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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)


Anonymous said...

can you tell me the contact number for the ah guan kelong?thanks

nafishnafish said...


Btw, it is Ah Ngan Kelong. :)