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.