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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sibu Kelong, HotBoys

I finally made my long awaited kelong trip in Sibu. This kelong is known as "HOTBOYS KELONG" in the forum and I later found out that it is only 1 of a series of kelongs in that area. And yes, it was definitely hot. In fact, I am now "chow tar" beyond recognition. The weather get pretty sizzling around noon and would not abate until about late afternoon. I had to fish only at the what precious shady areas they had, according to the position of the sun. But thereafter, the weather turned out to be very nice and there was even a little bit of rain around the evening period. Nothing pouring, but it got pretty windy and choppy at one stage.

I had driven all the way up to the Tanjung Leman Jetty starting out early in the morning from Singapore at around 6.30am. At this time, traffic was smooth and there were no jams whatsoever. The way there is rather easy, mainly straight road with a few turns here and there. However, I got a little lost at one point when I was nearing. I was just outside the Jetty carpark but I thot I had lost my way outside a resort. D went to the "toilet" around here (in the bushes). Along the way, there was a split in the road between a dirt track and a road on the right. I backtracked to the dirt road and went a little in but realized that it couldn't be the way. Found a few people to ask and it turned out that I was right afterall. Back to the "resort" entrance and got into the Jetty around 9am. I made a call to "ah meng" and was told that the boat would be on the way to pick me up.

The boat ride was about 30 minutes along with a few other people. They later turned out to be Eric and his family, a fishing family and their friends that I got to know. Swell people and also fantastic fishermen. In fact, Eric's father, a grandish looking old man was the first to land a fish once we were at the kelong. Throughout the trip, they quickly filled their big sized icebox with lots of nice looking edible fishes. He also got a few wolf herrings and garfishes, yellow tails etc etc.

Upon reaching the kelong, first thing to greet us was a sleeping black brown banded snake under the alighting area. The woman people got a little squemish but the snake didn't bother us at all, contended to just having a bit of an hot afternoon nap. We were shown to our sleeping quarters which was just in front of the eating area and was told to go right into fishing, before the lunch was to be ready. I quickly rigged up and was given some sotong as bait. In front of our beds, there was an opening sort of a well with lots of small bluish fishes with black stripes "hanging" around. (Scissortail Sergeant) We rigged a tamban jig and put bits of sotong on it and the fishes readily took the bait and we hooked up a few small fishes. We caught a few sergeants, kelong chi (Terapon Jarbua), puffers, filefish and a more respectable rabbit fish.

Scissortail Sergeant (Abudefduf Sexfasciatus)

Kelong chi (Terapon Jarbua)

Green Rough-backed Puffer

Filefish - Fan-bellied Leatherjacket

Rabbit fish - Streaked Spinefoot

My surf rod got no results whatsoever. The sotong were disappearing and later when I put live tamban, there were no takers too. With the rod holders, it was also quite hard to grab the rod to strike and usually by the time you do so, the fish would have gone. There was also the risk of the rod and people falling into the sea, so well.

During the hot afternoon, there was a sizable group of todaks (aka garfishes, sharp nosed looking fishes) swimming around. I tried to use a float with a tamban and cast it out far away from the kelong. The plan worked and the todak took my bait and made a run. I had freed my spool and the line was peeling out for about 10 secs. I locked the reel and strike but unfortunately, it didn't hook up. That was the closest I had with todaks for this trip.

Around the late afternoon, waves of tamban came to our kelong and had a fruitful tamban jigging season. Everyone was catching tambans and even D caught quite few and she was so proud of it. Sometimes, the tambans come out in a full string of 5 or 6s. Mixed with tamban, there were the occasional selar, kembong, big eye etc. For an unknown reason, we initially keep getting the kelong chi and strange looking slimy brown fish, even though we were using exactly the same jigs as Daphne (Eric's wife) and her friend, Jennifer and her daughter, Jamie. They would pull out tambans but we would pull out kelong chi and sergeants and others but no tambans. But later, A got her first tambans and from there on, it was tambans and more tambans.
(we later found out that the brown fishes were actually baby groupers. Wow o_o)

After a good dinner (the kelong served good food), I tried to cast with my surfrod with live tambans, from the ones that we jigged, but again no luck. My bells were ringing everytime someone walked by the rod due to the shaky platform. I soon gave up responding to it. Just leave it on the rod holder, you just may never know.

When the darkness set, Eric and family changed tactic and I saw him and his dad doing some jigs and lure. They caught a few wolf herrings, quite good size ones and dunno what others as they were on the other side of the kelong. I setup my sotong exori and shrimp hunder jigs and my white rabbit metal jig (which I read was good for wolf herring hunting. My sotong jig did nothing at all, even my $18 shrimp hunter, whereas the bald guy (which I found out was Gary) in the other group caught a few sotongs with his friends. (I counted around 10). The sotong was great fun as they would squirted powerful jets of water in order to try to escape. It looked like even their cheap cheap dunno what brand sotong jig was more powerful than my "shrimp hunter". I later chatted with Gary and found him to be a very fun and nice chap indeed. In fact, the whole group seems to be nice sorts of people. There was another group of people but I figured them to be malaysians and they didn't look too friendly. In fact, they looked kind of crude people, chain smoking, and throwing rubbish any old how, so we didn't mix with them.

The fish that got away - Dorab Wolf-Herring

Coming back to my jigs, my lumo metal jig was fantastic and true to its advertised value. I cast a few times and less than 5 casts later, I hooked a wolf herring. It was a very fierce fighter and did some aerial jumps from quite long distance away. I managed to pulled it back in everyone saw that it was quite a large one, around 1m. (even bigger than the one that the uncle had caught). As I had it below the kelong, I made foolish move. I underestimated the powerful fish and tried to pull it up with my line. (not so heavy, maybe about 2 kg). But it gave a fierce struggle and to my big disappointment, the line and the jig broke! OMG, I had lost the fish. Till now, I am still regretting the moment. I should have just let the fish tire out or get a net to lift it out of the water. Why why why????. The honour of catching such a fine fish would have to wait. (the fish is reputable for good porridge eating. chinese calls it SaiToh).

After losing the jig, I only had another but it was bigger. This didn't work and for rest of the night, no more wolf herrings for me. Also no sotong at all, while Gary's group were having good success in caught quite a few sotongs. I lost my only pink color (pioneer) one on the kelong stilts and that was it. The sotongs wouldn't go near my other 2 bluish sotong jigs at all. A tried her hand at sotong jigging but she got bored and jigged up a king crab instead with the sotong jig instead.

Also, the kelong was a nesting home to many swallows. You can actually see them just under the kelongs. A used her hands to creep up upon a sleeping pair and managed to catch one. :D. We let it go later unharmed.

Some of the ladies were still going at the tamban fishing till late at night, braving the slight drizzle while the others were bathing and cleaning up and having rounds of mahjong and karaoke. Around, 12am to 1am, most of us went to sleep. It had been a tiring day and despite the relatively uncomfortable place, I too fell into a sleep quite soon. (Actually, the bed was ok, not itchy or anything)

The next day, I got up pretty early. Not too sure what the time was but it was dark and everyone was still sleeping. There was a large group of todaks around the kelong and I hooked up a tamban and floated it near to them. But they were really smart fishes and wouldn't touch it. Somehow, they could detect the lines and eyed my bait with caution. I tried a bit of luring and also no success. I got a few bites, nothing hard and definitely no hook ups. I did a little sotong jigging, but no sotong luck for sure this time round.

The sun soon broke out of the morning sky and the others started fishing again. I stayed at the area near the boat landing and using tamban jig with bread, I caught a few fishes, one of which is a nice looking fish that even Eric couldn't ID.

There were a few large looking fishes (4 of them) circling our kelong. I couldn't see what they are but they are definitely big fishes. The todaks were also back in big groups. But funny, the fishes were not biting this morning. For a while, it was rather quiet. But the uncle managed to hook up a nice looking yellow tail.

The sun was rather hot and not very comfortable for fishing. We counted our catch and hey, not too bad indeed. Gary and friends were impressed. I guessed that they didn't do much of tamban jigging. I decided to clean up my gear and pack up. We left the place around 1pm and I said my farewells to some nice friends that I have met. Wonder if we would see each other again. During lunch, we found out that Eric's group vists kelong like once every month. Wow, they are definitely very siao about fishing. D wanted to come again to the keong next week. They all laughed and said that she can join the group already.

Drive back was very hot. The sun was really beating down on us and the aircon had to work doubly hard to get the car cooled down. The effects of having very little sleep started to hit me and while I was driving, I kept wanting to nod off. After a while, it was too dangerous to continue so and I asked A to take over the driving. The stretch here from Sibu to Johor was quite easy driving and she didn't have any trouble with that. For a while, I dozed off in the car till we stopped somewhere for a bite and refuel. Reached home around 5.30pm, and while A got busied with cleaning up all the fishes. I put this up together for good remembrance of a wonderful time that we had.

More pics of Hotboys Kelong:
Fishing well

Area I used my surf rod

Our sleeping quarters

Dinner and kitchen area

Washing area


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