Date: Monday, 9th May to 10th May 2005
Anglers: Team S.L.A.P. (Leslie, Irvin, Vernon & Kel) with guest stars â€“ Desmond, the Ong brothers - Zihao & Zixian and Guan Lun (a.k.a â€œGao Tunâ€?)
For three weeks prior to our return to Trikora, we were busy checking weather and catch reports for TP. After hearing that our buddies (Team S.E.P.A.K.) experiencing a mini â€˜perfect stormâ€™ a few weeks back, we kept our fingers crossed that the weather and sea-state would at least be â€˜angler-friendlyâ€™.
Departed Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at 9.30 am and arrived at Ellyâ€™s at approximately 12.00 noon. Tucked into a great lunch (as usual) and headed out to sea at 1.30 pm.
Two hours to our first spot and as soon as our lines went down â€“ we started hauling up some small groupers, pig-faced bream, a couple of small bludgers and not forgetting â€“ the permanent resident of TP waters - Mr. Kaci (sweet lip). Les missed a big take here that saw his Saltiga Z6000 go into overdrive for a few seconds.
Zixian (with a little assistance from Irvin) got the prize of a nice tusk fish (approximately 1.5 kg) and brightened up our hopes. Thirty minutes later, as if to taunt us â€“ it all got dampened by rain and strong winds. Nevertheless, it was still â€˜fish-ableâ€™ so life went on and more medium sized fishes were hauled up.
Dinner was prepared and we made off for our nightspot (I could practically see Zihao licking his lips and relishing the thought of some big ones). The rain and winds stopped and if I could have done Bobby Brownâ€™s â€œRunning Manâ€? â€“ I would have! Ha! â€˜No skool like the old skoolâ€™!
The usual catches were produced â€“ bludgers, â€˜sagaiâ€™ (what the hell do you call this fish in English?), and sweet lip. After two hours or so, there was still nothing to take on Zihaoâ€™s Extreme Crossbow and Penn 16s set up (hey, you may never know). Of all the gears that we with us, I wanted to see that set up in action.
Noticed a little twitch on my rod and as soon as I reeled in some line, it took off. The way it was diving â€“ I suspected that it was a string ray. But you know how it is when one is fighting a stingray; we secretly hope that itâ€™s not a stingray!
The ray proved to be quite good with line taken out of the Torium 30. While I was hauling up the ray, Zihao started checking his set up and I think he was talking to me and asked â€˜why is my line so slackâ€™ (or something to that effect) - but I was concentrating on my catch. After a while, Zihao started cranking up his reel and as soon as the ray surfaced - we broke out in laughter! This fellow had eaten both our baits! A first for Zihao and myself - one fish, two leaders attached. The deckie tried scooping the 15lb ray with a catch net but it could not fit (duh!), so it was duly gaffed.
After the ray, there was not much action except for a bludger trevally (every twenty or thirty minutes) and I lost a good take â€“ damn swivel opened up.
At about 11.45 pm, Desmondâ€™s ratchet from his Torium 20 sounded off and he was in action. Here we go! From the transom to the portside, then it got stuck to the bottom of the seabed. All of a sudden a picture of the late Ray Charles appeared in my head! And if there was a Deejay on board â€“ I would have requested for the song by China Crisis - â€˜do you believe in Black Man Ray?â€™
Desmond tried his best in pumping and screaming (and cursing too), but it refused to budge â€“ so, Leslie attached a sinker to Desmondâ€™s main line and let it sink to the bottom. It worked! The ray spooked and the battle began again. The ray was steadily taking out line and after what seemed like forever for Desmond, he asked for someone to take over. Irvin stepped up and the fight was renewed.
Fifteen minutes into the renewed fight and the ray was still taking out line. Then the unthinkable happened â€“ the ray decided to change directions and swam under the boat. Big ray + boat hull = snapped main line. On hindsight, there were a couple of things we should have implemented, but itâ€™s over and done with. No point in crying over a lost fish - it proved to be better than us. We also agreed that that with all the pumping and drag, the ray was not even bothered. It just went about its usual business in flapping itâ€™s graceful wings and was just cruising. We got the bruising! Desmond, howâ€™s the tummy?
With the ray gone, the action soon died off (except for the hardworking deckies) and the only big one that surfaced was a barracuda (by deckie). From 2.00 am till 6.30 am the current was really raging and all we got was a big fat zero.
After breakfast the skipper made off to another spot and finally, we could â€œstart workâ€? again. Tusk fish, sweet lips, groupers and pig-faced breams were hauled up.
I must admit that the deckies (armed with handlines) contributed to the majority of our catch. I dread to think of the fact if we were the only ones fishing. In my personal opinion the catch rate in these waters has dropped. However, we managed to fill up the big orange cooler box, which is not too bad for 24 hours of fishing (no complains whatsoever) â€“ it could have been worse.
Even though there was no feeding frenzy (pretty normal in TP to experience a feeding frenzy), each of us took home ample fish for family and friends. Letâ€™s just say that for me personally, I have instructed my maid to stop buying fish from the market till further notice.
Thanks to our good friend RK for all the pointers and booking this trip on our behalf. Much appreciated buddy.
Trip tips and highlights: -
* Any new way to fish? Yes, please check with â€œGao Tunâ€?. He will demonstrate and show you how to fish without a hook â€“ oh my, I am still in tears just thinking about this incident.
* Food? As usual, the â€˜sotong gorengâ€™ at Ellyâ€™s is out of this world (a must have for any visiting angler.
* Live squid at night? Whoa! Plentiful â€“ thanks to skipper and deckies.
* Gears? Donâ€™t worry if your gear is considered slightly overkill. Fishing in these waters especially at night, its better to be prepared. If someone uses an Abu 6500C at night, please tie him to an â€˜unjamâ€™ and leave him there (pick him up on the way back in the morning). Nothing personal, but it will be a chore trying to sort out crossed lines.
* Weather wise and sea-state? Not too bad, just very strong current for a couple of hours that made fishing impossible.
* The look on Desmondâ€™s face and body posture while fighting the ray? Priceless! The image has been burned into my brain for my entire lifetime.
* Any secrets to getting fish? Yes â€“ please sprinkle Johnsonâ€™s Baby Powder all over yourself and your rod. You are bound to get a big hook up! Geez! For more info, please check with Desmond.
* Fishing company? Sweeet! Totally!Main highlight
One of the deckies landed a 2kg tusk fish and while we were distributing our catch at Ellyâ€™s kelong, we were in some sort of a predicament â€“ who gets the tusk fish? The Ong brothers had one to share and I had my own personal tusk fish. So, it was down to the rest of the guys. In future when one is faced with a similar situation â€“ adopt the primary school method. â€˜O-ah-pee-ah-somâ€™ and â€˜scissors, paper, stoneâ€™. Had the kelong crew laughing at us. Bunch of â€˜old foggiesâ€™ fighting over a fish! To make matters worse, the eldest one among us won (no prizes for guessing who).
Thank you for reading this catch report (hope I didnâ€™t bore you to death). Enjoy the pics and video clip of the lost ray loaded on the team's site : http://www.teamslap.net/catchoftheday.htm