I got a message from Noru early in the week – a boat was available for the coming Saturday. He couldn’t make the trip but wanted to know if I would like to take it. Now, my colleague Ben had been talking about trying fishing at Port Dickson for a while. I mentioned to him that I had a boat available and asked him if he was interested in a trip. After a quick call to she who must be obeyed for the obligatory permissions the trip was on. As it was Ben’s first trip to PD, and also his first real experience of this type of fishing I gave him a list of tackle that he would require – jigs, lure clips, etc and he duly visited Saber tackle to stock up on the necessaries in preparation for the trip. The tides were good for the coming trip but the real concern was the weather. A front was coming through on the Friday, with a lull before blowing up again in the afternoon. We were to be fishing in a small boat, c.7m long, so I watch the forecast anxiously as the fishing date approached.
We agreed to meet up at location at 8.00am on Saturday. We both arrived in good time, thanks to the wonders of Waze! I rigged up my two outfits whilst we waited for Captain Halim to arrive. Ben had two sets of rod and reels with him – a small iPass reel that had a very dodgy drag and slow retrieve ration, but fully spooled with c.15lb braid. His second reel was a Penn, a decent reel, but only half full of heavy braid. He did have a nice Shimano casting rod though, perfect for casting the size of jigs that we were going to be using. I was worried, though, that he would struggle with the light reel and may not be able to case far enough on the half-spooled Penn. We would have to see. The weather and sea state was also a concern – the sky was dark and ominous, with rain storms evident on the horizon; the sea was choppy with whitecaps visible on wave breaking on an offshore reef.
There we three boats fishing out of PD on this day, and we were late to the fishing grounds. The Captain was running a little late, plus this was the smallest of the three boats and we had to run slowly through the swell and chop. Once we arrived on location there was no sign of bird activity ….!! We proceeded to drop jigs to the sea-bed and commenced fishing. It was slow going and hard work in the rocking boat. However, after about 20 minutes the Captain spotted birds and we wound in our gear and headed off towards the action. This was right on cue, as the tide had started to ebb, with the resultant current getting the bait fish and predators moving.
As we approached the birds, I clipped on the trusted 30gm pink jig. Ben opted for a green & yellow pattern. We started casting into the feeding frenzy. On my third cast I got a strike that didn’t hook, and then followed this a couple of casts later with a good strike and was into my first queenfish of the session. The fish put on a great aerial display, disgorging anchovies each time it lept out of the water. After a few minutes I had the fish boatside for netting and, after a couple of quick pictures I released the fish back to the sea.
We carried on fishing this way – running after the birds, setting out drift and firing lures towards the action. I got another knock and a couple of follows. Ben watched how the lure looked on my retrieve and tried to mimic the action. He got a follow but was struggling with the small reel – it really wasn’t up to the job. He made the decision to switch to the Penn, and I was pleasantly surprised at the distance he was able to cast, given the under-filled spool. It was very satisfying when Ben got a good hook-up about half an hour after the first fish and was rewarded with his first queenfish:
As Ben brought the fish to the boat it may a wild leap and landed in the bow! The force of the jump partially straightened the 1/0 lure hook, which promptly fell out ….!!
As we continued the run & gun style fishing I began experimenting with different lures – different coloured jigs and different lure types. I had no luck on the white feather lures that worked so well on my previous visit here [see my previous blog entry: Port Dickson Queenfish – Cracking the Code (04.04.15) ]. I also had no luck on soft plastic squid lures rigged with a bullet lead. However, the 30gm blue jig was working and I was soon hooked -up again. Unfortunately I pulled the hook on this fish as it made a final dive close to the boat. A few minutes later I was hooked-up again and shortly thereafter landed into my second fish of the day, which I again release to fight again:
It wasn’t long before Ben was in action again, as he got his second queenie, another fish that fell to the green and yellow pattern:
Despite the choppy seas it had been a good start, with 4 fish landed and a few missed strikes in the first few hour of fishing. We then went into a lull and endured a few hours without a fish. We took the opportunity to try a range of lures, and got numerous follows on a variety of surface lures. Ben got things started when he took a pink popper from his bag, declaring that he never caught a fish on it, only for it to get struck almost immediately by a queenie that streaked at the lure from the side, but failed to hook-up on the inadequate trebles that the lure had come rigged with. Ben swapped the hooks for a single 1/0 tail stinger hook and got back to work. Meanwhile, I was giving my 27gm Jackson Pintails a try, and eventually got a solid hook-up on a light blue / pink under-belly colour, once again I pulled the hook as I worked the fish to the boat!
Ben continued to work his popper and was getting plenty of follows. He was finally rewarded with a good hook-up, evidently a different species, that turned out to be a todak (garfish) – the first that the Captain had see out of PD. Ben’s success on the popper prompted me to switch to surface lures. I got a bunch of follows and speculative knocks on white and pink/silver pencil lures. It seemed that the fish were interested in whatever we threw at them this session ….. except for the white feather lures that were so successful the previous month! “Cracking the Code” on this trip seemed to be just to keep working lures and trying a variety of patterns.
Whilst we continued to fish, the wind (as forecast) started to pick up and the seas began to build. We had a 1m swell plus chop with white caps and sea spray showering us as we chased surface feeding fish. We were, by now, also fishing right in the midst of the Strait of Malacca shipping lanes:
After a period of relative quiet, and with the seas building we started looking at the clock and thinking about calling it a day. We decided to have a few more drifts, but it was difficult to get in the right place relative to surface activity, especially with the wind affecting our drifts. After being frustrated unsuccessfully chasing fish, we’d just dropped jigs down to dry deep jigging when I saw a fish boil on the surface about 5m in-front of the bow. I immediately picked up my spare rod and cast the 30gm blue jig towards that direction, leaving my other rod against the gunwale, and started to retried. I got an instant strike and had a good fight with my third, and largest, fish of the session. Another nice queenie that I again released.
That fish marked the end of the session. The seas were building and the fishing getting harder. We’d had a great session, 5 queenfish and a garfish, three fish apiece. Another very satisfying PD fishing trip.
We agreed to head in early, and it was a wise decision as we had to run in very slowly in the heavy seas, but still got completely drenched with spray!