Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lower Seletar Fishing Area (Legal) and Nee Soon Longkang (NSLK) Walkabout

How long does it take for a reservoir fishing spot to recover? This question is often pondered upon by many avid anglers. Surely the slow but steady education amongst the fishing community can finally bear some much needed fruits? Surely all that talk with PUB about fishing licenses, bag limits and opening up more legal fishing areas in Singapore will bear some fruits?

The answer is that we are still far from our ideal fishing situation in Singapore when it comes to freshwater legal areas. There simply isn't any hard and fast solution to our waters simply because it is unique. Our catchment areas are made up of both legal (public) areas, military areas and park areas. That's a whole lot of users and stakeholders! The water is deep and water levels are also seasonal. The most damning statistic however is that many of our fishes aren't native and are introduced. The Peacock Bass, Temensis and Snakehead are all introduced. Combine those fishes with our artificial catchment areas (it's main purpose is to actually supply Singapore with fresh water) and our modern angling society gives us have a huge conundrum because there are no ready made or proven answers out there. The best examples that anglers usually quote when fighting for fishing rights is "Bag Limits", "Introduce fish stocks", "Fishing Seasons" and "Size Limit"... but are they really good ideas that are thought through or are they just defensive comments thrown up to convince authorities to act.

My opinion? All these are thrash talk until we actually conduct good strong studies on how to follow this through (I do not believe anyone can come up with such a study since there are so many ever-changing variables).

Why? Let me quote one recent theory that I seem to have picked on. The fishes in our reservoir are highly migratory, hunt in packs and are "intelligent" to avoid "wary" areas. I have seen this on numerous occasions and while I cannot back my observations with solid evidence, this is what I have to say... I have seen Temensis roaming the catchment areas in huge schools, migrate to one part of the catchment area to another in great numbers... perhaps because of seasonal factors or water condition. Certain legal areas like Upper Seletar Reservoir may seem barren to the layman outsider but on some days, huge numbers of fish pass through the area (one angler can catch 30 fish in half an hour on lures!) but this is for a short while only. In certain areas like Lower Seletar Reservoir or Kranji Reservoir, certain fishes actually avoid the legal areas or are wary when taking lures. This is experienced by many laymen lurers and lurers actually comment that the fishes are here but they are just "spooked". My take on this is that the fishes actually somehow have an inkling of the massive fishing activity here - be it from lurers (loud poppers, CNR impact on fish) or baiters. Don't ask me how, but somehow, the fishes stay away and they retreat to the deeper pockets of less fished areas of the reservoir.

Ok I could continue on but enough of that bull crap. The best indication of whether the fishing has improved will be to go fishing! So off we went to our legal fishing adventure with Jimmy Lim (famous charter captain at Punggol Marina) to Lower Seletar Reservoir.

Lower Seletar Reservoir was always a happy hunting ground for me. I have been luring there since my secondary school days. Back then, the water content still contained much salt and one would get rusty hooks from luring there. Cameras weren't popular back then but here's a few catches...

Look at how dashing I was

This place was a "sure have" spot back then!

Popping frequently resulted in Toman
And here's one in 2010
http://baktao.blogspot.sg/2010/04/is-there-hope.html

Our catch that day was expected to be bad and it certainly was! Water levels were low, weeds were overgrown and the water was murky. Nevertheless, a good number of anglers were still trying their luck.

We made our way to LSR "Mrt Tracks" spot via NSLK

Other lurers were trying their luck. About half a dozen of them far away and four near us
After chugging endlessly with my Yozuri Surface Cruiser (sinking lures were totally out due to weed condition), I gave up and employed a "cheat". I almost knew I would get some good Peacock Bass since they were around and Peacock Bass usually loves fast moving small lures, flies or rubber. I modified my technique to suit the terrain and retrieved a pink micro jig (to imitate toman fries) quickly on the surface like a spinner bait except that I would pause and jerk the fluttering jig to make it seem that the toman fry was injured and trying to flee but then it couldn't do it consistently but ended up sinking (fluttering) at random pauses.

It worked! I had many hits with small Peacock Bass (the size has decreased to a mere murmur) and had fun with them on not really light tackle (as I was popping for Toman). I guess it still created some cheer for the crew as catching small fishes at legal area was akin to striking 4D on Ibet. The kind of cheer was subdued and easily forgotten.
Pink Micro Jig works!

Gotcha!

+1 for the legal fishing areas of Singapore!
The conclusion? Yes up down left right, LSR legal area has suffered in catch rate. Note that I do not mention "overfishing" because I truly believe it is not because they are declining in numbers but they are simply wary of the legal areas.

Oh wait, I almost forgotten Jimmy. He had to catch some in order not to lose face! Enjoy his catches (some at LSR and some at USR...)
See that bend on his fly rod?

Play cheat use fly

Don't be deceived!

This photo ended up upside down. But I think it suits him better. Lol
 

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