November 13, 2016

2016 Asia - Komodo (Day 4)

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling at the end of a vacation? This was our last day at Komodo and I woke up with that feeling. Although our Southeast Asia trip was far from over, I was sad to leave the Komodo and there was a sinking feeling.

Taking advantage of our last day in the most biodiverse marine environment on Earth, I started fishing at 5:30am again. We were anchored on a shallow seagrass bed and I was hoping for some new species. I only had two bites before breakfast. Luckily, both were new species.

Grey Large-eye Bream (Gymnocranius griseus) - Species #676

Southeast Asian Blackstripe Dottyback (Pseudochromis perspicillatus) - Species #677

After breakfast, we relocated to Palau Sebayur. It was roughly 45 minutes to Sebayur so I sent out the X-Rap Magnum. However, my trolling effort was completely ignored this morning.

On the original itinerary, I had scheduled almost a full day of fishing except for an hour snorkeling session at Kanawa Island on the way back to port. I was hoping to dedicate more fishing time at Sebayur.

Upon arrival, Beni chummed the water with bread. Unicornfish were soon starting to feed on the surface. They were line shy and I had to use 4lb fluoro leader to get bit. However, these Unicornfish were strong and snapped my 4lb leader after a short fight. Just as I was trying to adjust my gear to solve this issue, a dive boat arrived and I had to stop fishing. :(

Unable to fish, I decided to surrender some fishing time to snorkel with my sister. If you can't beat them, why not join them, right? I was actually really happy to have snorkeled this beach as it provided addition recon for the area. The shallow reef was astounding and there were species of Damselfish that I had only seen on this reef thus far. Unfortunately, our mooring was far enough from the shallow reef that I could not reach it with a cast. I did discover a lot of Honeycomb Grouper on the bottom. It was a species that I really wanted to catch.

After 45min, the divers left. We also returned to the boat and I quickly dropped my bait into the water. Another dive boat was approaching and I had only a 10 minute window to fish.

The first bit was a juvenile Two-spot Red Snapper that had me thinking it was a new species for a split second when it was in the water.

Luckily, I was able to find my target species before I had to stop fishing.

Honeycomb Grouper (Epinephelus merra) - Species #678

With the arrival of the new group of diver, and more boats arriving from a distance, we decided to move to another side of Sebayur. I tried to troll the X-Rap despite the short 15min relocation. Nothing wanted to bite though. We did observed a pod of dolphin feeding on schooling fish.

We had this beautiful location all to ourselves.

Unfortunately, the spot was plagued by Small-toothed Whiptail. They were biting every cast! It took at least a dozen fish until something different was on the line. Unfortunately, it was a species that I had already caught on the first day. This was just a large specimen.

Cheeklined Wrasse

My sister wanted to fish again since so many Small-toothed Whiptail were biting. I baited the rod for her and cast it out. Just after I handed her the rod, she was bit. However, the fish was too strong for her and she did not know how to reel it in, so she handed the rod back to me. It was a good thing.

Red-toothed Triggerfish (Odonus niger) - Species #679

Fish on the reef bottom, Beni and I would get bit and then hang up. We suspected there were Grouper or Moray Eel below the boat. Finally, after breaking off 4 times, Beni landed a Darkfin Hind. It was a species I wanted to catch. I continued to be plagued by Whiptail no matter where I cast. Finally something different was hooked!

Ornate Emperor (Lethrinus ornatus) - Species #680

I appeared we had thinned out the Whiptail school a bit. After Beni caught 3 more Darkfin Hind, I was finally able to catch one of my own.

Darkfin Hind (Cephalopholis urodeta) - Species #681

We fished until lunch and the Whiptail were prepared as fish soup. Unfortunately, we were hungry and the soup was consumed before the photo was taken LOL.

After lunch I had time to fish a little more. I was getting many small bites so I downsize my tackle a bit. I was able to find two really neat species before the tide changed.

Redbar Sandperch (Parapercis bimacula) - Species #682

Speckled Sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma) - Species #683

Once the tide started to swing the current was too difficult to fish. The 2oz sinker wasn't holding on bottom and we decided to snorkel at Kanawa Island.

The water was murkier along the ledge due to the tide change. However, water visibility was great in the shallow reef. For the first time on this tirp, we actually swam up onto the beach and sat on the sand for a while.

I'm going to miss this fantastic corner of the Earth.

By 3pm, it was time to wrap up our trip. It would take an hour to travel back to Labuan Bajo. I did not troll back to port since I needed to pack all the belonging.

I was really sad to see port. Our time in the Komodo was so memorable on many levels that I really didn't want to leave.

We were very efficient unloading and Beni delivered us and our gear to our hotel before 5pm. With nothing to do in our hotel room (not even WiFI), my sister and I decided to return to the port area to get some supplies, walk around and have dinner.

There were many warungs along the port strip

Eventually, we settled on a warung that served Ayam Soto (Ayam = Chicken, Soto = particular type of noodle soup). The entire meal only cost $2 each!

Labuan Bajo is still very much developing. During our meal, the port strip was hit with a rolling brown out. Some of the more well to do businesses were prepared with their own generators. Our warung owner plug his lights into his friend's generator. It's a reminder how fortunate we are to live in first world cities.

We had an early flight to Bali the next morning. After a much needed shower, we quickly fell asleep.

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