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Monday, June 13, 2011

Jumping Tamales!

Apologies to my blog readers for my inactivity lately. Life has been out of whack, but this is an episode that I cannot NOT blog about it. You see, I have taken half a decade to eventually live about it to write this post.

Some history lesson, for the uninitiated. In the early days, Kims (KBL, Seabass) were plentiful in singapore. They were known to be strong adversaries and a worthy prized catch, especially for the lurers with light tackles. Once they have taken the bait, they will perform arial acrobatic stunts that will even weaken the knees of the strongest man. At every leap, chances of losing the lure/hook is high, hence getting them is quite a challenge indeed. But due to overfishing and what nots, it is rare indeed to get such a catch. Everywhere else I fished, I have never get the chance to encounter them (even in Malaysia!), except for some sporadic visits to ponds.

It was quite by chance that I got wind of this incredible opportunity. I was wanting to invite a friend to a trip to JB for some light pond fishing when I was told about this place. He was actually there fishing and I received regular "live" updates about it through the night also so much that I had wanted to charter a boat and rush there immediately. But I had to run over to JB for some car matters and had to put it off to another day.

(*note, I had purposely left out name of the place....not wanting to make another stampede to clean up the fishes. But the news is spreading like wild fire, so it is likely that readers would already know the place)

Come sunday, I decided that I would visit it, even if I had to go it solo, even if it rain shine, earthquake or nuclear plant meltdown. All my friends were busy one way of the other making more $$, and I was already planning to bring A and D there just to accompany me. But ST agreed to reschedule his work plans and agreed to make the trip with me. For us semi-retired people, time is quite flexi. :) So hoping that were would be the only ones there, we set off.

But reaching there, already there was a sizable group dominating the area. We parked ourselves away from the area, thinking that if KIMs were around, they should be everywhere. After setting up and fishing for a while, my high spirits started to dive, as I wasn't getting any nudges or bites. As I feared, with the news of this spreading all over, the place would already be cleaned up by now. By that time, I had probably done a few hundred cast. After 7 or so, finally someone on the far end hit a leaping fish. Wow, indeed it was true, a KIM. With that we worked harder but still nothing for me.

By 8 and passed the high tide, I was getting fairly discouraged. Suddenly the 2 indian workers that were on handline pulled out quite silently a whopping KIM of 3 kilos. Wow...we took some pics, and then I suggested to ST why not just buy the fish from them. If we didn't hit anything, we still can bring some back something fresh for the table. The indians readily agreed and from then on, we were quite friendly with them.

By that time, 3 KIMs were landed by the luring group...and I noticed, all at the far end.

At 9, another big group turned up which were friends to the other group. So in total, there was a row of about 20 people fishing to the left of us. They were like in a forum group and all were decked out with HID headlights and snazzy luring sets. Wow, that was on a Sunday nite and the place was like a PAP rally before the election. In fact, the whole place in the morning looked like some aftermath of a football match with all the litter and the rubbish left behind. Ugly Singaporeans!

Wahooo! My very own "wild" kim

By then, some 10+ or so KIMs were landed, each adding to my pain of to even getting a nudge from them. By then, I must have done a few thousand cast on my "cannot cast so far" black rose. Was it my lure, my setup or my red underwear? I wondered. I decided then that I must somehow edge myself to the area to get a better chance. I walked to the far end, and found a little opening that was enough for me to squeeze in between them. As I was casting, someone else was fighting another KIM. I did about 3-4 cast and WHAM, a powerhouse of a fish took my lure and run off. The take of a KBL was unmistakable. There is no negotiation, no test test nibble.... it was a hit and run, ready or not. It fought hard and made numerous dives and runs and a couple of signature leaps. Someone from the group asked who was that that got the fish (it was dark), and the guy standing next to me said, "neighbour"....haha. My "neighbour" was quite friendly and encouraging and gave me tips on how to control the fish. He also helped me to bring the fish to the edge and then up the slope. Once fish is on the grass patch, it was mine! Wauhahaha!

ST pose pose with kim

I left the lure on the fish and tried to quickly get back to ST location for photos but lure came off half way, so no more chance for "caught with pants down" photoset. So pic was just boga and me and Kim.

With that, our ice box was already 3/4 full. ST then had to go to the loo and left me to mend the station. Suddenly his rod tip took a bend and I reacted to grab his rod before it can fly into the waters. Whatever it was at the other end was strong and it crossed the line of the indians guys. But ST was no where in sight, and I can only fight the fish on his behalf. With some help from indian friends, fish was landed finally. Another 2 kilo Kim for the ice-box. By then, our ice chest was full...and no more space for anymore. ST came back to his disappontment that he missed all the action.

ST battle with a Kim that took his smelly prawns 1



But the action presented another opportunity when another KIM took his proven wire leader rig with tiny "not so fresh" prawn meat. This time, ST was there to take it on. He was astounded by how hard fighting the fish was and probably, his best fishing experience. But fish was hard to control and ST made the pertinent mistake of releasing his drag and gangster Kim dashed for the dam opening and made a GTR 3 point drift. ST braid got rubbed on the rocks and snapped. Argh!

The rubber lures that we picked up

An invention of mine to prevent the weights sangkot-ing on the rocks (Patent Pending..any investors?)

After that, his package of bait didn't work so well as it was turning bad and the tide started to change and the current got ready strong. It also got too rocky to fish and all the throws would end up getting snagged on the rocks. Tide was so low that we could scan the rocks and pick up stuck lures. We noticed that the people in the group were using the above yellow single hook rubber lures. That was their magic arsensal. But we noticed that big group had disappeared and went to the other side of the dam. From our station, we can see that they were still getting KIMs now and then. Every once a while, commotion in the water, headlights beaming here and there and all that.

In the morning, everyone else disappeared into thin air, except for some 3-4 guys at the other end. Maybe these people are staying at the chalet. KIMs were still around, as we can see them jumping out of the water every now and then. But they were not taking the lures. Somehow, it seems alot lesser.

This had been quite an experience for me. Leaping Kims out the water seem to be quite common and that is an oddity. Where the KIMS come from? According to the 2 indians, they told us the story of a group of 5 dolphins that came around and broke the fish farm nets. So the KIMs were all from the farm and were actually not "wild". That happened 2 weeks back. Another group said, "rubbish!, dolphins don't bite fact they are terrified of nets. it must be turtles, barracudas or even great white sharks!" But the escape from farm theory is very possible as all the KIMs are somehow standard size. You either get 2 kilos one, or 3 kilos one, and sometimes 4 kilos one. Like factory mold. I think in another 2 weeks, the stock would already be gone. It is fortunate that I still have the chance to experience this rare once in a lifetime opportunity.

A KBL on lure, that is quite a story. Sometimes, life is good and fair :)..if you wait long enough.

Ice chest of one of the platoon of lurers

Lures that I used to target kims. Ima gene no work :(

After a hard "nite" work...Relaxing!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Humphead PB

After a long break, I am getting back to some simple morning fishing
for the ever obliging PBs. I needed the excerise and it felt good to be
out in the morning breathing fresh air. A kaki had kindly shared about this location and we just had to check it out.

Getting to the spot was easy and the terrain was easy walking without having to wade through muddy grounds.

On my first cast, I already felt a tap. Jokingly, I told KT that we should be
able to land at least 10. At the end, I was rather close. I landed 7 and lost 2.
I was using a small charlie, and hence, the fishes were all rather small in size.
But there was a rare catch of a male PB with a prominent hump. Probably my first for this year.

KT did manage one on his trusted rapala and got numerous bites. But since the PBs were small, his catch rate was poorer than mine. But we were all quite happy already. For the last couple of sessions, we were mostly zero.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I am Sailing...

This was a trip that took years to materialize. After some missed trips, I decided to organize it on my own. It wasn't hard to track down the boatman contact and a call in March set the trip.

A fly-fishing friend was supposed to have joined me but pulled out the last minute. To my surprise, it wasn't easy to find someone to take over. This was due to the "ghost month" and also the start of the malay Puasa month. Hence despite putting up some postings, there were no takers.

However upon arrival at Rompin, we were told that four pax to a boat was actually the most ideal. We found that to be true as the boat wasn't too big. It is smaller the size of the fishing boats at Changi.

We met up promptly at 3am under my block and soon got over the custom rather effortlessly. At that time, traffic was a breeze. Even throughout the drive, there were hardly any cars on the road. Might be due to the Puasa month, there was a reduction in the number of lorries plying up and down the east coast highway.

Arrived at meeting place with Ah Liang

We were indeed at Sailfish Central

Rompin also famous for this big Watermelon!

By 7am, we arrived at Rompin. The 7 eleven where we were to meet Ah Liang wasn't hard to find. Rompin is a small town. The 2 landmarks here are the giant Sailfish and the big watermelon in the middle of the town.

Breakfast here to keep us awake

I was quite sleepy at this point's my day

Since we all hardly slept, we needed some food to keep us awake. We had a hearty breakfast at the Rompin Restaurant Bahru just further down from the 7 eleven. Breakfast was only so so, but we later found out that this restaurant was the preferred choice of Singaporeans when they are over here to fish. The next evening,
we did have our dinner here and it was pretty decent.

Rompin River Chalet

Ah Liang telling us grandfather story at the Jetty

Ah Liang came over and brought us to the Rompin River Chalet where the Jetty is. He was much younger than I expected. I thought I was speaking to an old man over the phone, but he turned out to be just in the mid 30s.

Ah Liang getting our boat ready

Heroes from the past

At the Chalet, all the fishing folks were there getting ready. Interestingly, there was qutie a number of foreigners. Some of them were carrying specialized popping and jigging rods and some were outright professional looking all decked out in Columbia shirts and cool sunglasses.

Off to fish!

This is "Youngoat" (dunno how to spell. Malay for guy with beard)

However, Ah Liang couldn't take us out as he had to baby sit the japanese group. He introduced us to "youngot" who turned out to be an old hand in fishing. We were well serviced by him and his helper.

It was easy to spot them. Just follow the birds

A Sail leaping out of the water

We were indeed shock that the Sails were around in abundance. Everywhere we looked, the Sails were swimming around and occasionally will expose their fins in a shark like manner. I never would have believed that we have them in these kind of numbers and fairly near to Singapore. Also, they weren't spooky of humans and sometimes would even come quite close to the boat. Their majectic posture over the water was indeed an eye opener. It was some National Geographic moment for me.

Tan was first to get a nice gleaming sail

Tan's beautiful Sail with bluish stripes

Andrew was dressed approriately

Woot. Andrew was 2nd to get

Andrew's Sail

Andrew's Sail falling asleep Arthur's day came true

One more pose vertically

Tan's rod hit on another rocketing sail

ZW's sail on tan's rod

A bent hook from ZW's Sail

A Sail leaping out of my camera's frame

And by noon, all of us had landed at least 1 Sail. Due to the fishing method, we could only drift out 2 balloons at one time. Hence, there is a sort of a queueing before everyone will get their turn. But the hit rate was pretty good. The score at noon was 7 hits, 4 landed. Very decent I should say.

On the way back, tan's rod got a Barracuda on jig!

So for the afternoon, we all did more bottom fishing. However bottom didn't pull up anything promissing, mostly with groupers and smaller specimens. But we were all already satisfied and decided to go back to shore early to have an early rest. We were all rather tired by then and it had been a long day.

Dinner that evening with the sotongs and fishes we caught at Rompin River Chalet

The Groupers were delicious

Rompin Golden Village here!

That night, Ah Liang took us to his relative's tackleshop

The group of Japanese getting ready for Shabu Shabu

Japanese tourist preparing the Cobia for dinner. They cook it themselves!

So it was rest early for the evening. It was arranged for us to stay at "youngoat" place which turn out to be 2 side rooms at this home renovated for this purpose. It was comfy and had all necessary amenities like air con and hot water bath. We turned in early and had a good nite rest. However Andrew and Tan seemed to have problems resting due to the super cold aircon. In face, he fell sick the next day.

Letting out a balloon for Sails

The next morning, another friend Andy came to join us. He was already waiting for us at the Jetty being not his first time here. We had chat often over SMS but it was the first time meeting him. He turned out to be an easy to get along chap.

Andy got the biggest Kelong Chi(s) I ever saw

Nope. Not a sail bending his rod, but a bottom dweller

Woot! A grouper on Jig

Nice beautiful blue fin

ZW's was first to get a Sail on the 2nd day

ZW's own personal sail on his expert graphite

Andrew was sick but still managed to booster his cow strength to beat this fiesty fellow

So Shack!

Landed after a back breaking fight

Sail looking sad

Andy got a good hit, but soon lost it due to too tight a tension

Tan's SureCatch lucky hat

Evidence of a Tenggiri slicing off the Kerisi's head

The 2nd day, we were taken out by Ah Liang's foreman. He looked Malay but could speak Chinese like any of us. We were at first quite confused but later learnt that he was an orang asli who was brought up by a Chinese family. He was good but the fishing that day was a little different. The Sails this time wasn't that prominent and the water as a little more choppy.

The Sails came in in smaller numbers and it took a while for each of us to hit on at least one Sail. The whole day in fact. But the Sails today fought rather hard, even making Andrew a little breathless. We were thinking that he might have gotten a Marlin, but it was a Sail alright.


My Tyrnos finally got action after all these years in the shelf

My turn for day 2. A bigger specimen this time

Our fishing boat

Tan and Andy were the only ones that didn't land any Sail on day 2. Tan lost a good one that went many times around the boat and finally snapping his braided mainline. For that, he was already satisfied. Andy lost one that only showed his presence when he started to retrieve his line and only then did he realized that he had a fish on the other end. It was a tough fight, but the tension was too high and the leader broke.

I lost a couple too but finally finally managed to land one that was bigger than the one yesterday. It started very fierce and run very far away. But after a while, it was totally worn out and I was only pulling back a dead weight.

Our sleeping quarters

End of mission rest and relax dinner

We had a good dinner with the fishes from bottom fishing at Rompin Restaurant Bahru at the recommendation of Andy. After that, we all retired back to the room and rested till the next morning before heading back home. Andrew by then was feeling pretty sick. Nevertheless, we were all contented that we had achieved what we arrived to do and more. A very decent trip overall.

We passed this Salted fish/Keropok factory on the way back to JB

Salted Queenies

Breakfast at Mersing at a place frequent by backpackers