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!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19th 2001 - the full moon does the trick again

My last post made it clear that it has been hard work fishing out there at Batu Abah since the excellent run from October 2010 into the early New Year. Today it all seemed right - full moon, swells down below 2 metres, gentle northerlies with waves coming from the southwest and a very convenient high tide time of mid-day. And the day panned out nicely after a slightly disturbing first couple of hours.

First cast of the day and Dede was into a fish, the smallest GT we caught as it turned out and the only one caught on a chugger (Adhek Venus) all day. Several hours of frustration followed with many misses and a couple of major bust offs in true washing machine conditions. This was not made any easier to stomach by the arrival of Adhek's boat and every time I looked across they seemed to be into a fish!

One of the misses deserves a mention- this was the largest GT I have ever seen in Bali. It came at my stickbait 3 times close to the boat and I could only see a VERY large and long back, no head or tail. A fish which could easily have been 50 kg+.

After all that we retired around the corner to gather thoughts, eat and find the energy for another go. To make the morning even more irritating I had lost my favourite Craftbait GT3.

I was not that hopeful as the raging current had calmed down after high water and notably, Adhek's boat was gone. But perseverance in blistering, sapping temperatures paid off and we landed 5 more GTs including a very feisty black fish which gave me a real workout. All were caught using Adhek Penipen stickbaits, either 140 or 160 gram, with the 140 gram redhead doing most of the damage.

When conditions are like this, GT fishing in Bali is a lot of fun. If only it could be more consistent....

Rods: Carpenter Coral Viper 79/40, Carpenter DJ83MH
Reels: Dogfight and Twinpower 10000 with SOM NL 16000 spool, both loaded with Avani GT Max PE8
Successful lures: Adhek Penipen 140 and 160 gram, Adhek Venus.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adhek Penipen - a superb stickbait

I am a huge fan of the Adhek Penipen stickbait which was released in 2010. This easy to work stickbait has a mysteriously low profile in GT fishing circles and is thoroughly under-exposed.

It comes in three sizes: Long (160 grams), Medium (140 grams) and Short (100 grams). As with all Adhek lures, the quality of the wood used (mahogany) and the finishes are both abosolutely top class.

The lure works best with a steady sweeping retrieve which causes the lure to dart dramatically in the sub-surface. It can also be worked with a standard walk-the-dog type retrieve. The 140 gram is my personal favourite and it works best with light gauge 5/0 treble (eg Owner ST66) or a heavy gauge 4/0 (eg Owner ST76). The 160 gram is also very effective fitted with the biggest, heaviest trebles such as Owner ST76 size
5/0 and Gamakatsu GT Recorders. The much smaller 100 gram Penipen is a little small for PE8-10 GT fishing but no doubt has a place with PE6 and lighter fishing.

In Bali waters, Penipens have been notably effective when the fish are ignoring poppers and more typical surface stickbaits. It is no co-incidence that this is now the go to lure for Pak Adhek himself, as well as for his experienced crew members.

My Penipens

I truly hope that this excellent lure will become better known internationally as it becomes more widely available for sale.

Mid-January to mid-February 2011 - weather playing havoc!

After a really good run of fishing from late October through to the New Year, the La Nina year weather began to play havoc with Bali fishing.

Swells were as large as 3.5-4 metres and the rain very heavy indeed at times. Sadly, this weather coincided with the visit of a couple of groups from Singapore and a number of Australian friends. Some trips were even cancelled due to the size of the seas.

It was not all doom and gloom, and some good fish were landed, but the fishing was certainly much harder work than was expected after the fine run earlier. Pride of place goes to Stanley and his 30 kg GT jigged at Batu Abah using a local Ton Hui 600 gram spear. You can see how bad the weather was from his attire! Great job landing that fish.

Otherwise a few decent GTs landed including one by my visiting friend Paul Vogl from Perth.

Jigging involved mostly small and rather uninspiring fish although a few big Dogtooth bust offs were encouraging for the next month or two. I was personally pleased to get a decent Ruby Snapper on board at Batu Abah as they have not been easy so far this season.

After a fairly grim 6 weeks, it can only get better. Notably, Pak Adhek has done well on trips to Lombok and I have 3 trips arranged over there between now and May, so watch this space!

New Years Day 2011 - a fun popping and jigging trip

It was perhaps a bit much to expect both Christmas Eve and New Years Day to provide fun fishing but I gave it a go anyway.

A breezy boat trip out to Nusa Penida was certainly a good way to clear a fuggy head from the night before. Fortune often favours the brave and it did on this occasion with a steady bite all day. Nothing outstanding on jig but a lot of fun with small fish - Spanish Mackerel, Rainbow Runner, Barracuda and quite bizarrely a little Red and Green Wrasse no bigger than the jig it attacked.

Out at the main GT site, first fish was an especially strong 21-22 kg specimen which gave me a real run around in the raging current. Conditions looked dead right for a run of GTs but sadly just two more small fish hit the lures.

Great to get out on New Years Day and get the fishing year off to a positive start!

Christmas Eve 2010 fishing in Bali

What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give the arms a good work out with a full day popping and jigging session? Such was case on December 24th 2010, and the fish did not disappoint.

I headed out to the usual Nusa Penida spots with my friend Made and it was pretty clear that the currents were looking very good.

First stop was my favourite jigging spot which yielded just annoying Barracuda for the first 20 minutes but then two Doggies hit, one weighing in at 21 kgs (sadly it died and we could not revive despite trying for 20-30 mins, so weighed on my bathroom scales) and the other about 17 kgs.

Really nice fish for Bali and it was hard to leave the spot.

But the current implied that there was GT action to be had and nearby Batu Abah did not disappoint with four nice fish, the largest about 20 kgs.

Great way to start the festive period!

Monday, February 14, 2011

November 2010 - popping the Alor Archipelago

This liveaboard trip on the splendid Ocean Dreams boat was highly anticipated but ulitmately a bit disappointing. Although I have fished elsewhere in remote Eastern Indonesia, this was my first foray to Alor.

Bite rate was a little lower than you would expect and we could not raise any monsters.
Did not land any GTs over 25 kgs, although we got into at least 3 way bigger but they all bust off. Plenty of GTs in the 15 to 25 category. Had a triple strike of 3 giant Barracudas on poppers in the 25 kg range, and got two of those on board. Also Red Bass on poppers.

Jigging for Doggies around the Pulau Kambing mount was just frustrating. The current was running at anything from 4 to 7(!) knots much of the time. We had one exciting night jigging session there with multiple monster bust offs and a broken rod. Very big fish for sure but not landed.

Otherwise we had fun light casting at tuna boils and landed a number of small YFTs, Skipjacks and Rainbow Runners.

Notably, I have pinned two new sites in the northeast both of which had 30-40 kg GTs sighted but not caught. We went up there on spec as the normal sites were not producing big fish and happy to pass those sites on to anyone who is interested. Good sites for sure with real potential for monsters, if a bit of a trek away from the main Alor locations - we sailed overnight to get there for dawn and then fished our way back.

It was an enjoyable trip with truly great company (thanks so much Ayie and Vincent) and a good quantity of fish caught, but ultimately a bit disappointing as the monsters were not coming out to play.

Most successful lures: Kaiser El Toro 150 grams, Adhek Venus, Adhek Big Gecko, Craftbait GT3.

November 21st and 22nd 2010 - a multinational team effort

Inspired by the October full moon Bali reports, my good friend Mark Richards from Kaiser Pro Shop in Singapore put together a great team of himself, pro-angler and renowned guide Ken from Taiwan and Maverick from Sarawak. He was kind enough to invite me along also.

Part of the trip objective was to test out the Kaiser Pro Shop El Toro V2 popping rod 150g and 180g prototypes on some GTs.

Overall it is was a very enjoyable trip with fantastic company. Day 1 was much more exciting than day 2 with the largest of 8 GTs being about 27-28 kg. Jigging-wise, only small Ruby Snappers came out to play but the fish of the trip was a 35 kg Doggie landed by Mark, my jaw dropped when I saw this fish - really notable for Bali these days. As was the ease with which he landed it (!!) on a Synit Venom 4'8" V550FT on high drag. Terminals were pink Yo-Zuri FC leader 130lb, Izor 80lb white & LJ 520g jig.

I was delighted to make two new fishing buddies in Ken and Maverick and to have a swing with the prototype Kaiser El Toro 150 and 180 rods. These have to be the best value quality popping rods available anywhere.

October 21st 2010 - Bali GT fishing at its best

This was the first really good day of the new Bali season (traditionally September to May). It was the full moon which really made me choose this day to head out with my great buddy and Captain Fantastic, Agustinus.

A combination of the full moon, very choppy water and moody skies created a raging current out there at Batu Abah which really got the GTs out to play.

The two hours before high tide were superb and provided one of the best GT fishing days I have experienced in Bali. The level of aggression was outstanding and as well as landing two fish in the 40 kgs class and several smaller ones, we had a huge number of bust offs and misses. At one stage it seemed that fish were having at look at just about every cast. With no broom-handle rods on board, a lot of fun was had fishing PE8 with genuine PE8 rods.

The day was topped off with a (very tired!) jigging stop on the way home and the Amberjacks decided to oblige.

Weapons: Carpenter DJ83MH, Ripple GT79R and GT82. Dogfight, SW18000, TP SWA10000 with No Limits 16000 spool, all loaded with Avani GT Max PE8.
Poppers: Adhek Big Gecko 160 gram was the star, also caught one fish with Adhek PomPom 160 gram.