Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fishing for Tarpon and Giant Herring in Singapore

We don’t usually deliberately go fishing for tarpon and giant herring in Singapore because they are so rare and dispersed. So I suppose we were fairly shocked when we were sight casting for them during a recent quickie Prince of Peace trip. In fact, they were in such huge numbers that hook ups were easy and they were responding to almost any sort of presentation (bait, jigs and even sinking minnows!).

They were taking anything. Even a 40g jig!
And lures...
Acrobatics!
Double hookup!
Both tarpon and giant herring (ladyfish) tend to be in schools and rise to the surface of the water column quite regularly. Hence, any lure or jig presentation that is top water often works well. Lures like small poppers, surface cruisers, pencils and jigs/minnows work across the top water column are great. However, I was always told that we should be cautious when luring these supposedly shy fish as they may be extremely finicky. NOPE! They hit whatever was thrown at them (even apollo with prawn meat!) and they were in frenzy mode.

Quickie tapao, don't blame me because I'm practicising responsible catch and keep with variety
In fact, we didn’t take pictures for many of the fish we landed. We bought home around 10 giant herring (released all tarpons – probably about half a dozen pcs) for the dinner table and lost/released easily 20pcs. I wonder if these smaller herring will be better than bigger sized ones. Herrings this size can be fried crispy for the whole fish so something to think about! Some juvenile snappers were also brought back (palm sized at least with many smaller than that being released) with the assurance that these would not be wasted. In fact, my mother prefers fishes of this size rather than the big ones. 

Keen for a tarpon and/or giant herring fishing trip? Contact Jeff from Prince of Peace fishing charters.

Note to flyfishing or expert tarpon/giant herring anglers. This is a ripe chance for an industry/fishing style that is highly underfished. There is huge potential...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Again having super meaty flower crabs from B&B Fishery Services!

Why are crabs so tasty and delicious?
Why are flower crabs so delicious? I had another go at B&B Fishery Service's extra large and meaty flower crabs and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, this round was even better as ALL the crabs were meaty and of consistent quality. Remember I told them that were was one slightly water crab? Seems like they took my feedback seriously and made sure quality was 100% good.

The current batch of crabs (I'm told) are live crabs and delivered fresh right after harvest so there's no soaking in ice or transferring to markets to try and get them sold. This ensures that the crabs are as fresh as they can be and anyone who knows their crabs know that the meat quality deteriorates very quickly. In fact, once the crabs die, the deterioration process begins! Kudos to B&B for taking care of this very delicate but important challenge.

Okay I talk too much. Here are the photos that I took! Recipe was just simple hua tiao wine, salt and light soy sauce. Steam for around 15 minutes to 20 minutes will do.

Crabs came packed in a nice foam box with adequate ice. How sweet of them to remember my blog too.
Great storage!
Good sized females!
To illustrate how meaty the crab was, I simply removed all the meat and put it down on the board. See? No watery parts.

No "watery" crab 
Full with roe!
Male crab heads were also very full of good tasty stuff.

Full carapace
Super full head!


I even took a quick video of me smashing the body with a nutcracker to show the firm meat underneath (sorry poor the poor video, low budget blog is like that).


There were female crabs in this bunch so roe is present!

More meaty pictures...

Seafood mooncake? 
Simply squish the body and the meat all comes out
Full, thick meat
Even the leg meat is full!
Full claw...
Contact:

You can view their products at https://www.facebook.com/BBFisheryServices/ or you can call/WhatsApp them at 8833 8913.

Note by author: This is not a paid post in any way. I may have helped B&B Fishery Services share a few posts but my crabs are paid for and the tasting is in no way exaggerated (I take pride in my reviews). Also take note that the prices of the crabs do change according to supply and demand.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Fishing with Ah Fong (Pong), one of the best Changi fishing bumboat captain

Dad caught the first fish. Quite a huge kaci!
Remember my article on how the Changi “bumboat fishing boatmen” are the last of their kind? I had a request from my dad the other day that he would like to try fishing on the bumboat again and I knew I just had to book a trip with Ah Fong, who is considered one of the best in the businesses. I fished with Ah Fong many years ago and he rarely disappointed. My dad’s friends wanted to join in too and it was a good reunion of sorts for my dad and his friends (they are all army regulars who have now retired).

It was really cool that Ah Fong now accepts booking through WhatsApp and it was rather shocking that the price for booking the boat is still a very modest $450. I remember it being $450 years ago!

Ah Fong’s contact: +65 9784 7166

Anyway, back to the fishing catch report. It was an extremely windy day so conditions were very challenging. In fact it was so rocky that I had to sit throughout the trip! Thankfully, nobody got seasick and we pulled in some decent fishes (although we lost quite a fair bit of good fishes which bullied us – everyone including Ah Fong was guilty).

A small window period of half an hour led to what was a great session of jigging – Kurau Jigs, Slow Fall Jigs scoring a few good groupers (including a brute of a Hybrid Grouper which smashed the madai jig) for me. Very contented with the bite rate!

Good sized grouper on one of the slow fall jigs from bakgalfishing.
 

Whopper of a hybrid take took a madai jig. Didn't weigh this but definitely more than 10lbs...

Will we go again? Yeah definitely now that my dad is retired and able to spend more time fishing! Seems like dad certainly likes the old school fishing more than offshore fishing on the fiberglass boat. Nostalgia and old school goes a long way in the experience.

Not bad considering we lost many fishes!
Priceless memories!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

How much does it cost to go fishing in Singapore?

The simplest questions asked are often the ones people ask all the time. Throughout my life, questions such as “where do you go fishing” or “Singapore got fish meh?” are often very common conversation starters. So I wondered out of curiosity how much really do we anglers or fishermen spend on our hobby.

The result? I put together a very simple list below that doesn’t really conclude anything but if you have friends asking you about fishing costs (because they really don’t know or because they want to pick up fishing) then please show them this blog post.

Fishing cost in Singapore is generally split up into equipment and trip cost since there are no local licenses that we need to purchase.

Note that costs are in SGD and these costs are written from a Singaporean slant.

Equipment cost

Equipment cost refers to the fishing rods, reels, lines, hooks, sinkers, lures and accessories that one will need to buy when fishing. Costs are also very subjective here since there is a wide range of equipment that we can choose from.
  • A fishing rod can cost between $5 (cheap China-made ones) to thousands of dollars. Typical entry level but decent ones would cost from $50 to $100. Higher quality ones and Japan designed ones would cost from $100. Custom fishing rods on average would cost between $300 to $500 (inclusive of rod blanks, materials and workmanship).
  • A fishing reel can cost between $5 (cheap China-made ones) to a thousand dollars (check out the Shimano Stella) Typical entry level but decent ones would cost from $50 to $100. Higher quality ones and Japan designed ones would cost from $100. $300 would fetch you mid-range ones such as the Shimano Twinpower while $800 onwards will get you the Shimano Stella.
  • Fishing lines (for reels) is a contentious one since there are so many types and ranges of fishing lines! Monofilament line would cost anything from $5 for a spool while braided line can cost $15 for a spool (excluding cheap China-made braids). Spools are also sold in 100m, 300m, 500m rolls. Some braid and PE line though, can cost you $200. In general, Japanese PE line would be pricier than American braid (i.e. Varivas PE line vs Tuffline)
  • Lures can generally cost from $1 to $50. Like lines, lures can be very contentious in terms of pricing. In general though, non-Japanese usually cost from $5 to $15 and Japanese lures often are priced above $15. If you’re doing big game fishing and require heavier lures such as Poppers, these can also bring up the cost since some Poppers do cost a few hundred dollars. Prices of lures are pegged to technology/design and application.
  • Jigs can cost from a dollar or two to $100. Same thing with lures, if you’re going for bigger jigs for big game fishing, then expect higher costs. The price of jigs though seem pegged more to weight and material (i.e. tungsten) than technology/design.
  • Sinkers generally cost from a few cents (split shots) to a few dollars (large ones from size 8 to 32) and are one of the items that generally have quite a sensible price range since it’s just lead.
  • Leader lines (used to connect your mainline to lure or for tying rigs) are monofilament lines and cost anything from a dollar or two (starfish brand), $5 and under (dupont brand) to $30 and above. Generally, fluorocarbon monofilament lines are pricier and heavier poundage will mean more cost.
  • Terminal tackle accessories such as hooks, swivel, snaps, and so on are usually quite low on cost and can cost from $1 per pack. However, these days there are many variations, models and designs that are in the market. In general, an acceptable pack of hooks/swivels/snaps will cost you $1 to $2. Better ones will cost from $2 to $5. Big game fishing terminal tackle accessories are usually costlier especially if you get the Japanese ones. You should also note that assist hooks (for jigs) with kevlar are also pricier.
  • The other fishing accessories such as boga grip (fish gripper), pliers and so on are too varied so I’ve excluded these costs.
  • Note that I’ve excluded maintenance costs here but generally it should cost anything from $30 to $70 to service a fishing reel and $5 to $20 to fix a fishing rod guide.
Fishing trip cost
  • A pond fishing trip to a local catch and keep paypond will generally cost you $30 to $100 depending on the location chosen, hours spent fishing and also packages utilised. In general, $50 will set you off for a whole day’s fishing at Pasir Ris main pond while $50/3hrs will also get you a ticket at most “pro-ponds” which are basically smaller, more private ponds.
  • A pond fishing trip to a catch and release paypond will cost you $30 to $100 (Pasir Ris Farmway 3 costs $30/12 hrs while Orto is pricier with more complex packages). Increasingly, there are also more trips to catch and release payponds which focus on bigger sportfish and these will cost from $50 to $100 (i.e. Barelang fishing pond).
  • A simple offshore fishing trip around Changi waters will cost you $50 to $120 (depending on type of boat i.e. bumboat or fiberglass and number of people sharing the cost).
  • A simple offshore fishing trip around Southern Island/Sentosa/Tuas waters will cost you $80 to $150 (depending on type of boat i.e. bumboat or fiberglass and number of people sharing the cost). In general, the fishing spots here tend to be further.
  • There are also free fishing locations in our Singapore freshwater and saltwater waterways. Legal fishing areas in reservoirs, public beaches, jetties and piers are all free of charge. These though are often not very productive.
  • A simple 2D2N trip to East Malaysia i.e. Rompin, Pekan, Desaru, Merchong, Sedili will cost you $300 to $500 in general. These include lodging, charter costs and food. 
  • A simple day fishing to East or West Malaysia should cost around $100. These include charter costs, food and general costs. 
  • Fishing trips to further locations do commensurate with location, professional costs and currency. I.e. Kuching, Sarawak, Miri, Maldives, Australia and so on. 
Now, I hope these costs do help you. To admit, I put together the list because I was trying to kill some time. If you have anything to add on though, do email me or comment so that I can add them in! Hopefully this is useful for those picking up fishing or asking about fishing costs.
 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bring Kids Fishing: 8 Useful Tips if you’re bringing them offshore fishing


A happy bunch enjoying their day
What is the best way to introduce fishing to kids in Singapore? Well, you simply bring them fishing! You can teach them the basic fishing lessons and beginniner fishing lessons by simply bringing them fishing.

This June School Holiday I brought some kids out for fishing with Prince of Peace fishing charters in Singapore (Jeff Tsen) which departs from SAF Yacht Club at Sembawang and although it was massively tiring, the trip went really well and everyone had some fun but also picked up some basic light offshore fishing around Pulau Ubin, Seletar and Changi waters. The kids did well!

Contact for the Prince of Peace fishing charters:
+65 9742 8579, Facebook

I won’t be sharing on the narrative of the trip but rather here are some tips that can guide you if you’re planning such trips (if not you can sign them up for some basic fishing courses in Singapore).

1. Seasick

The most important thing to take into consideration for offshore fishing is seasick. Seasick can really take the joy out of a good day’s fishing. Prepare some pills and practical advice (e.g. I brought novomin for the kids and we had “light” breakfast like bread). Remember to also take the monsoon and terrain into consideration. Bringing kids out into a “hardcore” southern island trip isn’t really going to do them favours. Rather, start out with a light offshore fishing trip in sheltered waters like Pulau Ubin, Sembawang, Seletar, Changi etc.

2. Start off with baits and a simple first spot

Kids aren’t going to start off with state of the art fishing techniques and they certainly won’t be “on the ball” when fishing difficult terrain. Whether a spot looks promising won’t matter to them and you want the most effective no brainer methods to get fish on the boat. To do this would be to do some good old baiting. Baiting will enable a larger variety of fish to get hooked and also get them acquainted with fishing in a fun way since bait handling often produces much excitement. Also, work with the captain to establish a few “tester” or check out spots so that the kids get a hang of it before you bring them to the more promising spots.

3. Simple rigs, simple gear, simple instructions

Go simple! Use simple single hooked apollo/paternoster rigs, running sinkers and even sabiki rigs. There is no need to use fancy madai jigs, tenyas and all sorts of complicated rigs. This applies to gears as well – a spinning tackle setup often is the norm here and avoid overhead setups. Instructions should also be very simple and easy language will help kids remember. Use terms like “do you feel the bottom?”, “Is there still bait on the hook?”, “lower down the line”, “strike the rod”… instead of terms like “open the bail arm.”

4. Establish basic safety and ground rules

Basic safety rules are very important when bringing kids out because they will base safety gauges from their first trip. Start them off well! Simple things like sitting down when the boat is moving, bracing for a wave when anchoring and so on must be repeated. Teach them to also identify venomous fish if you catch any and how to remove the hook from fishes. Things like etiquette also apply.

5. Have patience, low expectations and much praises

Kids will be kids so be patient! Keep low expectations too. They may squirm when hooking a bait, they may lose good fish during the fight and maybe even break your gear. As the adult, keep calm, keep the mood up. They won’t instantly fish on the same level as you. Instead, praise them regularly for small things (like hooking a bait, catching a small fish etc.) that may seem very mundane to you.

6. Take many pictures

Memories are priceless. In the past we didn’t have phone cameras but it is different now and you can snap many pictures easily. A kid posing with their first fish is always one that brings back sweet memories.  You get the idea.

7. Have a buddy onboard and a good adult to kid ratio

Don’t think you can do it alone and always bring a buddy with you if you’re bringing a large group of kids. 2 to 3 kids per adult is a good ratio to work with. Also communicate well with your buddy and be good examples to the kids. How fellow fishermen treat each other is something that kids pick up. You should also check if the boatman or charter has experience with bringing kids out. Most should be fine but there are some that only bring experienced fishermen out and may be less suitable.

8. Be adequately equipped

You’ll be surprised at what kids may need (that you don’t). Bring some basic necessities. Plastic bags for keeping fish, rain coats in case of rainy weather, caps for sunny weather and so on. Ensure there is enough water, food on board as well. Kids usually don’t have these things on their minds as the excitement is more on the fishing trip so take note!

Sharing some pictures of our catches below:

 


Nigel started a Bring Kids Fishing initiative years ago. At Bring Kids Fishing, we believe that parents should be equipped with basic fishing knowledge (so that they can bring their kids fishing!). Currently, the initiatives are being kept to small groups for friends and family as Nigel is busy with family and married life. He hopes that the community as a whole invests more time into bringing kids fishing. That, in his opinion, will be much more powerful than a single person trying.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fishing with Dad on Fish Stalker Fishing Charter Services (Marina South Pier)

It is always a good feeling to go fishing with the family (dad and brother) as we got to spend precious time together. This precious time seems little now that I have a family of my own. The quaint thing about fishing is that we usually don’t need to talk much during the trip but somehow that long pauses of silence and solace would often be peaceful. Much like how most guys spend time together. Just a no frills, no drama day out at sea and being able to soak in all of that is priceless.

In fact, I found out during this trip that this priceless time together did not even need to involve dad catching fish. It seemed that he was contented enough to sit around and spend time with his sons just by being around. Additionally, he was also super proud and happy when both I and my brother caught some good fishes.

Fishing wise wasn’t so good for the baiting folks during this trip. It seemed like the fish avoided live prawns at all cost! In fact, the fishes seemed to like artificial baits during this trip. Light jigs, slow fall jigs and even non-baited madai jigs worked wonders. In fact, there were a few occasions when big groupers took the non-baited madai jig that was at the bottom of the sea (but my rod was in the rod holder and I wasn’t doing anything!).

Contact for the fishing boat:
Fish Stalker Fishing Charter Services
+65 9750 8666, Facebook

Dad was beaming!
6.8kg on the scale
Biao nabbed one on slow fall jigging
The brother caught one too
Taken on 100g kurau jig!
Total catch was decent but full of groupers.

Boring groupers!
Fish stalker's electric cooler was very nice in preserving our catch. No blood or slime soaked icebox!

Video by the captain and put together by me in a quick montage.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Extra-large flower crabs from B&B Fishery Services

It’s been five years since I last blogged about the flower crabs I got from NTUC. I got them at $12/kg then but when I visited NTUC again, this has now went up to $18/kg so that’s $1/kg increase every year.

Not to fret though, I’ve recently found a new “lobang” or source for extra-large flower crabs (400g average per piece) which are fresh and meaty. They even clean the crabs and deliver them to you. Contact and cost is shared below at the end. I detail below on how I received them, how I cooked them and how meaty they were.

Crab check out

Good colour, no pincers dropping off!
Great brain juice retention. Not watery or milky.
Biggest was 473g a pop
The first thing I did when I received the individually packed flower crabs was to check for freshness and meatiness. All the crabs passed this test. To do this, you don’t have to press the crabs and all. That is what crude aunties do and this actually spoils (bruises) a fair bit of crab in the market.

The best way (in my opinion) to check crab is to do so by sight. Some tips below.
  • Crabs exposed to heat and that are not chilled appropriately will have very reddened shell hues. A little bit is fine.
  • Is the crab a bright blue or purple? Depending on where the crabs are caught, the colours will be a very deep blue or purple. If colour is faded, don’t buy.
  • When you pick up the crab, do the pincers and legs fall off immediately? If so, you can forget about those crabs. Likely been soaking in ice a long time. 
  • Does the crab smell bad? Fresh crabs still have a little smell but it would be light and pleasant. Crabs which smell really pungent is a no go.
  • When you pick up the crab and look at its body, do you see firm white flesh and a solid white colour or do you see slightly opaque shells with water collected on the inside? If you see the latter, don’t pick that crab.
  • Similarly, pick crabs which look meaty and are full. Some crabs are obviously very skinny and shells are pretty hollow. 
Anyway back to the flower crabs that I ordered. A cleaning service was also provided and I opted for just basic scrubbing since I wanted to preserve the head juice as much as I could. The weights of the crab were from 400g to 500g. That’s crazy right?

Cook out!

As B&B Fishery Services only does seafood on a demand basis, I got the flower crabs pretty last minute and couldn’t stock up on basic ingredients. Not to fret though because if the crabs were fresh and meaty, salt is really the only thing you need. I really respect that on demand basis model because it’s hard work to confirm/inspect supply before you deliver to customers. Compared to the many online fishmonger delivery services out there (that get the seafood stock and then sell), this was much harder to do.

So for the cook out, I tried two styles – steam with salt and salt baked. Very basic methods and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The crabs were so meaty that I couldn’t stop eating. Note that the crabs I ordered were all male but they had adequate “head juice” that flavoured the flesh. Very good and fresh head juice as well.

Of the four crabs for this test, one of them was slightly watery and I gave B&B Fishery Services some feedback on that. They mentioned they will do something about it so that’s something that is being taken care of. I was pretty impressed with the way they went about this because flower crabs being watery is something pretty common – a crab can be fresh but might be moulting/having water fresh just because of the moon phase and seasons.

Ok less text, more photos (and videos):


Salt baked! 200 degrees for 15 minutes.
Very juicy and firm!
Meat is full!
Steamed with salt only.
Best! Full claws!
I tried to take photos at first but soon I was just busy having my crabs with both hands.

Contact:

You can view their products at https://www.facebook.com/BBFisheryServices/ or you can call/WhatsApp them at 8833 8913.

Note by author: This is not a paid post in any way. I may have helped B&B Fishery Services share a few posts but my crabs are paid for and the tasting is in no way exaggerated (I take pride in my reviews). Also take note that the prices of the crabs do change according to supply and demand. I bought my crabs at $19/kg including delivery and cleaning service.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Digging for clams in Singapore with Mediacorp's 'On The Red Dot: Singapore Snapshots'

It has really been a long time since I did clam digging in Singapore and when Mediacorp asked me if I was keen to bring them for a little scene on national television, I was a little hesitant because I always like to ensure results. That was not possible though as we found out pollution and perhaps “over-clamming” have taken their toll on the clam populations. The episode still went on though and you can watch it using the below links (it was first televised on Channel 5 and Channel NewsAsia.

'On The Red Dot: Singapore Snapshots'. (Click)


One thing that wasn't aired was how clam digging used to a free family hobby as we were growing up. We would simply all go down to the beach and get ankle deep in fresh mud. It was a way of life and how we used to pass time together. It wasn't ground-breaking or massive in terms of livelihood but it was probably one the last definitions of what it felt to be "kampung-ish" in the prehistoric sleeping fishing village that was known as Singapore (taking a leaf out of the government's branding campaign).

Monday, April 29, 2019

Five ways to cook and enjoy your golden snapper (ang cho)

Most of know the golden snapper (also known as ang cho, jenahak) and this fish is exceptionally good eating but also offers a great fight on rod and reel. Over the years, golden snappers have been targeted using more novel fishing methods like slow fall jigging or light jigging. That said, the traditional way to fish them (at least in Singapore) would still be at night using squid bait or mantis prawns.

Here’s a handy list on how to cook these wonderful eating fish. Remember that if you can bleed the fish or eat the fish on the same day (without freezing), the quality of the meat would be much better. This fish also doesn’t suffer from meat stiffness or the “lor kor” effect. For bigger fish, you can slice steak cuts of the fish for steaming or frying.

1. Steamed fish


Steaming the golden snapper is one of most recommended ways to enjoy it. You can choose from many different ways of steaming (Hong Kong style, Teochew style, Assam steam) as the fish is quite versatile. My favourite would be Teochew style as this brings out the sweetness of the fish and the fish’s sweet juices also transform the steaming stock into something out of this world.

Also since we’re talking about steaming, you can follow #steamthebugger on Facebook. Always good inspiration. 

2. Baked fish



Baking the golden snapper is something quite trendy among our fishing group lately and it is likely because the oven is a fairly common household cooking equipment these days. Many recipes can be found online and you can follow them to good effect. The skin of the golden snapper is quite amazing because it is not too thick and yet not too thin (a perfect bake would crispy the skin nicely).

3. Yao zham/fried in oil

If you have golden snapper above 2kg, this is also an awesome way to have it done. Smaller fish won’t do well as the meat will shrink a fair bit. Note that this is best tried at the hawker or local zhi char stall as you’re unlikely to get optimal heat for the oil doing this at home.

Picture: We didn't have a picture of Yao zham golden snapper to show you so showing you a parrot fish will have to do it.

4. Fillet and grilled


This is an extremely decadent way of enjoying the golden snapper! In fact, we only recommend this if you have much to spare. This is one of the popular ways that the folks in Australia like to use. A little salt, black pepper and lemon will be enough for the fish. Remember not to overcook the fish!

5. Curry ang chor



Curry golden snapper used to be quite common in the past although farmed fish were used. Now the restaurants and zhi char places usually use farmed red snapper or kerisi for their fish curry. I couldn't taste any super difference between used farmed snapper or wild snapper for curry but I suppose it’s a fairly easy way to prepare. Not the best way I reckon but still good!

Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/baitdabaoeat/

Friday, April 26, 2019

Nine predictions of Singapore’s fishing future in the next century or so


Fishing has always been a hobby and a way of life for many Singaporeans. Proud fathers have brought their sons (or daughters) out to catch their first big fish and their children have brought their own children out as well. My own father brought me on my very first fishing trip to Bedok Jetty at East Coast Park and when I caught my first tambans, I could see my father being quietly proud. I never knew what it meant back then until recently when I brought my dad and younger brother on an offshore fishing trip. Such a sweet role reversal and a subtle positive feeling that.

Singaporeans as a community have been talking about the future of Singapore – jobs, infrastructure, quality of living and so on, but has anyone thought about the future of fishing in Singapore? Looking at how the Singapore Government treats fishing in general, I really doubt so. The future of fishing would probably be the last thing in their yearly desired achievements.

Below, I predict some of the key trends that will affect the Singapore fishing scene (in general) in the next century or so. Some are positive but some are negative. Hey, someone needs to do the predictions right?
1. Declining fish stocks
I predict that fish stocks in the island (freshwater) and around the Island (surrounding waters) will continue to decline if nothing is done. Serious discussions have been created by the local fishing community – legal policies like fishing licenses and fish restocking were some of the ideas mooted. These have not gained any ground though and looks like it won’t any time soon.

Focus on development at the sake of an authentic healthy environment* has seen land reclamation and habitat destruction kill off many of our fish stocks. The land reclamation in the past has claimed many coral reefs but recently, Singapore has also sealed (dammed) up most of her large natural and manmade estuaries. The areas at the Singapore River, Serangoon River (used to be a super spot for crabbing), Yishun Dam, Kranji and Lower Seletar Dam are now all freshwater. Thousands of fishes have died (I personally witnessed groupers and pelagics floating up dead at the Singapore River). Perhaps the greatest pity comes not from the fish stocks but that possible breeding grounds and migration routes for some inshore species have now disappeared. Our rivers are too small (in the authority’s eyes) to warrant any research but scientific evidence does suggest that many species such as the Barramundi, Threadfin require a working saltwater to freshwater system for spawning and survival. I won’t really write much about the land reclamation in the past because it would make the whole situation more pessimistic.

* My definition of authentic and healthy is different from the one our authorities usually endorse. One does not have an authentic venue just because things are made nice (for example, damming up Serangoon River and building boardwalks and bridges and all may seem like a really cool trade off but it’s not. It’s the destruction of a perfectly healthy environment.   

2. Singapore as a sportfishing utopia

This prediction really is the opposite of the prediction above. Assuming that our authorities do eventually contribute positively to the future of fishing and that the fishing community can come together to make legal fish restocking and licenses work, the above prediction will definitely just be a next step in the whole scheme of things.

Why? Our current freshwater reservoirs do hold some of the most ridiculously sized Peacock Bass and Temensis Bass in the world. You can do a search in some of the fishing groups online and you’ll see why. In fact, the reason why I even put this up is that I do have primary evidence to show increasing demand of foreigners wanting to fish in Singapore (some have contacted me, one has fished with me, some have contacted fishing groups). Casting for toman in our reservoirs via a motorised boat and hearing our Mandai Zoo lions at the background – the stuff of dreams.

Besides, Orto, Anglers Playground and Pasir Ris Farmway 3 do offer some of the best catch and release fishing in the region (a far stretch to compare it with Thailand’s Bungsamram Fishing Park though) and these can be good “filler” venues for sport fishermen around the world to spend their time at when they’re not doing wild fishing trips.

I won’t comment on saltwater fishing due to the inconsistencies in catch sometimes.

3. The last of the ‘bumboat fishing boatmen”

One hardly starts offshore fishing without trying one of the “bumboat fishing boatmen” of Changi. It’s one of the easiest ways to pick up the hobby and to also get a fairly consistent catch because of the sheer experience that these boatmen have (they don’t even need a fish finder!). Almost everyone in the offshore fishing community will know Ah Chong, Ah Long, Ah Chai and Ah Fong and co. They’re probably the last of their kind. These boatmen were originally from Pulau Ubin and they literally grew up as people of the sea. Their descendants will likely not take their place when they retire and it’s easy to see why. Bringing people out fishing is not only a tough job, it requires years of experience in reading the tides, knowing where the fishes are at and adapting to different expectations of anglers. I once spoke to one of the boatmen (won’t reveal out of confidentiality) and he mentioned that his children have no interest in following in his footsteps because they have successful careers outside. In fact, he also reasoned that these bumboats that they had were on special licenses and privileges (because of relocation benefits from Pulau Ubin) and that the government would likely never renew the licenses or grant new applications.

The thing is this… A century or so from now, anglers might never see these fishing bumboats out in Changi again. All we’d be seeing are those sports fishing charters on their fancy fibreglass boats using their state of the art fish finders.

4. Payponds will now encourage catch and release

If you follow Singapore’s demography, this wouldn’t come as a surprise. Anglers are now very well to do and many of us can afford to fish for pleasure instead of for food. As the different generations pass on, there will be less of the “baiting ah laus” and “PTK uncles” around. The high purchasing power also means anglers are now able to enjoy expensive fishing methods (luring, jigging, aji and so on) that are highly associated with catch and release.

I predict that the drop in demand for catch and keep fishing will drop drastically. Payponds will have to cater to this demand shift or to risk not being viable in the long run. Paypond operators know this and some of them have even moved into this business model either fully or partially.

5. Tackle shops will be increasingly modern and cater more to modern age sport fishing

This prediction and the above one on encouraging catch and release are really the same points. As anglers have higher purchasing power, we’re going to be investing and using expensive fishing methods to catch fish. More emphasis will be placed on modern sport fishing techniques like jigging, luring, popping and so on. Overseas fishing trips will also be increasingly popular and tackle shops will cater to this change in demand. There could also be a shift in owning a fishing kayak especially since there are so many models and types available now. There are already quite a few tackle shops that have continued to do well in this niche area and they will likely be sustainable in the long run.

6. The East Coast of Malaysia fishing industry to collapse

A victim of exceptional demand and poor fishing conservation policies, I predict that the sport fishing industry in the east coast of Malaysia will either collapse or face irreparable damage.

There are many facets to this problem and one cannot simply describe it accurately over a few sentences. I try my best to give my own opinion below.

Fishing stocks have been declining rapidly in the east coast of Malaysia over the years and this has forced fishing charters all along the east coast to push further into the seas in search of “pristine” fishing spots. Many fishing charters are now pushing into areas around restricted areas and marine parks (Pulau Tioman (Rompin) and Pulau Tinggi (Sibu)) because the nearby reefs are already barren from overfishing. In recent years, fishermen and fishing charters have also been fishing for squids on an intensified level. Of course, one would ask how we predict squid population levels. Well, I’m sure any fishing charter or individuals that have fished the east coast will tell you that squids catches are so much worse now compared to about five years ago.

Besides venturing out further and squid fishing, fishing charters have also been targeting migratory sportfish (Pelagics such as Spanish Mackeral, Ebek, Dorado, etc.) relentless. Much of these fishes are migratory so the consequences of this are yet to be seen but the difference in numbers caught these days are pretty alarming. The shift in this is due to the increasing popularity of targeting these pelagic but also because resident fish (groupers, snappers etc.) are so few in numbers now that it’s not acceptable for the purpose of fishing charters.

I won’t comment much on the Sailfish season and conservation efforts in Rompin because I think they have been doing the right thing, all things considered. I do wonder though how the decline of squid population levels will affect these fish.

7. More females will be into fishing 

As Singapore continues its march towards gender equality, more females will show up to the fishing scene the same way more females are in the workforce now. We can already see this happening in the local fishing community. And why not? Fishing can now be cute, cool and fun (instead of being boring and for old people) and the boys love it!

8. The “fishing sanctuary” fishing Condominium or “fisherman’s estate”'

This one is more wishful thinking than prediction. I hope that a super-rich property developer (who loves fishing) will develop the very first property geared towards fishermen. If it’s a Condominium, it should have a dedicated catch and release pond, a prawning pond, 24 hours tackle & bait shop, fishing reels & rods servicing shop and a restaurant that cooks your fishing catch.

9. A form of fishing being lost or dead 

In the worst case scenario, we cannot discount that fishing may really become extinct in Singapore. If these trades are under threat, then why not fishing? As Singaporeans become more engrossed in the rat race (less time for fishing) and fish stocks continue to dwindle, will we see a day when fishing is a lost skill? Maybe. In reality though, one of the most likely things that may happen for this prediction would be certain forms of fishing dying. Traditional fishing methods like net casting, putting out fish or crab traps are getting less popular these days so they may really be at risk of being lost. People hardly dig for clams these days so this possibility is quite real.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fishing, cooking and eating river half beak

Do you know that one of the tastiest and easiest to catch fish is the river half beak? It is present in many salt-water or brackish water bodies and can be easily caught with bread or a little prawn bait. Floated rigs or sight casting some bait at these cute fish work very well. Note that this is not to be confused with the larger half beak species.

Fry it the same way you would fry whitings (swa jiam). It's actually sweeter than whitings and a crispier beer snack since it is less meaty and gets really crispy easily.

Some pictures of a simple outing I went on last year to get some of these for a snack. Some other fishes came along the way (including some whiting) so I had to eat all of them.

Coat them evenly
Fry till golden and crispy

Served!
Simple recipe:
1) Mix all purpose plain flour with black pepper, sea salt and oregano. Feel free to tweak the seasoning according to your preference.
2) Coat the fish evenly
3) Proceed to fry till golden and crispy

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Daiwa Ishidai Genpaoh 40 Fishing Reel Unboxing

I've never really done and unboxing before as I saw no need for most reels found in the market. There was always some resource on them whether in the form of tackle reviews, videos and so on. That was not true for the Daiwa Ishidai Genpaoh 40 though. There were only bits and pieces on the Internet and not even any promotional videos and information.

I'm going to be using the Genpao for night bottom fishing (cracking heavy sinkers) so don't ask me about using this reel for conventional jigging or slow fall jigging. You might wanna take a look at the Reel Spa (Calvin) video in which an Ishidai Genpaoh is being tuned up to do those. The reel should also be an excellent choice for wreck fishing due to its drag (15kg) and also very high retrieve per crank (111 cm).

Reel specifications for Genpao 40
Line retrieve per crank 111cm
Weight 705g
Drag 15kg
PE10-200m, PE20-150m
Handle length 85mm
Gear ration 5:9

For official reel specifications:
http://www.daiwa.com/jp/fishing/item/reel/ishi_rl/genpao_ishidai/index.html

And so below goes my amateurish attempt at an unboxing! I've included the reel specifications in the video as well.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fishing with Seacharter (Daniel) around Tuas waters, Singapore



The last time that I fish Tuas waters on an offshore trip was 10 years back. Back then, I went with this fishing charter boatman called “Ah Poh”. The boat was small and only for four passengers and had no toilet. I was very impressed by the snappers that we were hauling up though!

Recently, we tried this fishing charter which was very literally named as “Seacharter”. The fishing charter has three boats to choose from (full details below) and we chose SC-01 which was skippered by Daniel. First thought was when I boarded the boat was that this was a very low boat and was perfect for some light offshore baiting.

As for the fishing action, spots were mostly rocky and coral patches near breakers, channels and near docks/jetties/wharves. Action was quite consistent and the species that seemed to appear more were groupers. I caught four groupers that day (3 on Kurau Deep 150g jig and 1 on bait) and I was pretty surprised that when aggressive, groupers will hit jigs that are even 10m away from the bottom. I had two fish that hit way above the bottom and even hit the jig when it was stationary (I was busy talking and paused). In my opinion, when the grouper are being very aggressive, action is not the most important aspect and the most effective thing you can do is to constantly keep covering ground as the boat drifts. Another important aspect is using big jigs or baits to ensure that your presentation gets noticed by the fish.

5kg on the scale
An awesome 5kg specimen taken on CTS custom 12-25lbs, 2011 OJ1500PG, Kurau Deep 150g. Technique used was long fall pitching and direct bottom pitching. Not much skill needed to apply this technique. Just reel up and drop the jig back down.
Slow jigging was very effective too and Ah Biao landed some groupers and barracudas.

Total catch
All in all, quite a comfortable boat, nice berthing/launching place and a very friendly charter captain. Will surely go again.

Details of three Seacharter vessels berthed at Raffles Marina (10 Tuas West drive, Singapore 638404), Singapore:

Boat name: SC-01   
Details: 38ft length, wide 7ft fiberglass hull open deck with shelter and built in toilet, twin Suzuki 140hp.

Boat name: SC-02
Details: 28ft length, 6ft wide inboard engine 200hp.

Boat name: SC-03
Details: 26ft length, 6ft wide outboard motor 140hp.

Note: Live prawns, cooler boxes and mineral water are included. Please check latest costs with Daniel at +65 9232 1688. 

Seacharter Facebook.

Seacharter Facebook post for our trip:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Running a Contest Giveaway for complimentary 3 qty of 1 hour of pole fishing at Ah Hua Fishing!

Hello all readers, in case you don't know, I'm running this giveaway right now till end of the month.

To participate, simply go to https://www.facebook.com/baktao/videos/1233846943438497/ and follow the instructions! May the prawns of good luck be with you :)

Abang Southern Island Singapore "Snapper" Fishing Trip March 2019

The last "Abang" southern island night offshore fishing trip? 17 September 2011 (See here). I remembered good old Shawn of Singaporefishing.org catching a fish head and nothing more. Not sure why I didn’t go night fishing for the last 8 years but I like to tell people that night fishing was for young folks and that I wasn’t getting younger.

It all changed one evening as the usual kakis were dreading the heat during the day Southern Island/Tuas offshore fishing and casual conversations about the myths of 12kg golden snappers during night trips got to us. All too soon, we were gathering up our dusty gear and our old night fishing terminal tackles (rangongs, giant swivels and big sinkers up to size 24) to go on a somewhat “refresher” night offshore fishing trip.

We only had 20 bullets or so...
We weren’t rusty though and Abang didn’t disappoint with his astute as always attitude towards night fishing. It simply was a matter of letting time pass (and the fish to get on the bite) when we’re with him. We were the opposite of unlucky that night though and we scored some very decent golden snappers (ang chors) and deep sea mangrove jacks. Chin, who was a first timer to night offshores, caught a pretty decent deep sea mangrove jack and we were all pretty jealous (especially when he didn’t know how rare it was). The biggest ang chor was around 4kg by Biao and that really gave him a good run for his money on his Penn 12T. Joshua too was having the time of his life with the trip being one of his most successful ones for the time being. Grown men (yours included) were pretty much reduced to moaning when the snappers hit us. All of us managed at least 3 to 4 pieces of good fish. We even had the luxury of letting a few go either through hooks coming off or bust lines. The frenzy lasted an hour or so gave us 15 pieces of assorted snappers of mixed sizes (mostly at the 1.5kg to 3kg range) and we picked up another 3 pieces of snapper on the way back to RSYC.

Brilliant 4kg specimen!

Filling up fast!
Chin scores his first decent sized chor!
Biao posing with the MJ. Hehe!
We reached land just as the rains were about to have a go at us and this reminded me yet again of the legend of Abang (heck, this guy is a fish and rain machine; Abang told us rain coming, better go).

Really decent haul for Singapore waters!
Fishing in Singapore dead? Nah, that’s something that we want everyone to think.