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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Bali Bites - Fishing Bali Update 2 Tuna Time

Having missed more than a months fishing in Bali when the amberjack seemed to turn up (in my absence) it was at least great to be back and wetting a line in late May / early June.  It was really unfortunate that I had missed all of May as the cold southerly swells have hit Bali’s southern coast which brings great waves for the surfers, but poor fishing for some time until the warms currents arrive again later in the year, save for tuna up north.  A days casting, trolling and jigging over around Nusa Penida island kicks off this update with my good friend and Lembongan local Mark Harris.  For those of you unacquainted with fishing around Bali and to the east in Indonesia would be well served to take a look at Marks blog exclusively on that subject it can be found by clicking here  Our day was all about light tackle fishing and we spent the majority of the time casting 7 and 9 inch soft baits (Atomic and Sluggo's) or smaller stick baits such as Orion.  A few strikes were missed presumably by long tom it was not until we reverted to trolling for  a while did we induce a real strike.  The good old Rapala X Rap 20 did it again and produced a spirited little GT that was quickly thrown back after posing for a picture with Marks friend Rolly.  We started to mark up serious numbers of fish on the sounder and had some missed strikes before hooking up to what is possibly the smallest ever dog tooth tuna caught on rod and reel.  Being my first of the species I was still pleased.  A quick run out to a deeper pinnacle and breaking out the jigging tackle saw me well and truly smashed by a denizen from the deep.  You can only speculate but I think it may have been a much bigger version of my doggie.  Returning a couple of days later to a similar area for a very short impromptu session saw a double hookup on trolled X Rap 20’s with one biting off and the other being a slightly more grown up version of my ‘puppy’ doggie.  Reports continued later in the week of more juvenile dog tooth, a very encouraging sign if they can elude the local fisherman long enough to grow.

Next up I was off to the north coast of Bali.  An experimental trip to look at the main yellow fin tuna grounds had been organised for me by good friend and Balinese sport fishing pioneer Adhek Amerta.  My contact was a local fisherman named Salim who lives in a fishing village near Sangsit, approximately 3 hours from Denpasar.  Now my Indonesian is limited to basic phrases and Salim knows even less English which posed a few barriers.  We managed to communicate in Indonesian over text messages using the very handy Google Translator.  Finding Salim in the early hours of the morning was no easy feat and we pushed off in his Jukung about an hour behind his buddies.  For those unfamiliar with Bali waters they do get incredibly deep close to land, within 40 minutes we were arriving at  the first of the locally man made bamboo fish aggregation / attraction devices (FAD's) and my navionics software on my iPhone told me were already in waters around 1000 meters deep.  It was interesting to watch Salim navigate from fad to fad with no recourse to gps or even a compass, these guys fish this water every day.  The first three fads did not produce anything and it was not until we approached the fourth that we realised there was something going on.  Pretty soon two boats hooked up and landed respectable yellow fin tuna and we switched over from trolling Rapala X Raps and Jaks skirted lures to jigging.  It seems we had arrived at the end of the bite window so we payed the price perhaps for navigation and communication problems!  Back on land I was met by a welcoming committee who took great delight in making fun of me and my modern gear and trying to get my sunglasses from me –a new pair of spotters? I don’t think so!  Despite the language issues, I established that the best months for the yellowfin are from August and the big beasts turn up in October.  Language is no barrier between fisherman, I will be back!

Petrol is cheap in many parts of Indonesia!

Sea weed is the main export from Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Cenigan Islands
The good mid year swells mean poor fishing in southern parts for a few months

Excuse the fish ID symbols, baby dog tooth tuna em mass
The smallest doggie ever captured, and I do still look pleased...!

GT taken on the troll
Slightly better dog tooth again on an X Rap
There is an impromptu fish market leading out of Padangbai most days

The Jukung, a very capable fishing vessel, just uncomfortable and wet
Sunrise at Sangsit northern Bali

Skipper Salim on the look out for birds working, one foot on the tiller.
One of the FAD's off the north coast of Bali
Yellowfin tuna being subdued

A fisherman's hut = everyone needs one

Jukung outrigger, this is why they are so wet to ride in

A craftsman builds a new Jukung for a Tasmanian client at Padangbai
Rapala X - Rap 20

A worker has a cast in his lunch break on Nusa Lembongan
The fishing, transport and recreational fleet on Nusa Lembongan
Baby Long Tom