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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Monsoon Fishing - Ah Ngan Kelong

At the office on Thurs, I got a sudden SMS from Eric to go Kelong this Sat. Just the day before, it was raining cats and dogs, with news about Johor flooding. Naturally everyone else that I asked to come along probably thought that we were crazy to fishing at the Kelong under this kind of weather condition. Truth be told, I was a little worried myself. But kelong in a Monsoon is safe, acting as a shelter from the elements. Only worry is the boat ride there. If the waves were too big, the ride would be very bumpy. And also the drive there in flood prone JB. I saw it as kind of different experience, and was keen to try how fishing in a full blown Monsoon would be like.

To beat the jam, we woke up early and crossed the causeway at 6.15am. But to my chagrin, it was already jammed starting from the turning after Woodlands town centre on the ramp. But the jam was moderate and we got over like in 20 minutes. From there, a quick change of Ringgets and we were on the way.

Heavy rain on the way there

We stopped here for toilet break

True to the weather report, it started raining, and was this way mostly along the way to Leman. We took the Sedili way, which I knew to be more flood resistant. Although it was raining and at parts quite heavy, we didnt' have any problems reaching Leman.

Gloomy weather over the kelongs

Reaching Leman, the rain subsided. We met up with Eric's family and were soon on the boat to Ah Ngan. Eric came with his Dad, Ann and husband (Another Eric) and their son, Edwin. The kids were glad to meet each other again and after that, fishing was secondary for them. In fact, they didn't touch the rod at all and spent all their time playing in the Kelong, with another newly made fish, ZhiAo.

Reaching there, we unpacked. And again, the Kelong helper came to say that we had to sleep on the upper and lower deck, citing that the Kelong was full. I was annoyed as everytime I came, I get the same old story, even though it couldn't be that the Kelong was full. Ignoring him, we took the other bunk instead and he relented and prepared 3 beddings for us.

First Selar

Ann husband (Eric)

Ann with one of her many Leng Chiams

Ice now come in this packaging

Eric's dad

Tiniest Leng Chiam (Emperor) I ever seen. Released

To our utmost surprise, the day in the kelong was not raining at all, and in fact, it even gotten hot. Actually, I came back from the trip with a little suntan. However due to the strong winds, the water was not clear, with alot of sediments being kicked up. Visibility was poor, and we could hardly see the fishes from the top. First fishing saw tambans on jig, and that was a good sign. In fact, Selars were in season and for the whole trip, everyone was getting them like in pailfuls of it.

Salty Rubber

I didn't do any jigging for bait fish, spending my time instead trying out all my lures. I had brought along some flies and wanted to test them out in the Kelong. But first experiment was with my Salty Rubber that I got. But try and try, nothing at all.

This was taken by a Todak

Next, with my flies, I cast out a grasshopper and tried luring with them. I got a good hit, and the fish was running away with my flies. I was trying to control it and got down on my knees to get a better leverage. But the excitement was short lived, and the line snapped. Later inspection showed it snapped at the leader. Signs of a toothy critter. My guess was that it was a todak. Leader only 8 lbs.




After that, I changed to a Bee fly but that didn't worked. Bees just not popular here. So no action for a while. Seeing that I didn't have any results, I started parking my rods with bells, and caught my first 3 tambans to use as live bait.

This Emperor took my Tamban bait meant for Bigger fishes!

Of the 3 rods, one went on a sporadic spasm of twitching. Checking the line, in came an Emperor (Leng Chiam). Goodness, this fellow was ambitious enough to go for my live tamban.

Came back with this after rod took 2 serious dip

The other rod (my black rose) took 2 sudden serious bents. But by the time I got to the rod, fish already gone. What a waste. 3rd rod, no action at all.

Somebody caught a slipper fish

Someone from another group got a Slipper fish. Quite a big fellow, and his line was spooling out as it dived into the water. Caused quite a bit of commotion.

So came dinner, I only caught 5-6 tambans while the rest had already plentiful of Selars and Tambans to bring home. A was fishing and leave that collection in that department to her.

How many Kelong helpers to change light bulb? Two, one to change and the other to throw it into the sea

After dinner, night started to fall. I tried some squidding but no action. No one else was getting any squid. I gave up and started to use my L-minnow to Lure. But the water was very murky, and visibility was poor. Due to that, hardly any taps. And also the rowdy all night long Karaoke, wasn't helping either. On one badly executed cast, reel accidentally locked and lure flew into the darkness.

Rare catches on jig

Night Selar jigging

Kunings at night

Future Mahjong Kaki

Everyone else was jigging for Selars. The Selars here seemed never ending. A got lucky and got 2 trevallies. She was to get another smaller one, and also a big eye (Selar looking fish)

Next change of lure, I used my Crystal Minnow. Around 10pm, I was just sitting at the edge of the Kelong doing my mindless cast and retrieve routine. Well, no fish, exercise also good. Some small taps started at the surface from todaks and small barras. The usual gang of predators on a dark windy night.

So about cast #3478, I got a sudden take. At first I was thinking a Parang. The tug wasn't that strong, but when I tried to retrieve it to the surface, the pull got stronger and stronger and it started spooling my reel. I was shocked and realized that the fellow at the other end was a huge fellow. The fight was strong and mean, with it spilling my lines effortlessly many times and lasted about 5 minutes. My curiosity was piqued and I really wanted to see what this was, before my lines were to snap. I was using my regular Record with 10 lbs on my Regno. Not heavy duty tackles.

When the fish broke surface, I saw it to be a big Barra with my lure nicely hooked on the lips. I looked around and couldn't see any of Eric's people, nor A or the children. I started shouting for help and someone to bring a gaff. From where I was sitting, I could see the Kelong manager just 20m from me. But either my shout wasn't loud enough or he was ignoring me. Seeing no response, I started screaming for someone and a man and a girl came running towards me. They were to tell me later that they thought I had dropped into the water and was screaming for ambulance. :P They asked what they could do. I shouted, "use the gaff, use the gaff". In my heart, I was worried that the lure would give way and I would lose the fish if they couldn't gaff it up in time.

Luckily, the gaff was just right in front of me on the Kelong floor. But the man didn't know how to do it. I was shouting, "get the Kelong helpers". But the helpers were no where to be seen. Man tried to gaff the fish but missed a few times. Each time, Barra would respond by swimming away and doing acrobatics on the water. Each time it did that, my heart would miss a beat. If Barra teeths were just to touch my 20lbs leader, it would be "bye bye" fish.

Me with my Barra

Eric with Barra (somehow it looked bigger)

Group pose with all the children

After about 5 times, the man finally got the hang of it, and successfully gaffed the Barra and brought it up. Once on the floor, it was mine. By now, the commotion had attracted lots of people, and I was naturally a happy man. I thanked the man and girl who came to my help. Without their assistance, I would have lost the fish. After this episode, I was quite angry with the Kelong helpers for their nonchalant attitude. The manager even had the cheek to tell A in malay that this fish this kind of size, no need to shout one. From now on, Ah Ngan certainly had dropped a level in terms of my preference for Sibu Kelongs.

Fish was weighed to be 2.8kg. My record for being the biggest fish on lure. The fight was memorable, and I was close to losing it. If I had not shouted and basically made a din, that was likely to happen.

I got the children over to see first hand a big Barra. ZhiAo said the funniest thing to me, "uncle, release the fish later. This kind of fish, not nice to eat". I looked at him unbelievably.

My Ribbon!

Ribbon with lure

After rounds of phototaking, things quieten down again. I went back to my luring at the same spot and carried on with the exercise. About 15 minutes later, I got lucky again and hauled up a catch. Fish was light and near the surface and it easily lifted out of the water with it's shiny body flashing. I first thought Parang but on closer look, a Ribbon! Wow, luck was with me for sure. My last Ribbon (also on Lure) was about a year ago.

Sea snake!

It got late and I went to sleep thinking to wake up at 5am. Eric was trying out his newly bought pole rod, and A wanted to copy and I rig up a line with a fly for her. But that didn't work and she didn't get anything on that. Eric managed 2 small barras with this new Technique. Some of the other old hands at this game was pulling up Trevally with this. Rather amazing.

It drizzled

Kelong at 5+am in the morning (my hot tea on the counter)

My only catch in the morning

Strong wind in the morning. Floor a little damp from the rain

Next morning, I woke as planned at 5am. Surprising, Eric and his Dad were up much later. It rained a little, although only for small periods. I tried luring a bit, but didn't get anything. I dropped a first strike of a todak(?) and another with a small Barra. Just in front of our bunks, while talking to Eric, I got a take that felt like Parang. 2 minutes later, that was confirmed when I pulled up a Parang from the water. But the hook set wasn't firm and it dropped back into the water.

Difficult pose to take

All crowded around this area

Flocks of seagulls

So many Selars

Long queue

When daylight came, flocks of seagulls visited our Kelong for their breakfast. It was nice to see such activity, as it was indicative of fishes in the sea. But water was still murky as the day before. The rest of the people were busy catching more Selars at the back of the Kitchen. A got quite a bit and managed to fill the icebox to the brim.


The sun came out and it soon got hot again to fish. I tried to squid and managed to catch one and only sotong of the trip. Seeking shelter from the hot sun, I climbed down the landing area and did my squidding there. But jig got stuck under some structure and I couldn't free it. So, another jig donated to the Kelong.

Leaving Ah Ngan

The "lighthouse" looking structure at the Jetty

A red flag warning was issued

D lost her slippers somehow, and we had to wrap up her foot

The Kelong helpers said that we had to go at 11.30am due to the tide. Tide would get too low for the boats to reach the Jetty. So, everyone packed early and waited for lunch. After lunch, it was back to the Jetty. Eric (Ann's husband) followed me back via the Sedili way and back via Lorry checkpoint. After that, we bidded goodbye and hoped to see one another at another trip in the future.

Our small catches (all by A)

The device that scared away all big fishes

Naughty children in the Kelong

Spot where I hit the Barra

Barra in the daytime


1 comment:

Dezi said...

Dady Is ZhiHao notZhiAo