Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beautiful Bukit Beruntung - Part 1

By Trevor Tau Fik

I am usually not too fussy about where I fish or what I catch. Most times, I’d be happy just to be at some fishable water, even if it is just to wet my line. Which is why I had no reservations about joining Mr Koh on one of his frequent evening visits to the Bukit Beruntung area. However, there are others who would scoff at the mere mention of the place. As they might put it, the waters are all fished out, having been plundered vigorously and continually for decades. While it is true that the area has been subjected to considerable fishing (and netting) pressure over the years, Bukit Beruntung is still pleasantly quite productive, as I discovered not too long ago…

On the way in to our chosen spot, we passed a wild pond with beckoning dark waters and weeds all around the sides. It caught my eye instantly, as it had all the luxuries of a haruan Beverly Hills. I leaned forward from the back seat and tapped Mr Onn’s shoulder, suggesting that we give the place a try. He replied that it seemed “devoid” and kept his foot on the gas pedal. Shucks. As the pond disappeared from view, I mentally bookmarked it as “Beverly Hills”, with the intention to check it out sometime soon.

It's haruan country as far as the eye can see.

When we arrived at our planned venue, my eyes went wide… not only from awe, but also to take in the broadest possible view of the place. Heck, it is HUGE! It looked easily a couple of hectares of flooded terrain, with most of the area permanently waterlogged. We prepped up and trudged in shin-deep water along the bank towards a wooded area. Mr Koh revealed that it was good the waters had receded considerably, enabling us to fish here. Most times, the way in is apparently flooded waist-deep, with a slight slip off the submerged track resulting in a complete dunking for the angler. As such a prospect has a thwarting effect, the area is usually undisturbed for prolonged periods. Evidently, we had come at the best time, which meant lotsa hungry fishes that have not seen a bait in a looong while!
Not enough just being hardcore, you gotta be part commando too!

After boring through a berth of trees and shrubs, we came to a clearing with an elongated wetland about the size of a basketball court. Mr Onn positioned himself at the inlet of a creek, while Mr Koh covered the area around the outlet. I dug in at a spot between them and within minutes, our baits were drumming the water in an erratic rhythm. For some reason, it seemed to me that Mr Koh’s spot was “better”. But it was Mr Onn’s quiet corner that took the day. The announcement came in the form of a loud whip from his rod that made my head turn in reflex. He was arched backwards hard against a commanding curve on his heavy rod, and the water about 30ft in front of him was rolling! I knew that Mr Onn usually use a strong fiberglass rod at high-risk snaggy places like this, but I have never seen that thick stick bend the way it was bowing now. Without doubt, he was on to something BIG. The huge size of his opponent became even more probable when Mr Koh and I saw that he wasn’t making much progress in his retrieve despite a series of pain-inflicting pumps. In fact, he seemed to be losing to the fish, which was another thing that I have never seen. But after a carefully executed fight of approximately 3 minutes, Mr Onn managed to reclaim about half his line. Then, as if to deliberately sour our intense anticipation to see the fish, it surged straight under a weedy clump and snagged the line. My heart sank, as I knew that while a smaller culprit could be pulled out quite easily, it is a pessimistically different story when a heavy fish starts doing the tango with a snag. I shook my head and left it to Mr Onn’s angling acumen to deal with the matter. Using standard procedure, he dipped the rod to remove pressure on the line. That fooled the fish into thinking that it was free and it started moving again. Once his line was uncoiled from the snag, Mr Onn slashed his rod up high and cranked the reel as if he had been drinking rocket fuel for lunch. With only a short distance left between him and the fish, victory was at hand. The proud fish finally showed itself with a grand splash, bursting its head out of the water to shoot off a fiery stare at Mr Onn. Not the least bit intimidated, he took advantage of his adversary’s weak position on the surface and slid it right up the grassy bank.

My preferred bait - clean, convenient... and the fish love 'em!

After he had secured it in a fish sack, Mr Onn brought it over to show us and whoa… it was a brutish beast of about 2.5kgs! It had been a really long time since any of us caught a haruan anywhere near this size. To make it even more special, we discovered that the fish had a permanent crick on its body, giving it a stretched out “Z” shaped physique. That made it look even more fearsome ‘coz it resembled a snake in a ready-to-strike position. We found its odd shape difficult to hold on to when posing for photographs, so I only managed to get a couple of (bad) shots of it before an exasperated Mr Onn gave up trying to cradle the slithery baby.

A tolerably decent shot of Mr Onn & his trumpeting trophy.

CONSOLATION CATCHWe fished casually during the remaining time before sunset, without really giving a damn whether we catch anything else or not. Having a big fish in your pocket can do that to you. Our day was just swell and nobody could spoil it for us; Mr Onn’s fish would see to that. Even just telling my friends that I was there to witness its capture, would count as bragging privileges.

One whole uneventful hour after Mr Onn’s big score, we decided to fish at the numerous other "less attractive” holes along the way out. Mr Koh and I hadn’t caught anything yet, so we were working quite hard, while Mr Onn just went strolling around, making an occasional cast or two. Obviously, his angling appetite for the day had been satiated.

Dangling the carrot. My modest bujuk serves as motivation for Mr Koh.

At one particular spot, I was puzzled to see that there was a hole in the patch of floating moss on the surface. Hmmmm, that must have been caused by the resident fish in there repeatedly coming up for air. I plopped in my bait and let it sink. Then I slowly jigged it up halfway and let it sink again. On the way up the second time, I felt a heavy throb and instantly dipped the rod for some slack. A cluster of bubbles rose to the surface, pushing away more floating moss and creating an even bigger hole. Woooky… I’m gonna get a hookup. Winding the line taut to facilitate a good connection, I whipped my rod skyward. The hard setting on my reel stood firm, refusing to pay out even an inch of line, while the rod bucked in protest of a pounding load on the line. It was an easy win for me. Standing right in front of the hole, all I had to do was pump and wind a couple of times and up came a feisty bujuk. My last-minute catch served as some motivation for us, but there wasn’t much time left to fish before we had to leave to make way for the buzzies, crawlies and whatever else that comes out after dark. For certain, we didn’t wanna be around when they show up.

As Mr Onn drove us out in the fading light, I caught a glimpse of the pond we passed earlier and a pop-up instantly appeared in my mind - “Beverly Hills”. I nodded to myself and smiled. It’d be Sunday in a couple of days.

Guess where I’d be heading?

Mr Koh got to meet this Beruntung brat on our subsequent visit.

Fish On!!! Catch our next posting "Beautiful Bukit Beruntung PT II". Coming to your screens on April 10, 2008!

Coming up next - the "Beverly Hills" pond... and more!

1 comment:

Lim Chang Moh said...

Hi Tau Fik,

Congratulations on a fine looking blog. It makes me wanna reach out for my fishing rod and...