Monday, September 30, 2019

Sibu Light Jigging Fishing Trip with Ray Tan

Getting the kakis onboard a fishing trip that revolves around pure light jigging and casting was always going to be a far stretch. Getting good fish around our local and nearby waters takes a good amount of skill and luck. Weather conditions usually compound that problem further. So it was not without trepidation and skepticism that I put together this bait-less Pulau Sibu fishing trip. I was also mindful that my last trip there was two years ago so things may have changed dramatically. To make things worse, I loosely and blatantly promised Boon that he would be able to get his coral trout (ang gao) on jig during this trip. No matter though. With opposition political parties in Singapore promising the moon during every election, I figured that it was quite safe to do so since we can always blame luck in fishing. Very convenient.

So I blamed luck as much as I could before, during and after this trip. The common keywords were "Wind", "Choppy", "Fish not eating" and "Tide not good". Before set off, I would point to the sky and say strong wind, during fishing I would say strong wind so jig flying and during fishing, I would reiterate strong wind (just to cement the point) when Reon was having a bout of seasick. This really helped set expectations low and when we finally had some "much needed luck", things looked very rosy for us. And of course, Boon also got his ang gao (finally) after a day of hard work and persistence (because of strong wind, his ang gao is at least 3X the size). Ok Ok, jokes aside... I personally can vouch for the shift that Boon put in. He caught grouper after grouper on the jig before the intended species came along. Sometimes, it's not about luck or skill and Boon showed it here. Hats off to hard work always.

Ok, common keywords and running away from responsibilities aside, the wind was really indeed not in our favour. We headed very far out to try to get some pelagics but it was too choppy. Wind was blowing at 20 to 25 knots and this made it really difficult to jig as we found it hard to keep our lines vertical. I was using mostly 80g to 150g! Shall not go too much into the conditions but we found the below techniques/application very useful for the reef jigging scenarios that we were in. Do try them and let us know if it works.


1. Vertical jigging combinations and colours for coral trout

The usual vertical jigging standards came true during this trip. Takes were harder and more frequent if you could maintain jig and line as vertical as possible. Certain spots yielded better results when pitched at bottom only while some were pitched to mid water. The coral trouts mainly took the jig from bottom to about 5 to 8 pitches off bottom. Popular colours were the usual green, blue and silver.  I was very "kiasu" and kept following the jig colours that Ray used. Shhh...

Jig presentation was the standard flutter and light jigging moderate strokes. Since it was very windy, we were casting our jigs in the opposite direction of the drift so that we could maintain vertical presentation for at least a dozen or two pitches. This was extremely vital.

2. Drastic changes in application and technique

Smaller jigs worked at the start as the wind wasn't too strong but as the wind picked up, I went for the opposite of small. I pitched 80g to 150g jigs to get more "hang time" on the drop (before the jig got blown away). I also tried varying methods of jigging here from slow strokes to very fast strokes across the water column. A small 250g coral trout took my 100g Kurau jig which I found cute. A Cobia later took my 150g Williamson jig around mid water. The fishes didn't really mind the bigger jigs it seems. The general thing to keep in mind is to make drastic changes to what isn't working at the present situation. A conscious decision must be taken all the time on whether to switch it or to keep it. Sometimes, keeping it works better. How and when to switch or keep is something that is personal.

3. The viability of tungsten in tough conditions

Yes, tungsten works. Not because it makes jigs more attractive but simply because it takes less time to get your line and jig settled. The rest that were using tungsten (I cannot afford) were able to put in more pitches before the jigs went north. However, tungsten was useless once we were in the 25 knot wind zone. Putting a 150g jig to hit those cobia was far better than waiting for a 28g tungsten to reach bottom.

4. Drift bouncing was effective even when line was not vertical

What was very interesting for me during this trip was that during our time fishing the Sibu sunken kelongs, the fishes were hitting jigs that were bounced just one or two pitches off the bottom even though the line was not vertical. Our lines were drifting very very very far and we would simply just release more line to hit bottom again. In fact, the fishes were taking the "drift far far" bottom bouncing jigs rather than the beautifully presented jigs (not drifting far, very delicate expert pitches). After awhile of presenting the jigs nicely, we were all simply releasing line and letting the jig drift very far. Not a very good thing to do since you would tend to lose the jig more easily if snagged but it was getting the fish!

Catch Report

Beautiful specimen!
Boon's dream finally fulfilled!
Pesky Cobia. Ray lost a sailfish on jig after this. Haha!
Pig toh!
Retrieved one teng before going back to hide
Landed a tiny one. Tried to revive it but failed so put in icebox without guilt.
We released many undersized gaos and miss wongs. Tapao-ed the nicer size ones.
Have to pose a wet wet picture. Yes it rained later on.

Car rental: We rented a vehicle from Tribecar.
Fishing Charter Hire: You can contact Ray at +6593228816 or +60195120963

Photo credit: Some of the above photos were taken by Ray

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