SAILFISH CAPITAL OF ASIA – ROMPIN, MALAYSIA
Malaysia is gifted with many fishing grounds and trophy species to be explored by anglers from all over the world. One of the most sort after location was Rompin, Pahang. This has been a location for anglers to capture the fastest fish in the ocean kingdom, the famous Sailfish. Malaysia has been one of the great migrating route for this magnificent species and usually the Sailfish Season starts from as early as July and ends in October. This species has created a unique value for Rompin economy as hundreds of angler from around the world join in to tame this fast swimming giants.
Istiophorus platypterus, the Sailfish, is a species of billfish living in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world. They are predominately blue to gray in color and have a characteristic erectile dorsal fin known as a sail, which often stretches the entire length of the back. Another notable characteristic is the elongated bill, resembling that of the swordfish and other marlins. They are therefore described as billfish in sport fishing circles.
Sailfish grow quickly, reaching 1.2–1.5 meters (3 ft 11 in–4 ft 11 in) in length in a single year, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic forage fish and squid. Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph), which is one of the highest speeds reliably reported in any water organism. Generally, sailfish do not grow to more than 3 meters (9.8 ft) in length and rarely weigh over 90 kilograms (200 lb.).
Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps and great speed. They can swim 100 meters in 4.8 seconds. They can appear in a startling array of colors, from subdued browns and grays to vibrant purples and even silver. Their body colors are often highlighted by stripes of iridescent blue and silver dots. Sailfish can change their colors almost instantly—a change controlled by their nervous system. The sailfish can rapidly turn its body light blue with yellowish stripes when excited, confusing its prey and making capture easier, while signaling its intentions to fellow sailfish.
The beginning of Malaysia’s sailfish season kick off during the final half of east coast fishing season which commence was after the Northeast monsoon. Northeast monsoon usually starts in early November and ends in March. During this season, the prevailing winds are from the east or northeast at a speed of between 10 and 20 knots. State-east coast of Peninsular Malaysia like Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan are more affected by the wind, where the speed can reach 30 knots or more during a strong surge of cold air from the north.Open season for Sailfish fishing begins as mentioned earlier from August to late October. During the period, Sailfish will dwell closer the the shore chasing after small bait fish and it gathers in mass quantity.
Travelling to Rompin, Pahang takes 5 hours from Kuala Lumpur via East Coast Highway. There are a few good hotels and lots of smaller hotels within the town center and along the coast of Rompin. All accommodation bookings can be made online via agoda or asiarooms. Although there are not many choices for travelers and I advise early booking to avoid disappointment as hotels usually fully booked during weekend and holidays.
The basic equipment that an angler required is a PE1-3 rod, fishing reel that can spool 300m of 30lb line, 60lb fluorocarbon shock-leader and a large and strong circle hook to do the job. This however is the most basic equipment that I think is recommended for Sailfish fishing. Drifting live bait is the preferred and easiest technique. Fighting belt and gloves are optional, although it is necessary to ensure the anglers safety and improve comfort when fighting this fast swimming giants. Prolong battle when landing the fish can strain our body as they are a strong fighter and don’t give in quite easily.
Sailfish play an important role in marine food chains, largely as apex predators consuming and helping to balance populations of squid, octopuses, and bony fish such as sardines, anchovies, dolphins, mackerel, and tuna. While they are very fast swimmers, sailfish, and particularly young sailfish, find themselves prey of dolphinfish and sharks, among other predators. For humans, sailfish are highly prized game fish, known for their incredible jumps. Their unique form and behavior, including herding small prey and using their bills to stun and maim larger prey, adds to the wonder of nature.
Sailfish is a biological indicator that tells the current state of ocean’s health. Excessive fishing has reduces the numbers of sailfish that thrive in our sea and without proper awareness, one day we would loose this magnificent species.
Oceans are the lifeblood of planet Earth and humankind. They flow over nearly three-quarters of our planet, and hold 97% of the planet’s water. They produce more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and absorb the most carbon from it. No matter how far from the shore that you live, oceans still affect your life and the lives of your families and friends, classmates and colleagues.
The air that you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the products that keep you warm, safe, informed, and entertained — all can come from or be transported by the ocean. About half of the world’s population lives within the coastal zone, and ocean-based businesses contribute more than $500 billion to the world’s economy. Historically, we thought that we could never take too much out of, or put too much waste into, the oceans. The sheer number of people who use and depend on the ocean, and the sometimes unwise practices we adopt, have created problems such as over-harvest of resources, reduction in biodiversity, and degradation of marine habitats and species, among others. We risk the very ecosystems on which our survival depends. We must become better stewards of our oceans. One meaningful way to do this is by creating effective marine protected areas (MPAs) and MPA networks.