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Deep Sea Fishing

Deep sea fishing

I like fishing since I was a little boy. I was used to fish with my friends and cousins at the rivers and streams. However, we mainly did it for fun. We either released the fishes later or we kept them as pet in our fish tanks, and we never ate them. FYI, Sabahans don’t really like freshwater fishes as seafood is so abundant.

Few months ago, I was invited to a half-day fishing trip. “The worst fishing day is still better than the best day in office”. Fishing is always fun, no matter I catch anything or not, so I joined.

Tanjung Aru jetty
We departed from a jetty of Tanjung Aru Water Village around 5am. We used a wooden boat (powered by engine) commonly used by local fishermen, not the fancy fiber-glass angler boat. Slowly our boat headed to the sea near the island. On the way, I saw the silver moonlight cast on the rippling sea. It is such a beautiful and peaceful view. Too bad my camera can’t capture it!

preparing fishing rod
About 20 minutes, our boat is in the middle of the sea. We were fishing just outside the park boundary of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Mr. Sushi prepared the fishing rod and bait for us in the dark.

Fishing rod
To be honest, I don’t really know how to use a fishing rod properly. During my childhood, I only used bamboo pole as fishing rod. Even the fishing hook was made from sewing needles I stole from my grandmother. You guess it right, even the fishing line was the thread for weaving cloth, lol. After few short instructions on how to release and pull the fishing line, we start to fish.

Fishing in the dark
The depth of water is about 20 to 60 feet (7 to 20 Meters). My friend told me that usually you get fishes about the size of palm, but in lucky occasion, you might get big fish such as barracuda. See the city light in photo above? It is Kota Kinabalu city. We were so far away from shore.

Soon the sunrise appears at the horizon, a calm moment. What I like about fishing is to empty my mind, free from bombardment of noisy city life and loud media/people. Probably that’s why most women don’t like fishing, as they love to keep their mind busy, hehe. Women love to interrupt men who try to “empty” their mind. They like to ask “what are you thinking?” If the man says “Nothing”, then she will think that he is hiding something.

first catch
It’s not long my mind is interrupted by a bite signal from fishing line (it must be a female fish, just kidding). I pulled the fishing line and catch a red fish!

Close-up of 1st catch
The fish is so small that I use less than 1 Calorie of energy to pull it out of the water. Anyway, it’s our first catch so it generates some excitement (and hope) and attention among us.

Fishing in the sea
However, no more fish for the next 15 minutes, so we relocate our boat. Without any sonic device to scan for density of fishes in the water, we just try our luck.

Sunrise of Kota Kinabalu
Now we can see the Mt. Kinabalu and Kota Kinabalu city from our boat clearly.

Fishing near island
Fish signal
Though I got a few fish bite signals, the fishes escape with the bait.

2nd catch
Then the luck is on Rie side, she got a fish!

Forgot to tell you. I have sea-sick problem. As our fishing boat is small, it swings with the waves so I vomit, so embarrassed… I don’t feel better after vomit. Whatever, my stomach is empty, nothing to puke already.

Jelly bug
The sea is not as quiet as it looks. We see many jelly-like creatures floating on the sea. Anyone knows what they are? Is it plankton?

3rd catch of deep sea fishing
The fishes like Rie. She got her second fish! This time it’s bigger. She is the winner for today.

Fourth catch
Shortly Mr. O also got one fish. It’s the 4th fish for our group. As long as we got fish, we are happy, we don’t care if it is big.

Fish Farm
The sun is getting hot at 9am, so we decide to go back. On the way, we stop by a fish farm in the sea.

Fishes of fish farm
There are many hungry fishes in the net cage.

Fishing in fish farm
Without getting any fish today, Mr. Y tries his luck by fishing in the fish farm!

Congratulations! He got his first fish. It is cheating though. At least none of us goes home empty-handed now, haha..

Approaching jetty
The day is bright so I can see the jetty and surrounding of Tanjung Aru clearly now.

Water Village of Tanjung Aru
Tourists visit stilt houses
We are in Tanjung Aru Water Village. The stilt houses on the beach is a common sight to Sabahans, but for tourists, these are something unique. We see some tourists tour around and take photographs in the village.

Kids running on boardwalk
Running kids, friendly cats and dogs lazing around are also the features of our village.

Family of water village
Before going home, we have a short tea break in a local family. They are very friendly fishermen and keen to share their stories with you.

Kids looking at my fish
My catch is on proud display. I think the kids are very impressed, HAHAHA!

It’s possible to get big fishes here, but it was not my day. If you want to have a good time and get away from city and your nagging wife, please contact Mr. Sushi for a fishing trip (Mobile phone: 019-8109510, E-mail: sakaborneo@yahoo.co.jp). He is a Japanese but can speak good Malay.

More Photos

You may check out the photo album of Deep Sea Fishing for more nice pictures:
Photos of Deep Sea Fishing

Related Post
Deep Sea Fishing at Usukan Cove

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Usukan Cove

Deep sea fishing

“A bay full of corals” is my first impression of Usukan Cove in Kota Belud district. In fact, the rich diversity and density of corals in Usukan Cove reminds me of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park 30 years ago, the time when the corals were in pristine conditions and found in shallow water only a few feet away from the sandy beach, before they were spoiled by thousands of tourists nowadays…

Japanese bridge
Above: Japanese Bridge

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To go there from Kota Kinabalu, just drive in the direction to Kota Belud town. After an hour, you will arrive a roundabout, just follow the brown signage that says “Jeti Ke Pulau Mantanani” (Jetty to Mantanani Island). Then you will see second roundabout (Kuala Abai), follow the junction at the left, and you will arrive the entrance of Usukan Cove Lodge within 10 minutes.

Usukan Cove Lodge
On the way, you will pass by a white steel bridge built by Japanese to transport the copper that they collected from Mamut Minefield about 30 years ago. The locals call it the “Japanese Bridge”. The funny thing is – it is a one-way bridge in arch shape. Cars entering from both directions can’t see each other until one of them reaches the top. One car has to give way (by reversing back) to the car that comes up to the top first. The traffic volume is low so the locals seem to get used to such inconvenience.

Usukan Cove Lodge

room of Usukan Cove Lodge

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Usukan Cove Lodge offers basic and economic accommodation, from bunk-bed room (2 to 4 beds) to sea front twin-bed room (Online Booking available). These building were used to be the staff quarter of Shell who has oil rig off Mantanani Island. A tour operator took over it in March this year and turned it into a lodge. Though the rooms have no attached bathroom cum toilet, they are clean and cosy. The lodge is able to host maximum of 50 people, so it is a suitable school retreat location. Many European tourists also like this quiet place, because other islands such as Sapi and Manukan are too crowded and noisy to them. But frankly, the beach area there is quite small.

Activity Hall of Usukan Cove Lodge

Beach of Usukan Cove Lodge

Beach of Usukan Cove Lodge

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Snorkelling is the best choice of activity due to the rich corals in Usukan. Diving is available but you should not expect “too high” coz in rainy season, the flowing river nearby would make the sea water a bit murky and poor in visibility. One of the highlight is the “Christmas Tree” coral, which I believe is a tubeworm. Turtles and seahorses were spotted here before but not common. There are about 4 dive sites in Usukan, and 3 wreck diving sites for advanced divers.

Snorkelling in Usukan Cove Lodge

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The density and size of the coral reef is remarkable. The boat dropped me in Usukan Reef and Icy Point for the snorkelling. The Usukan Reef mainly consists of hard corals. Each species seems like gathering in large clusters. I saw large areas of big plate corals and stag-horn corals. In Icy Point, I also saw mainly hard corals, with more mix of soft corals and sea grass. The sea water in Icy Point is a bit funny. In one spot I felt warm, but moving a few Metres away I would feel cool, probably that’s why they call it Icy Point. The corals come in different shapes, like big boulders, brain, hand, pyramid, sponge and flower. Though the shore is quite a distance away, the water was shallow and the corals grew quite tall. I had to be careful so I would not destroy the corals by accident.

Snorkelling sites of Usukan Cove Lodge
Above: Diving / Snorkelling sites of Usukan Cove

The sad thing I noticed was the coral bleaching. About 10% of corals here were showing sign of bleaching. You can even see these white spots (bleached corals) clearly from the boat. This was not present two months ago. I saw a big and white “coral tree” underwater. Its look was so stunning, like a big snowy tree with ice branches. But the corals were dead actually, a heart-broken but beautiful scene.

Coral bleaching in Usukan Cove Lodge

Due to global warming, the corals of Peninsular Malaysia are badly affected and they have to close down 12 dive sites. Now the coral bleaching is slowly spreading to Sabah. It is not a local issue, as other Sabah islands in west coast (in South China Sea) are also facing the same problem. In fact, the pollution from our mainland has been stressing the corals, global warming is just the last stack of grass that crushes the camel.

Coral bleaching in Usukan Cove Lodge
Above: clear spot of coral bleaching

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Deep Sea Fishing

Then I went “deep sea fishing” in the sea 20 minutes off Usukan Cove by boat. Ehem… it was only 14 Meters in depth, not really deep. The “real” deep fish fishing is going for the depth of over 30 Meters. This tour operator does take hardcore anglers to real deep sea but that’s another package. It was so nice that the workers prepared everything for us, the fishing rod, hook and bait, making our lives so easy.

Deep sea fishing in Usukan Cove Lodge

Our first caught in Usukan Cove Lodge

Bait for fishing in Usukan Cove Lodge
Above: fishing bait (basung fishes & squid)

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Can you believe it? In 3 minutes, we got our first fish! I thought we were only lucky. But from there on, we got fish in every 3 minutes. That’s not my case though. At first my fishing line entangled, then my fishing hook stuck in a rock, no fish for 30 minutes but the bait was gone, my fishing became “feeding fish”. Then a worker taught me a tip, I had to release my fishing hook all the way down to the bottom, not letting it dragged in the mid water or surface.

Deep sea fishing in Usukan Cove Lodge

Stingray in Usukan Cove Lodge

Above: blue-dotted stingray that has venomous sting

Fruitful caught in Usukan Cove Lodge
Above: our caught in one hour

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The tip really worked! Within 20 minutes, I got 3 fishes, two blacktip groupers (red color) and a Jackfish (silver color). One of us even got a puffer fish and another got blue-dotted stingray. The capture of blue-dotted stingray caused a brief moment of fear onboard coz its sting is venomous. I’m not sure about other countries, stingray is considered a delicacy in Sabah. Its meat is quite delicious if you don’t mind it gets a weird “chemical” taste (can mix it with lime juice to cover the smell). The sea was a bit choppy, so I walked like a drunken man on the deck. Btw, it is perfect to enjoy some beer while fishing. After an hour of fishing, we returned to Usukan Cove Lodge with our fruitful caught and they cooked the fishes for us.


Above: They cooked our caught as dinner. I hope this is steamed though.

meat of stingray

Above: meat of stingray

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River Cruise

We started our river cruise at Kawa-Kawa River at 4PM, to look for playboy of Borneo. I mean the Proboscis Monkey, which has many wives and always in “ready” mode to mate. On one side of this 15-Meter-wide river is human settlement and another side is mainly mangrove and nipah forest. Since the proboscis monkeys are used to people, they are relatively less elusive and we can get really close to them.

Estuary of Kawa-Kawa River

Nipah palm

Crab-eating macaque

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Proboscis Monkey has the habit of spending the night on the trees next to the river in the evening. For them, riverside is the safest site to stay away from predators at night. About 4 to 5 herds of Proboscis Monkey were spotted at Kawa-Kawa River. But there is no guarantee we can see them. Luckily we found 3 groups of them despite the poor weather.

Kawa-Kawa River

Village next to river

friendly villagers

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Besides long-nosed monkeys, we also saw crab-eating macaque (long-tailed macaque), monitor lizard and many birds such as oriental darter, white-bellied sea eagle, little heron, blue-throated bee eater, white-collar kingfisher, frigate, doves, egrets and bulbul. After we exited the estuary of Kawa-Kawa River and on the way to Abai River, we were rewarded by the magic moment of the sunset.

Male Proboscis Monkey
Above: a male proboscis monkey showed warning then ignored us

egrets on trees

sunset of Usukan Cove

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Then we proceeded to the mangrove forest of Abai River to look at firefly around 6:40pm. Normally there should be hundreds of them. Unfortunately, that night was rainy and bright with moonlight, the most inactive time for firefly, so we only spotted a few twinkling fireflies in the riverside. Weather is not something we can control so nevermind then. Anyway, I had so much fun that day and would call it an excellent trip.

Mangrove forest of Abai River

sunset of Kuala Abai

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If you are interested in tour to Usukan Cove, you may contact Inno Travel & Tour Services (http://www.sabahholidays.com).

Photos taken in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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