An old classmate from secondary school asked me in early October if I wanted to go fishing in Rompin.
I was keen to try Rompin and since one of my guru kakis (Nigel) was unwilling to plan a trip up there, I said yes. I was initially hesitant as my work schedule generally precludes me from planning anything that far ahead.
True enough, early in 2012, I got a call from a client asking me if I was free to work in Guangzhou, China for 5 days, 3 of which coincided with the trip. Having psyched myself up for this trip, I turned them down (a first! – One in december and another in February were turned down as well but those were not turned down for fishing!).
I caught no fish on this trip (aside from baitfish) and the overall catch across all the boats was relatively bad.
We arrived at the chalet at about 2am but had to wait because the room organiser was late and had booked at least 2 rooms without toilets so there was a slight kerfuffle regarding room placements and I was to be in the room with Dansen, the boat organiser. By blind luck and because some of the people had rushed into their rooms, Fabian, Dansen and me were left with the room with a toilet.
Exhausted by the long ride, I quickly tucked myself in while the other 2 started on getting ready for tomorrow.
Despite our exhaustion, we wok up at about 6am the next day due to a ceiling light that was on. We swore that all the lights were off yesterday. We later discovered that one of the switches in our room controlled the lights next door and one of theirs controlled ours! We had our morning shower in relative comfort (me especially because I got the water heater working while the rest couldn’t) and walked just 30 seconds to the restaurant which was serving breakfast.
After breakfast, we took a quick dump before heading out.
The fishing was mixed that day with quality fish but lacking quantity. I had absolutely no takes on my rods today. I had prepared for jigging and not bottom fishing and my leader was extremely thick. My spare rod that I had brought for bottom fishing or trolling was left in our room.
Tengirris were the fish of the day.
At one spot, we saw one of the guys (who had helped us by putting our tackle boxes in his car) landing countless cobia on kelong sotong. He had come prepared.
Then Dansen had a massive take on his PE1-3 rod with his unmatched Shimano curado. He struggled to fight the fish and I think I recognised the look on his face as one I had experienced before. The look that your face shows when you’re fighting a fish with a baitcaster.
He brought it up and I was shocked to see a cobia! Dansen had been using live prawns on a simple pseudo-apollo rig! I knew that cobias eat a lot of things but for a cobia this size to properly go after such a tiny prawn was surprising to me.
I chalked this up to just luck but no sooner had Dansen dropped his line again, he hooked up yet another fish. Near the end of the fight Dansen started asking if anyone wanted to fight the fish for him. Before he finished his sentence, Ray was holding his rod. lol.
Within seconds the fish was up, gaffed and landed.
Then it was Yang Pin’s turn and he landed this beauty, also on live prawns!
Despite using the same rigs with live prawns, I caught nothing. 🙁
We moved off shortly after this as the horde of boats surrounding the spot meant that the fishing was relatively dry.
The boatman was friendly, extremely active and compromising. He was constantly thinking about the fishing and even proactively checked the bait wells to make sure we had enough selar. We didn’t, so he brought us to jig for a few selars and no sooner had we hooked up the number of fish that he was looking for, we were off.
We started trolling the waters.
Unfortunately, the rod was removed from his hands for most of the duration of the fight by someone who wanted to “help” him. The fish was lost when this person, then decided to land the fish from the bow of the boat.
Not long after that, Jason hooked up another baby sailfish on his setup. He was using a Penn Battle with a Eupro Salty Fighter! I hope you appreciate just how badly outgunned we were.
Through sheer patience and big muscles, he managed to land this beauty.
We went back shortly after this.
Due to some weird reason, we lost one room and Jason and Yang Pin had to join us in our room.
Jason “volunteered” to sleep on a mattress on the floor after Yang Pin secured the remaining bed. lol.
We had a very eventful sleep. Every move we made, made the beds squeak. So when one person moved, we all woke up. And when we woke up, we moved so the cycle was never ending. All of the guys were very understanding though and minimised their movements.
The next morning, we woke up and again conveniently walked just 30 seconds to the restaurant.
This time though, we were fishing on a different boat with 3 other people. We were going for tengirri again. I was really looking forward to the ebek fishing that was promised for this trip but not wanting to make waves or make my friend’s life harder, I said little. Besides, tengs are good eating!
Dansen, Fabian and me joined Vincent, Ryan and “fishingkaki/fk/Leng Chiam” on their boat. Their boatman was quite disappointing, parking out in the middle of nowhere, riding waves in the most unstable manner as well as being majorly unfriendly.
However, halfway through the day, we got a notice from the boatman that all the boats had been recalled due to the chance of bad weather in the form of a storm coming in from Pekan. Still keen to fish, most of the boats instead moved to shallower waters but the fishing was quite bad.
We finally decided to call it a day and headed back to wash up.
While the guys were showering I took these pictures.
Ray had suggested that we all band together for dinner but as it was all falling into place, he declared that he wanted to go home due to personal reasons. He took Jason and Yang Pin with him. Owing to even more mistakes in scheduling and that the fact that the bus organiser had disappeared, transport out was a mess. Only one bus had arrived (our bus) and he was very reluctant to ferry us out to makan. After hearing that the others in our bus did not want to eat dinner, I took the opportunity to suggest that we stay behind while 3 guys from the remaining group take our place.
The fact that I was doing most of the talking to the driver and that Dansen, having been abandoned by his co-organisers, was looking overwhelmed made me suggest that. Thankfully, Fabian was feeling this as well.
At first, Dansen was quite adamant that we leave without him. I was quite touched by this but I was equally adamant at helping him out especially since now his name was on the line.
The matter was finally settled when I realised that all our fishes (Dansen’s, Fabian’s and mine) were packed in the same icebox.
3 guys took our place and after determining that the other bus was going to be very late, the rest of us (Victor, Ryan, Leng Chiam, Dansen, Fabian and an unnamed nice guy and his wife, and me) settled down for dinner.
We finally got seated while the guys politely berated Dansen and politely insisted that he make some calls. Not wanting to rat out his friends and fellow co-organisers, he made only a few reluctant calls.
Nevertheless, those of us who remained were very understanding and were aware of the hierarchy of responsibilities and acted accordingly.
We had a nice slow dinner and told fishing stories and complained about the government.
When the bus finally arrived, we had a few problems with the driver (stating that he needed time to rest, refusing to drive us back, and etc) but we finally managed to get home.
Overall, a messy and unproductive but fun and enlightening trip.
Shawn started fishing in 1994. He caught his first fish (an Ah Seng) on that very first trip to Changi Carpark 4 (before it was barricaded). He built up his fishing knowledge and gear over the years but still keeps his old gear, just like the memories.