I have to admit that it took me quite some time to find a proper way to start this particular catch report. This trip was a result of some major withdrawal symptoms and also due to the cancellation of our trip in September. Everything was set for SCS bashing from 5th to 7th September with a confirmed attendance of 90% from the Team â€¦ then it was called off by for the skipper of the vessel due to rough seas, unavailability of deckie (hell I would gladly volunteer) and a million other excuses.
So in major desperation, I planned for another trip on another vessel. Managed to get Uncle Harry to assist and we got a booking for Rico II with John Hendricks. New date was set and it was 4th to 6th October. The date chosen showed a good moon phase, nice weather and a favorable current flow.
Two weeks prior to the trip and some of us started to pull out for various reasons. So we sourced for other anglers on www.fishingkaki.com
and finally we had eight anglers. Five days prior to wetting our lines â€“ seven anglers. The day we left â€¦ we were down to six anglers! But like what Freddie Mercury said â€¦ â€˜The Show Must Go Onâ€™. And the six of us were (please pronounce our names with a click): -
Team SLAP : Chester, Vern and yours trulywww.fishingkaki.com
: Joel (venpk09), Edwin (Edwin-_^), Guan Lun aka Gao Tun (GL)Day One - 4th Oct
Boarded Rico II at around 1.00 pm and settled in. I was impressed and must say that she is an angler-friendly vessel. The waters were calm and mirror-like that it looked as if we were cruising on a reservoir. The weather was great, sky was beautiful and the sunset was to- die-for. This is supposed to mean something? Nice sunsetCaught Scoffing
Reached our first spot around 7.30 pm and the lines went down faster than you can say your own name. After a couple of minutes, Vern was the first to land a fish â€“ damn â€˜Kelong Chiâ€™! Whoa! I jokingly told Vern that this is stuff you find at Bedok Jetty â€“ not out in the deep blue (or so I thought). This prompted the skipper to set off for the next spot.
At the next spot, some small specimens were landed and if memory serves me well â€“ Edwin and Joel landed some snappers in the 600-900 gms range. Vern was the first to land a Golden Snapper (2.5lb or so) and Guan Lun got a nice Emperor Red Snapper (Ang Kwey). The only two anglers left with nothing was Chester and myself. Edwin & Kee Fish1st Golden SnapperVern in actionGuan Lun in action
With Guan Lunâ€™s Red Emperor Snapper in the icebox, we tried to make the least possible noise (in fear of spooking off the school below) â€¦ however, in the excitement â€“ an entire bag of weights fell! Bam! Oh crap! Well one can choose to believe it or not but no other Red Emperor Snappers were landed at this spot.
Off to spot number two and the lines went down again - only to find the sea infested with Remoras! Geez, these guys were everywhere. In all my years fishing offshore, I have never seen anything like this. Remoras were feeding at the surface, mid-water and bottom. If they could fly, they would have probably jumped onto the boat to steal our baits! We totally lost count of how many we landed. If you think you are safe when you manage to avoid the Remoras stealing your bait on the way down â€¦ think again! I personally landed all my Remoras at the bottom!One of the many Remoras'Pink' Emperor
To make matters worse, the wind started picking up and whatever live-squid we managed to capture were practically put to waste. Thanks to the Remoras and Dogfish Shark (â€˜Yu Bodohâ€™). At about midnight, the only fish worth mentioning was an Emperor Red Snapper by Joel â€¦ or should I say it was pink (not red) in colour. The waters were getting cold and we started hauling up Sea Snakes, Eels, Dogfish Shark and more Remoras! During this period, between Vern, Chester and myself â€“ we rewrote the entire book of profanities!
Our squid catcher Guan Lun (a real hilarious fella while catching them) was witnessing his effort go down the drain with these pests taking our precious bait. And in desperation, he started netting anything that came to the surface â€“ Flying Fish (great bait), Puffer Fish and Jellyfish. Basically, anything that was white, blue, green or translucent was scooped! However, between Guan Lun and myself â€“ we managed a big Arrow Squid, which was to prove useful at the next spot.Skipper John assisting Joel with his frisky Dogfish SharkThe Arrow Squid
By 2.00 am three anglers had given up and the only ones left fishing were Chester, Guan Lun and myself. In boredom, I took out a 200 gms jig and started jigging. The Remoras were not interested in the artificial jig and for that I was thankful. On the way up after my third drop â€“ something grabbed my jig and that really woke me up. It was a huge take. Unfortunately, I failed to set the hook. A quick check on my reelâ€™s Tanatou counter revealed that the jig was bashed at around 29 meters. I sent the jig down again and again, retrieving it at various speeds and paying particular attention from 35 to 20 meters, but it was not to be.
At 2.45 am we made off for the next spot and arrived an hour later. The same three anglers were the only ones awake and we went to work with the few remaining strips of the Arrow Squid we had left. Ten minutes into this spot and wham! Chesterâ€™s Shimano Speedmaster was in action! After a nice fight, up came a nice 6.5lb Golden Snapper! Finally!!! I decided to exchange the Toruim 30 for the Kaikon EV4000T and almost immediately â€“ the rod and reel was in action. Managed to land another Golden Snapper (about 5.5 lb). Chester with Golden SnapperAhhh finally
Vern woke up, sent his bait down to the depths and as if to mock us â€¦ Mother Nature and her weird sense of humor reared its head. Right smack in the best feeding period, a storm hit us. Winds up to 45 knots, 4-5 meter waves and rain! The condition was simply un-fishable with chairs flying into the sea. I managed to get a hold of Guan Lun when he was almost thrown overboard trying to save the chairs and it prompted me to tell him (and anybody else in the same situation) that the plastic chairs were simply not comparable to his life. So thatâ€™s the story of our lives. We got some rest for the first night and prayed for better fishing when the sun comes up.Day 2 â€“ 5th Oct
Got up around 7.40 am and the sea was raging. Thought of trying my luck, but attaching bait onto the hook proved to be a job for Spiderman! Just not worth the risk so I decided to let the storm pass.
John Hendricks told us that as soon as the weather improved, we would approach the trawlers in the area to obtain fresh squid for our second night of fishing. This will assist us and we need not worry about obtaining live-squid if the surface winds picked up (just like our first night). We could not do this now simply because the sea-state was unsafe for us to come close to any vessel.
We waited patiently and it felt like forever for the weather to improve. By the time we managed to obtain the fresh squid from a trawler nearby, it was almost noon. But I must say - $16.00 dollars for 6 kg of freshly caught squid was worth the wait. We were now ready for the final assault!
On our first night, we kept a few Dogfish Sharks that were caught in the live well. The reason was that we did not want to release them at the spot where we were fishing â€“ just in case they started attacking our baits again. The things that anglers think of when desperate! Vern then casually remarked and wondered how it would taste like. So he asked Mr. Quek (Johnâ€™s assistant) on whether he could prepare one for lunch. Guess what? Steamed nicely cut-up pieces of shark was prepared with chilli sauce. And it tasted like crabmeat! I must admit that it tasted quite nice!
After lunch, we made off for the FADs in the area. I would like to term this exercise as â€œQuest of the Unjamsâ€. John had a few FADs mapped out on his GPS, but they were simply not there! Finally after searching â€“ we managed to find the last and final FAD in the area.
Jigging for baitfish was quite productive and some bottom fishes were landed - small Sea Bream, Sweetlip (kaci), Grouper, Kee Fish and not forgetting the resident fish at the FADs â€“ Mr. Lizardfish!
At one point, I saw Joel frantically reeling up his line and he had what he wished for â€“ his first Grouper for the year 2005. Although it was a small Honeycomb Grouper, his attitude was heartwarming. He was really happy and contented with his Grouper, unlike some of us who are really spoilt. Come on you guilty ones, raise your hands!Happy & contented Joel
We were just going about with our business when I noticed a small twitch on my rod â€“ then it got a little violent. No quarter was given or asked for and as soon as the fish was hooked - I cranked as if there was no tomorrow. Fishing at these spots out in the open sea, there is simply no time to play with these bottom dwellers. They will cut you off! I recall telling myself that with our pathetic catch rate, I was simply not going to lose this one â€¦ and after a few minutes - up came a nice Grouper (8lb plus).The violent Grouper
After the Grouper, there was not much action â€“ except for a badly cut-up Sea Bream. I was reeling in the fish when there was a sudden surge. Well no prizes for guessing - Mr. Barracuda and his knife work! The bottom and baitfish action soon died off and after dinner - John made for our next spot (2 hours away).
The plan was to get to this spot and target some snappers before heading out to a shipping channel for the Golden Snappers. To us, we did not care what snappers they were â€¦ be it red, gold, blue, green, purple â€¦ whatever! When we started registering bites at this particular spot, we managed to haul up Conger Eels! Okay â€¦ not a good sign and after 3 three or four Eels later, John checked the position of the boat and told us to reel up.
He re-anchored and the situation did not change â€“ more Eels. However, we decided to give it a try for a little while. The minutes passed and everything was quiet, most of us were tired and some had trouble keeping their eyes open. We needed something to wake us up (besides coffee). Noticed a little twitch on my rod tip and it got me saying to myself â€¦ â€˜Take it dammit, take it!â€™ And take it - it did! Whoa! Just what a sleepy angler needed, put up quite a good fight and up came the biggest Sweetlip I had ever caught. It weighed approximately 8 lb.
Joel with the big Sweetlip
Then things got all quiet again and we decided to head to our targeted spot (the shipping channel) a little earlier than intended. The journey there was a good 2 hours away. We got some rest and when we arrived, another fishing vessel was anchored there. John accessed the situation and after 45 minutes, he decided that we could not anchor Rico II correctly, with the other vessel in the way; we would be really off target. Therefore, we decided to head to our last and final destination.Day 3 â€“ 6th Oct
I must have been really tired and did not notice that the engines have stopped. I got up, checked the time and it was 6.48 am. A quick check with the anglers revealed that Chester had just lost a big one. Grabbed a live baitfish and sent it down without delay.
A few moments later, I heard Joel making an odd noise on the starboard side where he was fishing, so I decided to check him out. Geez! His Penn Jigmaster and Toruim 20 were in overdrive. I urged him on and told him to crank it! Donâ€™t give it a fighting chance and get cut off. The fish surfaced, splashed and I ran to the stern to inform the other anglers to reel up in case our lines got entangled. As we were reeling up, the fish managed to dive and earn its freedom in some underwater structure. Joel was disappointed, but carried on fishing nonetheless. Two biggies lost in a couple of minutes and although Joelâ€™s adversary surfaced, we could not identify what it was. The only thing we could make out was the colour - pink! And it was big.
The next angler in action was Edwin. A good take, a perfectly bent Ugly Stick and line peeling off the TLD15. For a moment I thought that his line got snagged but I was wrong. Edwin asked for the gimbal belt and whatever was hooked on managed to swim under. Before the belt could be fastened, the unthinkable happened â€“ burst line thanks to the boatâ€™s hull. The score? Fish : 3, Anglers : 0. And if you think that was the final score, wrong! Another hit on Joelâ€™s line and it was 4-0. Four fishes lost in a span of 20 minutes. The only fish landed here was a small golden Snapper by Guan Lun using a handline. So that does not count!
After losing the fishes, everything went quiet again and we started speculating. Edwin was enjoying the sunshine when his set up went into action again. A good thug of war ensued and after a few minutes he managed to haul up a 10lb Queen fish. Edwin and his QueenJoel with a closer shot of Edwin's Queen
That was the last fish landed and we made our way back to MCC. Personally, I would rate the catch at 5.5. It could have been better, then again â€“ it could have been worse. The most valuable lesson we learnt was never trust the book. Perfect current, calm sea-state etc â€¦ Mother Nature will prove you wrong. However, the company was great. It was real pleasure fishing with new acquaintances and I am pretty sure we will do it again. Total Haul excluding Remoras ... duh!The Motley Crue
Our thanks to Uncle Harry for arranging this trip for us and to Jamie â€¦ thank you for the send off and reception. It was really touching!
Lastly to my five friends that spent two nights with me â€¦ I would like to say â€˜Be a man, do the right thingâ€™. Cheers guys!
Trip Highlights :-
- John Hendricks giving nicknames to Joel (One Armed Bandit) and Guan Lun (Mr. Cartoon)
- Edwin acting like a Chinaman hanging out in NTUC with a flowery shirt
- Guan Lun thinking that the song Emotions by Samantha Sang & Barry Gibb was a cover version and the version by Destinyâ€™s Child the original â€¦ what the hell?
- Approximately 60 plus Remoras â€¦. Duh!
- Chester doing his rendition of Russell Peters â€¦ â€˜Be a fish, do the right thing and eat my baitâ€™
- And finally, say my name baby â€¦oh my gawd â€¦.. !xobolie. Ok for those who have seen Russel Petersâ€™ stand-up, you know what I mean