Sibu Kelong Fishing Guide *UPDATED*

I've been fishing at Sibu Kelongs for quite some time now and i figured I'm at least a good newbie at the place now. I've not tried all the types of fishing methods used there but I'll also list down what i saw during my time fishing there. I'll be listing the different types of fishing, tackle pairings and methods.


General Season Guide
November - February : Monsoon Season ---> Seklar Season, Pelagic Season
March - April: Ending of Monsoon Season---> Squid building up
April - September----> Squid Season, Reef Fish Season
September - October----> Saitoh Season
October - November-----> Pause before monsoon season
General Fishing - Sabiki/Paternosters
Rod - 5ft to 7ft / Reel Size 500 to 2500
Rig - Sabiki/Paternosters/Bottom Riggers
Hook Size:  4 - 8
Bait - Prawn/Squid/Fish strip  
Depth - Bottom

First up in the list is of course the simple general fishing. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned angler, this form of fishing is easy to do and will give you results all year round. Its fuss free and you don't need special bait to get fish. Also, you don't need to cast far... just lob your bait or drop it straight down! Use squid or prawn strips on the Sabiki hooks or Paternoster rig.

Baitfish jigging - Seklar, Tamban, Kunning
Rod - 5ft to 7ft/ Reel size 500 - 2500
Rig - Sabiki white/green feathered or "white paper" type
Hook Size - 3 to 8
Bait: Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio(Optional)
Depth - Bottom/Mid Water/Below Surface

This is another popular type of fishing at the kelong and is done by probably everyone. It is done by using the Sabiki rig(usually bought in fishing shops). The sabiki rig is lowered into the water (bottom or mid water) and retrieved with jerks and abrupt pauses. This is called baitfish jigging. If you are clueless, just observe your peers and how they do it.

The Seklar usually come in big schools only during the monsoon season around November - January. This is because the monsoon winds and rain force them to gather at the kelong. Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio will better tempt these fast fish into taking your hook. For the other fishes, although they too are more prominent during the monsoon, they can still be found in other seasons. Dawn and dusk are important timings for baitfish and always jig in the direction of the current. Corner stilts will be best.

Rabbit Fishing
Rod - 5ft to 7ft/ Reel size 500 - 2500
Rig - Sabiki size 3/4 or small hook rigs or Umbrella hook or multiple treble paternoster rig
Hook Size - 3 to 8
Bait: Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio(Optional)
Depth - Below Surface

A much harder type of fishing to do at the kelong would be fishing for the rabbit fish which is also known as the Pei Tor. There are also other fishes that you will hook up such as Lai Mung or Potato Fish (Hanzi Hee). There are a few ways to get these fishes and for most people, shooting will be the first thought that comes to mind. This can be done by berleying the surrounding area (usually the kitchen area small fishing hole) with your own bait or leftovers after lunch. The mixed bag of fishes will gather and gobble down your berley. The angler has to standby with a multiple treble hook paternoster rig and shoots upwards to try and foul hook the fish. Another way is to put some bait at the top of an umbrella hook and "shoot" whenever the fish come close. Of course, the other conventional way (which i find less of a hassle) is to just bait your sabiki(size 3/4) with hei bio or small pieces of prawn and shoot when the fish have the bait in their mouths.

Topwater Fishing
Rod - 6ft to 12ft/ Reel size Matching With Rod
Rig - Floater, Spinning of live bait
Hook Size - 4 to 8
Leader - Use FC leader below 20lbs. The lower the better. Leader around 1 m recommended
Bait: Whole live small baitfish, prawn
Depth - Topwater, Below Surface

Topwater fishing for gar fish and half beaks will be quite popular at the kelongs because they are easy to catch and they are good fun on light tackle. Best timings are morning and evenings.

To do this fishing, you must follow the current as your float will drift out with the current. You must set your drag to a minimum so when the fish takes the bait, you can allow it to run. This is important when you use live bait as the fish has to swallow the bait before you set the hook. This is because the bait is usually too big for its mouth. Todaks usually run with the bait first and not swallowing it straightaway. If it feels resistance, it will let go the bait. Let it run approximately for 15 - 20 seconds before striking. If you use smaller baits like prawn cubes, you can strike early.

For half beaks, using small prawn meat, sotong meat or any meat on small hooks with floater will be very fun. Get polarized glasses and you can spot usually a whole school if they are around. Once the prawn cube disappears inside their mouth, strike it... The sabiki with floater is often used for half beaks.

Pelagic Species Fishing 
Rod - 6ft to 12ft/ Reel size Matching With Rod
Rig - Floater, Running Sinker, Cable Car
Hook Size - 1/0 - 5/0(Circle or J)
Leader - Finish it off with a wire tracer if possible.
Bait: Live Bait fish, Live Squid
Depth - Mid Water

There are pelagic species all year round the kelong but these species especially the Spanish Mack will be more prominently found as the monsoon season draws near. The common fishes that are usually caught are Queenfish, Wolf Herring, Golden Trevally, Mackerals, Barracuda and Cobia (if u consider it a pelagic species), Diamond Trevally and so on... There is even the odd sailfish or two sometimes. This is probably because they are lost and have gone off track their usual migration routes. Pelagic species fishing can be done a variety of ways.

You can use the floater method but you will be harassed by the Todaks(Gar Fish). Most people use a very long leader min 2m for the floater method and attach a split shot to the leader so that the live bait sinks out of the Todak's reach.

There is also another method known as the cable car rig. This is done by casting out a big sinker as far as possible and later on attaching a swivel plus leader. This will make the leader slide down and make the bait stay in the pelagic region. Most anglers do not put small floaters at the leader since they are working with live bait. To use this technique, you must have a long rod so you can have a steep angle to allow the leader to slide as far as possible. Of course, i over came this by attaching the leader to the mainline and casting out straightaway.

The other method is to use the running sinker method relying on the baitfish ability to swim towards the strike zone which is mid water. The running sinker will not be useful if you are using dead bait.

And yes... Live baits are the best baits. The fishes love Tamban but they don't last long. Kunning and Seklar are the other choices and they stay alive damn long… Some for up to 2 hours even when hooked.

Big Game Fishing
Rod - 10ft to 14ft/ Reel size matching your rod
Rig - Bottom Feeder, Paternoster, Cable Car
Hook Size -2/0 onwards
Bait: Live Baitfish, Squid/Prawn/Fish Meat, Saitoh Fillet, Whole Live Squid
Depth - Bottom 

For big game fishing on a kelong, it is probably second nature for surf casters. Various methods are used and big baits are casted out. The wait is usually very long and might be fairly irritating when small fishes come to disturb. Species aimed are usually Cobia, Stingray, Shovel nose, Sharks etc. A multiplier setup is highly recommended.

Metal Jigs
Rod - 5ft to 7ft/ Reel size 500 – 2500 or Shorecasting Luring specs
Rig - Sabiki size 3/4 or small hook rigs or Umbrella hook or multiple treble paternoster rig
Hook Size - 3 to 8
Bait: Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio(Optional)
Depth - Below Surface 

The usage of metal jigs at the kelong is quite common. Parallel jigging is not really that popular but what is known as shore jigging and bottom bouncing is more common here. It's like working a metal jig like how you work a squid jig.

The most common fish that most anglers aim are the Saitoh a.k.a Wolf Herring. These fish usually come out at night. There must be abudant baitfish such as Tamban to lure them near and the water must be dead calm. If they are around, there should be lots of surface action. Anglers use small lumo jigs(sometimes with a small light stick) and cast the jig out. Jig is worked in erratic fashion below the water's surface to the mid water column. There are usually many misses. However, i've seen hard lures work well too by attaching a small split shot to the leader. The lures are worked across fast below the water surface and hook up rates are usually higher.

The other type of jigging anglers use is the bottom bouncing or search n destroy method usually during the day. The jigs are cast out far and worked above the bottom while letting it flutter back and forth. Fish like Chermins, Golden Trevallys, Barracudas are usually caught this way. At night, this method works on the small trevally species like small jacks.

Eging(Squid Fishing)
Rod – 5ft – 12 ft(Eging rod is not required as squid are mostly just below the kelong)
Rig – FC Leader or no leader is possible.
Squid Jig Size: 1.5(for picky arrow head), 2.5 is the most commonly used but 3.0 and 3.5 are usable as well.
DepthAny depth. But mostly bottom. 

Eging is probably one of the reasons why I make yearly trips to the Sibu Kelongs. The squid there are simply too addictive. I’ve always set myself high standards on eging at the kelong. It’s not that I’m a pro but the time and hard work spent trying different tactics are paying off. I started without knowing how to do eging at all on a kelong. I was as clueless as most people… In the sense that I just attached a big squid jig with some big sinker and did eging blindly.

Eging is actually easy to master and very logical. You can read up my Eging guide and you will have grasped most of it. The key areas of eging at a Kelong are the water currents, season, squid jig action/colour and amount of baitfish.

I usually choose very slow water currents to fish my squid as there are little changes in water and this will be better as you have more time for fishing squid. These types of dates normally occur during half moon. During all tides however, when the water is low and water is stagnant, you can expect little squid. Estimate the time the water will start to move and start eging in advance. When the water finally moves (even a little), results for the first few minutes will be hot.

I usually try more during the night but that doesn’t mean day squid are hard to get. During the day, increase your chances by using bigger and brighter squid jigs (orange, pink, natural colours). Work it around more instead of just bouncing on the bottom. Work them across stilts. Squids usually hang around the stilts during day time and like to grab unwary prey.

Squid jig action is VERY important in eging. Most are captivated by luminous squid jigs but the main factor to me is still action. A squid jig with its nose downwards when in the water will definitely be better than one that rests on its side. As we twitch up, the squid jig should go up nose first and sink nose first too. In that way, we created a darting action. The more expensive squid jigs normally have that action. That explains their slim and sharp design. There are many cheap squid jigs which have great action too. It’s important to recognize such squid jigs by their design.

Squid jig colour is simple and it is proven pink works for night, orange for night and natural colours during anytime or when squids are shy. Squids respond violently to red and red is highly recommended for the belly foil. Rainbow or Aurora foils are also highly sought after.

The amount of baitfish will affect squid. Too much baitfish and squid will be more interested in the baitfish. Too little and they won’t be around.

Light also plays a small factor. Most people prefer the light and it’s proven squids are more attracted to the light. However, squids are also around in the dark spots at the kelong. I found out that baktaos or cuttlefish seem to prefer the darkness more. For eging below the spot light, try to find the halfway point between the lighted area and darkness. Squid normally hide in the darkness at the outer fringes of the light and ambush pray.

Eging at the kelong is quite simple. Just make sure you have the right type of squid jig, right colour and it’s at the seabed. Just work hard and you’ll easily be able to get into double digits. If you don’t know the golden timing to squid, simply position yourself over your favourite spots the whole day!

Pole Rod 
Rod - 10-16 ft
Rig - Leader to hook with splitshot
Hook Size - 4-12
Bait: Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio/Fish meat cube/sotong slice
Depth - Below Surface 

The pole rod is well liked by regulars of the kelong because it provides great fun. It's like prawning but the fishes fight better. No reel is used here and the line is tied straight to the tip of the rod which is often at least 10ft in length to a whopping 16 ft. The mainline is usually a little longer than the pole rod and the longer/shorter your pole rod, the longer/shorter your mainline is. This is because since you're not using a reel, you require the rod's long length to pull the fish into you. The rig is usually just a single dressed hook tied to a leader with some split shots. Popular baits are prawn meat, hei bio, sliced fish meat.

The method of fishing here will be lowering the line into the water and wait for a bite.When a bite is detected, do a strike similar to that of when you do prawning. For seasoned pole rodders, the fish will be easy to control but for newbies, too much force can mean a bust line. It's not easy though and i've seen one crazy fisho fought a batfish for close to 30 minutes on a pole rod.

There is also another more "pro" way of using the pole rod and that is using an artificial fly or small sotong tentacle/strip and "swishing" it across the water beside the nipar stakes. You must swish the fly at a fast speed and sometimes make it flutter above the water. Do this erratically beside the nipar poles and fishes like baby cuda, seklar, big eyes will take the fly. This is usually done at night and can be quite productive and fun.

Offshore Fishing
Rod - 5ft to 6ft/ Reel size 3000 - 6000 or similar light offshore gear
Rig - Offshore rigs like Rangong, Paternoster, Running Sinker, HK Hook
Hook Size - 3 to 8
Bait: Tiny pieces of prawn meat/Hei Bio(Optional)
Depth - Below Surface 

For offshore anglers, there are wooden boat charter services that bring you fishing. These charters can be found at Tanjong Leman Jetty. Find them and direct them to pick you up at your kelong. If you want to charter the kelong's boats, by all means but of course it will be more expensive since the kelong will become the middle man.

The charters will bring you around Sibu Islands for fishing. Expect mostly reef fishes like Parrots, Coral Trout, Snappers. With reef species come the pelagic species too so keep your fingers crossed. Jigging is also possible from the boat.

Offshore fishing can be quite affordable and fun if you know some contacts there. You can pay the boatman a little more to ask him to bring you to Pulau Aur.

Island Hopping Luring
Rod - 5ft to 10ft(shore casting luring specs recommended)
Hook Size – Usual Luring Trebles
Lures: Topwater, Diving, Rubber etc
Depth - Any

For the luring sickos, fear not... Luring can be done by the kelong but you must be pretty patient and hardworking since the fishes are only passing by and looking for food. If you are on for it, you can follow the kelong on their free island hopping and ask them to drop you on the many islands of Sibu. While people swim, you can head off to the breakers and reef areas to do island hopping luring. Species include reef shark, cobia, small GT. Eging can also be done. Beware though, these places are dangerous and protective gear like rock boots are highly recommended.


AnaVar said…
Hi! It's my first time here. I like your blog and I enjoyed going through it. I'm interested in fishing and I find lots of great, useful and fun information here.
Nigel said…
Hi there. THanks for your kind comments. This page is still awaiting pictures and final touches :)
TY said…
Hi, really enjoyed your posts. Very professional and informative! I'm a newbie into fishing and I'm planning to make a visit to one of the Sibu kelongs this September. You mentioned that it's the Saitoh season during this time. May I know what's the best method / rig & bait to catch the Saitoh?

Nigel said…

Sorry for the late reply. THanks for the kind words although the writeup is not complete.

For the rigs, i usually use cable car rigs with live tamban. Live tamban is important as its the most effective. Similarly, a less effective but still works bait is live kuning or small selar. Some use floaters to aim saitoh too but i dislike it as u must go with the current. If the water is calm, go for lumo metal jigs.
Kazuki Ichimura said…

I am a newbie in fishing. I would definately like to learn some fishing experience with you. I am wondering if you are free to go on a fishing trip with me while teaching me. May be we can meet up one day and go fishing.


Nigel said…
Hi Kazuki

Drop me a mail if you wish to go fishing and we can go from there. I'm an impatient person but i dun mind someone learning from me. I bet i can learn some stuff from you too.

Zala said…
What is a fc leader?

I manage to scavenge my storeroom and found a leader of 40lbs.

Will this be a overkill for todaks?
Are wire leaders needed for todaks in sibu?
Nigel said…
Zala, duneed wire leader. 40lbs a little overkill . Try 20 lbs soft leader or 12lbs dupont.

FC stands for fluorocarbon leader

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