging power lines and associated poles strung out along the middle of the pond. I could easily cast to the opposite bank but it was also easy to snag on the electric cables (which were adorned with a veritable lure graveyard of hanging soft plastics lures and assorted leaders and terminal tackle, with broken wisps of main line blowing in the wind ……). The fishing was also slow here, too.
After an hour or so, one of the pond workers started chumming the water with dead fish – the water was soon boiling and all one had to do was pull a soft plastic lure through the commotion or drop a lure into the frenzy. We were all soon enjoying repeat and multiple hook-ups with barramundi in the c.3 – 8 kg range.
Barramundi (Siakap) #1 (c.15lbs)
Ceri and Abdullah both scored their first ever Barramundi, both good sized specimens:
After a while, I switched from soft plastics to fishing dead-baits. It was a fish a drop, but all barramundi. I was fishing on the little wooden walk-way, and mentioned to Hanson about the lack of groupers .. “It’s strange that no groupers have shown up”. With that I hooked yet another fish, but this time there was no barramundi acrobatics, but a heavy and determined pull. I glanced over at Eddie – he was also hooked-up to a strong fish. It looked like we had a Giant Grouper double- header!
I managed to pass my rod around the electric cable pole as my fish made a determined run to the right. I then got myself off the narrow, rickety walkway to fight the fish from the bank. I then had to exert a lot of pressure to keep the fish away from snags and structure. Meanwhile, Eddie also looped his rod around the pole and was making his way to the ban with his fish too. After about 10 minutes, Eddie finally managed to subdue his fish, a Giant Grouper of c.20 kg. I soon followed suit, an brought a nicely condition grouper to the net. Hanson estimated this fish at 18 kg, or 40lbs for us UK oldies:
My first (& biggest) Grouper of the trip
After these two fish, and a few more barras, Hanson made the call to return back to Pond 1 (this was good customer service – Hanson wanted us to all get a shot at a grouper). When we reached Pond 1, big grouper could already be seen cruising along the banks. Ceri and Abdullah cast out soft plastic lures and were immediately rewarded with nice barramundi.
Then, one of the pond assistants arrived with a block of frozen bait fish. He put this in a new and then placed this inside a floating plastic box with latticed sides. The box was tethered to the bank with a rope. The big groupers started to get excited and began charging the box and swirling all around it. We immediately began working lures through the melee. Then Eddie came up with a novel technique – he started slapping a soft plastic lure on the surface and then let it sink. The groupers started slamming these lures on the drop. I followed his lead, and was soon getting hits using the “Eddie slap”.
Using this technique I soon hooked-up, and landed my second grouper of the day. I quickly followed up with a pulled hook before landing my third of the day. These fish were not as big as my first, and were around 10kg apiece.
By now it was non-stop action. Eddie picked up a couple of nice fish. One of which he unselfishly passed to Doug to fight. Noru was also in action again. Abdullah decided to switch to popper and was soon getting explosive top-water strikes.
Ceri, on the other had, was persisting with his “drift fishing” technique. This involved casting a soft plastic lure on a hook, with no weight and letting the lure flutter through the water column and drift on the current. He was soon rewarded by a second, hard fighting barra:
Ceri Griffin – Barramundi (Siakap) on soft plastic lyure
Next, it was Abdullah’s turn. He’d switched back to a soft plastic and hooked into a good grouper, which he successfully fought on light tackle and 15lb test line:
Whilst Abdullah was fighting his fish, I hooked another grouper close to the bank. This felt like a big fish that set off on a slow, but determined run that proved to be unstoppable. The fish ran me into the metal pipes at the entrance to the pond and that was it, game over. I tried pressure, I tried free lining to get it to swim out. But in the end had to break the fish off. That was one of the big ones!
This marked the last grouper of the trip. It was getting late, Hanson (of Tiger 5) had generously let us fish over our time limit, and storm clouds were gathering ominously overhead. I still wanted one more fish. I got one of the dead-baits that were now being thrown into the pond and had one last cast. Boom, the bait was taken immediately, but a surface jump revealed only a barramundi which I brought to the bank in super quick time to release. With that I retreated to the car before the storm hit.
A big thank you to Noru for organising this trip. I look forward to the next one in 2015.