Malaysia Game Fish Species, Indo-Pacific Sailfish
MALAYSIA SALTWATER GAME FISH SPECIES
Order : Perciformes
Family : Istiophoride
Species : Istiophorus platypterus
IGFA All Tackle Record : 100.24kg @ 220.99lb, Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador. FEB 1947
Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies.
One of Malaysia Game Fish Species, Sailfish has an outstanding feature like the long, high first dorsal which is slate or cobalt blue with a scattering of black spots. The second dorsal fin is very small. The bill is longer than that of the spearfish, usually a little more than twice the length of the elongated lower jaw. The vent is just forward of the first anal fin. The sides often have pale, bluish gray vertical bars or rows of spots.
Being a magnificent migratory species, their migration route from Southern Australia towards South China Sea has been the main factor for a country like Malaysia to hold such a great game species. It drives a small town of Kuala Rompin into one of the best fishing ground in South East Asia. Anglers from all over the globe would flock during Aug-Oct when the Sailfish season is on. To experience the breathtaking speed and acrobatic jump of a Sailfish proves to be an aphrodisiac for angler to tango with this beautiful fish.
The Game Plan
Proven in other part of the world, rigging a live bait is the single most effective way of fishing for the Pacific Sailfish. Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed. Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite resilient and usually survive if handled with care.
The special feature about Rompin waters is its shallow depth, ranging only from 30-50m. Sailfish would stop over Rompin to feed on schooling fish like Chub Mackerel, Yellow Strip Scad, Herring and even Anchovies. Thus, rigging live bait is the way to go. The usage of fluorocarbon leader and circle hook help anglers and charters to effectively increase the chances of hook-up, reduce the injury level and even mortality rate.
Sailfish don’t usually snatch the bait or swallowed it upon hammering the bait. They are quite curious at first checking the bait, and once they decided to take the bait. It will snatch the baitfish by the bill before swallowed it whole. The common mistake for us angler, is that we don’t give them ample time to let the Sailfish swims away with the bait. Usually more than 10 seconds is required to let the fish take the bait and after 10 second we can SLOWLY! tighten the line tension to set the hook. This will help the circle hook moved out from the mouth and pierce the corner of the fish mouth. Once we’re confident the hook is set, now you can begin fighting the fish and bring it back home.
Artificial Lure, The Next Best Thing
Shallow water of Rompin provides an opportunity for anglers opt for a different approach when fishing for Sailfish. Poppers and Stick-bait is now becoming a popular method among Japanese and Australian anglers who would love the thrill when it comes to lure Saltwater fishing. Stick-bait and dive-poppers are some of the favorite topwater plug to try. Anglers can now equipped with MH to HH rating popping or stick-bait rod, paired with a medium size fishing reel can be the next best thing when it comes to Sailfish fishing.
Although they may be one of the fastest pelagic species in the ocean kingdom, when they are feeding, usually they would investigate and strike when an opportunity arises. A stick-bait resembles injured fish or frantically swims on top water will entice the Sailfish to investigate the lure. A strike may or may not happen when the Sailfish come closer to the lure, if this happen, slow down the retrieve process and give the fish time and opportunity to strike. Most anglers fail because they apply a fast and steady pace like they were popping for GT’s and Tuna. Remember, give the fish time to strike to ensure a better bite rate and success.
Strictly Catch and Release
All Sailfish caught in Kuala Rompin waters is required to release back to the sea. This is to ensure a sustainable fishing industry in the region, for generation to come. A standard procedure in landing and releasing the fish involved a strict time management. Upon billing the fish or holding the bill. Anglers are required to rejuvenate the fish before pulling it up on deck. This helps to feed more oxygen into the fish after a tiring fight. They uses a lot of energy thus treating it with respect is a must.
Photo Opportunity should not exceed 30 seconds or 1 minute, and right after photo session. The fish is being put back in the water and continue to assist the fish rejuvenate itself. The boat should be moving at a slow speed to induce further oxygen into the gill. Once we feel a bite on our finger, then we know it is ready to be safely release. As we said earlier, sustainable fishing practice is the only way we could protect our fishing heritage in Kuala Rompin, Malaysia. A practice that will ensure Sailfish to continue to be part of one of the best Malaysia Game Fish Species.