Fish Lombok is Back

After an extended absence I’ve been getting Fish Lombok and Going Home back on-line. I’ll be putting the posts up one-by-one as and when I feel inclined. Since I’m not blogging from an unreliable dial-up connection in Lombok  I’ll  make the site media-rich; bigger pictures; embedded maps etc.

Satellite Image of Lombok's southwest coast. Jurassic Park

One thing I’d like to mention right off the bat: If you are going to fish Lombok you need to go south. Forget the Gilis (Trawangan/Meno/Air), avoid Senggigi and any tour operator who offers to take you out for a few hours around there. The great fishing zone starts where Lombok gets wild; Bangko Bangko and the famous Desert Point break is just the beginning and when you are chugging along in your boat and you look up and think that you’ve been plonked into the set of Jurassic Park — you’ve arrived.

Here’s the satellite map by Google Maps

The Boys and Girl Lombok Tour (Fishing Section)

Well with Gilis out of our system we hammered south and west in the big Yamaha leaving the storm and the Gilis in our wake. Immediate destination: Labuan Poh.

Sun after the storm. Looking back on the Gilis

Having dropped off the non-hardcore; Nic and the 2 Robbies headed out for a late afternoon session. Rounding the corner past Bangko Bangko had all the adrenaline of a good rollercoaster ride as we plowed up one side and surfed down the other of wave after wave after wave. Never doubted the diesel would let us down but thought about that last scene from the “Perfect Storm” quite a bit just then.

Rob Christie's first Dog

An hour past the corner and on our way back we hit fish after fish after fish, here Rob Christie shows a nice puppy. Dogtooth tuna #1 for him.

The next day we headed out to the grounds en masse. Eight of us on the boat and a carefully orchestrated roster of “at bats” and “on decks”. We didn’t have to wait long:

James Christie and his Barra

James Christie with the first of the trip’s many Barracuda.

James Christie and GT

Again, James after a hard-won battle with a Giant Trevally.

John Oven with his Catch-and-Release GT

John Oven with the biggest damned fish he’s caught since – well – ever. A monster battle with a big GT that was kept alive and released soon after the photo session. Something that made the young angler feel great about the whole thing.

John Oven Bending a rod

And John bends a big rod during the fight he lost with what I estimate was a 30-kilo specimen. Hard luck but he took it well.

Kai Mountfort (L) and Rob hold Kai's Doggie

Kai Mountfort got hold of a nice 10-kilo dogtooth.

Niko has help holding the Barracuda he soloed. Longer than him ...

And Niko Mountfort with a big Barracuda that came out of the water 4 times during the fight. Like a damned Tarpon. But he soloed it. Great show.

Venni Vetti Vecci…

… but then he had to go back to work. Hard Luck.

Lance Cherry

Lance Cherry hooked up in Lombok

Had an excellent six days fishing with Lance Cherry. He was in Lombok to film an installment for his “Adventure Fishing” video series. He may just have it in the bag.

South Lombok Trolling Zone

After a slow start we had a cracking day hunting GTs (Giant Trevallies or Caranx Ignobilis) amongst the rocks and the massive inshore swells of South Lombok. Acronym aside this was: The Seriously Hot Inshore Trolling.

Lombok Trolling Zone. Sophia Louisa Island is the rounded rock in the background left.

Looking back along the coast you could almost chart your day. Our boat had made it past each one of these rocks and points hunting the big Trevally on the way to Sepi.

Lance Cherry (R) with the first notable GT of the trip. Ampenan's Badri – we spent many, many, many great days together.

This GT tipped the market scales at 28 kilos. Taken off Sophia Louisa Island near Sepi, Lombok.

Rob Mountfort and a GT

Smaller but more beautiful. Same goes for the fish.

All In a Day's Play

At the end of a long day. Group shot on the beach outside the incredibly smart “Blongas Bay Inn”. We ate here most evenings before heading for our more modest accommodations across the bay. (See below)

The Huts at the End of the Universe

These are what I will always mentally call the “Huts at the End of the Universe”. Strangely enough it seemed quite comfortable after 6 days sleeping on the split bamboo floor. Might have something to do with the discovery of Arak Putih — the local firewater.

And because I hate the trip across the mud so damned much — here it is again. Knee-deep sucking mud. Redux. Yuck.

The 2nd to last day out Lance hooked on to this lovely Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel. 20+ kilos. The last day he nailed a 15-kilo Dogtooth Tuna to complete his “Lombok Slam”.

As part of our fishing sessions we looked at traditional ways of hooking up with the big offshore pelagics — the Sails, YFT and Marlin which haven’t shown up yet this year.

One tried and true method is to troll a depth line at the point where there is the greatest drop-off. Looking at the Admiralty chart for the area it was a natural 100-140 metre line. Thirty metres inshore and it was 30-70 metres; 30 metres offshore and it was 200-600 metres. Guess who we found in that exact spot? A swarm of fishermen from Ampenan hunting the small tuna.

I love it when technology reinforces generations of wisdom.

Two days later Rob hooked one here that peeled 130 metres of line before it opened an extra strength treble hook on the Yozuri lure.

The strike drag on the Tiagra 30 reel was 20 lbs with a full spool but my drag scale couldn’t even measure the pull with 200+ metres of line out. (As we attempted to gauge the fish’s strength in the Holiday Inn garden — as you do.)

Nice Puppies

Nice Puppies

Ouch. That hook has to hurt.  Out to do a little recon as Cap’n Lance is flying in for a spot of fishing later in the month. Had planned for a 3-day trip, overnighting for two nights in Sepi on Lombok’s south coast. Around tenhundred hours I found the Dogtooth Tuna that had been conspicuously absent for the past couple of months.

Dogtooth Tuna

Dogtooth Tuna (Gymonosarda Unicolor)

This puppy hit an 18-cm (7-inch) lure being trolled about 4 metres down. You can get an idea of the size of the fish and can imagine 6 inches disappearing pretty damned quickly into a mouth like that.  Two dogs this size and two smaller ones weighed in at 70 kilos at the Ampenan fish market. Quick math puts this tuna around 30 kilos. Big GT (Caranx Ignobilis) of 25 kilos, a smaller Trevally and the first Rainbow Runner (Elegatis Bipunnulata) i have caught in Lombok. Here’s the catch as we motored in to Sepi.

Catch of th Day

Catch of the Day

Was a pleasure to hand over three nice fish to the village head so that we could share a meal after Ramadan fasting finished for the day. They barbecued a Tongkol tuna and a small trevally over a fragrant wood fire and deep fried another. Superb end to the day.

Sepi Barbeque

After a sleep more than interrupted by the 3 o’clock call to prayer, I decided that one night in Sepi would do it. I have to admit the mud bank seen here between the sand and high-tide line and Badri’s boat on the water line had a lot to do with that decision. Sucking slimey mud that came up to your knees and hid sharp chunks of coral and shell and caused more than a little blood. Enough to put you off your paradise.

Low Tide

In any case: This is the Magnet. People actually Scuba dive here at slack tide. They can not be of sound mind. That rubbish you see on top of the rock was an attempt by the government to build a lighthouse. All that is left after the wind and the waves visited is a whole bunch of re-bar.

The Magnet

The Magnet

Small wave rolls over The Magnet

It didn’t hold many fish in the morning so we putted back home checking out every bay and inlet on the way. Saw several crews of teak pirates (sound of chainsaws give them away) and strangely enough caught five Bluefin Trevally (Caranx Melampygus) and only those five fish. Nothing else. But great eating.