NEFFP – Chao Phraya Catfish bite #3 (20.10.17)

Me and Noru hit the Natural Exotic at Behrang to target Chao Phraya Catfish. There was a Chao Catfish bite going on (again), but unfortunately not for us ……

I arrived just before Noru, at 3.40pm,  to the sight of a local angler in my preferred spot already hooked-up to a large Chao Phraya Catfish. I quickly rigged up, bought my ticket and some freshly butchered keli bait and started fishing as close as I could to my spot. Noru arrived a few minutes later just as the other anglers moved position towards the end of the fishing pier. We took the opportunity to move further up the pier to my favourite location.

It started off slow ….. very slow. The angler to our left got a good strike (on chicken guts bait) and brought in another Chao Cat. At the same time I got a hit on a large keli head bait. I set the hook and the fish ran powerfully to the right, before turning and pulling the hook. It was almost certainly a Chao Catfish. And that was it for the next 3 hours …..!! 

The angler fishing chicken guts had a succession of mainly Amazon Catfish from the end of the pier and to our left. He also landed at least one further Chao Cat. In-fact, he was about the only person catching, actually virtually the only person getting strikes.

Noru finally lost his patience and, with around an hour left of the session, moved to the end of the pier to try for Amazon Catfish. He had one good hook-up that broke him off under the aerator paddles and another break off. But it was slow going. I spent ten minutes soaking a bait their too, trying to avoid what was looking to be an inevitable skunk before moving back to my original position.

Then it happened, as darkness fell and with 20 minutes left on the clock ….. my rod tip twitched violently. I picked up the rod and flipped the reel into free spool. Line began paying out. I gave it a few seconds before engaging the bail and setting the hook on a good sized fish. 5 minutes later a tell-tale sickle dorsal fin broke the surface and I had a Chao Phraya Catfish in the net and on the bank:

Chao Phraya Catfish landed

Chao Phraya Catfish c.15 kg

This was a nice sized fish of c.15kg, and I was grateful with this catch to save the session. I pinned on another keli head bait and cast out again, whilst I started packing up my gear and breaking down my second rod.

Then, with 5 minutes left my rod buckled over under an aggressive strike from another good sized fish. I picked up and struggled to subdue the beast …. it ran left towards the aerator paddles and I could feel my line chaffing on some unseen underwater structure. The rod then suddenly sprang up and I thought I’d lost the fish but as I wound down it was still on. A few minutes later the fish was ready for netting – a fat Amazon Redtail Catfish again knocking on c.15kg that had given a good account of itself. My leader was badly chaffed – the sudden release of pressure that I’d felt earlier must have been the line pulling free from the snag.

Amazon Redtail Catfish, c.15 kg

These last gasp fish saved my day. Noru (who’s now working close by this location) vowed to return mid-week to have another crack at the Caho Phraya Cats …!!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | 2 Comments

Japan (7-17th October 2017)

My second visit of the year to the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. AS usual, I’ll try an incorporate some references to fish and fishing in the following picture travelogue, starting off with a visit to Sushi Zanmai in Shinbashi for a sushi dinner:

Sushi Zanmai, Shinbashi

Whilst strolling around Shimbashi in the early evening, we happened across this bar/restaurant with some interesting deep-sea fish species on the menu:

Deep sea delicacies ….


On the second day of my visit the fishy theme continued with an early afternoon stroll around Tsukiji fish market:

Tsukiji Market – Dried salmon (l)/ Grilled tuna street food (r)

Old Tsukiji market building

Tsukiji -ji (r) / Tsukiji Hongan-ji  Buddhist Temple (r)

And fish were the subject yet again,later in the day,  with a visit to Tokyo Sea Life Park, where the main attraction was the large bluefin tuna aquarium. Bluefin Tuna (Hon Maguro), is revered in Japan and intimately woven into it’s food and culture:

Bluefin Tuna cuddly toy (almost as expensive as the real thing at c.£200)

A display at the entrance gives the visitor a sense of the size that Bluefin Tuna can attain (although the scale is a little off unless I’ve grown over the past few months …):

Bluefin Tuna size comparison chart

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Inside there were a number of attractions, including exhibits of sea-life from shallow and deep marine environments, and a number of climatic zones:

Queensland Grouper

Hammerhead Shark

But despite the attractions on offer, the centre-piece was the tank full of giant Bluefin Tuna, swimming majestically (if too fast to adequately photograph) around the large aquarium:

Hon Maguro

The following picture gives an idea of the scale of the aquarium and the Bluefin Tuna inside:

Bluefin Tuna with people for scale

And the video show’s them at their majestic best, swimming effortlessly with barely a flick of the tail:

Shiodome and Shimbashi

The Shiodome and Shimbashi areas where I stayed have some interesting modern architecture:

Dentsu (“Knife-edge”) Building – by day and by night

Kyodo (l) & Dentsu Buildings (r) – Shiodome

Shimbashi Station

Tokyo Tower at night – view from Shiodome

Odaiba (11.10.17)

Odaiba is s a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo and near to my wife’s apartment in Shiodome. The island is home to shopping and entertainment complexes, and is a popular tourist attraction.

Fuji TV Building

Rainbow Bridge

We had dinner at a steak restaurant at Diver City where I encountered this interesting White Shark mural:

White Shark, Diver City

We finished the day with a visit to Joypolis amusement park also situated in Odaiba:


We used to bring the kids here whenever they visited Japan, usually every summer. We’re still not too old to enjoy its delights ….

Joypolis entry tickets

Although photo’s are not allowed, we did manage to get a few snaps of out computerised images:

Pixellated selfies


As usual, the quality of the food was outstanding. For dinner on this day we chanced across the “Amazing Wagyu” whilst exploring Ginza:

Wagyu beef ready for the grill

Roppongi (13.10.17)

I made a late evening visit to Roppongi with my son as he wanted to take some photographs of the area:

Roppongi night scene

After getting hassled by foreign touts trying to get us to go into strip bars (I’ve heard that it’s a scam and once inside you will be menaced into buying extortionately priced drinks or get robbed … or both – I’m not sure why the police and authorities tolerate this, I’ve certainly not experience it before in Japan) we decided to move on. We came to the Roppongi Hills area, which provided us with good views and photo opportunities:

Bronze Spider Sculpture at Roku Roku Plaza

Roppongi Hills views

Benkei Fishing Club – Akasaka

Surprisingly, we even manage to get in a fishing trip. My wife found this place on the web, and it was only a few subway stops away from where we were staying. We visited first to do a recce and then returned a few days later to try our hand at spinning for large mouth bass.

Benkei Fishing Club Boat House

The lake is part of the Benkei Moat which was formerly a part of second circular moat to Castle Edo ..!! 

Interestingly, the road adjacent to the lake acts as an emergency road in the even of a major earthquake. The sign signalling this road bears the image of a catfish – it was once believed that a giant catfish, the Namazu, lived in the mud under Japan. The Namazu was thought to cause earthquakes when it thrashes about trying to escape its guardian, the god Kashima …!

Earthquake information sign

We spend an enjoyable few hours rowing around the lake casting soft plastics, but without success. It was very odd to be in the middle of the city but in such a pleasant natural environment:

Benkei Moat lake, Akasaka, Tokyo

Kamakura (15.10.17)

Once again another later start to the day saw us taking the train from Tokyo to Kamakura around 1.30pm. We didn’t help ourselves by taking the wrong train ….! Still, we got to the picturesque city of Kamakura around 3.00pm, just in time to see a couple of it’s many wondrous ancient sites.

I’ve visited Kamakura only once before, way back in the summer of 1991. On my previous visit, I don’t recall seeing the tsunami warning signs with height above sea level information and I suspect these are new since the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Interestingly, I remember being overawed by the main attraction of Kamakura, the bronze cast Daibutsu (the Giant Buddah) statue, and reading that it wa s once housed in a temple that was washed away by a tsunami in 1498 A.D. …… and the statue itself is situated about 16m above present day sea-level:

Tsunami warning signs & Kamakura Daibutsu

The Great Buddah – Entry tickets

The Great Buddah itself is awe inspiring and still in remarkable condition, considering it was constructed in 1252 and has survived a number of storms, tsunamis and earthquakes, including The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 ….!

Daibutsu resides within the Kōtoku-in Buddhist temple complex, and is a regal figure at 13.35m in height:

The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)

An information plaque gives the key dimensions and history of the statue:

Daibutsu information plaque

The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)

Despite our late arrival and the dreary rain, we managed to squeeze in one more attraction, the Hasedera temple:

Hasedera Temple – entry tickets

Hasedera Temple is another of Kamakura’s Buddhist Temples, this one possible dating back as far as 729 A.D. It is famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). Key information is given in selected pages from the temple information pamphlet:

Hasedera Temple – information pamphlet

Hasedera Temple – entrance

Kannon-do Hall

I found this warning sign interesting – Red Kites are making a come-back in many places in the UK, and used to be a common sight over Elizabethan London where they fed on carrion and rubbish in the city. It’s interesting to see that they’ve adapted to the presence of man here too, stealing food from the hands of unsuspecting tourists …

Kite warning sign

Stone Lanterns

Jizō statues

Midori Sushi (16.10.17)

And what better way to finish off a pleasant visit to Japan than to enjoy the delicious fare on offer at Midori Sushi restaurant in Ginza:

Chūtoro sushi and Asahi beer

This was our son Siôn’s first visit to this restaurant (one of me and the wife’s favourites). Guess which beer was his ….

Assorted sushi – Ebi, Shake, Maguro

Chūtoro, ōtoro, sake and clam

We mostly feasted on chūtoro (medium fatty bluefin tuna)  ōtoro (fatty tuna), ebi (butterfly style cooked shrimp) and sake (salmon), but we also enjoyed ika (squid) and hotate (scallop).

Otoro Sushi

Oishikatta ….!

Departure 17.10.17

And that was the end of my holiday. One last delightful memory of Japan – I had an excellent meal in JAL economy washed down with an ample supply of red wine and Asahi beer whilst I enjoyed a string of unexpectedly good films. One of the most pleasant flights that I can remember …

I had the menu by Yukino Katrura. Delicious!

Posted in (4) Japan | Leave a comment

NEFFP – Chao Phraya Catfish bite #2 (10.09.17)

Back, for the third time in as many weeks ….! The target for this trip was firmly set on Chao Phraya Catfish. I wanted to see if the previous weeks success was just a lucky one-off or if we could replicate it using the same approach and tactics. No messing around with pelllet mix this trip – it was purely carnivorous catfish fishing with big chunks of fresh dead-bait! Once again we arrived, mid-afternoon and planned to fish until dusk.

I kicked things off with the first strike, and was onto a good fish barely 15 minutes into the session, and I suspected a Chao Phraya Cat. But, I’d lazily tied on a hook-length that I had in my tackle box from the previous session. A few minutes into the fight I felt the line go slack and reeled in to find that the 50lb hook-length section had broken at the swivel (an unusual place to fail) – I suspected it was one of Siôn’s knots (we fish 40lb wind-on leader and a 50lb hook-length – Siôn has been tying his own knots, for the most part well, but had a similar failure the previous week). But I cursed myself for not retying a new section of terminal tackle …!

It was Siôn’s turn next as he brought in the first fish of the day. From the fight it was evident that this wasn’t a Chao Cat, the power and stamina just wasn’t there and he soon had the fish under control and on the bank:

First fish of the session – Amazon Redtail Catfish

It was slow for the next half an hour until Siôn got another big hit. This time it felt like the target species – powerful runs and dogged determination. After a lengthy fight the fish was ready for netting, the first Chao Phraya Catfish of the session:

Chao Phraya Catfish #1

Barely 10 minutes later we were in action again. This time it was my turn to coax and bully another fat Chao Cat to the net:

Fighting Chao Phraya Catfish #2

Ready for netting

Chao Phraya Catfish #2

The action was now steady and consistent. I was soon hooked up again, this time to an obviously smaller and less powerful fish, an Asian Redtail:

Asian Redtail Catfish #1

In-between hook-ups we were also missing a number of fish that we failed to hook-up before Sion set the hook on another powerful fish. After an arduous fight he brought in the biggest Chao Phraya Catfish of the day, another fish estimated to be near the 20kg mark:

Chao Phraya Catfish #3

We then entered a brief period of hiatus – no bites for us and not much action for the adjacent anglers. Then, it was as if a switch had been turned on and the was a sudden flurry of activity. First I hooked-up Chao Cat number 4, another good-sized fish, that pulled my boga scales well past the 30lb limit. After estimating the weight and subtracting 7lb for the net, this fish was around 17kg:

Chao Phraya Catfish #4

In quick succession I added two more Asian Redtail Catfish to my tally:

Asian Redtail Catfish #2

Asian Redtail Catfish #3

I then hooked another Caho Cat and was sledging my son about being top angler when, just after the fish breached to reveal itself, I pulled the hook …. instant karma. We then entered another, more prolonged drought – the bite just switched off.

After almost an hour without a fish we were contemplating packing up early and returning home before the weekend return traffic to KL built up when Siôn got another big strike. Whilst he was fighting this fish, and as I was on stand-by with the camera, my rod buckled and the drag screamed as another good fish took the bait. I had to dash back to my rod and take on the fight. This was a powerful fish and I was convinced that we were onto a double Chao Phraya Catfish hook-up. But my fish, despite making a number of runs and putting up determined resistance, was subdued quicker than Siôn’s fish, and I had it to the net just before he landed his fish, a fat Amazon Cat of about 15 kg:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

Siôn’s fish was on the bank – he took a quick photo for me before rushing back to take some pictures of his own catch. I quickly released my fish an returned the favour to Siôn, taking a couple of shots before it was released:

Chao Phraya Catfish #5

After releasing these fish we were just at the end of our time. We quickly packed up and headed off back to KL. It had been a good session – we’d achieved our aim of catching good numbers of Chao Phraya Catfish. The final tally was:

  • 5 Chao Phraya Catfish (to 17 kg)
  • 3 Asian Redtail Catfish 
  • 2 Amazon Redtail Catfish (to 15 kg)
Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Asian Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | Leave a comment

NEFFP – Chao Phraya Catfish bite #1 (03.09.17)

Flushed with success after my Siamese Carp the previous week, and keen to experiment and learn how to effectively mix pellet/ground-bait and flavourings, I made a return visit to the Natural Exotic on Sunday afternoon to fish with my son Siôn. I was hoping for a quiet pond and the chance to catch a Mekong Catfish or possibly another carp. My son on the other hand was going to fish cut dead-baits for the carniverous catfish that are the main residents at this venue.

My plan was to soak a dead-bait whilst I attempted to prepare a satisfactory pellet mix (I had to get the water-pellet hydration mix correct so that the bait would be soft enough to mould onto the hook and the feeder spring, but not too sot that if wouldn’t withstand the force of casting and hitting the water …. a delicate balance indeed). I had pellets, strawberry flavoured ground-bait and a nasty plastic bottle with concentrated strawberry flavouring oil. 

We arrived at 3.30pm and it was relatively busy , so we started off on about 20m along this fishing platform on the right hand side. Me and Siôn set up our respective dead-bait rigs and cast out.  Within a few minutes though, some anglers were leaving so we move further along the platform and re-cast our baits. I then set about preparing the pellet mixture. But almost immediately my rod buckled over under the weight of a good fish. I jumped up and started working the fish. It felt large and was making powerful runs, each time changing direction.

Fighting a powerful unknown adversary

It took a while to bring the fish to the bank, but even then it proved stubborn, staying deep and making repeated powerful surges trying to escape. Finally, after a good 10 minutes the fish broke the surface of the murky water to reveal a sickle shaped dorsal fin – a Chao Phraya Catfish:

Chao Phraya Catfish reveals itself

This was a good sized fish, of around 15 kg+, only my third ever of this species and a very welcome catch:

Chao Phraya Catfish #1

I continued to fish dead-bait as I waited for my pellet concoction to fully hydrate and mature. Suddenly, Siôn got a big strike and started doing battle with another big fish. Just a few minutes in and he lost the fish. When he wound in the line had snapped at his swivel knot connecting his 50lb hook-length. He had only just learnt to tie his own rigs and I suspect that he forgot to moisten the knot as he cinched it tight, hence the failure of the knot in the heaviest line in the rig … A tough but valid lesson to learn ..!! We figured that, given the power of the fight,  this was probably another Chao Phraya Cat, an annoying missed opportunity. An even harsher lesson to take for improper knot tying technique.

Whilst Siôn was ruing his lost fish, I got my second bite of the session, this time a more modest Asian Redtail Catfish that was soon brought in for a picture and release:

Asian Redtail Catfish #1

Siôn re-tied his hook-length, re-baited and cast out, close to the opposite bank wall. I was still tinkering with my pellet mix – I’d over-watered it and wanted to thicken it up with some powdered ground-bait, particularly with a small batch that I was going to use as the hook-bait (the main portion would be ground-bait in the spring feeder). I sent Siôn to go and get me a small bucket to prepare the hook-bait portion. Within minutes of him leaving, his rod took a big strike from another big fish that I had to take on, a good fight on a light spinning rod and Saragosa SW6000 combo:

Fighting Chao Phraya Cat #2

I called to Siôn to come and take the fish but he was too far away and didn’t realise. By the time he returned I was well into the fight, and duly brought in another hard-fighting Chao Phraya Catfish to the net, another good sized fish approaching the 15 kg mark:

Chao Phraya Catfish #2

With 2 good Chao Phraya Cats under my belt, I now turned my attention to fishing pellets for Mekong Catfish / Carp. My bait mix seemed to be of the right consistency and could withstand the rigours of casting. Not too bad for only my second ever attempt at this type of bait mix.

Meanwhile, Siôn continued to fish cut-baits and was soon rewarded. First he snagged himself a small Asian Redtail:

Asian Redtail Catfish #2

He then followed up this fish less than 10 minutes later by a much more powerful fish. This fish put up a characteristically dogged fight, with long powerful runs, moving from side-to-side as Sion gradually worked it closer to the bank:

Sion fighting a powerful fish

Once again the unseen fish put up strong resistance and by now we knew the suspect – another good-sized Chao Phraya Catfish. It was another 10 minute fight before the beast was finally on the bank, a big Chao Cat probable approaching the 20 kg mark and a species first for Siôn, although I didn’t do it justice in the pictures: 

Chao Phraya Catfish #3 landed

Chao Phraya Catfish #3 c.20 kg

I’d been fishing pellets for the best part of an hour without as much as a sniff of a take (although Siôn had seen the rod twitch at one point whilst I was busy prepping tackle). It was now evident that we’d encountered a good Chao Phraya Catfish bite, after 3 from 4 landed. Following the old adage to “never leave fish to find fish” I prudently decided to switch back to dead-bait and target another Chao Cat. I was rewarded barely 15 minutes later with another aggressive take, and once again was in battle with a powerful adversary that put a wicked bend in my 15-25lb class spinning rod:

Fighting Chao Phraya Catfish #4 of the session

After another arduous struggle, we slipped the net under Chao Cat number 4. They really do look like pugnacious, snub-nosed sharks:

Chao Phraya Catfish #4

After another brief 15 minute hiatus, we were in action again. Siôn’s turn again to bring in yet another Chao Cat, another large fish north of 15 kg:

Siôn fighting the final fish of the session

Another large Chao Phraya Catfish

Chao Phraya Catfish #5

It was now 6.20pm, and this was our last fish of the session. After this the catfish bite went off. But we’d done very well – 5 Chao Cat’s and 2 Asian Redtails in less than 3 hours fishing. I finished off the session by reverting to pellet baits, but had no further activity.

This had been one of my most enjoyable sessions at this or the old NEFFP. But it raised a question in my mind – did we just luck into a Chao Phraya Catfish bite or would we be able to replicate it using the same tactics?

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Asian Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | 2 Comments

New NEFFP Behrang – Siamese Carp (27.08.17)

Mahfudz (owner of Reelology Reel Workshop) contacted me earlier in the week – he and Noru ( were going to be hitting the new NEFFP at Behrang on the coming Saturday and asked me to join the trip. Mahfudz was planning to target Mekong Catfish using his Matsumoto pellet and groundbait mix recipe. I was interested to fish with him and keen to give the magic bait a try – Mahfudz and Noru had previously had success with Mekong Cats at the old NEFFP:

I also wanted to give Mahfudz the first set of my reels to be service. So, I turned up at 4.20pm on the Saturday with my son Siôn, who was making his first visit to this new venue, my tackle for the day plus a Tekota 700 and a Saltiga Z4500 (after using it for this session) to pass to Mahfudz for servicing.

The session started off slowly – me and Sion started off soaking prawn baits whilst Mahfudz prepared the Matsumoto bait mix. Siôn got the first strike, which he missed. I then followed up with take number two – I set the hook of but it pulled 30 seconds later. 0 from 2. The pond was initially quite busy, but some space became available near the end of the fishing platform so we decamped to the new location. It was still slow going.

Then, after about an hour into the session, Mahfudz got a bite on the pellet bait and set the hook on a decent fish. It didn’t seem to be as powerful as a Mekong though, but still put up a good fight. Unfortunately, after a few minutes, the hook pulled and the unseen adversary was gone. He then followed up with another take on the pellets, but failed to connect.

Encouraged, I then switched baits to the magic pellets, as I was keen to catch a legitimate Mekong (I’d landed a few good fish previously, but always foul hooked). Mahfuda advised me to fish with an open bail to allow the fish time to pick up the bait. As we were about to fit an elastic band line retainer to the handle (and with the bail arm already open) line started to pull slowly but steadily from the reel. I flipped the bail arm but felt noting. I re-opened the bail and after a few seconds line starting peeling from the reel again. I closed the bail and set the hook. At first it didn’t feel like anything significant. But it then made a short run to the tip of the platform and then started jigging violently and making short, powerful runs. It was only a few minutes of intense battle before I had the fish ready for netting – a good sized Siamese Carp, a very welcome new species for me:

Siamese Carp fight

Siamese Carp c.15kg++

Trophy catch

Following this success, I continued to fish the pellets with the hope of another carp or possible a Mekong Cat. Siôn, on the other hand, had moved to the tip of the fishing platform where there were signs of activity on cut baits.

First Siôn got smashed by a large fish that took him under the aerator paddle structure.  Then he went through a crazy half an hour where he landed 3 goood sized Amazon Redtail Catfish in a row. Each providing a brief, but intense battle, as Siôn tried to keep the fish out of the nearby structure (he was fishing prawn baits hard against the aerator structures):

Siôn figting Amazon Cat #1

Amazon Redtail Catfish #1

Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

Sandwiched in-between Siôn’s fish, Noru got his first fish of the session, a spirited Asian Redtail Catfish:

Noru with Asian Redtail

Siôn closed out our session with his third Amazon Redtail:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #3

We packed up after our 4 hour time period was up. The Fishyology boys decided to continue for a couple more hours. It had been a slow session at the pond, but Siôn was happy with his late surge of fish and I was more than content with my lone Siamese Carp. A big thank you to Mahfudz for the invitation and the bait.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Carp, Carp - Siamese, Catfish, Catfish - Asian Redtail | 2 Comments

Kuala Rompin (07-11.08.17)

I started thinking about the possibility of doing a 5 day trip to Rompin whilst on a previous visit here in September last year. I discussed the possibility with a few mates but I realised that it would be difficult to get people together on the same schedule. Then in March of this year I tentatively started scoping out a possible trip to Muscat, Oman with the idea of chasing longtail tuna and dorado with light spinning tackle. That idea also didn’t pan out. Then, a few chance events happened that switched my focus back to a 5 day trip – first I had an awesome 2 day trip to Rompin in mid June, with unexpectedly good fishing:

Secondly, the tuna school didn’t materialise off of Muscat in any numbers worth chasing. Thirdly, I had both of my sons back here in KL for the summer; and finally I got a window of opportunity with my wife’s, work and fishing guides schedules …!! So here we were, me, Siôn and Ceri set for a 5 day sailfish fishing extravaganza at Kuala Rompin. As usual, I was fishing with Anthony Sullivan:

DAY 1 (07.08.17)

We awoke on Day 1 to clear skies, although the forecast all week was for blustery weather every afternoon …! The routine commenced as usual – run offshore, stop at various unjams (FADs) to collect bait and then start the hunt for signs of sailfish feeding activity. We did struggle to get bait and had to head offshore with only a limit supply (in both number and species) of bait. For this trip I was going to keep a fishing log to help me with catches and sequencing for writing this blog entry ……!

So, we commenced fishing for sailfish at Tok Rahmat at 10.20am! It looked good, with birds and abundant sailfish surface feeding activity. Almost immediately Siôn started to get follows on the popper and we had our first hook-up by 11.00am. Ceri took this first fish whilst me an Anthony continued to soak live-baits and Siôn was working hard with the popper:

Sailfish #1

Whilst Ceri was in the final throes of the fight, I had a subtle take on my livie, and set the hook on a fish that stayed deep – it moved deep and close to the boat. I had to navigate it past the engines as it moved from the port stern corner around to the starboard corner, whilst passing under Ceri’s rod and Sailfish that was coming to the boat for landing. I worked it to the surface and wasn’t completely surprise when a large Cobia broke the surface. The fish then pulled me 360 degrees around the boat (a walk-around design) and back to the original hook-up position …. and then back and forth across the stern as it made multiple deep diving runs back to the sea-bed. Finally, after a number of aborted attempts, the captain finally managed to get in a gaff shot and the fish was mine. A nice fat Cobia of 30lbs (14kg), my biggest to-date and another trophy fish on the Stella Sw8000 and another good test of my new “double-lock” FG knot tying technique:

Cobia 14 kg

The full intense fight was all captured on video:

Cobia fight

It was a good start to the day and we were anticipating a really good session. We continued to chase feeding birds and raising fish on popper – Siôn was getting multiple follows and had two brief pulls from Sailfish, but nothing stayed hooked for more than a few seconds. I had a go and also managed to get multiple raises to the lure but no strikes. Frustratingly, we were throwing live-baits at these fish  but they were ignoring our offerings each time.

We then had a comical interlude – Siôn brough in a green-eyed squid. It was attached to, but not hooked, the live-bait. As soon as we made an naive and amateurish attempt to net it it was gone in a flash and a puff of ink!

We stopped for lunch at 12.40 pm and then Anthony made the decision to try to get better baits – we needed more variety and we needed to replenish our live bait stock. We sped off to a near-by unjam, gathered more bait and headed back to the sailfish. We resumed fishing just before 2.00 pm. Once again Siôn was working a popper from the bow and immediately began garnering follows from fired-up sailfish. This time the pop and switch worked – I dropped a live-bait right in-front of a sailfish as it turned away from the popper near the boat and it immediately took my bait. Siôn had raised this fish and he wanted it so I passed him the rod to do battle:

Sailfish #2 – pop & switch

Sailfish #2 c. 30 kg

Shortly after this fish I was in action again – another strange fight, but with an evidently smaller fish ….. another, albeit smaller, cobia:

Cobia #2 – 5 kg

Almost immediately after the cobia, we took a vicious strike on the port rod. Both boys were at the bow, popping and chilling. I took the rod and started to wind rapidly to keep tight to what was probable a good sized tenggiri …… but the inevitable happened as the fish neared the boat, despite my best efforts the bloody thing bit me off ….. arrrgh.

We spend the remainder of the afternoon chasing sailfish, but despite rasing fish to the boat and at one point being in a pack of 4 or 5 sailfish we couldn’t get another take. Then, with a big storm approaching on the horizon, we had to finish fishing early and we left at 4.15 pm to head to port.

It had been a reasonable, if slow and frustrating, first day. We had caught and released two good sailfish and landed two cobia, including a personal best for me. I was looking for an improvement over the coming days.

DAY 2 (08.08.17)

The slow bait-fish fishing continued over from day 1. We’d had information from a sister boat that the fish (on the previous day) were taking small sardine type baits, so we were trying to get a live well full of these, but without much luck. We’d only managed 5 baits in half an hours fishing …! We finally had to commence fishing for sailfish with a limited bait supply and try to pick up more bait as we drift-fished for sails. 

But despite our lack of bait, the sailfish were in a hungry mood and we kicked off the session with a double hook-up at 10.25am on our first drift. I pulled the hook on my fish but Siôn stayed buttoned and after a short skirmish brought in the first fish of the day:

Day 2 – Sailfish #1

Barely 20 minutes later and we were in action again – another double. This time Ceri lost the fish whilst I was able to bring in the second fish of the day, a sailfish well into the 30 kg class:

Sailfish #2

After these two double hook-ups, things went quiet, with little bird or surface activity to chase. We relocated but still found slow going. At 11.42 am the Captain decided to run to a nearby unjam to collect more live bait. After better success with bait gathering we headed back to fish for sailfish with a good stock of sardines.

Ceri and Siôn free-lining live-baits

Once again, the boys put in some effort popping from the bow, getting 3 follows in less than 5 minutes and Siôn manage another, if brief, hook-up on popper. Ceri then raised 3 more fish in the crazy half hour since we re-commenced sailfish fishing at c.1 pm. Finally, at 1.30 pm I got a strike on my live-bait. I set the hook and fought a big sailfish to the boat, a decent fish approaching 40 kg:

Sailfish #3, c.40 kg

Reviving Sailfish #3

Ready for release

We now had 3 from 5 hook-ups landed. We went on the hunt for more. It was Ceri’s turn next and half an hour later he was doing battle with his first sailfish of the day. As the fish came in we could see that it had a large wound on it’s back and damaged pectoral fin – it was either from a squid attach or a shark bite, but it was apparent that it was an old wound and was healing up. We opted for a quick in-water photo before release:

Sailfish #4 with large wound on it’s back

After this fish things went quiet, and that was our lot for the day. We’d improved our sailfish catch, but it was still slow going. I was hoping that things would pick up as the week progressed. Once we got back to port it was apparent that the rest of the fleet had also been struggling. Pretty slow for the time of year.

Day 2 Summary


DAY 3 (09.08.17)

We started the third day with better luck – we made two separate unjam (FAD) stops and quickly filled up the live-well with a good variety of baits including scad, slimy mackerel, kerisi and sardines. We were able to start fishing for sails at the relatively early time of 10 am …!

Following the previous day’s protocol, Siôn and Ceri took to the bow to try to raise sailfish on popper:

Siôn and Ceri casting poppers

I kicked off the day with the first fish. The ratchet screamed on the bait-caster on the starboard ballon rod, I picked up the rod and felt line running out slowly, another cryptic take. I flipped the reel in gear and wound down …. nothing. But as a was retrieving to re-bait I could feel light tension and some jigging on the line. I reeled in yet another cobia, although this was a feeble 1 kg specimen that we released.

It was Ceri’s turn next. He took the rod on the next strike and soon had a chunky c.30kg sailfish alongside for billing, the first of the day:

Ceri with Sailfish #1 of Day 3

Meanwhile, Siôn was busy working a popper at the bow, repeatedly working the area with the lure and raising a number of fish that he enticed towards the boat. Despite his efforts though he still couldn’t manage a hook-up. He then turned his attentions to live-baiting, attempting to hook-up a sailfish. He had a subtle take that get taking line, but very slowly. I took the rod to see if I could figure out what was going on. I put the reel in gear and wound down. I felt some resistance but it was definitely not a sailfish. I suspected a squid (as we’d encountered on Day 1) and reeled the bait slowly to the boat. Sure enough, a large and aggressive green-eyed squid was on the bait. We let the captain try to net the creature this time. After a number of attempts (the greedy cephalopod repeatedly returned to the bait each time it was spooked by the net), the captain finally managed to get it in the net and it was transferred to the cooler – the starter course for the evenings meal.

Siôn was in action again half an hour later as we hooked-up the second sailfish of the day, another c.30kg fish:

Siôn with Sailfish #2

We re-baited and reset out drift and were bitten again almost immediately, but we failed to hook-up. On retrieving the leader we saw that it was cleanly cut-off above the hook. Another tenggiri (Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel) had robbed our bait and escaped once again. I was incensed and grabbed my spinning kit armed with a 40g blue Sotelo casting lure (a Jackson Pintail clone) and cast if off the stern. I only had time for a handful of casts before we had to reset our drift. On the third cast, as I was retrieving the lure near the boat I got a decent strike and set the hook on a small, Spanish Mack that I quickly brought to gaff. Another fish for the ice box and the entree for the evenings dinner:

Spanish Mackerel – olé ….!

It was now noon and the day was shaping up well. We were getting consistent strikes from a variety of species. It wasn’t too long before I was hooked up again, this time a smallish, but feisty, sailfish that I soon had boat-side for Sailfish no.3 for the session:


Sailfish #3 c.20 kg+

It was barely 15 minutes after sail no.3 than we were hooked up yet again. Ceri stepped up to do battle with his second fish of the day. This fish put up a good fight but was hooked near the eye, so we opted for a quick release to minimise damage to the fish:

Sailfish #4

We now had four sailfish and it was still only 1.00 pm. We still had plenty of fishing time left. Ceri and Siôn continued to work poppers from the bow  at the start of each new drift, once gain helping to bring sailfish to the boat, with Siôn yet again having the popper slashed by a fish without hooking-up. Whilst this work was undoubtedly helping us bring sailfish to the boat and increasing our strikes, the fish were still mostly snubbing the live-baits cast at them was the chased down the poppers. Once again, extremely frustrating.

In-between spending time popping at the bow, Siôn was in the stern long enough to take a strike on live-bait and wrangle his first ever cobia, a decent fish of 14 lb (6.4 kg), for another different species for the day:

Siôn with 14 lb Cobia

We then went through a lull with no further activity for about two hours. Then, as the session was drawing to a close there was a sudden increase in sailfish activity. First Siôn was in action with another decent sailfish:

Sailfish #5

And then right at the end of the day, at 4.40pm, I managed to secure one last fish before we had to return to the jetty:

Sailfish #6 

This had been the best day so far – we were on an upward trajectory for sailfish, with 6 landed, plus we’d added a couple of cobia, a spanish mackerel and a fat squid to round off a decent day’s fishing. The weather had also been excellent and the best of the trip so far. We deserved the cold Tigers that we drank on the journey back. 

The days events are summarised in the following video:

Day 3 Summary

DAY 4 (10.08.17)

We were now in to the second half of the trip. The catch rate and the weather had been steadily improving. As usual, we set off with expectations high, and were soon into the familiar routine of collecting live-baits at a number of FAD stops.

We commenced fishing for sailfish at 10.20am, and within 15 minutes had our first hook-up, unfortunately only a “Singapore Marlin” (garfish or todak in local parlance) that we let the captain sort out. Withing the hour we got our first sailfish action, a double hook-up, but pulled the hook on one fish and broke off at the leader knot on the other. Ten minutes later, at 11.30am, I set the hook on another fish only for it to turn and pull the hook again ….. 0/3 to start the day ….!! The tale of woe continued when Ceri missed a possible tenggiri strike on the popper and then Anthony got bitten off by a tenggiri on his live-bait rig.

Finally, 2 hours after we started fishing, we got our first solid hook-up, with Siôn in action bringing in a c.35 kg Sailfish. I followed up half an hour later with a smaller fish of c.25kg:

Sailfish #1 & #2, Day 4

In-between the sailfish, Siôn had raised two cobia that followed his sabiki rig with attached hooked bait-fish to the surface. The were in the area and, sure enough, took one of the sailfish baits. Ceri took the rod and did battle with his first ever cobia, a decent 17lbs fish:

Cobia #1 – 17lbs

Ceri with his first Cobia

Meanwhile Siôn continued to fish for bait withe sabiki rig. He was catching kerisi (a type of red bream) and then snagged a decent grouper of c.1kg, that was retained for dinner that evening.

Next up was Ceri again, almost an hour after his first ever fish, he had another decent cobia of 16lbs. Whilst he was fighting this fish, Siôn set the hook on a Sailfish that eventually jumped and snapped off at the hook as it neared the boat. All action was captured on video:

Day 4 Summary – Sailfish & Cobia

As the afternoon wore on the action started to improve. Anthony was on fire today, hooking up the majority of the fish on his new Stella Sw10000, and once again was able to elicit another good take. I took over the rod to fight sailfish #3 of the session. This was a good sized fish that gave us some good surface action right next to the boat (shown in the video above). We brought this fish on-board for a quick photograph before release:

Sailfish #3

The final fish of the day came, once again, courtesy of Anthony (he’d cetainly earned his fees today). It was Siôn’s turn to take the rod and he enjoyed playing his second sailfish of the day on the luxuriant Stella SW10000:

Sailfish #4

Shortly after this fish we were forced to make a move to a new location, Saga Batu, to avoid an brewing storm. Things though were quiet at the new location, apart from a single follow on popper for Siôn that we failed to convert into a hook-up. We closed up for the day at 4.50pm. Time to break out the tigers and head for home ….

Anthony and me toasting the day

DAY 5 (11.08.17)

The final day of the trip. My first ever 5 day fishing trip. I thought that it may become a bit stale after this length of trip …. but not at all. We left the port for the day’s fishing with the same level of excitement and anticipation as for the previous 4 days.

As per the previous days we had to visit a number of spots until we found good concentrations of bait. At the second FAD today we managed to find a good stock of good bait, tamban – a type of sardine, that was proving successful on sailfish this week. We then haded offshore to the Saga Batu area once again, and started to fish for sails at 10.30am. We searched, soaked live-baits, and waited, and waited ….. and repeated this scenario multiple times. It initially looked quite fishy, with some sailfish and bird activity. And then just went dead, apart from a single sailfish follow to a pencil lure and a small group of garfish attracted to the boat by Siôn chumming chunks of tamban in an attempt to generate some activity. Other boats in the area were all in the same situation.

Four hours later we still had not had a single take. Siôn then managed to lose his Ray Bands sunglasses overboard as he bend over the side to wash his hands. He dived in straight after them, banging his nose on an outlet fitting and pushing the glasses deeper. It was frustrating because they were just about neutrally buoyant and it we’d realised we could have got then with the dip net. It was extremely frustrating to watch them disappear …!

Siôn sans Ray Bands ….!

Slowly …. very slowly, the fishing started to come to life. First Ceri scored a garfish of around 2 kg for the first fish of the day (at 2.45pm!). Then, at 3.30pm, completely out of the blue and with no signs of activity, we get a strike from a decent size sailfish that Ceri took on. But as Ceri was show-boating, and the fish started making some leaps in the distance after a long initial run, the line went slack. Ceri reeled in to find that the line had broken above the leader knot – the only one that I hadn’t repleaced after the previous weeks’ fishing. Damn. I cursed myself for not retying the leader – we paid for this lack of attention to detail on a very slow day.

Ceri fighting the solitary Sailfish hook-up of the day

Ten minutes later Anthony hooked-up a small fish that Ceri retrieved – a small Cobia of c.1kg:

Miniature Cobia

And that was it for the day and the trip – a skunk on sailfish and a very poor day. We’d tried hard, despite the lack of fish. I spent hours fishing pintail lures in the vain hope of scoring another tenggiri (Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel):

Lure fishing for tenggiri

As well as poor fishing, the weather was also on the turn, as we were on the edge of a big storm:

Impending Storm

Given the poor fishing and developing weather situation we decided to end the day early and started the run back to port at 4.20pm:

Running for port

End of trip beers with Anthony


It had been a very enjoyable trip, with reasonable (but not spectacular) fishing. The catch break-down was as follows:

  • Day 1 – 2 Sailfish, 2 Cobia (including a personal best 14kg fish for me)
  • Day 2 – 4 Sailfish
  • Day 3 – 6 Sailfish, 2 Cobia (including a new species ffirst for Sion), 1 Spanish Mackerel and a squid
  • Day 4 – 4 Sailfish, 2 Cobia (including a new species first for Ceri)
  • Day 5 – 1 Cobia …..!

So, 16 Sailfish, 7 Cobia and a mackerel. Not too bad, but certainly slower than expected for the time of year. My personal haul was 6 Sailfish, 3 Cobia and the mackerel. I didn’t achieve my target of 100 billfish and 100 Sailfish (my personal tally now stands at 92 Sailfish and 1 Black Marlin), but that goal will be achievable within the next few trips. I look forward to becoming a centurian!


Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.01) - Kuala Rompin, Cobia, Mackerel - Narrow Barred Spanish (Kingfish, Tenggiri), Sailfish | Leave a comment

Pay Pond fishing with the Al Busaidi’s (28.07.17)

My old friend from Oman, Kamal Al Busaidi, and his family had finally managed to pay us a visit in KL. Unfortunately the trip didn’t really allow for many fishing opportunities. I was also hampered by the fact that their visit coincided with an unexpected very busy period at work …! Still, we had two options for an afternoon paypond session in freshwater – going for Amazon Catfish at the NEFFP in Behrang; or chasing Pacu at Fish Valley Semenyih.

The later option was chosen by Kamal – he had a Pacu on his bucket list and this was the best place to go. It was also more scenic than the other option, had a decent restaurant with beer for the apres fishing relaxation. Good choice …!

We stopped en route to collect passed sell-by data flavoured buns, added a few loaves of Gardenia sliced white bread, and were ready to go. 

We arrived to a quiet pond but with a breeze blowing from the south. We therefore opted to fish from the south bank with the wind behind us.  We rigged and baited -up and commenced fishing. It started off very slow, in addition the baits were plagued by lampam. The buns were getting stripped from the hook within minutes of hitting the water. We occasionally caught the larger, or more greedy individual members of these bait-thieves:

Siôn with the first fish of the session

Saif’s Lampam

Mako scored a bait-thief too

As the afternoon wore on the pacu still didn’t make a showing – there were few tell-tale swirls of large pacu attacking the chummed bread, only a frenzy of lampan splashing at the surface. I had one possible pacu bite that failed to hook up and that was it. And time was ticking as the sun slowly dropped in the sky to the west:

Sunset approaching ….!

The situation called for a rethink. I was starting to think that the floating bun baits had been used to exhaustion at this location and that the fish had learnt to be wary of these baits.  I sent Ceri and Siôn off into the nearby treeline to look for palm oil seeds – an alternative and often successful bait for pacu. They had success and returned with a handful of fresh, ripe, seeds:


We now started mixing up the bait – some people fishing palm oil seeds, whilst the others continued with bread baits. Kamal had switched to his fly rod and started picking up lampam on flies tipped with white bread:

Kamal on the fly

Kamal switch to a spinning outfit and baited up with palm oil seed. Suddenly, he was on, hooked-up up to a pacu. It was a small specimen, and Kamal didn’t waste time in bringing it to the net, but it was the target species and I was pleased that he’d achieved his goal:

Pacu in the net …!

Kamal’s Pacu

This catch further inspired Siôn. He moved along the bank to the left and noticed some surface activity. Persisting with palm oil seed bait he was rewarded with a solid hook-up and brought in the second pacu of the session:

Siôn’s Pacu

Once again this was a small fish but still a feisty pacu, and the switch to palm oil seed bait had proved fruitful …. Kamal and his son joined Siôn in the same location but we had no further luck as dusk overtook us:

Dusk at Fish Valley Semenyih

Right in the dying seconds of the session I had a take and managed to hook-up my last fish of the session, a final lampam to close the day.

Final lampam

We quickly packed-up the kit in the dark using the car headligghts for illumination and then retired to the Fish Valley Chinese Restoran for dinner an beers. It had been an unusually slow session and the usual large pacu had failed to show despite us trying a range of baits and (usually productive) locations along the south bank. As mentioned, I suspect bait exhaustion for the flavoured buns. Still, it was still fishing, Kamal had got his fish and it had been an enjoyable afternoon and evening. 

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.05) - Fish Valley Semenyih, Main Pond, Java Barb (Lampam), Pacu | Leave a comment