Not a very catchy title I know but when I searched those words before I left very little useful information came up. So hopefully this may help somebody else in my position before they go. OK, first up, should you book a fishing holiday to Bali? The easy answer is “no”. If you are simply looking for a fishing focussed holiday your money could be far better spent elsewhere. Charters in Bali were always quoted in US dollars and for a serious boat it started at around US$600 for a 4 hour trip and went up to about US$1200 for the day. Even fishing out of local, traditional boats was US$95 per person for 4 hours and you need a minimum of 2 people (and the guy running this boat might not speak any English or have any idea about fishing). So it is not particularly cheap and to my understanding the fishing isn’t that much better than places that would cost the same or less.
However, if like me you are not going to Bali specifically to fish but more a vacation with the opportunity to fish then here’s what’s on offer. Keep in mind this is my impression after one trip there but like I said, I found very little when I searched it on the web. I had very little room in my luggage and took my trusty Generation Black Short Bite travel rod which is a three piece with a 2000 size reel with braid and a single tray of lures and jigheads (which would come back to haunt me) and a few packets of plastics.
My first try, funnily enough was right in Kuta itself. There is a filthy river flowing parallel to the beach about a kilometre inland that was full of fish. Now when I say filthy, I mean it was an abomination of plastic bags, nappies and God knows what else flowing down it but damn if it didn’t have heaps of fish. I’m not sure what they were but they were a very good size. I could see them because they were constantly rising to the top for something at first I thought they were eating something but after a while I got the feeling they might be gulping air like Tarpon do in oxygen depleted water (not that I think they were Tarpon). I just wanted to catch one to see what they were but no joy on bait or lures.
I suspect many of the rivers would be in pretty bad shape and the saltwater is where you would want to spend most of your time. Unfortunately for me at this time of year the trade wind is a westerly of some sort and blows out the eastern side. Combine that with big swells and I needed to get my butt to the other side. My first real fishing day I got a driver to take me to Nusa Dua and I went for a wander. This is when it really dawned on me that land based fishing in Bali is fairly limited. Places with lots of moored boats that would be worth a shot over here usually have a lot of rubbish ( and I mean a lot ). So I walked to the front of a large canal like system on a falling tide figuring Trevally would line up at the mouth waiting for a feed. I spent a few hours catching some decent Trevs and Queenfish type things on the good old Zman grubz hopped along the bottom.
At this point I decided to see if I could barter with a local and get out on a boat for a couple of hours. At first I was given the standard line near the resort of $95 but as I kept going along the beach the price got cheaper. I settled on one that would take me out for 2 hours (the time I had left with the driver) for 400 000RP which is about $40 Aus. I’m sure I could have got cheaper but I wanted to get on the water. This boat trip was a bit of a non event. The guy who organised the trip spoke a little english but the guy driving the boat knew none. No fish.
A few days later I got up early to try and walk the beach for fish before the hectic resort watersports traffic started and got a little way up the beach before a guy asked if I wanted a boat. This time it was 500 000RP for four hours and I made sure the captain spoke some English. The current was ripping through the first spot we stopped and I could even get to the bottom with the fairly small gear I was using and I asked if we could get in shallower near the reef. First cast hooked up solid and tore off at speed. It was only a Bluefin Trev of about 3kg but on a 1-3kg rod and 6lb leader it was touch and go. From there it was a steady stream of fish one after another mostly a Whiting type fish from around the weed with a few Triggers, Cod and Trevs mixed in. The captain was absolutely stoked because I had said any fish I caught were his to keep and every time I hauled another on in he was laughing with glee. I found out later I probably caught about 500 000RP worth of fish for him. No wonder he was laughing. In the end the reef and Trevally bust offs finished the session because I had no jigheads left. I would have given a left nut for a packet of 1/6th TT’s.
I was going to go out the next day with him but found out one other detail I would love to have known. There are very few tackle stores in Bali and they probably don’t sell what you need unless it is for small bait fishing or large trolling offshore. So definitely take what you need.
To sum it up, I had a good time and the fishing was OK. I wouldn’t choose to go there again of my own accord but if I did I would make sure to take more plastics and jigheads than I did and leave the hardbodies at home. Barter harder with my prices especially if you are going to give them fish that is as good as money to them and make sure the boat driver at least speaks a little English as sign language for fishing is a lot harder than you think.