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November 8, 2012

Kuala Sepetang a perfect jump-off point for a Fishing Trip

Reel Tales
By EDDIE CHUA

K. Sepetang - Hive of activity
Hive of activity: The many fishing activities that can be seen at Kuala Sangga, the jump-off point from Kuala Sepetang.

KUALA Sepetang, a thriving fishing village near Taiping, Perak, has always been a favourite haunt for fishos like me.

It was this place where I first started going out fishing and it continues to be one of my favourite jumping-off points for a trip out to sea.

The best part about going to Kuala Sepetang or Port Weld, as it was known in colonial days, is the trip from Taiping to the village.

The last bit of the 17Km Taiping-Kuala Sepetang stretch is a scenic drive, where big trees have grown by the roadside over the years and their branches hover across the road to form a canopy.

Another section of the trunk road, which cuts across the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, near the Paya Laut Forestry Department, is flanked by bakau trees that remind visitors that they are entering one of the world抯 best managed mangrove ecosystems.

Without fail, I make it a point to reach Kuala Sepetang early for each fishing trip to allow myself time to explore the village while waiting to board the boat at noon.

Despite coming to this little village over and over, in the last 15 years, I have always found something new to see or do here. This fascinates me.

A meal like the curry mee or mee udang is definitely a must. And if we arrive before lunch, my buddies and I would stop for the famous seafood porridge in a Chinese restaurant in Desa Matang, about 4km from the village.

K. Sepetang - Goldbanded Jobfish
Gotcha!: A lady angler with her catch a 2.5kg Goldbanded jobfish caught in one of the wrecks off Perak.

Despite two unsuccessful trips out of Kuala Sepetang in past months due to bad weather, I jumped at the opportunity for a trip two weeks ago when my fishing kakis from Penang invited me to tag along.

I was initially sceptical due to the very unpredictable weather lately but nevertheless took a chance.

The weatherman was right. It was wet when we arrived at the village that day and the day we returned from sea. Otherwise, the entire journey was perfect with the sea as calm as a mirror.

While fishing was not as great as the weather, due to the cold water temperatures, our group managed to hook a few big ones and a variety of table-sized fish during the outing.

During the three-day, two-night outing, we fished at several wrecks found in Perak and Penang waters. I found using the spreader with a long leader, between three and four metres, was the most effective way to catch fish.

However, the results with the Apollo rig were poor.

For this trip, I used a heavy six-and-a-half footer rod with a heavy-duty reel. I used a much heavier set up as we have to use big sinker, at least between 850g and 1kg, to down the rig.

The downside about fishing in the Straits of Malacca is that the current is much stronger than the east coast and one must use a heavier sinker to enable the rig to reach the bottom.

K. Sepetang - good haul
Good haul: The catch from a recent trip out from Kuala Sepetang.

Fishing in the Straits of Malacca can be more difficult and the chances of striking are less than on a fishing trip to the east coast. However, the fish here are much bigger if you hit the right spot.

But you have to depend on the boatman for this. Most of them would find an easy way out and take you to the wrecks to fish but if you can get to fish at several huge coral patches found in the middle of the straits, the catch would be more bountiful.

As for bait, I have tried many types but the most effective one seems to be live squid.

For some reasons, when fishing in the waters off Perak, the fish prefer to take freshly caught squid rather the sliced kembong, selar or sardine. Octopus and mantis prawns are also less effective as bait.

While the ideal time to fish on the west coast is between late October and February or March, when the monsoon hits the east coast, fishing along the Straits of Malacca has been very unpredictable since the 2004 tsunami. Some fishos say the disaster has changed the geographical profile of the sea and had affected the tides. Global warming has also played havoc with the weather, making the trip out to the sea very unpredictable these days.

But I believe if you expect a bountiful catch each time you are out at sea, rather than simply having fun and catching up with your buddies, it is better to buy the fish from the market as this would be cheaper!

Happy fishing.

Source: The Star online