Been a busy couple of days. A lot of fishing trips ( this is just part one) and not enough time to write the CRs. :) My birthday trip to Rompin was originally cancelled due to some logistics issues, but my wife, Jith and Kenneth, managed to make the trip happen just for me. Thanks!
Early Saturday morning, we were picked up by our driver and started the drive up to Rompin. Nothing eventful happened on the journey as everyone was sleeping. We got to Rompin River Chalet, two hours later just in time for breakfast. As our rooms were not ready, James (The Boss) let us use his office to set up our gear. Once we were done setting up our gear, we proceeded to have our breakfast at the restaurant next door. (which is also run by James) While having our breakfast, James told us that we were doing bottom fishing on the first day instead of going for Sailfish. The reason was that all the other boats (we're talking 10 boats with mostly Singaporeans) were going out for Sailfish as well. In hindsight, i should have insisted that we stuck to the plan.
We were introduced to our Captain, Ah Ping. He was a very cheerful guy. He assured us that we would get our Sailfish the next day. And off we went. After about a 20 minute ride we stopped to jig for baitfish. They were all around us. Interestingly, he did not allow us to unhook the Tambans with our hands. Instead, he used a contraption which looked like a cut off metal rang gong to unhook them. He told us that once the Tambans loose their scales they die quickly. We were also told to reel in the fish slowly. My wife and Jith were hauling in the baitfish by the dozens. (although Jith was complaining that the color of feather in the sabiki was the reason my wife was out fishing him) There were also Selars and Leng Chiams among the Tambans. Once we had enough we set off. We reached our first spot and Ah Ping proceeded to live line two Tambans for some Tenggiris. Kenneth and i decided to do some jigging. On my 6th cast i was on! But the fish jumped out of the water and threw the hook. Feeling pissed with myself, i did not bother to ask what fish it was. Jith was on next. He was using a Duel Hardcore at the back of the boat and foul-hooked himself a todak. After a brief fight and a photo, the fish was released. After an hour i decided to take a break. I was having a chat with the boatman at the back of the boat when one of the balloons came off. Ah Ping, got the rod out of the holder and immediately said that it was a baby Sailfish. It was quite funny as the Sailfish dislodged the hook with the first jump, and everyone looked at each other as if to say, 'BABY SAIL?!?' It was huge!!! While Ah Ping was re-baiting, the other reel went off briefly and then the line went slack. Once i reeled it back i saw that the baitfish had been bitten. Another Sailfish we were told. 'Patience, you will get a chance.' Ah Ping said.
We moved to another spot near a boat fishing for anchovies. The action here was hot. We lost quite a few jigs on the drop. Ah Ping let out a live fish, and told me to watch. In about a minute something came up from the depths and started stalking the baitfish. The baitfish started panicking and then BOOM!!!! Fish on!!! A Barracuda!!! It was pretty amazing to be able to see the fish run in the clear waters. Finally got the fish boatside. Before i could say anything, the boatman gaffed the fish. Luckily, Jith's granny likes to eat Barracuda. Baited up and let the fish out again. BOOM!!! Fish On!! Another Baracuda. This one was a lot bigger and made me go left and right at the back of the boat. This one went into the ice box too as the boatman gaffed it.
I passed my rod to Jith and went to join Kenneth for some jigging in the front. After losing 2 more jigs we stopped jigging. We were then visited by 30-40 Todaks as they made their way towards the anchovies trawler. Back to the back of the boat. Jith was on!!! He had a small Barracuda on the line when a bigger one came and bit the whole thing off. Didn't matter as Jith got the bugger on the next try. He also lost a big Tenggiri and he didn't wind fast enough and the fish bite through the wire.
We moved away from the Trawler and had our lunch. Once i was done eating i went to the back of the boat to do some jigging. There were two rods at the back with live fish drifted out. After 20 minutes of jigging. I set down my rod for a rest when, one of the reels with the live fish went off. I picked up the rod gave it a strike and started reeling. The boatman was beside me in a flash and told me to keep reeling. The fish was swimming towards me. Ah Ping told me that this was a Tenggiri. Once the fish was boatside, Ah Ping, gaffed it and it was time for a picture with my first Tenggirri. (not a very big one, but it was dinner!) After the Tenggiri, the trip was cut short as it started raining heavily. We saw a huge Cobia (20 plus kilos) someone had landed on another boat as we walked to our rooms.
Once we got back and showered, we went for dinner. James, had cooked half the fish with Assam and fried half the fish. There was also Mantis Prawn, Calamari and some Vegetables. After a hearty dinner and a couple of beers we called it a night.
My First Tenggiri. Just before the storm.
Drenched to the bone and feeling cold
We cheered up after a shower and some beer.
Woke up the next morning, had breakfast and set off. First, we went to jig for some bait. Then we went to get some Sailfish. As Ah Ping, rigged up the bait the rest of us were watching another school of Todaks swimming below us.
I was allowed the privilege of fighting the first Sailfish as i was the Birthday Boy! (thanks fellas!) 5 minutes later i was on! ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz the drag was screaming as the line was peeling. Ah Ping told me to reel as soon as the fish stopped. As i was fighting the Sailfish, another Sailfish was jumping around and mine started to follow suit. After the 5th jump my line went slack and i thought i lost the fish due to a dropped hook. Reel!!! Reel!!! Ah Ping screamed. I was still on!!! Ah Ping told me to keep the tension on the line after each jump. Soon, the fish was near. With perspiration dripping from my face i slowly got the fish boat side. It gave one more jump near the boat, right in front of my wife who was filming the fight. Absolutely spectacular!!! Ah Ping grabbed the bill and it was photo time. I sat at the back of the and Ah Ping lifted the Sailfish onto my lap. What a beauty!!!! The colors were so vibrant. I let it go and watched it swim off. My heart was still racing from the excitement! It was a truly amazing experience.
10 minutes later, we had another Sailfish on and Jith, who was the closest got to fight the fish. This one was caught very near the boat. The Ballon had come off and no one had noticed until the drag went off. Jith got too excited and thumbed the spool so the fish couldn't run far. This was a bad move as the fish went from the left side of the boat to the right side of the boat. 'Put the rod in the water!' Ah Ping yelled!!! But Jith didn't react fast enough and the fish actually jumped and hit the boat. OUCH!!! It must have got dazed after that as Jith got it boat side. Ah Ping was reprimanding Jith and telling him that the fish was still green and that it was going to be tough to get it in the boat. Once Ah Ping grabbed the bill, he had to wrestle with the fish for a good 10 minutes as the fish was still thrashing about in the water. Finally the fish gave up. Ah Ping then told us that the fish had swallowed the hook. We cut the line and he told Jith only one photo as the stomach or gut was out. ( i think he only allowed it cos it was Jith's first sail) One photo later, he put the stomach/gut back in and slowly revived the fish. There was a collective sigh of relief as the big fella swam off. ( this was followed by Jith getting an earful from everyone on the boat. hahahaha)
After that it went silent for an hour. None of the other boats around us had any sails either. So Ah Ping brought us to catch some squid. Once we got to the squid spot, Jith and I dropped our jigs in. Almost on the first twitch, Jith was on!!! Up came a big green eye. My turn!!! Another green eye. Five squids later, Ah Ping was on a squid as was Jith. As he brought this huge 1kg Squid up he asked me to grab it for him. Without a second thought i grabbed the leader. BIG MISTAKE!!! The squid squirted so much ink that my face and the side of the boat was black. !@#$%$#@! Happy Birthday from Big Squid!!! Ah Ping, who was using a weighted squid jig managed to get 4 rockets, which we kept alive to use as bait. The colors pink and orange were the most effective, although i did manage a few on green. Pretty soon, Kenneth and my wife were in on the act too. The 'secret spot' ( we were told to look out for other boats as this was Ah Ping's secret spot) was teaming with squid. Ah Ping told me that he was happy because we threw the smaller ones back. He said that doing so will ensure that the spot always is productive. An hour or so later we were all pretty tired of squid fishing. So we had lunch and went back to the Sailfish spot. Once we got there, we had no bites for almost an hour. Ah Ping, who was on the radio with the other Captains around us found out that only one Sailfish was landed since we left to catch squid. He told us that we could wait here for the Sailfish to bite or go off to catch other fish. We opted to wait since Kenneth and my wife had not landed a Sailfish yet. 30 minutes later Ah Ping told us we were going for bottom fishing. (I felt really bad, as our original plan was to fish for Sailfish on the first day and if anyone didn't land one, we would use the 2nd day to get them one.) They both, didn't let their disappointment show and were cool about it.
We got to the bottom spot and saw another boat there. They had landed a Cobia below 10kg. Kenneth actually hit a fish on jig at the bottom spot but the bugger got away mid-way during the fight. I was sitting at the Captain's chair as Ah Ping rigged up the rockets and sent them to the bottom. There were lots of fish on the fish finder. 3 of our rockets were taken as soon as they hit the bottom, but the line burst as they cut us off on the coral below. The fourth rocket got us a small shark. There was still loads of action below us as i saw on the fish finder. The Captain of the other boat was so amused by me shouting the depth that the fish was passing. Ah Ping told me that the Captain had an underwater camera. I saw the guy lowering it into the water. I thought they were messing around with us. He yelled out to the guys in the boat to start jigging as there was a huge school of 'Jemundok' ( some species of trevally) beneath us. As the rest were jigging, i went to the back of the boat and sat down. Ah Ping came over and joined me. We were both using the Zerek Tamer Light Jerker, but he was using a Biomaster with 6lb braid. He rigged it up with a Tamban and let it swim out. He went to answer the radio when his rod went 'C' Shaped and the drag was peeling. I took the rod and gave it a strike! Fish on! I had to reel fast to keep the tension as the fish was swimming towards me. By now Ah Ping was beside me. He tried to mess with me by telling me it was a baby Sailfish. But i knew better, Tenggiri. This one was quite big, and was putting up quite a fight on the light tackle. Finally got it near enough to be gaffed. In the box it went. Ah Ping re-bait the hook and let the fish swim out. Less than 10 minutes later. Fish On!!!! I must have been at the right place at the right time the whole trip!!! Another Tenggiri. This one was slightly bigger than the last one. Once the fish was gaffed, Jith wanted to take a picture with it. This led to Ah Ping making fun of him, and soon the rest joined in the fun at Jith's expense. Then the rain came and cut the trip short yet again. This time we had our ponchos and were not drenched like the previous day. After our shower, we checked out and went for dinner. More delicious food accompanied by beer. Our van arrived shortly and we departed for Singapore. My only regret for this whole trip was that my wife and Kenneth didn't get to land their Sailfish. We'll be back and get them next time!
My first Sailfish
Green eye on green shimano egixile
Total catch to be brought home.
2nd day dinner
Info that might be useful.
For Sailfish make sure you have at least 300 meters of line in your reel. It is common for the fish to take out 100m in the first run. We used 40lb braid with 60lbs FC leaders and size 6 circle hooks.
For Tenggiri, we used a 30lb FC leader with about 4 inches of 20lb wire on a size 4 J hook.
For Jigging, 40g jigs are sufficient. Silver is the preferred color. Most of the boatmen use a silver white rabbit jig.
For Squid, Orange and Pink are the most effective colors, although you will catch some on other colors. We used a size 2 (could be higher if the current is stronger) sinker with an arm length 20lb FC leader. I used both size 2.5 and 3 for the squid jigs
For bottom fishing, Rang gong is preferred. You will not require anything heavier than a size 10 sinker. (we were using size 4 - 6)
Bring 2 sets of tackle, one medium tackle for sailfish and bottom and a lighter setup for jigging, squid or even tenggiri.
Bring sabiki for baitfish and some balloons. ( although most boatmen will have these in the boat)
Off to Desaru for some jigging in a couple of days. Stay tuned!