This post is long overdue. Back in June, Bob and I met up for a couple of days fishing for sailfish to conclude Bob’s month long adventure in Malaysia.
According to Bob, his only previous encounter with a billfish was with a marlin back home in Australia. The majestic marlin managed to free itself prematurely after a long battle much to Bob’s disappointment.
Although June is not the ideal time for sailfish we are fairly confident of putting some sailfish onto the end of Bob’s line. Even off season, or off peak as some would prefer to term it, the sailfish are always present here at Rompin – just not concentrated and in large numbers as one usually encounters during the peak season. So the challenge is finding them and getting them to bite.
The first stop on day one was to catch some baits using sabikis. The preferred live baits are ikan kembung (slimy mackerel), tamban (sardine) and selar (yellowtail scad). Also small ikan kerisi.
We will either stop to jig for bait if we run into bait balls during the run out or head for the Fish Agregrating Devices (FAD).
Today we quickly gathered sufficient numbers of slimy mackerels at the FAD and begin heading for the sailfish ground which happen to be slightly further out than usual. Further out would be about a one hour run out at twenty plus knots from shore compared to the sometimes less than sixty minutes during peak season.
Although we found where the sails are, it was a little quiet in the beginning and the first sailfish only took the drifted bait close to noon. Bob’s Abu Ambassedeur 7000C mated to a new Penn Powerstix rod screamed and subsequently jolted us from our seats.
Bob did well to land the first fish to connect. This sailfish was a stubborn fish and gave Bob a good workout. It turned out many of the sailfish we encountered on this trip are real bruisers and fight real hard. There was a couple of times where we got close to seeing the bottom of our spools.
Day two – fast food surprise.
Big mack frenzy!
Our day’s strategy is similar to day one. That’s what we thought anyway because the first hint of a spectacular day was the abundance of bait fish which we literally ran the boat over on the way out.
The bait-well was filled in no time with choice baits as we encountered boiling bait balls after bait balls.
Soon we set out livies to the sailfish. The bites came fast and thick on day two but we also had a surprise, tenggiri (spanish mackerels) and other predators were shooting out from the surface as they launch their high-speed assaults on bait balls!
A couple of boats also reported spotting at least one good sized marlin in the melee.
Soon we got ourselves into the midst of the feeding frenzies and quickly switched from billfish to razor gang mode and out came the wire trace. Some of the feeding frenzy came so close that I could not resist quickly casting out a jig at one ‘boiling patch’. Almost immediately after the jig went under when the line came tight and the drag went squealing, I was on to a spanish mackerel of about 6kg (13lb).
Anchovies are everywhere and the pelagics were hammering them and whatever was in the mix. We connected with macks by drifting, casting and later trolling Halco sorcerer lures when they went deep.
Some quick tips to spanish mackerel or tenggiri fishing. Softer rods are better than stiff rods. High speed reels are also advantages although not absolutely necessary. If your reel is a little slow, just remember to crank that handle like mad and retrieve line like crazy!
Example of the common sabiki rig (apollo rig) used mainly for catching bait. It is important to pack sabiki of different sizes to suit the bait found on that given day. I usually pack sizes 4, 6 and 8.
Day three. Triple the frenzy?
Our game plan for day three was pretty predictable, head straight out to the same spanish mackerel spot and hope the frenzy persists. We also wanted to put Bob onto some big macks, hopefully.
All three days the seas have been different. Compared to the mild swells on day one, it was followed by mirror calm waters of day two and day three saw deep blue waters with more chops as the winds picked up.
The first order of the day upon arriving at the ‘hot spot’ was deploying the Halco lures. There was a lot less surface bait balls today and we went on search mode looking for action that was deep down. It did not take too long though and were soon onto fish, screeching reel drags and violently bucking rods.
We also connected to more sailfish making it three successful days out sport fishing. I had a blast fishing with Bob, overall. Hope to see him back again soon.
On this troll, the red-head Halco Sorcerer deep diving plug is the clear favourite of the spanish mackerels as they keep striking at the same lure repeatedly.
One time, we even lost the lure due to a snapped mainline but luckily the fish unhooked itself and we were able to retrieve back the floating Halco. Talk about a lucky lure!
I enjoy catching cobia (haruan tasik) as they are a powerful fish that can grow to enormous size pretty quickly. Cobia also willingly take almost all manner of natural and artificial bait. Naturally, catching them on jigs and lures is the preferred choice.
Cobia is also a fearless (inquisitive) fish that often swims right up to the boat. Freaked me out more than once when I’m leaning over the boat doing something and a huge cobia will suddenly pop out from under the boat!
Sizes vary, so does design, equipment, horsepower and so on. I always believe the little details can sometimes make huge differences. So, choose wisely.
Bob getting a good workout.
At the boat jetty, Kuala Rompin.
A hook for the razor gang rigged with wire using a snell knot. Often times two hooks are tied about four inches apart as the spanish mackerel often strike the bait a such high speed that they miss the hook. It’s an awesome sight to see big spanish mackerels shooting six to ten feet out of the water’s surface!
This spanish mackerel misses the lure and gets foul hooked. A common occurrence due to the high speed strike of these species. Unhooking a trashing spanish mackerel with razor sharp teeth and a lure with two sets of treble hooks require much precaution to be taken. Bare feet on deck is a no-no.
Fishing season at Kuala Rompin is from March to October. Sometimes up to mid November. The later into the season the better the sailfish action but dates quickly get booked out.
If you want to give sailfish fishing at Rompin a go, use the contact form. Plan early to get good dates.
Spat out by a grouper – I believe this is a half-digested small lizardfish.