Palu, Sulawesi

Confessions of a Shimano Employee

By: Melvin Heng

Confessions of a Shimano employee

Working for the leading manufacturer of fishing equipment carries a lot of the perks. Other than having firsthand information about what new products will be coming, something I really enjoy is the chance to fish in new places.

Early November, I travelled to Palu, Sulawesi to fieldtest our new rod, Rod X. This rod comes from a strong lineage that is well known in this region. The latest evolution has a lot to live up to and a proper fieldtest is an important step in its development.
The trip to test Rod X was organized by Palu Fisheries Team. This is a group of fishing enthusiasts based in Palu. To get to Palu from Singapore, first you need to fly into Balikpapan followed by a 45min quick shuttle flight to Palu airport. The people from Palu are well known to be very hospitable and they certainly made me feel very welcome every minute of my stay. 

Fishing spot this time around is a seaside village called Ogomas. Ogomas is a 7 hour car journey from Palu town centre through hilly terrains on roads set along the coast. The winding journey can be a real torture but the marvelous sights of endless mountains made it quite enjoyable. 

The Fishing

We spent 3 days and 2 nights on board a local fishing ship. For people familiar with local Indonesian culture, this is a traditional style fishing boat that is built by local craftsman using materials sourced locally. The boat is made mainly from Ulin, a type of iron wood from Kalimantan, with traditional processes. The traditional processes not only ensure the boat is well made, the boat is also “blessed” by the gods if the craftsmen have followed these traditional steps. (If you are interested in finding out more about this boat, do a search on the internet for “Phinisi” – Traditional name for these boats). The boat we fished on is simple as it is originally a commercial boat. Sport fishing equipments were prepared by Djoko, one of the organizers of this trip.

Ogomas is a local fishing spot for dogtooth tuna. For the geology buffs, Sulawesi is along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire. Due to the seismic activity of the region, the Ogomas has a very deep coastline. The dropoff is around 2 kilometres from the coast and this dropoff is the favorite playground for hunting dogtooth tunas.

Fishing for dogtooth tuna is a nocturnal event. During night jigging, we used luminous jigs to increase the strike up rate. Jigs used were in the 200-400gramme range. I was using Rod X rated at PE5 and to give the rod a good work out, I used 420gram jig for the rod. As the dark of the night hits, the dogtooth feeding begins. The quiet of the night was broken by the screaming of the reels and the group began landing fishes like dogtooth tuna, the menacing skipjacks. 

To jig 420gram is no joke. Rod X handled it perfectly but unfortunately, the angler couldn’t keep up and I had to downsize my tackle. I brought out the newly launched Jigwrex LJ and paired it with Twinpower 4000PG. This setup has worked well for me before, landing a 10kg spotted trevally. I started jigging it with a 200gram jig. This rod is rated till 150 grams, therefore I do not recommend overloading the rod with a heavier jig for most anglers. If using a heavier jig that rating, the pitching action on the rod should be shorter with more emphasis on speed jigging. 
With a light setup, it was very soon before I hooked on. Straight away I knew it was something big and it was a dogtooth tuna. The take and the initial run of the dogtooth is unmistakable. It’s aggressive and you can sense the feeling of desperation in the run of the fish. It is like an “all-in” run. At this time, the best and only move that the angler should do is to maintain the rod at a good angle to apply maximum pressure on the fish. It is important to have a good reel so that the drag is smooth. A jerky drag might result in drop hooks. The Jigwrex LJ was good fun. Throughout the fight, I kept the rod at almost 90degrees to allow maximum butt power to kick in. Drag was kept light as the line used was only PE1.5. In around 5 minutes, the unmistakable silver flash appears and a good size dogtooth rises to the surface. The first thought in my mind was “JACKPOT”!!!

Palu Fisheries Fishing Team

The Palu Fisheries Team regularly organize fishing trip for club members. Everyone with an interest in fishing can join this club. Whenever the club gathers, everyone will know. The chatting and laughing creates a weird but inviting cacophony in the air. My comprehension of Bahasa is very elementary. However from the expression of group joker, Fadly, I know he is sharing something very funny when the whole group breaks up into laugher.

Just before the trip, we had a friendly jackpot to see who caught the biggest fish. Everyone contributed a small amount and the winner with the biggest fish in this trip will win the jacket. I was almost a winner and the jackpot eventually went to Firdy, who got a dogtooth weighing around 12kg, quite a good achievement on light tackle. 

To quote the wise words of Tenzing Norgay (Climbing Partner of Edmund Hillary in Mount Everest) – You cannot be a good angler, however great your ability, unless you are cheerful and have a spirit of comradeship. Friends are as important as achievement.