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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ah Yew Kelong

Taking the road less travelled. (Route via Sedili)

I was there finally, on my 7th kelong trip to be exact. This weekend seemed like a good time as most people would fill the kelong during the coming long holidays. I took the alternate route to Leman via Sedili. The drive there was certainly better, as there were very few cars on the road. We got lost a few times, but that was quickly rectified by asking some locals along the way. We reached the Jetty kind of early at about 9am. We had a quick bite and shortly Eric and gang arrived. Bus unloaded quite a sizable crowd of Eric, Jim, the four uncles (Robert, Ah Hwa, Vincent and Lee) and Wilson and girlfriend.

Welcome to Sibu

Weather was superb, there was an earlier rainfall on the way. So, it was quite cooling throughout the day. There was another group of about 10 people...but we realized that was it. Total count of people on the kelong was just about 20+ odd people. Ah Yew Kelong had just added a new wing and the space in the kelong for fishing was just perfect. Water current was very strong. Till now, I wasn't too sure if strong current was a good thing or not.

We had this space all to ourselves

Our DIY bait well

Upon arrival, we all quickly assembled our gear and started fishing. I used my cooler box to setup a makeshift bait well using a ac pump that I had brought along. Everyone quite like the idea and soon the "aquarium" was filled up with fishes...but baits were quite rare. This was due the fishes not biting. We were all pulling out smallish orange fishes (baby indian snapper), that after the 100th time, were getting quite irritating. I finally got my first tamban after like half an hour. The fishing was not looking good, with tamban being such a scarcity.

Got this funny looking clam with my Worm Gulp!

This Prawn Gulp! was eaten alive by all the tiny fishes in the well

Since no live bait, I set about using my Berkely Gulp that I brought along. I had with me the shrimp bait and the worm bait. But neither was effective. Shrimp bait, I dropped it into the well by the kitchen, hoping for a parrot or grouper. But on the return, shrimp bait was all eaten apart by the multitude of small fishes. No chance for any parrot to come along to see this intact. A guy was there target Parrots with live crabs. He had a whole icebox full of live crabs and was spending the whole time at the kitchen well.

I cast out 2 rod for bottom fishing. I had this very strong take in the afternoon. Eric happened to be beside my rod. From the other end of the kelong, I saw my rod jumped and almost fell into the water even though the drag was loosen. Eric quickly grabbed the rod for me. But shortly after he got it, the line snapped. Reeling back, I discoverd my braided line being cut. Goodness, must had been a biggie. Too bad I didn't have wire leader. But then again, it broke at the mainline. Hmmmm...

A with her biggest Todak.

A had fun with todak fishing again, and she was lucky today to catch a big sized todak. She had some trouble pulling up the fish due to the weight. But it was finally landed with help from Wilson, and we saw that it was foul-hook on the top of the body. Interesting, else the line would have been cut off. But even todaks were not plentiful, and also since we didn't have much live bait, her catches for this trip was just a handful.

Todak on Tamban Jig! My biggest fish on Tamban Jig

I also had this strange luck with todak. I was jigging and I got this small bait fish on the way up. A todak came out from nowhere and took the fish. For some reason, it didn't let go and in one draff action, I actually managed to lift the whole fish up on my thin tamban jig lines. This fellow was destined to be caught by me.

Beautiful photo of fish and lure

Wilson with his biggest catch ever. His Remora was bigger than mine.

Wilson got out this funny looking rubber lure on float and casted out to the sea. While reeling in, he discovered he was hooked on a fish. I saw that he had gotten a "slipper" fish (Remora). It was quite amazing that this fellow went for his rubber lure. Usually they are scavenger type of fish, going for morsels of fish meat and small fishes. But it was a good catch for Wilson and after many rounds of photos, it was released.

Front view of Remora

Top view of Remora with the shoe print

How it was "hooked"

Few hours later, I also caught something on my big rod. As I was pulling back my line, I felt a resistance and the fish fought and peeled off my lines. I yelled out to get some help. After a few minutes, the fish surfaced and it turned out to be another Remora. This time, it was a little smaller than Wilson's one, but still about 2+kg, my guess. Funny thing was that the fish was not hooked on the lip, but kind of foul hooked on the side and twirled around my fireline until it was constricted by my lines. It was quite heavy and Eric ran around to try to get a gaff. But strangely, this kelong didn't have one!? Since this was a Remora, I thought it no lost if the line were to snap. I took my big game rod and lifted it out of the water. Luckily the line held firm and I managed to land the fellow on the deck.It was quite a fiesty one, and slapped its tail as I tried to unhook it. The middle section of the body was squeezed and strangled by my line. I quickly snipped it off and relieved the fish of the discomfort. Since this was the first time for me too, I took some pics and scored another first on fishing on kelong. After that, I dropped it head first into the sea and saw it swam quickly away.

Big Yellow Tail on Tamban Jig!

Eric and Jim caught the wave of fishes in the evening, and he was lucky to land a good size Yellow Tail on his tamban jig. Talk about fishing luck, he sure have lots of it. It was kept alive in the 'aquarium" until we had to leave the next day.

Big squid

Small squid (actually, the same squid)

Night came, and Eric started using lure to aim for parangs. But no parangs were around. I tried some squidding, but as usual, no luck. I did some luring too, and also, no luck. I went back to tamban jigging, and ALSO, no fish. We sighted a sizable Barracuda circling around the kelong. From the top, it looked like a 10 pounder and about 1.5m long.

But Jim broke the monotony of the night when he did squidding with his cheap orange squid lure and got a sizable squid. I was very excited with the prospect of getting sotong again. As my rod was ready with my Yozuri ShrimpHunter, out it went and was shortly rewarded with a tug and when it surfaced, a sotong....a respite after so many trips of being sotongless. I took it back to Eric at the "aquarium" and thought of keeping it alive to be used for bottom later. But the squid squirted out its ink and while Eric was putting it into the "aquarium". It shot a massive inky load onto Jim and Eric. Poor Eric was all splattered with black ink, Jim suffered a little casualty. I was lucky to be some distance away. Boy, was that squirting powerful. The "aquarium" also all turned black. We quickly changed the water and took the squid out. Not to waste it, I rigged it onto my bottom rod and cast out.

I went back to my squidding and was quite rewarded with 3 more sotongs. But they were all smaller than Jim's first one. I managed to keep one in the live bait(after ensuring it discharged its content first). But my second one in the live well dirtied the water again . We had to go through the water changing routine. Well, I hook up the sotong and cast it out as well. The rest would go into the icebox.

It was already about 1am, and feeling tired, I crawled back to bed and planned for another morning attack at 5.30am.

After a wet drizzle

But morning came and the fishes were still not biting. Eric was lucky to get a small barracude on his pin minnow, but that was about it. I trying some more squidding and some more luring, all without results. Tambans and Selars also didn't arrive although it was like eating time for them. There was a passing rainfall and no fishing was possbile. So, the morning was quite a drag and all of us packed early. It was the first time that I was waiting on the kelong to go home. Quite bad indeed. But having said that, the fishing condition for this trip was in fact the best. Few people, no sun, cooling wind. But alas, where had all the fishes gone to?

Just as we were about to leave, a group of us were standing on the platform looking at the other group catching todaks. Out of the blue, someone spied a leatherback? turtle swimming near the kelong. I yelled out to the people inside and all of them dashed out to have a look. Boy, it was surely a lucky sight. To be able to view wild turtle anywhere else in the world was a rare thing. But the sighting was short and just a couple of glimpses, before it dived into the water and disappeared. I tried getting it on film but it was all over too quickly for me to record it down.

Generally, it was a pleasant and restful trip. Though the fishing was not too eventful, there was still a first for me, and my few sotongs to brag about. But the fishing itch wasn't quite scratched and it shouldn't be long before the next trip again. :)

Youngest boat"girl" in Sibu

View of new Wing from the bed

This was almost ALL of our baitfish catches

The big tub in front of our quarters

Kumpong girl having rice. She dumped the veg while Mommy wasn't looking.

This tiny fish was abundant (indian snapper). Unfortunately, not good as bait

My sotong jig kept picking up these from the sea. Funny Q-tip looking things

Good toilet facilities

The Pokemon craze and her Pokemon

Oil tank behind the generator. Wonder why it was boiling?

The other end of the kelong

All the electrical juice came from here

The kitchen well. Man was fishing for Parrot with live crabs

The old wing undergoing renovation

Dining area

Sleeping Quarters

Covered corridor for fishing in the rain

Bench for working

Give a girl a fish, she eats for a day, teach her fishing.....

All my miserable catches for the trip

Sotong hands

Scissors, Paper, stone...

How would I lift this fellow up with no gaff?

Fishing girl

A's biggest todak

Glimpse of Leatherback Turtle (Too late for camera to catch a good pic, only top glimpse before it dived into the sea)

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