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Sunday, August 15, 2010

I am Sailing...

This was a trip that took years to materialize. After some missed trips, I decided to organize it on my own. It wasn't hard to track down the boatman contact and a call in March set the trip.

A fly-fishing friend was supposed to have joined me but pulled out the last minute. To my surprise, it wasn't easy to find someone to take over. This was due to the "ghost month" and also the start of the malay Puasa month. Hence despite putting up some postings, there were no takers.

However upon arrival at Rompin, we were told that four pax to a boat was actually the most ideal. We found that to be true as the boat wasn't too big. It is smaller the size of the fishing boats at Changi.

We met up promptly at 3am under my block and soon got over the custom rather effortlessly. At that time, traffic was a breeze. Even throughout the drive, there were hardly any cars on the road. Might be due to the Puasa month, there was a reduction in the number of lorries plying up and down the east coast highway.

Arrived at meeting place with Ah Liang

We were indeed at Sailfish Central

Rompin also famous for this big Watermelon!

By 7am, we arrived at Rompin. The 7 eleven where we were to meet Ah Liang wasn't hard to find. Rompin is a small town. The 2 landmarks here are the giant Sailfish and the big watermelon in the middle of the town.

Breakfast here to keep us awake

I was quite sleepy at this point's my day

Since we all hardly slept, we needed some food to keep us awake. We had a hearty breakfast at the Rompin Restaurant Bahru just further down from the 7 eleven. Breakfast was only so so, but we later found out that this restaurant was the preferred choice of Singaporeans when they are over here to fish. The next evening,
we did have our dinner here and it was pretty decent.

Rompin River Chalet

Ah Liang telling us grandfather story at the Jetty

Ah Liang came over and brought us to the Rompin River Chalet where the Jetty is. He was much younger than I expected. I thought I was speaking to an old man over the phone, but he turned out to be just in the mid 30s.

Ah Liang getting our boat ready

Heroes from the past

At the Chalet, all the fishing folks were there getting ready. Interestingly, there was qutie a number of foreigners. Some of them were carrying specialized popping and jigging rods and some were outright professional looking all decked out in Columbia shirts and cool sunglasses.

Off to fish!

This is "Youngoat" (dunno how to spell. Malay for guy with beard)

However, Ah Liang couldn't take us out as he had to baby sit the japanese group. He introduced us to "youngot" who turned out to be an old hand in fishing. We were well serviced by him and his helper.

It was easy to spot them. Just follow the birds

A Sail leaping out of the water

We were indeed shock that the Sails were around in abundance. Everywhere we looked, the Sails were swimming around and occasionally will expose their fins in a shark like manner. I never would have believed that we have them in these kind of numbers and fairly near to Singapore. Also, they weren't spooky of humans and sometimes would even come quite close to the boat. Their majectic posture over the water was indeed an eye opener. It was some National Geographic moment for me.

Tan was first to get a nice gleaming sail

Tan's beautiful Sail with bluish stripes

Andrew was dressed approriately

Woot. Andrew was 2nd to get

Andrew's Sail

Andrew's Sail falling asleep Arthur's day came true

One more pose vertically

Tan's rod hit on another rocketing sail

ZW's sail on tan's rod

A bent hook from ZW's Sail

A Sail leaping out of my camera's frame

And by noon, all of us had landed at least 1 Sail. Due to the fishing method, we could only drift out 2 balloons at one time. Hence, there is a sort of a queueing before everyone will get their turn. But the hit rate was pretty good. The score at noon was 7 hits, 4 landed. Very decent I should say.

On the way back, tan's rod got a Barracuda on jig!

So for the afternoon, we all did more bottom fishing. However bottom didn't pull up anything promissing, mostly with groupers and smaller specimens. But we were all already satisfied and decided to go back to shore early to have an early rest. We were all rather tired by then and it had been a long day.

Dinner that evening with the sotongs and fishes we caught at Rompin River Chalet

The Groupers were delicious

Rompin Golden Village here!

That night, Ah Liang took us to his relative's tackleshop

The group of Japanese getting ready for Shabu Shabu

Japanese tourist preparing the Cobia for dinner. They cook it themselves!

So it was rest early for the evening. It was arranged for us to stay at "youngoat" place which turn out to be 2 side rooms at this home renovated for this purpose. It was comfy and had all necessary amenities like air con and hot water bath. We turned in early and had a good nite rest. However Andrew and Tan seemed to have problems resting due to the super cold aircon. In face, he fell sick the next day.

Letting out a balloon for Sails

The next morning, another friend Andy came to join us. He was already waiting for us at the Jetty being not his first time here. We had chat often over SMS but it was the first time meeting him. He turned out to be an easy to get along chap.

Andy got the biggest Kelong Chi(s) I ever saw

Nope. Not a sail bending his rod, but a bottom dweller

Woot! A grouper on Jig

Nice beautiful blue fin

ZW's was first to get a Sail on the 2nd day

ZW's own personal sail on his expert graphite

Andrew was sick but still managed to booster his cow strength to beat this fiesty fellow

So Shack!

Landed after a back breaking fight

Sail looking sad

Andy got a good hit, but soon lost it due to too tight a tension

Tan's SureCatch lucky hat

Evidence of a Tenggiri slicing off the Kerisi's head

The 2nd day, we were taken out by Ah Liang's foreman. He looked Malay but could speak Chinese like any of us. We were at first quite confused but later learnt that he was an orang asli who was brought up by a Chinese family. He was good but the fishing that day was a little different. The Sails this time wasn't that prominent and the water as a little more choppy.

The Sails came in in smaller numbers and it took a while for each of us to hit on at least one Sail. The whole day in fact. But the Sails today fought rather hard, even making Andrew a little breathless. We were thinking that he might have gotten a Marlin, but it was a Sail alright.


My Tyrnos finally got action after all these years in the shelf

My turn for day 2. A bigger specimen this time

Our fishing boat

Tan and Andy were the only ones that didn't land any Sail on day 2. Tan lost a good one that went many times around the boat and finally snapping his braided mainline. For that, he was already satisfied. Andy lost one that only showed his presence when he started to retrieve his line and only then did he realized that he had a fish on the other end. It was a tough fight, but the tension was too high and the leader broke.

I lost a couple too but finally finally managed to land one that was bigger than the one yesterday. It started very fierce and run very far away. But after a while, it was totally worn out and I was only pulling back a dead weight.

Our sleeping quarters

End of mission rest and relax dinner

We had a good dinner with the fishes from bottom fishing at Rompin Restaurant Bahru at the recommendation of Andy. After that, we all retired back to the room and rested till the next morning before heading back home. Andrew by then was feeling pretty sick. Nevertheless, we were all contented that we had achieved what we arrived to do and more. A very decent trip overall.

We passed this Salted fish/Keropok factory on the way back to JB

Salted Queenies

Breakfast at Mersing at a place frequent by backpackers


Ed said...

Even though plenty of anglers use the boats there, I always feel it's straining to get a sailfish on a small boat in Rompin because it is too small to be stable and the sides are often too low to have any leverage to balance or snuck my thighs against. Still prefer boats with somewhat higher sides.

great pictures you have shared there.

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