My second visit in consecutive weeks to Kuala Rompin. On this trip I was fishing with my mate Ben Urlwin from the office, together with KeithBoyer from Schlumberger and a newbie to blue water fishing, Nick Robins. We were all keen to fish for sailfish, but also to escape the extreme haze (mainly from slash and burn forest clearing in Indonesia) that had blighted life almost continuously in Kuala Lumpr over the past few months:
Day 1 (17.10.15)
After the customary Friday night beers at our fishing base at Rompin River Chalets, we awoke on Saturday morning to ……. the haze. Although not as bad as in KL, the air had the familiar acrid burnt wood smell and a smoggy consistency:
We headed offshore, where the smog was still present but better than onshore. After gathering live-bait, we were soon on the hunt for sailfish. Despite Aziz advising me that the fishing slow down that I’d experience the previous week had continued, I’d still bet Nick Robins RM100 that he would have at least one sailfish to his name by the end of day 1.
It was indeed slow going, and it took a while before we could find any signs of sailfish feeding activity, and it was sporadic at best. However, eventually we got our first strike in the late morning. Nick was first up, but, after a searing run and a few surface jumps, the fish threw the hook. I was still confident of winning the bet though ….!
Another hour past before we got another strike, this time the fish stayed buttoned and Nick fought his first ever sailfish to the boat:
Nick had his fish and I’d won the bet. After releasing his fish, Nick offered me the RM100, which I declined. It was just a way of expressing my absolute confidence in the sailfish fishing quality at Rompin!
Ben was up next and soon had a nice sail on board for a quick catch n’ release pic:
Following the slow early afternoon we moved a couple of km’s until we found more bird activity and signs of surface feeding sailfish. We dropped a couple more fish during a slow but steady afternoon session which also resulted in a decent sailfish for Kieth (unfortunately not recorded on camera). finally, with the afternoon session ebbing away, I finally got my first of the day after speculatively casting a live-bait and holding the rod with the reel in free spool, in anticipation of a strike. All the sailfish landed today were medium sized, in the 20-3o kg range:
Although the fishing had been slow, it had been a great day. Even the haze had started to clear:
Day one ended up with 1 fish each, 4 from 7 hook-ups landed.
Day 2 (18.10.15)
We awoke on day 2 to be met by the haze, it had returned with a vengeance, and it persisted even as we headed offshore:
We kept the fishing order as per the previous day. After an initial fruitless search for fish, we ended up in an area of fish traps marked by buoys. We eventually ended up a little quicker than the on Day 1 with a double hook-up, with both Nick and Ben in action again in the late morning.
Ben had to muscle his fish away from the buoy lines and marker float. After a short battle he had the fish on the leader when the leader broke (again at the loop knot), for an official release. Meanwhile Nick was battling a spirited fish, which put up a strong fight on light spinning gear and had him puffing and panting as he strained to bring the feisty sailfish to the boat:
This fish proved to be the biggest of the trip so far, over 30kg, and came to the boat still with good colouration, despite the hard fight:
Things were looking better than non the previous day, with 2 from 2 landed before noon. We followed this fish up with another just after lunch. I was next to the rod when it went off. The dekkie hooked up the fish and Keith motioned to me to take it, but I declined as it was his turn. It was the right decision as a juvenile sailfish of c.5kg breached the surface with a series of jumps. We really thought we were in for a better day.
It proved to be a false dawn though. for almost the rest of the afternoon we couldn’t buy a bite. We’d been taking the piss out of Keith for his baby sailfish. But as Keith remarked, a fish is a fish. And as the day wore on it was looking increasingly likely that we were going to end the day with only 3 fish. A very poor return for this time of year at Rompin.
As the session was drawing to a close we got the heads up that sailfish were feeding about 3 kms away. We quickly had lines up and followed up on the intel. I was, by now, despairing of catching a fish for the day. However, we arrived at the new location to a mini bird frenzy indicating active sailfish activity. Literally, on the last drift of the day I got my chance and was hooked-up to a decent sized sailfish on spinning tackle. After a short fight with a good aerial display, I had my first (& the last of the trip) fish of the day:
Fighting the last fish of the day and trip – a last gasp at the last minute ..!!
That fish marked the end of the session, with 4 from 4 hook-ups landed, one fish apiece. All that was left was for quick return to port, clean-up, pack, eat and then head back through the haze to KL.