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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hot Boys Part 2

This had been in the plan for a while to organise one for colleagues in the office. Response was not too bad, so today saw 9 of us trekking up our northern neighbour at the wee hours of the morning. The expedition comprised of Shirli and LaoGong, the 3 Js, Jeff, Juliana and Justin, Michael from Sales, Dennis the Menace, Teng Chin and I. Since mine was an OPC, I would had to cross the borderline by 7am. Everyone was surprisingly punctual and by the time I came out of the lift, almost everyone was already there was there with that half asleep face waiting at the void deck.

Danga Bay.

We loaded up and passed the infamous Woodlands custom smoothly. Since it was still quite early, I routed them to Danga Bay for a quick breakfast and some morning coffee quickie. But only a single stall was open due to the fasting month. So, everyone just had to content with having Nasi Goreng for breakfast. The food was so so but fussy Jeff gave it the thumbs down.

Landmark enroute to Tanjong Leman.

On the boat.

Around 7.30am, we moved off to Tanjong Leman jetty. The ride there was quite busy at the earlier stretch but everyone was complaining that I was moving too slow. The traffic eased off during the later stage and we reached the jetty a little late. But no matter, as the boat had to wait for another group of late comers. So it was that we waited for another half hour before boarding the boat. Some had more food and a little shopping around the very small number of souvenir shops.

The boat ride there was to take another half hour. Weather today was very cooling due to the cloudy skies. In fact, for the whole duration of the trip, weather was very good. Mr sun had decided to take a break. Only thing was that flash rain that came and went away in an instant.

Reaching the Kelong, first time to do was to fish. Everyone settled in and started rigging up the rods. Michael was first and had a good run with some decent catches of parrot fishes and what nots. All these on the worms that I smuggled in from Singapore. I had also brought in $10 worth of prawns, but we thought of using it during the night and didn't touch much of it.

Demostration #1.

Diligent students.

Shirli's first catch.

The fishing master.

TC's string of 3. He was a happy man.

For the rest who were fishing for the first time, most had their virgin catches without much difficulty. There was a sudden wave of tambans they had fun catching them. Only Juliana and Justin was not getting anything due to the difficulty with casting and the line getting entangled. But the effort paid off and Juliana finally got a nice rabbit fish and Justin a sergeant (sort of a damselfish). I didn't have much time to fish having to help around with the lines and stuff. But I wasn't quite interested in the smaller fishes, hoping instead to get the biggies. My target for this trip was to get my first Sotong and my first wolf herring (belt fish). A todak would be nice, but that was not on the priority list.

My long rod on prawns didn't seem to get anything and was eventually only managed to get a small indian snapper. (There were lots of indian snapper, although quite small size). The other common catches were pink ear Emperor and Spangled Emperor. These were quite good fighters and was a joy to catch, especially on my light tackle. They seemed to take sotong strips readily.

Nice pose on a spangled Emperor.

My giant sillago. TC wanted to pay $10 for it.

I managed to get quite a big sillago (my biggest ever). I got tired of small fishes after a while and setup a cable car rig. Michael and TC passed some live catches and I pinned it on a line and slided it down. On my first try, we saw a todak hit the bait the moment it touched water. I tried to strike but could get a good hook up and it got away. Darn #1. I rigged another and went off to play with my long casting surfleader. In the midst, Teng Chin found me and told me that everyone was looking high and low for me. Seemed that my cable car had a catch. We ran there and Michael was holding on to the line. But since I was using a baitcaster, he didn't know how to operate it. But there wasn't any fight and I was just pulling in the line. Strangly, a fish seemed to be following the line in. To my horrors, there actually was a todak on my line. I tried to strike but it was too late and ineffective. It did an impressive aerial jump, and waved goodbye to me. Darn #2.

Soon it was comming to evening time and I setup my white rabbit jig, hoping for a wolf herring. I casted a few thousand times and on one attempt, I felt a resistence and I struck. Sure enough, there was a wolf herring and in my zeal as I reeled in, it did an aerial jump and managed to throw the hook. Darn #3. Man, this was not my day.

Giant Squid!

Disappointed, I tried catching sotong. But tried as I may, no sotong. I asked around from the kitchen helpers and confirmed that my rig is correct. But cast after cast, and still no sotong. I was so disappointed and broken. Jeff laughed at me saying that I should be enjoying myself. Darn #4. Later in the night, someone finally caught a sotong, and a green eye one no less. Encouraged, I immediately immediately went back to my sotong jigging. But STILL no sotong for me. A girl had the most impressive catch of a monster squid and it actually needed a net to get it up. Wow, everyone in the kelong came around to get a glimpse. Incredible.

Most the guys tucked in early and it was left with Michael, TC and me continuing the fishing. I tried my sotong jigging until around 12.30am and I gave up and tried to get some sleep. There was a loud karaoke session going on and most didn't have any good rest. The fishes were not quite biting too due to the loud din. I couldn't be fishing through the night as I had to drive tomorrow. So a shuteye was compulsory. But unfortunately, shuteye was quite impossible as M and TC were quite noisy snorers. I struggled a bit and decided to give my sotong jiggin another try. Sitting on the chair by the kelong well, I did a zombified cast and retrieve routine. So there I was just throwing and retreiving as if it was just an exercise and there was suddenly an incredible feeling of a bite. Instinctively, I gave a light tug and looked into the well. There was a cloud of black ink as I reeled it up and at the other end, was the most beautiful catch ever. A Sotong! Some people came over to look and as I was holding it, it "peeded" onto my legs. Yucks! I was so excited that I took the sotong and went to Jeff to show to him. Waking up grudingly, he helped take some pics for good memories. But unfortunately, the pics were only from my HP. (poor quality). Mr photographer was already in dreamland by now.

Feeling charged, I went back to my wolf herring hunt and cast a few more hundred times. I was trying it out on the platform where a chinese guy and 2 ozzies where there doing their fishing. On one bad cast, I crossed their rods and I apologised and changed direction. They were jokingly say that I might catch a fish after casting in the wrong direction. I was hoping so too and smiled politely. But nope, still no catch. But due to that, I casted the line at the usual stretch that our group fished mostly. On the second cast, I got an electrifying hit. One thing about wolf herrings was that they were fierce predators (hence the wolf name) and would hit a lure with force. Wow, I struck a few times just to make sure and I reeled in very fast before the creature realized what happened and to do the aerial dance. Luck was with me and I managed to pull it in fast and swung it up onto the kelong floor. The moment it landed on the floor, I was filled with relief. Finally!!!. I fell onto the floor to give thanks to whoever up there. The Ozzies all came over to have a look and they were all duly impressed. The fish was bleeding quite badly from the jig. I had a few pics taken and rushed off to show the guys. So excited was I that I actually woke TC and Juliana from their beautiful slumber just to see my catch. (sorry!)

So, it came to past that I managed to achieve my target (my so called KPIs) and made my stay here worthwhile. After that, I went to catch forty winks to make sure that I had enough rest. Mission accomplised, I was feeling restful and contented. Dream was wolf herring chasing the blur sotongs round and round the coconut tree)

The next morning, M was the first to start fishing. He was certainly a certified fishing nut. I followed but didn't quite do any serious fishing. The kelong had a boat going to the Sibu island beach and I decided to go along to see what the island looked like. Some of us came along. M and TC was still very much into the fishing and didn't waste any time.

Looking for shells.

The "ah beng" reading a book.

Reaching the island jetty.

Sibu football field

The island was quite smallish and only took a 5 minutes walk to trek over to the other end from the jetty. The beach was quite nice, although not the best. Many coral stones and sea shells for the picking. Ah meng took us a rocky end and it looked quite interesting. But unfortunately, we were all bitten by some insects (I didn't think it was sandflies) and it itched quite badly. [edit: confirmed was sandflies]

Counting our harvest.

We returned to the kelong around 11+am and we started packing and got ready for lunch. Money was all to be paid up and we settled all the payment. Lunch was quite good and we had a nice chat while waiting for the boat to arrived.

The journey back was uneventful and we managed to hit Singapore around 5pm. By then, I was quite tired already. All in all, it was a good trip and everyone enjoyed it. I was sure that many would come again in the near future.

At the Jetty.

View of the whole kelong.

The Kelong front.

Colorful fish. Whitecheek Monocle Bream.

Butterfly Whiptail.

File fish, Kunning, Emperor, Golden Snapper, Tamban

Rabbit Fish.

Saw-jawed Monocle Bream.

Yummy Supper. Thumbs up.

Another TC catch.

Another nice fish.

Eh, how does this thing work?

Another pretty fish

Nice looking fish. [Indo-pacific King Mackerel]

The kelong well

"Jeff" Chow

The long jetty of Palau Sibu.

Nice top shell

Sandflies attack!

Reading the "Dummies guide to kelong".

"Mount Fuji"

Server down?

Dennis discovered my camera's Macro mode.

Colorful wild grass.

Pirates of the Carribean.

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