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KUANTAN: The 10th edition of the Fish Tales Cup China Pro Challenge comprising some 200 professional anglers from several sport-fishing associations in China kicked-off in Kuala Rompin today.

The three-day annual event attracts one of the biggest groups of anglers from China and the anglers are often accompanied by their family and friends.

The waters off Kuala Rompin is dubbed as the “Billfish Capital of Asia” where sailfish and marlins are abundant between March and September every year.

State Tourism Ministry Pahang Office general manager Datuk Idros Yahya said the arrival of groups of professional anglers from China has turned Pahang into a top destination for sailfish enthusiasts and provided a boost for the tourism industry.

He said the number of participants have been increasing steadily since the fishing expedition made its debut in 2008, which has also been described as a highly-anticipated challenge for hardcore anglers.

“Every year, groups of anglers come to Rompin solely for fishing and recreational purposes. Women and children who choose not to go out to sea go on tours to other nearby tourist destinations including Pulau Tioman and Endau-Rompin National Park.

“During their stay, the groups will take the opportunity to taste the local food in Rompin town including the famous freshwater prawn (udang galah). The current durian season will be an added attraction,” he said, adding the event was jointly organised by the Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac).

Idros said based on the feedback from the anglers who joined the expedition here in the past, they love the excitement of reeling in the sailfish.

“Anglers will have to tackle the high leaps, somersaults and fighting spirit of the fish. They are well aware of the catch-and-release policy that we have been practising,” he said, adding that the spin-off effects were significant especially for boat and food operators throughout the event,

Idros said the country’s premier fishing event - Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge - will be held in Kuala Rompin early next month.