Monday, April 7, 2008

Beautiful Bukit Beruntung - Part 2


By Trevor Tau Fik

In the few days after my trip to Bukit Beruntung with Mr Koh, I thought of nothing else but going back there again. Images of the numerous fishy-looking ponds I had seen kept beckoning me with visions of hulky haruan and brutish bujuk. Having a close circle of fanatical fisho friends, I had no problem assembling a trio for a follow-up visit.

It was an evening trip for us, and we travelled with haste, as it is a widely accepted belief that freshwater predators bite well just before sunset. Once we got off the tarred road, we glided comfortably over the somewhat rugged ride in Kevin’s multipurpose Altis. As I had promised myself, we were heading straight for the “Beverly Hills” pond that had fascinated me on my previous visit.

Pic 1 - Despite his best impersonation efforts, Boon Yew is still
better looking than the soon hock.
Upon arrival, I found it to be even fishier-looking than when I first saw it. Maybe it was just my feverish anticipation of its prospects. Whatever the case, we had our gear out of the car and ready to go in no time. As I walked off to find a choice location, Boon Yew made his first cast from a spot right beside the car. I had barely taken ten strides, when he suddenly stiffened his arms and lowered his rod. Son of a (wonderful woman)… he had a hit! Leaning forward to coil up for the strike, Boon Yew allowed the fish a few more seconds to enjoy its snack. Then, whaaaack! I saw his rod swish into a curve, whereupon he started making a quick succession of power pumps and rapid retrieve. I could tell that it was a strong fish, as it managed to keep its head down. Only when it was close to the bank, where Boon Yew had the added advantage of direct leverage, did it break surface. When the feisty fish was raised from the dark depths into the bright evening sunlight, my mouth popped open in pleasant surprise. It wasn’t a haruan… or a bujuk. It was a soon hock! And a fairly good sized one at that.

Hoping to cash in on the known habit of soon hock usually living in a cluster, Boon Yew quickly splashed in a fresh bait at the same spot. Ten minutes later, he hit a bujuk! And twenty minutes after that, he hauled in yet another bujuk!!! See? I knew this was a good spot.

Pic 2 - One of Boon Yew's Beverly Hills bujuk gets a little bloody.
But evidently, it was only good for Boon Yew, ‘coz all Kevin and I got was a grand view of the golden sunset. Even as we were leaving, calls were already being made to announce our conquest of “Beverly Hills”. Naturally, the calls were ended with plans for yet another trip to Bukit Beruntung.

We had a bigger army on our next visit, with the addition of Boon Cheng and James. Our plan this time was to plunder a place that I had chosen to call “Babi Pond”, on account of a pig farm nearby. It is actually more of a huge lake, with plenty of clutter-free water along the weedy banks… just the kinda place ideal for lure-casting.
Pic 3 - Boon Cheng adding some colour to the pic of my 1st catch.

For starters, I deployed a silver-coloured shallow runner, meant to mimic the baitfish in the area. Plying it repeatedly along a grassy bank, it wasn’t long before I noticed some movement from inside a weed patch. It looked like something had been attracted by the seductive swim of my lure, and it was coming out of its lair to teach my lure some manners about shaking its butt in public. And what a foul-tempered teacher it was. Nothing happened on the next cast, but right after that… “geroooop!!!” There was a boil on the water and the fish shot out towards the depths, taking line off my reel as it pleased. I countered its direction with a side-strike, batting my rod towards the grass. I must have hurt it quite a bit with that, ‘coz it just went berserk, rattling my arms with some furious headshaking. But that was apparently a bad move on its part, as it soon became kinda dazed from doing the trance dance. Within a minute, the truncheon-sized haruan was beaten and bagged.

Pic 4 - Boon Yew affirms his good luck for the day with this catch... from shin-deep water!
Having scored at the shallows, I then tried canvassing the deep areas with an orange diving plug. Its wiggle was even more wanton than the earlier lure I used, swimming as sexy as a slut. I was soooo sure it was gonna get nailed. But another mugging took place first.

I turned around in response to a victory shout from Boon Yew, just in time to see him lift another haruan into the air. It was an incredible catch, as he got the hit right in front of him… in barely two feet of water!

Taking the cue from there, Kevin started teasing the shallows with a gold-bellied rattler, concentrating his efforts at the spot I had abandoned. While I was busy pimping my erotic-action lure, a screech from Kevin’s reel startled me. He had a hit! Darn, I should have stayed at that spot. With a few fancy moves, he got his fish on the surface, where it threw a short tantrum before Kevin threw it on dry land. At about half a kilo, it was the smallest haruan so far.

Pic 5 - Kevin pulled up this little bugger from the same spot
where I caught a bigger one earlier.

With the hint derived from Boon Yew and Kevin’s catch, I was beginning to think that it would be better to return my attention to the shallows. “Woky, three more casts”, I thought to myself, as I usually do before giving up on a spot. Well, the three casts came and went. Nothing. “One more last cast – bonus!” the fisho in me persisted, as I made another swing. FYI, I stood there another fifteen minutes, robotically making cast after cast. But hey, on the twentieth-something cast… SCREEEEEK! My whore of a lure got assaulted! Because it was hit in deeper water, the fish felt exceptionally strong and it used its position well, drilling itself like a jackhammer into the depths. But unfortunately for the fish, I had chosen this day to use a hard rod and 20lb line. With a few gritty pumps and easy cranks, the sex offender was raised to face charges. But after unhooking it, I found the wounds on its lip sufficed as punishment, so I released the repented fella.
Pic 6 - This randy haruan forced itself on my lure, and got
more than just a French kiss.
Taking stock of the day, we were indeed happy with our score of four fishes in just over an hour. Obviously, we were on a roll. So I thought, “Why stop here?” There was another unexplored pond nearby that I had seen from afar. Let’s go check it out, man!

As we arrived at our third spot, we saw some encouraging surface activity. There were sporadic swirls and swells, but we weren’t sure what they were. That is, until Boon Yew got a ferocious take on his top-water lure. There was a small explosion on the surface as the fish crashed into his walker. Boon Yew made a Spartan strike and the fish responded with a savage splash and dived deep. From the strain on his rod, I guessed that it was quite a respectable fish. But we later found that this was more in relation to its tenacity rather than its size. Boon Yew whipped his rod repeatedly to keep the fish near the surface, ‘coz God knows what horrible snags lay down there in this unfamiliar pond. The technique worked well, and his fish was soon brought near the bank, where it made its last stand with some powerful tail-swishing that made the water in front of us boil with its fury. It tired out quickly and Boon Yew made a heavy pump that brought some colour to the surface. A toman! At just over a kilo, it sure packed a punch.

Pic 7 - This intrepid toman couldn’t resist giving Boon Yew’s lure a lick.

Pic 8 - Despite its injury, this toman seems to be happy that it managed to grab the lure.
Even after the commotion created by Boon Yew’s fish, there were still plenty of rises everywhere, spurring us to work even harder. But the fishes here apparently only favoured the Ong twins. Boon Cheng was using a bland-looking spinnerbait along a weedline when his rod suddenly buckled. Feeling the load, he instantly made a strike and his baitcaster began hissing. Hookup! Because the hit took place near the bank, Boon Cheng had his work cut out for him. With a few skillfully executed winch and wind maneuvers, he had his captive surfing towards the bank. A haruan! It seemed like the two brothers could do no wrong today. And to obliterate any skepticism that may be lingering, Boon Cheng hit another slightly smaller toman just twenty minutes later. I guess it was a case of “Ong ada ong (got luck)”.
Pic 9 - Yin & Yang catch of a toman and a haruan for Boon Cheng.

Admiring our day as the sun began to wrap itself in its satin-gold night sheets, I congratulated myself for making the decision to join Mr Koh here that first time, despite hearing some gloomy opinions about the place. Good thing I also decided to check out the spots that others had said were “all fished out”, otherwise we would never have met such a great day.

It just goes to show that sometimes, in order to succeed, you have to go against the “right” decision of others… and adopt the “wrong” choice.


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