Upon arriving at the airport, we went to the money changer immediately. For some reason, all the ATM machines around the port strip in Labuan Bajo were out of order, and we were down to just a 100,000 IDRs in our pockets (that's equivalent to $10 USD). Thankfully, the money changer were not only open but offered great rates.
Next, we arranged a taxi to take up from Ngurah Rai International Airport to our hotel in Candidasa (pronounced as "chan-di-da-sa"). Candidasa is about 2 hours drive from the airport if there's no traffic. The reason I picked this little coastal town is to avoid the crazy amount of tourists (and traffic) in Kuta or Ubud. Even during the low season, we saw a lot of people and cars all over Ubud. Prices for hotels were cheaper and meals were about the same in Candidasa. There were a lot of affordable seaside hotels.
My sister and I caught up on sleep in the car and it felt like in no time we had arrived.
We booked one of the chalets in D'Tunjung Resort and Spa for $50 USD a night. In Asia, you can usually get a lot for that amount of money. However, Bali is known to be a more expensive destination so $50 doesn't actually buy you much.
Still, we had a spacious chalet with mosquito netting. Originally, I had booked two double beds. I'm not sure what happened but we ended up with only one queen bed. Oh well.
The interesting thing about this hotel is the outdoor bath suite. Initially, I gave my sister two hotel options and she picked this hotel. I thought she might have an issue with the outdoor bath suite, but she actually loved it.
It was already 11am and we were both hungry. We decided to eat in at the hotel's restaurant for lunch since it was getting a little too hot to walk around town.
Ayam curry (again, ayam = chicken)
Sate lilit (minced fish with coconut, lime, lemongrass, shallot and a little bit of hot pepper)
After lunch, we took care of some much needed laundry chores. With the afternoon free, my sister went for a spa while I arranged a ride to a nearby pier. I asked my driver to take me to a store where I can buy some shrimp or squid for bait. Unfortunately, after checking 4 stores, none of them carried any kind of seafood, fresh or frozen. I did get a loaf of white bread just in case. At the end, I had to visit a restaurant to buy some 3 pieces of overpriced squid. The price on shrimp was just ridiculous and I refused to pay $10 USD for 4 pieces of shrimp.
On the way to the pier, we passed by some rice paddy. I wonder if there were any freshwater species to be had, but the field was only flooded with an inch of water.
There were a couple of guys at the foot of the pier. I was asked to pay 50,000 IDR to access the pier, while other locals simply walked in. Locals try to milk tourists as much as possible on Bali. This is just another example of it.
I picked this pier because there were videos showing people catch Kawakawa Tuna, Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel, Amberjack, Mahimahi and even Sailfish off the end of this pier. However, on this day, I didn't even see a single predator chase the bait school. However, the pier was completely packed, shoulder-to-shoulder with people, who fished the sabiki rig for the baitfish. I didn't even want to bother combat fishing in that mess. So I found a quiet little corner and started dropping small strips of squid on the sabiki rig. From watching diving videos taken at this pier, there were a few species of Filefishes to be caught and they were my primary target. Frogfishes and Scorpionfishes were also very common, so I focused my effort mostly on the bottom.
My sabiki was immediately met with lots of tiny bites. Eventually, I caught a Moon Wrasse. Strangely, after the Moon Wrasse was hooked, all the small bites stopped. I fished larger strips of squid on another rod with any bites at all.
I relocated a few pylons down the pier and again found no bites. I tied a mini dropper loop rig with 4lb fluoro and #14 hooks thinking the fish were line shy. However, I continued to receive no bites.
So I tied on a 4lb fluoro leader with #20 hook and freelined small pieces of bread to the bottom. My bread wasn't even getting bitten off. This is not looking good.
Eventually, I tied on a sliding sinker rig and cast away from the pier. After a number of casts, I finally got a small bite and pulled up a new species.
Oceanic Puffer (Lagocephalus lagocephalus) - Species #684
Fishing the sliding sinker rig down the pier as I go, I did get another bite. It was getting close to dusk so I started to work my way back to the base of the pier. I was just at the end of the retrieve on one cast when I felt a couple of good taps. The fish managed to pulled the strip of squid off my hook, so I rebaited and dropped it down again. Luckily, I got bit again and pulled up another new species.
Common Bluestripe Snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) - Species #685
Unfortunately, either that was a loner fish or the school had moved off, I didn't get another bite after. It was now getting dark and it was time for me to get off the pier. My driver returned to pick me up at 7pm and took me back to the hotel.
The round trip ride cost $25 USD. In addition to the entrance fee and bait, this afternoon of fishing for 4 hours cost me about $40 USD. I had planned for another day of fishing at this pier but at end I didn't feel 3 bites after 4 hours of fishing justified that cost. In hindsight, I could have caught more fish and more species if I had taken one of the fishing charter on a jukung for $35 USD for 4 hours of fishing.
My sister and I went to a warung just outside of our hotel for dinner. The food was pretty good and the price was decent at $7-8 USD per plate. Everything in Bali was just that much more expensive by SE Asia standard.