Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some nice GTs for Christmas

Well it was supposed to be a Boxing Day treat from me and to me, but that was scuppered by yet another last minute call from my normal boat saying they had mechanical problems. That's happened far too many times lately and not happy about it.

But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as a call to my old buddy Adhek had us fixed up to go out today instead on his boat, the excellently named GT1.

The spin cycle was on maximum
Upon arrival at the main Bali GT site at Batu Abah it was clear we could be in for a good day. The spin cycle was on full, possibly the wickedest water I have ever seen out there (and that is saying something).

Third cast of the day resulted in a big hit and a big line failure - the first time I have ever had that with Varivas GT Max PE8, it just pinged. Despite that disappointment, a lure bag minus one GT3 150 and lots of friendly banter from Adhek about setting my initial drag too high, it had to be a good sign.

And it sure was, as the next 6 hours of casting resulted in 7 beauties making it to the boat, and either 16 or 17 GT strikes in total (I lost count). Biggest was 27 kgs and the smallest 10. If I could have added a 40 kg+ fish to that mix then it would have gone down as a truly vintage Bali day. That fish was indeed hooked, then stripped about 120 metres of line before I managed to pull the hook only about 20 metres from the boat.

One notable event was catching consecutive fish with the first two casts with my new Super Popping 80M, out on its first trip in my hands. Indeed, the fourth cast resulted in a bust off as well. I get the feeling I am going to like this rod :). Thanks to Andy Rowe for being kind enough to sell it to me! Set up with a SW10000 loaded with PE6 and a 120 gram Venus, it is a perfectly balanced medium weight popping unit.

Aside from the exciting fishing, it was great to catch up with Adhek in person after many months of not seeing him. The man is a pioneering legend of our sport, and I could talk fishing with him forever. From no more than 20 test casts, we had three strikes on his new prototype sinking stickbait - and when I say prototype I really mean it. A piece of beautifully shaped mahogany with a layer of clear coat on it - no paint in sight. I suggest everyone watches out for this hitting the market - it could be an instant star. Completely different shape to any other sinking stick I have used.

Star lures were Craftbait GT3 170, Adhek Venus 120, the afore-mentioned Adhek protoype and Carpenter Kattobi . Did not cast a surface stick all day which was hardly surprising given the water conditions.

All in all in really enjoyable day's fishing. After some fairly terrible trips out there in recent months, it was so good to see the Batu Abah site back to producing good fish.

(ps, I apologise for the dirty tea towel on my thighs. The crew thought my shorts were far too nice to be slimed).

Rods: an all Carpenter day: MH80H, EP82/38, SP80M, BLC83/40.
Lures: Craftbait GT3 170 and 150, Adhek Venus, Adhek prototype sinker, Carpenter Kattobi, Heru Cubera 150, Heru Bobara 150.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lombok again, November 12th and 13th 2011

As previously mentioned, I was off to Lombok again with friends for November full moon period. Sadly, there could not have been a bigger contrast to the previous trip.

Upon arrival it was very evident that run-off from the first big rains of the season had produced some very murky water at the key GT sites. There had also been some local tectonic activity since my last visit. Many hundreds of casts over 2 days did not produce a single GT strike. Back down to earth with a bump!

The first day gave us no fish at all. The second was a little better (but not much!) with a 10 kg Wahoo, run-of-the-mill Barracuda and a small Spanish Mackerel, all on stickbaits. Although far better than anything else we caught, the Wahoo was a disappointing fish with which to Christen my new Carpenter Endless Passion 82/38.

This trip was a great example of how fickle our sport can be!

Carpenter Monster Hunter 80H with Stella SW18000
Carpenter Endless Passion 82/38 with Stella SW10000 SOM 16000 spool
Carpenter Coral Viper 79/40 with Twinpower SW12000

Lures tried, almost everything imaginable from 100 gram stickbaits to Patriot Design Master Bomb 205 grams.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Back to Lombok, October 27th to 29th 2011

Until last week, I had not been able to fish since May, so a quick two and half day trip across the Strait to Lombok was eagerly anticipated. Upon arrival, the anticipation levels rose even further as the currents were really swirling and there just had to be fish.

Was soon into a couple of sizeable GTs and also started to get smashed by Spanish Macks. The second day was similar and produced the best GT of the trip - an extraordinarily fat fish that I am still have trouble calling weight-wise. This was mighty fine fish with which to Christen my new Carpenter MH80H.

The bite was really on and if I was back in peak physical shape I could certainly have caught more fish. I was though very pleased with the 7 good-sized GTs I caught and a similar number of fun Spanish Macks. Also caught my first ever Goldenspotted Trevally on the top water (normally a fish caught jigging!) and a large 18-20kg Barracuda.

Lure of the trip was (as usual) Heru Cubera 150 and I also caught fish with a Cubera 125, Shimano Ocean Pencil 110 sinking and Adhek Penipen 140.

Did not do any jigging at all as the top water was just too good. Wanted to try out out my new MC Works 556 but that will just have to wait.

Lombok is so underfished for a place that is relatively easy to reach from Bali (90 minute boat crossing). I have booked the boat
again for the November full moon, 13th) and will be giving it all another go. All fish successfully released bar 2 Spanish Macks which were kept for eating.

With the season up and running again in these parts, please check back in often for
regular reports from now through to June 2012.

Rods: Carpenter Monster Hunter 80H, Carpenter Coral Viper 7940, Ripple Fisher GT82
Reels: Stella 18000, Stella 10000, Twinpower 12000
Successful lures: Heru Cubera 150 and 125, Shimano Ocean Pencil 110 sinking, Adhek Penipen 140.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mid-April 2011 - back to Lombok

The last trip across the strait to Lombok left me distinctly disappointed, so this time I was on something of a mission with my friends Ben and Jon from Australia.

Although we failed to raise any monster fish, it was a far better trip in terms of action. On the third and final day alone we had 13 strikes on poppers, and although an unfortunate number dropped off (6!) there was enough action to keep us all on our toes.

Largest GT was up around 15 kgs and lots in the 5 to 12 kg range. I personally had a much larger fish on and seemingly well hooked up until it fell off :( . It is something of mystery as to why we have been missing the big GTs in Lombok this season. Bali has been good for the larger fish, but even on days when the bite has been on in Lombok, smaller fish seem to dominate. I have one more trip to Lombok before the season winds down in late May and I am determined to get that monster GT on board.

The best by-catch was Jon's nice Red Bass and a sizeable Great Barracuda which was Ben's first fish on a heavy popping set up.

Stickbaits were a complete waste of time with just one miss from a Barracuda on Day 1. Not for the first time (nor the last!), Heru Cubera chuggers played a starring role as did Ben's Halco Roosta (surely the best budget popper ever designed).

This was a first dedicated popping trip for both Ben and Jon, and it was a great pleasure fishing with these guys, and to see two new popping addicts emerge over the three days.

Final mention must go to Mike and Yuli at the truly exceptional Yulis Homestay in Kuta, Lombok. As ever they were great hosts and an absolute pleasure to stay with.

Rods: Carpenter DJ83MH x 2, Carpenter CV7940, Ripple Fisher GT82, Kaiser EL Toro 150
Reels: Stella SW18000, Saltiga Dogfight, Twinpower SW10000
Successful Lures: Heru Cubera 150 and 125, Halco Roosta

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lombok and Sumbawa - end March 2011

I was really looking forward to this trip with my friend Ryan and his younger brother Simms. Sadly it turned out to be a bit quiet with the big GTs refusing to come out to play despite ideal conditions.We certainly caught GTs but nothing larger than about 11-12 kgs. Two sizeable Red Bass caught popping were actually probably better fish but will still always be regarded as nothing more than by-catch.

Especially disappointing was the day we crossed the Alas Strait to Sumbawa and really fished ourselves into exhaustion for a zero return. Casting almost every type and weight of popper/stickbait imaginable into prime, pristine GT waters did not produce even a strike. The same was true when we when threw lures into a raging boil of Skipjacks and Rainbow Runners - it just would not happen for us.

A good deal of amusement was had by all on the last day when Ryan's Heru Cubera 150 was picked up by a Lesser Frigatebird that seemed keen to make off with it before a sharp tug convinced it otherwise :) . That popper was seemingly cursed as only moments later it was donated to the reef Gods by a cast that was, shall we say, a little too energetic.

Despite the lack of big fish, it was a very enjoyable trip in the most stunning, pristine environment. It is a privilege to fish in such conditions, fish or no fish. Also a very big shout out to Ryan and Simms for their indefatigable spirit despite it seeming at times like casting at completely empty waters. Thanks for the great company guys, and if you keep on fishing with that great attitude the big fish will come for sure.

I will be back over in Lombok shortly to attend to some unfinished business.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bali jigs

I often get asked about jigs which are made in Bali. There is no doubt that this small island has something of a reputation for producing decent quality jigs at very low prices.
I will try here to profile the main brands, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

Adhek Bali Jigs
These are the best Bali jigs, and are relative newcomers to the market which as far as I know are not available anywhere internationally. It was no great surprise that Pak Adhek decided to expand his range of lures to include jigs after the global success of his wooden top water lure business.

Adhek Bali Jigs in 700, 500, 400 and 350 grams

Whenever there is a need for centre-weighted jigs, my Adheks are the go to choice, bar none. In Bali waters there is rarely an opportunity to use anything lighter than 350 grams, but these come in sizes from 200 grams to 500 grams. The 400 and 500 gram models get most use with me and work well on GTs and Dogtooths amongst others. Adhek also makes a monster 700 gram bottom-weighted jig which is a killer for deep, strong current Amberjacks.

Finishes are excellent giving these jigs a very Japanese feel. As you would expect with all of the popper experience, Adhek makes good use of holographic tapes on his jigs.

Finally, Adhek’s light inchikus are very popular amongst local anglers, and have a great strike rate on smaller snappers, groupers, long-nose emperor etc. These come with a spare skirt and hook set, and are one of the few ready-made inchikus with which I have not felt the need to change the terminals due to quality concerns. An excellent product.

These jigs are available direct from Adhek Bali or at one retail outlet on the island: Puri Pancing.

Ton Hui Jigs
Or is it Tong Hui? I have never been sure. These unbranded jigs are excellent value and very effective, particularly in the larger, bottom-weighted models. The finishes are nothing great but still better than many you would find elsewhere for higher prices.

In 600, 500, 400, 380 and 320 grams

The bottom weighted models come in 320, 380, 400, 500 and 600 grams and I have caught fish with them all. Ruby Snappers and Amberjacks seem to especially like these in pink and red colours. The full lumo models do well in very deep water.

A far as I know, these jigs available at only one retail outlet on the island: Puri Pancing.

Virus Bali Jigs
These are manufactured by the owners of the Istana Pancing tackle store in Bali and are of course available there. They also turn up a little bit internationally if you look hard enough.

Some Virus Bali jigs from 180 to 500 grams

The range is truly huge in both weights (from 120 grams and up) and models. Frankly, I used to use these a lot more than I do nowadays, mainly thanks to the arrival of the Adhek range. Definitely a good option at keen prices, even if the finishes leave a bit to be desired at times. Some very funky designs available and long-term proven fish catchers.

Find them at Istana Pancing (no functioning website), Jl. Sesetan, Pasar Sanglah, Denpasar, Bali. Tel: 0361 7487140.

There are also other no name jigs of a lower quality made in Bali which you will find at the smaller tackle stores on the island.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26th 2011 - GTs gone quiet but a very good Amberjack

18-20kg Amberjack - a very good fish for Bali

The GT action had died right down in the middle of the moon cycle and it was clearly a weekend for jigging and not top water fishing. Star fish of the weekend was an 18-20 kg Amberjack landed by my friend Ben. Amberjacks bigger than the 12-15 kg range are very notable in Bali these days. Excellent job done by Ben with custom Calstar rod, Stella SW20000 and pink LJ 520 gram jig. Immediately before this fish was landed we had a bust off and a big miss with similarly large
fish, so we had certainly found a strike zone. Notably all the strikes were on Taiwanese LJ jigs which are designed for Amberjack and other seriolas. Unfortunately, after this fish was landed the current picked up a lot and we were unable to reach the fish with any precision.

The other good jigged fish was a 9kg Ruby Snapper caught by myself using a Smith AMJ 52EXS paired with
a Stella SW20000 and a 500 gram pink Ton Hui Bali jig.  The Batu Abah waters are full of Ruby Snappers but they have not been easy so far this season - perhaps that is now changing.

We tried everything on the casting front from 200 gram chuggers to 100 gram sinking sticks and not a single strike from a GT. It just was not happening. The only fish from our popping exploits was a real surprise
- a little 4 kg YellowFin Tuna which took a 150 gram Craftbait GT3 close in to the rocks at Batu Abah.

An attempt to jig a usually excellent Amberjack spot on the way home well to the south was fruitless as 500 gram jigs were flying away horizontally. I am not sure that even 1 kg lumps of lead would have made any difference!