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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ah Ngan Revisited

I had been pining to go Ah Yew, to complete my tour of the kelongs in Sibu. But alas, due to the start of the school holidays, Ah Yew was fully booked. Eric suggested to go Ah Ngan, which was ok with me, as it was there I did my hat trick of a Queen and a Cobia. When that was done, I would have evenly gone to all 3 others kelongs twice, giving me a good idea of the comparision
between them. So far, my vote was with Ah Ngan, as the helpers there were friendlier and gave better service. This time round, since Eric had some problems rounding up his kakis for the trip, we decided to go light with just the 3 of us. (including his dad) in my tiny car.

I picked them up in the early morning at 6am and surprisingly, it didn't take too long and we were at the checkpoint by about 6.30am. Traffic wasn't too bad considering that this was the beginning of the Mar holidays. Unfortunately at the Malaysian side, we were stuck in a slow moving queue for about 1/2 hour. Probably the girl at the counter was new. But still, it was quite smooth going. After the custom, we changed some money along the road and headed for Leman jetty at about 7.30am from the JB side. We might have been early if not for some accident along the way. There was this logging truck that overturned and it was a sight to see all the tree logs spilling all over the road. Too bad my camera was in my bag in the boot. Because of the accident, traffic jam was a long tailback on both sides of the road. But good thing we were not too far from the accident spot and we cleared it like in 1/2 hour. After that, it was brisk and we reached the jetty at about 9.30am.

Ended up we had to wait for the other people scheduled for the boat as they were probably delayed by the same accident. Soon we were on the boat and reached Ah Ngan at about 11am. We busied ourselves with the setup and started fishing. But this time round, tambans were quite few and sparse and it wasn't easy to get them. I lost so many tamban jigs that it was beginning to be expensive to get them, considering the returns. Surprisingly, there wasn't much people on the kelong from the morning till the afternoon. Looked like quite a lot went to the beach or boat fishing. So, the fishing was quite comfortable even though the kelong was supposedly full. The night was little more crowded but still managable. In fact this time round, I didn't have any crossed line or anything.

This trip, I was feeling more experimental and went to try out my rubber salty, my rubber worm jig and some lures. My only target was for a tenggiri but that was a little hopeful thinking. I let out two lines for bottom, and this time round, with a bit of wire leader at the hook. Given the last encounter with Barracudas, I saw the importance of having a bit of wire at the hook. I was hoping for a biggie (Tenggirri would be nice) and didn't want to take chances in case I got something toothy. But wasn't too sure if for this trip, my catch rate was quite bad due to the wire as I had very few bites and was pulling back the bait alive and kicking.

For that afternoon, Eric didn't have luck too, except for a rare catch of a flat fish. (about 1.5 ft long). I drifted a ballon and inevitably got a todak. After that, I stopped the ballooning as it was quite ueseless. Night came and Eric change tactics for his usual parangs. For all the trips with Eric, I had never failed to see him getting a few. But for this time, the catch was a fat 0. But one guy in the kelong did get one though. Eric had observed that he was quite the expert. Someone later got a around 2kg grouper. (heard on parang meat). Not sure if it was him. Seemed like this guy had been there for a few weeks. Wow.

Beaming Eric with Cobia

Eric and Dad with his Cobia

Eric got lucky at around 10-11pm and hit a cobia. I was at another corner of the kelong and didn't get to see him fight (around 7 mintues). He appeared in front of me and informed me about the Cobia and I quickly went over to see his prize catch. The cobia was fairly small one (around 2kg). But nevertheless, it was a good one for Eric. I could see him beaming all over. :). We took some pictures and I recorded a video clip for memory. Rig was on live tamban hooked at the mouth and again, hook was fairly small one. (around size 4). Interestingly, there would be some "helpful" people that would come over and tell us that this was a shark or a sucker fish or some crazy notion, even when we said it was a cobia.

Nice looking fish on tamban jig at night

Rubber Salty

My rubber salty wasn't doing anything except giving me an aching arm. Lures also no effect, day or night. But surprisely, my rubber worms were getting bites from todaks consistently. But no hookups as the todaks were too smart and should have released it the moment they realized it was a fake. Nighttime, my shrimphunter also didn't get anything. But to be fair, I wasn't try hard enough. But no one else was also getting sotong. But again, no one else was doing squidding too. I wasn't quite in the mood for parangs too and didn't aim for them. Since I was to drive next day, I grabbed a shuteye around 12, planning to wake at 5am to continue my fishing.

Me Kel Kar-ying at the kelong

My "biggest" catch of an Emperor

View of the "crowd" in the morning

The next morning, my plan was quite daunted with my inability to get any live tambans for bait. I think my catch rate was around 2-3 bait fish per hour. I did some lures, some jigs and came up with nothing. Anyway, just being out on the deck in the morning was nice so I was taking it easy and trying to enjoy the fishing, whether got fish or not. Eric came around and helped me with my bait fishing and I did manged to throw out some lines for bottom. But unfortunately till around 10+am, still nothing. My only catch was a fairly big emperor (2 palm size) that went for my live tamban and fought hard upon hookup. These fishes, were quite a good fighter for their comparative size.

Ballooning tactic (tiny speck on the right of the rod)

Balloon on zoom

Seeing that the wind direction was quite good (blowing directly away from the kelong), I threw out another balloon and hoped to drifted it far out to go beyond the todaks zone. But my line was limited and I couldn't go too far. My first attempt, my line was completely spooled until I see the metal. There was a bite but alas, a pesky todak again. I landed it and was trying to unhook the fish when it was exhausted but the hook was way too deep. My hands slipped and slided across the teeth just a little bit and got myself a nip. Wow, it sure was sharp and my fingers bled a little. Couldn't imagine what if it was actually going after my hands. I went to wash my hands and came back and found the todak missing. Hmmm....where did it go?

Eric with his Remora.

Remora that shitted all over

Eric got lucky again and someone helped his rod to pull up a remora. While they were not highly prized as a catch, but it was quite an interesting fish. As we were taking out the hooks, the remora literally shitted all over with its dark greenish pooh. Yucks.

Ah Ngan himself

We packed around 11am. Ah Ngan himself came over to chit chat with us. Eric and his dad being long time customers were quite familiar with him. He sure had lots of stories about the fishing that was abundant in the early days. According to him, fishes now were much smaller and fewer, probably due to the extensive trawling acitivites. He also shared with us how kelongs are built and some of the associated cost of maintaining and runnin a kelong. Seemed like the kelong was built all the way back in 1950+. That sure was a long time. Trip back was quite smooth and we had wanted to visit Jusco for some coffee. Unfortuanately, the place for some reason was very packed with long queues to the carpark. I decided to give it a miss and we headed back for singapore and touched down around 4pm. Seemed like Eric and dad had not tried peacock bass fishing yet. We made plans to try that in the near future.

My "tiniest" catch. Just a few lengths of the tamban hooks. All released.

Someone using todak meat as bait

Naughty boy that ran around the kelong barefooted.

Eric's cobia (VIDEO)

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