26 October 2011

Giant Rabbits at Sister Island

These are my catch on my recent trip to Sister island, big nice juicy rabbit fishes. I am so pleased with the catch not because of the sizes but they are an unexpected catch for me as in the first place my target are not them.

The invite to visit the island came from the Labrador regulars via DesT, the intention is to go for the todaks / halfbeaks which DesT spotted in massive numbers during his last trip. However, we couldn't get any tamban at various wet markets prior to the trip, so a change of plan is required, that is me to fish for bait fishes while at the island so that we can move to the todak location and have fun.  Thus the night before the trip, I prepare 2 set of rig with the intention to go for bait fish only. And I have to prepare 2 set of fishing gear, one for bait fish and another is the noodle rod.

The trip to the island is uneventful, due to the fact that we move off very early, I am yet to be fully awake even when I get to the island. Instead of rigging up my gear, I take it easy and check out what the guys are getting. Kunnings are the catch of the entire day, with feather hooks, baited with gargo, it seems that the kunnings are what they are getting and the odd rabbit fish. Thus instead of joining them, I make myself as comfortable as I can in one empty spot with my setup for bait fish, cut up some sotong, hooked them up and off I go hunting for my bait fishes. At that time I dun even care what bait fishes I get, Ms Wong, Kunning, Tamban, Reebok, whatever also can as long as it is small enough to be a bait for those greedy todaks.

Before long, I got bites, bloody hell, can't get any hook ups, I keep missing them, reel back a few times to check the hooks, yeah it is still sharp, something is not right. After a few more misses, I finally got something at the end of my line, it fought hard but after a short moment, a rabbit fish emerges from the water and it is HUGE! Yeah man, I am happy. A good sized rabbit for my first catch of the day, not bad at all. Needless to say, I try for it again, but instead of rabbits, I got some really tiny groupers and an assortment of coral fishes, then I reminded myself, that rabbit I caught must be an accidental catch, trying to target rabbits with sotong as bait, I must be raving mad! Let's focus what I am trying to do in the first place, catch some bait fish.

Before long, I got myself a 2nd HUGE rabbit fish within the first hour, so then if the rabbit fishes are that huge over here, and if they take sotong as bait, why not try to catch a few more before I move to catching todak. So I continue to enjoy myself and trying to refine my technique of catching them, DesT is breathing down my neck to catching bait fishes. Oddly, it is not for the lack of effort, but what can I do when all traditional bait fishes take no interest in my sotong bait, instead I can catching an assortment of coral fishes and of course rabbits.

By the time I caught my 3rd rabbit, the 2 set of rig I prepared is destroyed as well, the cheapo 4lb line is no match for the corals and these huge rabbits, I have at least 2 burst off and lost hooks to the corals below. One of the chap is nice enough to give me one of his rig, I used it even though I noticed that the hooks are a tad too big and too thick. However, those hooks are sharp like hell and tied with 10lbs dupont, so I reckon no more escapees should I managed to hook up one.

By then, DesT have sort of gotten the message that I have switched my target to rabbits, and I told him in the late morning that I think I can do this (rabbit fishing hunting) for the entire day. It is pretty comfy for me actually, with a space to sit and sheltered from the sun, at least till close to noon. Of course my bite rate decrease with the new heavier rig setup, but I felt too comfortable to move my arse to tie a new rig, so I kept on using it. After numerous try, I managed to hook up another rabbit, this time the fight is much stronger, and needless to say much longer as well. When I landed it, it is a very large rabbit, the largest of my entire day. My forth rabbit and I am pleased with the day's catch so far. Not long after catching it, I lost the entire rig to the corals below, damn need to tie a new rig afterall.

By then I am feeling hungry not to mentioned tired, so decided to take a break to take my lunch and have a good break to recoup my spent energy. It took me a while before I return to fishing action as it is tough to tie small hooks rig in the open with strong winds. By the time I am ready, the bite rate is terrible, the kunnings are not around, rabbits no where to be found, no yellow tails, in fact nothing at all. It is close to evening before I get the fifth rabbit, and the bait rate is really bad by then. Then someone suggested that I should try to go for the stripped rabbits (all earlier catch are of the spotted species), and they are huge too, of course I will want to try for them too. However, they are more difficult then I expected, with them swarming all around at times, I can only managed to catch just one.

Although I have fished on Sister island on 3 occasion, this one is one that I enjoyed most, the light tackle I brought is great for such fishing, the bite rate is good, and more importantly I learned a lot of new things too. One interesting point for me is that the sizes of the rabbits caught (think the rabbits caught by all anglers are huge) is enough to entice DesT to try for them the next time he visit the island. And on the way back, we talk about the rig he planned to use to target them in future. However for me, I have already some pointers to take note of for my next visit to the island.

Shimano Convergence IM6 6'6"
Shimano Slade 1000 (Unmodified)
Unknown strength braided line (Est 15lbs), with 20lbs leader.
Various rigs

Noodle rod is left unused, too much fun trying to catch rabbits
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