Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Changi Offshore Invitation 16 Oct

After a very addictive bashing at Pekan for the sail fishes, it was kind of hard to look forward to a Changi trip. The two places simply can't be compared! A friend of my dad's invited us over to a trip he organised for their group of friends. We will be sharing two boats among 19 people. My dad's friend and his family will be joining me, my dad and my bro in one boat with my rsm and family. We will be taking Zainol's boat. I have heard of Captain Zainol before and what i heard didn't really make me optimistic. I have heard stories of him storing away fishes he catch in his personal icebox and not sharing it with his customers. Hmmmm...

Boarding place...

The boat...

A LOCK as a sinker? Yes believe it!

Baits for the day

Today's current flow was a neat slick current which would yield a good catch of 10 - 20 pcs on Ah Chong's boat. Zainol's boat was spacious enough with a nice toilet but it was kinda lengthy and a little on the bumpy side when the waves hit. His fishing style is not drifting but anchoring beside breakwaters. I didn't notice he had any spots... He'll just choose some any old breakwater and anchor down! Today's current was excellent for drifting fishing. What a pity...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yearly Pilgrimage, Yearly Poison

The streaks of silver blue sails cutting through the water edge…
The wild sashay of the mighty sailfish while it danced on water’s edge…
The feral twitches of its feral snout while it hanged in the currents…

The memories were still so etched in my timid angler’s heart and were still part of my dreams even a year after my memorable trip for the not so elusive but majestic sailfish. I simply had to go again no matter what. I did go again with some good ol’ fishing buddies of mine. Armed with some London Choco Roll and Pokka Sour Plum Green Tea, we went fishing.

We had a jolly good ride up the land of boleh on a quiet Friday midnight while the slight drizzle beat away at the car. We rolled along the way until we reached our destination. We took some time in finding our Captain’s modern kampong which we would be spending the two nights.

I was the earliest to hear the call of the kampong chickens as they roust me up of my short sleep. Off I went doodling with my tackle bag and fitting everything all over again. One by one the little army arose from their sleep and sauntered down the stairs. The body was tired but the soul restless. It will be a good day I told myself…

We rolled out for a quick breakfast of wanton mee and got our lunch from a kueh kueh stall. We loaded up with our lunches and tackle slowly but with purpose. Hey, the drizzle had cleared… look at the sun!


Some of us were weary of being burnt...!

We went out to the Unjams(F.A.D) to get baitfish and they were plentiful enough. A good array of Tamban, Kembong, Ngeh Buey, Selar, Kunning were in our bait well! The squid were hiding though!

The hot sun washed away our fears and with live baitfish, it made the job so much easier. But doom and gloom were cast upon us. The first 3 sailfish hook ups went by without a picture! The first one was hooked up by me via live bait but managed to throw the hook. The second managed to burst 30lbs power pro line and the third had its organs hanging out and thus was released without a shoot.

Oh yes, the sail army was gloomy. It's always like this when you're not gotten that magical photo. The stress will be there. The stress of doing the seemingly impossible. After all, getting the sail fish is one of the holy grails of fishing. I didn't forget my moment of glory last year and suddenly i felt like a small child again cradling his favourite toy again.

As it approached the afternoon, we were floating. The sails were finally settling hard and fast on us. Double, Triple, Quad hookups were common. The sail army danced around the boat singing their lovely tunes of orgasm. There is no question that no matter how many times you fought the sail, the feeling never goes away. Every dance is different and special. That was how it went...

20 over misses and 10 over landed until lunch time was all that happened. I can't say much because it's simply indescribable. Some call it chaos, some call it happy problems and some call it lust. I call it happy times. I even managed to do a first... get a double digit Queen on my setup... A real peach among the strawberries.

So let the photos roll...


The clear blue skies, the calm ocean and popping... What more could an angler ask for?

A peek at happy times...


We forgot about the sails after lunch and went to visit the Unjams again for abit of Squid fishing. The lads were getting good squids and filling up the bucket fast.

Some were jigging for baitfish and we got quite a few nice small trevally on our sabiki. I let down a huge tamban which was around 8 inches. Something took it on a bottom rig finished with a size 5/0 circle hook. Can anyone guess the culprit?

It's the biggest emperor for me... another first.

Then, another first happened for me... Fighting a Tongkol or Bonito on light tackle with Sabiki... The sweet bursts...

Sotong Bait filled!

The deckie began cleaning and gutting all our squid and i thought well that's nice of him but it seems the captain and him had ideas!

Nigel: "Can we go back... We're tired..."

Captain: "You sure you so fast wanna go back... let's fish la..."

We proceeded to a rather murky water area and fastened ourselves to an Unjam. Well, it reminded me of Changi Offshore.

Ricky kept telling us not to put down our baits first and he hook out his heavy tackle which consisted of a big drum and a rod which looked mean. I had my suspicious ready now. I had seen murkey waters at Pekan before... and i had seen photos of the fish that lurked in these waters.

And then he hooked up a squid gut and let it down.

The next few moments were shocking. Upon his bait reaching the bottom, he got a take and his rod loaded evenly. The big drum of a reel was letting out line! Everyone saw him struggle with the beast. He went from the middle of the boat to the front in no time and the fish went round the Unjam! By now, the troopers were getting ready their ammo out and hooking up squid guts!

Ricky shouted "100lb leader no less! Big hook Big hook!"

The sheer adrenaline that went through us was heart pounding. Ricky got down his bait again and had another take. This time, it was a double hook up. His deckie at the front had hooked something up but it was swimming fast up whereas Ricky's was diving down.

Ricky's fish was diving towards the Unjam again while deckie's fish was running up towards the back. The deckie's fish surfaced and i saw a mother load of a Cobia. It dashed around but no harm done... It was gaffed before it could cause further problems.


Ricky was still fighting with the beast directly above the Unjam until we saw his sigh of frustration again.

And then... he told us what fish he was aiming for. My suspicion was right... It was none other than the Jewfish!

My first Jewfish fishing encounter was limited though i learnt alot. I had a few takes but was not experienced enough to set the hook. Jewfish eat lightly and it could be just mouthing your bait. When they run with it, be quick and strike! The fish ran away with my bait a few times... They were Jewfish as when i retrieved my line back i could see faint cuts on my leader which Ricky said were the Jewfishes gill brushing against my line.

We had to go back after that as it was late but Ricky let us know we would be back again the next day. It was fresh seafood dinner that awaited us later... fresh from the sea... yum...


A torrential downpour ensued after dinner and lasted the whole night. Strangely, Ricky said it would bring better fishing the next day... I somehow believed him. Well, he was right. Baitfish were raring to go the next day and we somehow got stuck in catching sails again only this time it was different... The sails were wide awake in the morning and i took out a popper... with a jigging rod!

It was a 30g Black Chug bug with stock hooks. I casted out...

"Pop... Pop..."

And the black sail took my popper under the water and dashed off!! A take on my first cast?!

I did the Japanese setting of hook multiple times to ensure that the hooks went in... I wasn't even worried that the Chug Bug stock hooks might just open. It was all fate this time...

Well, Weiyee got excited and came to pop beside me. And on his first cast, he too got a take! But it was only a few seconds fight as the fish threw his popper. After a very nervous battle, i landed my first sail on popper. It's time to invest on a light popping setup...


The sails were in full frenzy and everyone got their fair share... even the deckie and the captain! I had many more takes and fought another sail on popper until the hook came off. The sails were so aggresive that they were taking my popper even just below the boat!

Lunch still came though and we settled at the unjams again...

We had another try at Tongkol jigging with Sabiki at the Unjam too...

And once we had enough squid guts, we headed back to the land of the jews... The current had not changed direction yet and i did another first... i jigged up an arrow head squid from Sabiki! I released my sotong jig after that and got us a few live arrow head to use.

There was another boat that followed us and did the same. They were using light jigging tackle. I thought they wouldn't stand a chance and i was right. They had a double hookup soon after that and their whole boat was dragged by the fishes towards the Unjam! Well i don't need to elaborate after that right? It was getting late and we only landed a few Cudas before heading back for our final mission...

Photo taking with the fishes!

We had dinner at Rompin Seafood Restaurant later...

End of a rushed CR written at 2am... Well, it's out!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

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.