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Monday, March 09, 2009

KFC - Inu Kelong

We had originally planned this to be a small group recce trip to Inu Kelong. But a last minute chit chat with IZ over MSN saw him interested to come along with Jean. That sat saw us heading up to Penyabong in a group of five. TC came slightly late from the planned meet up time and we only left the popular SHELL station at around 7am. The distance was slightly longer than going to Sibu, and my estimate was that we would reach there in about 3 hours. We had a quick simple breakfast at around 9.15 at the Mersing bridge. From there,we finally reached the Penyabong jetty slightly before 10am.

Countryside road

At the road end

The Jetty was the same one for going to Acheh Kelong, so I was already familiar with it. As expected, the scenary was beautiful and clean and well maintained. During the drive in the long curvy country side road towards the Jetty, we saw plentiful of cows and sheeps and also alot of cow dung on the road. Some places are out-right postcard beautiful and quite a surprise that we can see such places in Malaysia other than going to expensive island resorts.

A simple coffee shop here

..and a fish loading bay

Walking to the Jetty end

IZ, better get me this size of stingray or I don't friend you

Someone's queen

Going up the boat

Simon, the kelong owner, met us at the Jetty. Simon was a chatty and friendly person and really put us at ease and made the trip as enjoyable as possible for us. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we were the only group on the Kelong. Another group had cancelled the trip leaving us to the entire kelong. We loaded up and was soon on the boat heading to the Kelong. The boat ride to the Kelong was only about 15 minutes.

View of the Kelong

Our spacious hall for the night

Looking towards the kitchen and dining room

Nice island backdrop

Wah! So many todaks here

Making salted fish

Jean drew first blood

Nice fusilier (Yellow tail) from IZ

Getting lunch ready

Reaching there, we unpacked leisurely with no stress whatsoever. It was so nice to be fishing at a spot where there was no one else.The peace and quiet was definitely worth the long trip up here and better than any expensive resort. As the Kelong was near to the island, we could also hear birds chirping. However, the water depth was quite alright and not too shallow. The height of the Kelong from the water was very high for some reason even when the tide came up.

Todaks waiting for lunch too

We saw lots of todaks around the kelong. But the todaks there were very smart, the type that go to university. It wasn't easy to trick them to take our bait. Even a sprightly kicking tamban was eyed with caution. It was only once a while that they would go for it, and we mostly ended up with the todak throwing off the hook and escaping with our baits. But the good thng was that it was easy to get Tambans here and we quickly filled up our DIY bait well and had ample baits throughout the stay. Only problem was that our air pump ran out of battery and the fishes died from lack of air. Jean was our faithful bait supplier and made sure that we were always loaded up with our ammunitions for todak hunting.

My only catch of a blur todak on lure

ZW and I did some luring as well. Despite the todaks taking an interest in my lure, they would turn away at the last moment due to the very clear water. But during one of the "last moment" turning away, I managed to latch on a todak at the tail end. Shook and jumped all it could, the hook up was strong. I landed it and took some pictures and then released it back to the water to grow bigger.

On the boat ride to the Kelong, Simon was asking if we would like to do boat fishing. As a value added service, he only charged us RM100 for the boat. That would work out to be RM20 per pax, very cheap indeed. As the others had not yet been on boat fishing before, it was good opportunity to try it out.

Four amigos going boat fishing

Gentlemen, drop your lines

Therefore at around 3.30pm, we boarded the boat setting out for most of our first boat fishing. Since we didn't have live baits, we were only armed with simple apollo rigs with dead sotong and prawn meat. The boatman was just glad to be out with us, away from his boss. Despite his boss telling him not to go too far, he actually brought us to various spots for fishing. On the way, it rained a little, but nothing heavy to dampen our spirit.

TC flying grouper. It got angry and bit my rod as revenge

After photo shot, was let off with a warning

I got another fish. Fishing so easy

I also have. Mine bigger

So cute. Can we bring it back? first catch of the smallest grouper in the world

Beautiful island backdrop

Finally caught a grouper too

Only expert can get this

ZW got a bite!

Nice ACK

We had so much fun!

TC was first to draw first blood with a "flying" grouper. He was reeling in so hard that we all thought that he had landed a monster.But out came a tiny grouper that flew out of the water with such a force that it jettison into the sky and almost landed on our heads.Luckily the boat had a sun cover else it would knock me on the head as I was standing next to him. He again took the second and thirdfish and was sniggering at us lousy fisherman. But after that, we all started to have some catches of mostly small groupers and breams. Jean was last to get her first catch of a tiny baby grouper. The prize catch of the trip was a respectable ACK (John snapper) by ZW. TC too landed his favourite fish, a decent Leng Chiam (Emperor).

Group photo of first boat fishing

The fishes that didn't get away

Dinner time

We went back around 6.30pm just in time to rest before going for dinner. At that time, it started to rain. Dinner was a unusual spread of steamboat, first ever I had on a Kelong. It was nice and we were all well serviced by the staff there seeing if the food was alright; if we had enough rice and so on. Another group of 12 had joined usbut they were just staying over at the kelong from another boat fishing trip, It was just a rest and sleeping stop for them. As it was raining, and we mainly just took our time to eat, rest and relax.

Nice kelong view. Over here, the stars were extra bright

Rain stopped at around 10-11pm, and we continued to fish. We saw lots of small fish activity but was unable to interest them withanything. Casting out dead Tambans also didn't get us anything. Luring was a complete non action. During all out attempts, we sangkot quite a few lures on the Kelong stilts. Next morning, Simon was so kind to climb down the stilts to retrieve it for us. And there were like 6-7 lures that he had to take! Really excellent service.

The woman that caught the most fish!

Early next morning, ZW and I woke up at around 5am to see if we can get some catches on our lure. Again nothing. But I tossed out my tamban rig with some sotong and prawn meat. Suddenly my little tamban rod took a very strong bend. Up came 2 big Selars, one of which was two palms long. The commotion also woke up the rest. It was quite effective to use sotong meat and catching small fishes from then on. Tambans that morning was also plentiful. Jean was jokingly complaining that she "catch until sianz"...haha. At the end of the trip, she caught 3 bags full of tambans.

I finally got you!

Had to net it

As long as a rifle

Kelong cook can make the todak taste good

That morning, again the todaks came out in force. Even though most were not too big, there were the occasional large sized on circling the kelong. As luck would have it, ZW little tamban rod got a very strong hit. The todak scooted out far from the kelong and I got worried if he had enough lines for it. It went to the left of the kelong and then to the right, just like fighting a marlin. hehe. When it finally tire out, we saw it to be a very large one and was wondering how to bring it up. Kelong helper wanted to net it but it was too long for th net. I thot of the good idea to use my luring rod to assist to distribute the weight for lifting it up. With my lure, i hooked itand managed to lift it such that it was able to bend into a u-shape to get into the net. ZW was beaming cheek to cheek and it was definitely an impressive record breaking catch. We asked the kelong to cook it for us for our tea break later. The way it was prepared turned out quite tasty, although they used liberal amount of salt to mask the fishy smell.

Why the todak so smart?

My consolation prize. A Selar

I got it! (but it escaped shortly after)

Only poor IZ was unable to land any todak despite many strikes. I attributed it to his poor equipment. He missed a very good strike of what must have been a large todak. But he wasn't able to adjust the drag properly and there was too much resistance and todak did a flip and he lost it. We had to stop him from jumping into water to wrestle it with his bare hands.

We left the Kelong at about 12pm. Despite my many reminders to pack, most of them still continued to fish and fish until the last minute. :). It was certainly a rare occasion to be enjoying the fishing so much. From the Jetty, we headed out to Mersing for lunch. We first visited the Mersing tackle shop where we replenished our dwindling stock of weights and hooks. After that, TC took us to a good and cheap restaurant. Although we ordered quite a number of dishes, the amount per pax was only RM16. So cheap!

From there, we headed straight home and I decided to go back via the Tuas 2nd link. Traffic was smooth and we reached back around 6pm concluding our fruitful recce trip. This time round, ZW would bring back some better catches for his wife and not just another round of more todaks. :)

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