It had its beginning about a month ago, several Kakis were spreading the word about organising a SCS Horsburg cum wreck-fishing trip in the month of Sep on board Rico II skippered by John Hendricks. At that time I was debating in my mind whether should I take time off to relax as this trip covers 3 working weekdays. Finally the mind swayed, â€œOh well, might as well join this trip to end my fishing calender for SCS this year.â€ I reasoned.
Then the news came, the Pacific Ocean is contriving to spoil my plans by conjuring up Typhoon Talim and Nabi (both cat 4 typhoons) and thus significantly downsized my expectations.
(For people venturing out to SCS and beyond, interesting and useful maritime info can be found at: http://intranet.mssinet.gov.sg/marine/
*corrected the link to make it work
Tuesday the 6th of Sep 2005 saw Mike Goh, my friend (theblob) and myself making our way to Punggol Marina to rendezvous with the rest of the â€˜whoâ€™s whoâ€™ list of Kakis that included:
- Sam Teo
- Bernard Tan
The departure timing had to be postponed by about 10 mins as I had taken the deadly â€œLaxative Brewâ€ (Coffee and Orange Juice) during breakfast and this potent concoction was churning up massive rumbling in my bowel system. Doesnâ€™t take a genius to guess that I was taking that moment in time clearing that commotion in my tummy.
All set and ready to go, we boarded Rico II and gleefully set off to fishy wonderland (so we hoped!)!
And hereâ€™s the skipper at the wheelhouse, John Hendricks.
Along the way, some of the guys figured that a good rest is the key to good fishing and here you have our dear frank7 taking a light snooze (and probably battling with demonic ang chohs and pratas while in his sleep).
After which I totally forgot that I had brought along a camera (until day two) and so, you guys will have to endure with me recounting notable incidents from my memory.
Having cleared immigration and arrived at Horsburg Lighthouse area, the anglers in us as usual went about wetting lines unknown that we had been placed under surveillance by not one, BUT two boats. The boats were like predators, stalking us, watching our every movement, every detail, trying to sense our fragility.
It was then I noticed that a camouflaged vessel had made its move and I quickly pointed out to everyone. The vessel and its riders in camouflage colours were approaching us, nearer and nearer, till you can almost see their grubby beards bristling with predatory intent. We expected the worst.
Unbelieveably that camouflaged boat packed with grubby bearded seamen only circled us once and then slowly disengaged from us, as if sulking away knowing that itâ€™s meal was not to be. It was then we realised, looming on the horizon, the other bigger and badder predator had made its move but thankfully we are not the prey this time.
Pulling up alongside our starboard, the PCG Coastal Vessel 'Thresher Shark' from the Singapore Police Coast Guard beckoned to us and urged that we fish closer to Horsburg Lighthouse waters where we will be kept safe from unwanted attention. Kudos to the PCG forces and many thanks from us, especially to the team on board the 'Thresher Shark'.
Fishing wise, the bites were pretty sporadic. We did not come across any schooling snappers queueing up to commit hara-kiri on our lines but the uncleâ€™s 3kg ang choh at 3am did keep our optimism pretty high till we left for deeper and further waters at 6am. Add to that, the weather was getting benevolent and the winds were slowing down. It was then we voted to move on to our next fishing ground almost 4 hrs away.
(note: pic was taken at Punggol Marina at end of trip)
End of fishing on day 1 at Horsburg waters produced (if I remembered rightly):
- 5 Kaci
- 2 Ang Choh
- 1 â€˜CONFIRMEDâ€™ Cobia by Mike Goh
- 1 Wrasse
- 1 Triggerfish
- 4 Stingrays (one of which is caught by me)
- Assorted small fishes
Destination: Mystery Wreck in SCS
Before arriving at the â€˜Mystery Wreckâ€™, we were supposed to stop by an unjam (FAD) to fill up our livewell with baitfish. Unfortunately, the disappearance of the FAD is to be the first omen that we have probably used up our luck quota. It was theorised that possibly a ship or trawler had wiped that unjam off the face of the earth, or the recent bad weather had uprooted it.
With the wreck in our minds we pressed on with our plans. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a sight for sore eyes. Possibly thousands of tongkol were schooling just above the wreck and the sea birds swooping in and out of the sea, going after baitfish chased up by the little tunas.
Upon seeing this, I quickly grabbed my jigs and started casting right into the schools of feeding tuna. However from Mr Champ to Raiders to Yo-Zuri jigs, the tunas were simply not interested in my offerings. Moo came out with Storm rubber, Mustad worm rigs, the works. And the tunas couldnâ€™t be bothered either. Needless to say, I was pretty frustrated but I was probably more frustrated by the strong headwind that caused major beehoon in my tackle and made me give up. Spinning sets would be more useful in such applications.
By a few hours later, the headwind is turning nasty and gusting at probably 20 odd knots. Whitecaps were starting to form and from the looks of it it could only portent bigger waves are coming our way.
From the front of the boat, I managed to snap some pics that would really be nasty if they had hit us sideways instead of the bow.
About evening time, several fellas had already gone wobbly because of the bad sea-state (we should be in about 2 - 3m wave heights with some bad ones coming at us probably 4m tall). The fish count doesnâ€™t seem good also and with the weather is projected to go worse, the decision was to head back to Horsburg while we still can. Night fishing in such conditions could be very risky for everyone on board.
Fishing at â€˜Mystery Wreckâ€™ produced:
- 1 trevally
- 1 triggerfish
- Assorted small fishes
So we went back to Horsburg Lighthouse on a 5 and a half hr (extra 1 and a half hrs due to the bad weather) journey from where we had set off. Most of us crept back into the bunks and dozed our way back to pass the time away.
Arriving at Horsburg at around 11pm, we were aghast to find that we were visited by hordes of â€˜kelong chiâ€™ that made short work of all our bait we sent down. And I being the most hardworking â€˜Sotong Catcherâ€™ by scooping up 5 pieces highly prized squid where there isnâ€™t much and having the â€˜kelong chiâ€™ clean them out with ruthless efficency, geeeâ€¦ maybe I should have taken a nap instead.
Other Kakiâ€™s Catches:
- Grey nurse sharks (affectionately known as bodoh in Malay, â€˜cheh meh suahâ€™ in Hokkien)
At Horsburg, we were hit again by a pretty bad thunderstorm with winds gusting up to 45 knots and visibility reduced to mere metres. The thankful part was that we were already on the move and so the storm didnâ€™t affect us much.
We did pop by at a spot in the daytime to catch some coral fishes to fill up the iceboxs but unfortunately, the spot was not producing much quantity and so we headed back early to Singapore.
End of the day, though this trip was pretty uneventful in terms of fishing for myself, I had enjoyed the company with all the Kakis on board and will look forward to more trips in future with them as my Kakis!
Uncle and Sam
Arrival at the Marina
Clearing the Ice Boxes
Our Fish Tally
Uncle and Sam strikes again!
Post Trip: After the trip, we adjourned over to P&P Thai Restaurant located at Veerasamy Road where we had a hearty lunch and talk cock session. The cobia and 2 kacis were served as our lunch.
Deep fried Kaci in Thai sauce and mango salad
The â€˜CONFIRMED Cobiaâ€™ turned into Tom Yam