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Saturday, February 24, 2007

New stuff - Super Stren and Coleman

After the last trip, lots of things to replenish. Just spooled a new line for my D5. Getting to like braid more and more for its sensitivity. Had wanted to get fireline for 14lb. But on second thots, would like to have a set for 20lbs, just to have some options. I had been using my D5 more for bottom fishing, so 20lbs should be more suitable. Ended up got quite an expensive line with Stren Super Braid as Joe Tackle didn't have 300yd of 14lbs in Green.

From the website: "A superline that has it all! Introducing New Stren Super Braid with Advanced Microbond Technology. This remarkable line offers all the super line qualities that fishermen demand - like superior strength and sensitivity, plus several important characteristics that most other braids can't match. Stren Super Braid features unmatched handling and casting performance. The line resists fraying and fading; knots cinch down tight. The result is a line that performs beautifully, casts effortlessly, and maintains its roundness and extraordinary strength longer."

At $32 for a was downright expensive. But I liked the flouro orange color line. And felt very flexi too...unlike a 20lb fireline. Completing my color collection :P

Also finally got a decent sized Icebox. I had already outgrown the small puny one that I used to tag along. This is a Coleman 50Qt icebox with wheels, and a little tap to drain the water out. Was on offer at Carefoure for $69.90.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ah Fatt Kelong - Razor Attack

Misty road to Leman

The four terrors of the kelong

It was just barely two weeks ago that I had been to a kelong. But when Eric said he was going to Ah Fatt this CNY, it tempted me to join him. First day of CNY seemed good as there should be quite few people, assuming most people would be out visting. Furthermore, with the 4 days break, it seemed like quite a waste of holidays if I wouldn't do something adventurous. So, in a short notice of a day or two, I was off bounded for another killing at the kelong (hopefully). This time round, I brought along Era, her first trip to a kelong.

I am finally here!

Friendly manja cat at the jetty

We reached there quite early this time and had time for a leisurely breakfast and simple shopping. Strangely, along the way, it was very misty and I could barely see beyond 100m. Eric and gang arrived just after 9.30am as their van had missed the turn. There was some re-modelling of the area and I almost missed the turn too.

This time, I had the chance to fish with most of his family, his sister, brother, sister-in-law and his two niece and nephew. It was good to catch up again although it was just a short while ago that I had last seen them. After rounds of Gong Xi Fa Chai and the usual pleasantries, we set off to Ah fatt. The water this time round was calmer and clearer too. The sun was quite hot, but that was standard for this time of the day.

Photo after touchdown

My first 2 barracudas!

What big teeths you have!

Twitching baitfish despite the missing lower half. Fish took tamban jig, Barracuda whacked fish

Upon settling down in the kelong, we rigged up and I was the first to hit something strong. In my cluminess, I grabbed my rod and struck, but I was careless to have my fingers in the path of the braided lines. It sliced my fingers a little, but luckily, it wasn't too deep. But when I pulled up, the hook was missing and all. The other rod with the apollo also came up clean with the two hooks missing. Eric and gang immediately knew they were dealing with the razor gang - barracudas. They had come prepared and rigged up hooks with wire. I had my wire too, but alas, it was too thick and I didn't think that the fishes would take the bait. In no time, Eric's family were pulling up barracudas one after the other. They had this special cuda rig, that I was soon to learn. Copying them, I also managed to get my first 2 cudas in a while. For their size, they sure fought like hell. These fishes were equipped with a set of incredible set of teeth. One of my bait that I pulled up had been sliced into half, and yet the bait didn't know that the other part was missing and was still twitching around. Really an eye opener. Someone had some luck and got a queenfish at one corner that afternoon.

A's first todak!

Beyond, I wasn't having much luck with any other fishes, certainly not the kind of catches that I was getting at ah ngan. I taught A how to catch a todak and she was hooked. Thereafter, tambans were no challenge for her and she busied herself catching about 10 todaks in total. The fast strike and acrobatic sure was impressive for a beginner. Due to that, I was very low in my supplies for bait fish and didn't throw out my lines often enough. The children took the tamban rod and had fun themselves fishing. Also due to the constant cutting off of the rigs by the cudas, I was quite unprepared for this trip.

My first of the two parangs I got on the regular dead meat rig

Come night time, it was worst. The supply of live bait was non-existence. But Eric and gang busied themselves with parangs and they were very successful. He got this powerful lure that he could get parangs after parangs. Again, I took some lessons from Eric on parang fishing, but I didn't have any luck getting one that night. There was a sudden commotion at around 12am and there was a triple hookup around that time. Somebody got a cobia and it swam from left to right and tangled up everyone's line. Then in the middle, someone landed a giant barracuda. I was helping eric to untangle his line that he left at a corner. But when I pulled, there was a reaction. After I managed to get the line untangled, I found a fish at the other end. In the dark, it looked like a cobia. I was excitedly calling for Eric to come fight the fish. But on closer look, it turned out to be a slipper fish (remora). That was quite a disappointment for Eric as slipper fish is quite useless. (can't eat). Around 1am, I thought I should sleep a little as I had to drive the next day. I set the alarm for 5am to resume my parang hunt. The morning hours, the parangs came in a wave and everyone was pulling up parangs after parangs. I myself got lucky and landed 2. But once daybreak, the parangs were gone for good.

Baby Barracuda hit lure.

I tried my hand at some morning hours luring and was rewarded with 2 small barracudas attacking my yozuri crystal minnow. Although small, it was quite fun. But no luck for more exotic fishes like GT, which Eric got the last time.

That morning, I got a good bite with the rod dipping but I was very clumsy due to my oily hands from all the tambans. I held my rod to strike but dropped it instead. Thereafter, the opportunity was gone. I only got to pulled up an empty rig. That sure felt like a sizable one. Other than that, nothing much else. The children had fun under the tutorage of Eric to challenge themselves in a mock competition. I had a terrible birdnest on my record and wasted quite a lot of time trying to untangle the lines.

Good trip, although not as lucky as the last time. I missed the photo opportunity to take pictures of the children fishing. But I sure learnt quite a bit this trip. I was satisfied to set another first for barracudas and parangs on dead meat this time round.

A's flying todak

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Recce in the South and Six Pipes

Tide this weekend was quite good at around 4pm. But ended up on Sat, I went Fan hunting instead. Came sunday, thought not to miss out this opportunity and wanted to try out six pipes. D wanted to blade, so a park with fishing spot was needed.

But along the way, I passed by Marina South. I had read about the new Ferry Terminal there and I made a detour to go check it out. Turned out that it looked like a promising spot. Only problem was that the parking lots around there were paid ones. Like this, fishing would be expensive. But water really looked good and I should be trying out some time in the near future. Already there were rows of people fishing. I came out of the car, took a few quick snap shots and moved on.

We reached Six pipes around 2+pm. The sun then was hot like chilli padi. Problem with six pipes was that there was no shade whatsoever. I ended fishing with an umbrella over my shoulder. But my feet were not spared the hot burning sun, and I was left with deep slipper tan marks after the session.

After the elation of last week's catch, I was hoping to continue with my lucky streak. But it was to be otherwise. What went up, must come down. That day, I was fishing like a total newbie. Few times, thot I caught something but pulled up nothing. The nearby fishos were giving me dirty look. Lines were getting snagged too. But lots of small fishes there. I had setup 2 rods, my Lemax and my Ryobi. It was easy to catch small fishes, and I got a few tiny ones quite fast. That lifted my spirit a little, but then I started having lines snagging and all sorts of problems. Malay guy next to me was lucky and got a 500g pomfret on prawn meat. This is the second time I have seen people getting pomfret here. Seemed like a good spot for it.

Fishing gear were parked quite a distance away under the shade and the whole logistics of getting bait and changing lines made it very clumsy fishing indeed. Live prawns accidentally got the air cut off and died en masse. Someone came along later and squeezed me into a narrow zone for straight casting. Around 5pm, I had enough and called it a day. By then, total count was 1 small unidentified fish, 2 wrasse, 1 cardinal, 1 catfish, 1 silver biddy. I would have released some fishes but because I didn't have the camera, I kept it to take some photos. But photos ended blurred and poorly taken.

Would be back for more serious pomfret attempts in the future.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ah Ngan Kelong - What a Difference a Day Makes

I had planned this trip for awhile and had tried to see if any of PFs wanted to go. Unfortunately, no takers. So, 2 days before the trip, I sort of cancelled the trip. Anyway timing wasn't too great either as I was in the midst of a project and had some assignments to hand up.

But all that was to change when I received a SMS from Eric, whom I met at the previous kelong trips. It was a good chance to fish with an old hand in kelong fishing and it would be nice to meet his family again. So, I agreed and con-incidentally, TC also cleared his work and was able to make it.

We drove up in 1 car and reached the kelong quite fast this round. We arrived at the Jetty at about 9.10am but the boat was to wait since I didn't think they want to make 2 trips that day. We had breakfast and met up with Eric's group later. But this round, his wife and woman friend with her daughter didn't come. But he and his dad was with 4 other friends. Weather was nice but wind was strong. The waves at the jetty was quite choppy and high. The boat trip there was like a roller coaster ride and D got a little dizzy on arrival. I was seated outside the boat and was splashed all wet by the turbulent water. My wallet was all soaked wet.

Nice pic of my first fish - Tamban on Metallic Sardine Jig.

Tamban on Jig closeup

Some serious Tamban Jigging

Easy to get a string of six

We settled down and got on to preparing our rods and lines. But before you know it, lunch bell ranged (at 11am). Food was ok, nothing fantastic, but nothing too bad. After lunch, Eric came around to tell me that there were tambans at a certain corner of the kelong. Naturally, we all got our tamban jigging arsenal and proceeded to do some serious "tambaning". I setup my Metallic sardine and did some metal jigging. To my amusement, I hit on a tamban. Bait fish jigging for the rest was fast and furious but bottom fishing yield nothing, with sotong or with fish meat. We were only able to hit tambans and more tambans, with the occasional kunnings and selar. Due to the choppy waves, the water was very murky. We reasoned that the fishes couldn't see very well and hence, bite rate was very low for bottom fishing.

Nevertheless, I did what I always would do. I rigged up a LSBF (long leader with single hook) on a live tamban. Now my rods were all contended for with A and D and that left me with only my 2 bc rod for fishing. Funny thing was that, I was chatting with Eric on how to catch a Queenfish. He was saying that he had never got one before, but the technique was to do bottom with live fishes. Nothing to lose, I followed his instructions and casted out near the boat berthing area.

First todak - on balloon

Todak closeup

I had read about a certain technique using balloons. I went on to play with ballon fishing and was having quite some fun with it. But it was hard to control the direction of the current flow and wind direction and as a result, I crossed a few people's line a few times. But I did get 2 hits on my tambans on balloons and managed 2 catches of todaks. It wasn't quite my intention of getting them, but I begun to realize that to catch anything else, you would have to penetrate the first line of defence, that is the todaks.

And lo and behold, around 4 in the afternoon, my parked rod took a serious dip and the bells went crazy ringing away. Luckily I was around and I grabbed the rod and tighten the slack and gave a sharp pull. To my horrors, it was a strong take and my lines were peeling off my spool very quickly. For some reason, I was using my Ryobi (my luring rod) on a 10lb fireline. As the tackle was rather light, I didn't dare to force the fish in. At first, I thot it was another todak as it splashed the water from a distance. It swam in outwards and resisted my attempts to stop. But it tired out soon and I managed to close up the distance. However, after catching its breath, it shot out again on a second run and went to the left side under the boats. By this time, my fireline was rubbing against the ropes tied to the boat. It was certainly not a good place and the chances of losing the fish was high. The kelong helpers and almost everyone was around me now. The gaff was prepared on hand and I was faced with the impossible task of getting this strong fellow in front of the kelong. It did a jump again and this time, we could see that it was a formidable Queenfish, and rather huge.

What is that fish??

Hanging on - my lucky gear


Heavy fish - hands losing grip

My Queenfish

Luck was with me and Queenie swam out of the danger zone and got back on the right again. Now, all I had to do was to pump this fellow nearer for the helpers to gaff it. By now, it was quite exhausted and I could lead it nearer. Down went the gaff for a solid hook and soon it was on deck. I was like almost fell onto the floor from all the excitement. Eric was laughing at how we were just talking about it. It was certainly no small feat and quite an achievement. From the size of it, I thought it was like 10kg....but no, a check on the weighing machine put it at 4.5kg.

After this, having achieved all purpose of being on the kelong, I was under no pressure to catch anything else. I went back to ballooning again. I floated out a balloon like usual. But this time, the take was so strong that my balloon blasted. From a distance I thought it was a todak again, but when I reeled in, it turned out to be more than a metre long parang. Wow, I tried to quickly land this fellow but my line crossed with A who was doing jigging at that time. In the moment hestiation, parang fish did his acrobatic jump and dislodged my hook but as he fell, it got caught on A's tamban jig. We tried to secure the 2nd hookup but the jigging hooks were too tiny to put a decent hold on the aggressive fish. In a few seconds, it manged to freed itself and swam quickly away. Such a waste.

Sotong jig catching...sotong jig.

The blurred todak that was foulhooked by my jig.

D with her sharp pointy fish (?)

Evening came and I setup for some jigging for saitoh(parang) and hopefully sotong. But the water was too churny and gave up on sotong after a while. I tried to do more jigging with my metallic sardine to see if it was effective. But all I got was a sore arm and aching back from all the throwing and casting. But nighttime, the todaks were out in force and a few times, they chased after the jig but without taking. One got cocky and let me drifted my jig near to him. On the spur of the moment, I gave a strong yank and foul hooked the shocked todak. The hookup was very solid and despite all it struggling, I got it on the deck in no time. This fellow sure was blurred what hit him.

I slept around 12am and the sleep was quite restful. I woke up around 6am and saw that some people had already started fishing. Eric told me that the had gotten 2 small GT on his lure, and some mackerals. Wow, that was like a nice catch. (note to self: GT on the target list).

I did some early morning jigging and I got a take on a parang. But alas, it did his head shaking and I lost it. I next switched to bottom fishing with sotong (that were not fresh) on my size 4 apollo hooks. Not much bites, but I did managed a small ACK. For all the small fish jigging, A managed a Yellow tail. D got some small pointy nose fish (I can't ID). I also managed a few Emperors, which for this trip, wasn't that plentiful. TC and I were along at one corner of the kelong while the rest were near to the kitchen doing jigging. Out of the blue, my rod with the unfresh sotong on apollo got a strong take. I fought it for a while and managed to bring it beneath the kelong. From a distance, I thought it was a cobia, it being dark in color. But it turned out to be Remora, which some would call slipper fish (those that follows sea turtle around with the top of the head like a sucker). It was quite long, about 1.5 - 2 metres. I was shouting out for "help help...gaff gaff!". A bespectacled guy came running to my assistance. But unfortunately, his gaffing skills were not good and he contacted my lines. After trying a few times, the line snapped. Haz! Another waste. I didn't managed to get any pictures, but TC was there and offered to be my witness of how I lost another biggie.

What a big fish!

My beautiful Cobia

Disappointed, I went over to the Eric's gang side where A and D were also. I rigged up again for small fishes with my apollo size 4. But A got some small kunnings and I thot they would make some nice bait for my size 4 hooks. So, I rigged it and casted about 10 metres away from the kelong. After some waiting, I saw the rod dipped. I picked it up and struck, but it didn't feel like anything. But to my surprise, once I reeled back, the fellow on the other end gave a very strong run and whipped out half my lines. People beside me started noticing that I was (yet again!) fighting with another biggie. (By this time, people must had been wondering who this fellow was, always getting big fish one...keke.) When it got nearer to the surface, it turned out to look like a shark. Wow! Again this was with my light tackle 10lb rod. I held on tightly and tried to control it to prevent it from going under the kelong. If that were to happen, the fight would be lost as the lines would certainly snap from the abrasion and possibly getting stuck somewhere. So it went left and right and then slightly into the kelong! I had thought the game was over. By this time, the kelong hands had the gaff ready and I need to position it well. But luck was with me and the cobia came out of the kelong and miraculously, the lines didn't get snagged. That was it, I pulled it out near the edge and the gaff when down. There was a miss and it got my lines, but it didn't snap. After about 5 or 6 tries, they managed to hook it solidly and soon it was on deck.

After pictures and video and all, we weighed it. It came out to be 3.5kg. Not bad at all. Wow, by then, I was famous. Mr "get the biggie all the time" guy. Haha. Even Eric couldn't believe how I was always getting them. Actually for this trip, the fishing was quite bad for everyone else, except for the tamban and todaks. There wasn't much to catch from all the strong waves and murky water. TC was grouchy throughout as he didn't get enough of Emperors (lengchiams, as he fondly called them, and his boontongs). The journey back, I had to buy a styrofoam box and kapok TC's box to transport all the fishes back. I was certainly outgrowing the little puny box I was bringing.

This trip was really something. In so short a time, I got 2 of my targets for the year. (A Queenie and a cobia). I had read so much of it in magazines and books and now, I had really experienced it first hand to fight these gamefishes. Even Eric was transferring his kelong king title to me. Haha. I guessed it all boiled down to persistance and luck. When lady luck is in, all you need to do was to setup the stage. A and D was also very excited about the trip. D said she didn't know that her daddy could catch such a big fish. Well, that certainly was the best endorsement ever.

Queenie Corner

It ran under this boat.

Water rationing

Kelong Well in the evening - A discovered the technique of berleying.

View of the boat

Sun tanning area

The main entrance with the TV

My Cobia corner

Cobia ran into the kelong stilts at this spot

Cobia side of the kelong



Dried Queenfish (not mine)

Braises from the fights, and pot belly

In the boat


Total catches, 3 bags full


Queenie (Part 1/4)

Queenie (Part 2/4)

Queenie (Part 3/4)

Queenie (Part 4/4)

Cobia (Part 1/4)

Cobia (Part 2/4)

Cobia (Part 3/4)

Cobia (Part 4/4)