Saturday, July 4, 2020

Changi Offshore Boat Fishing 2020 Update

A day of good harvest!
It's been a long time since I went to fish offshore in Changi and it's one of the most unique places to do offshore at. An entire culture and way of doing things permeates the fishing here as many of the wooden bumboat were relocated Pulau Ubin and or Pulau Tekong. Fishing is in their way of life! So I wasn't concerned we were going with a relatively unknown boatman today and I had a gut feel that he wouldn't disappoint.

Offshore in Changi is also one of those weird ones because of how much the habitat has changed and how the prevalence of fish farming and religious fish release have contributed to a rather screwed up (in my opinion) ecosystem.

When I first fished Changi as a kid about 20 years ago, the common fishes were not groupers or snappers. In fact they were rather prized. The common fishes then included sweet lips, parrot fish, stargazers, miss wong, tee ka chias, arumugam and so on. In fact, certain trip you can get even 50 pieces of arumugam. This was probably the indication of healthy reefs. Now? Most of the fishes are groupers and snappers. Most folks don't see it as a bad thing but look beneath the surface and you will see many of the fish aren't looking healthy and look like farmed fish or the offspring of farmed fish. Good or bad? I don't know... because the fishing is good right? Another story for another day...
A very nice red snapper. Look at that radiance! Would we still get to see this kind of fish in the future?
Well this trip was good and we all had fun. In fact, really grateful to catch two of the biggest groupers and the biggest snapper. No luck for awhile now!

This 3kg specimen really gave me a good workout on light gear!
Doesn't look like a wild fish but certainly put up a good fight and I had to drag it out from the coral
Another relatively good sized one that fought well
The one thing I have learned in Changi Offshore is that you never get the better of it. I got reefed on an unknown fish that was taken on 8 inch kelong sotong. It took out line although I was almost at full drag. The boat even had to chase the fish as it got stuck in rocks twice before it bust me off. Suspect? Hybrid Grouper. Another feature of modern day offshore fishing in Changi waters...

Beautiful fried Mangrove Jack
And of course... I wasted no time in dispatching the mangrove jack!

Swa Chiam Fishing with Prince of Peace Fishing Charters Singapore

A half day session which was blessed
It's prime time for fishing in Singapore now. Everyone is having decent catches after the circuit breaker lifted and after a few months of zero business, it is really good to see the fishing community raring to go again. If this had went on any longer, I'm sure many tackle shops and fishing charters would have closed down.

Not much fishing for me though because of work but that didn't stop me from grabbing a kaki or two who had a thing for light baiting game. Our target? We were going for something less conventional than your usual species. The fat fat swa chiams (pasir pasir, sand whiting) that Captain Jeff (Prince of Peace Fishing Charters) found for us were good fun and they were all very very big. You can't really see from the picture but all 97 pieces were almost the same length as our feet.

Almost all of them were this size!
Double hook up!
Fishing conditions are simple. In fact, if you pay my wages for a day, I would be glad to guide for these sort of trips. 1m to 3m of water. Sabiki rigs. Cut baits. Dropping the line or doing a simple cast towards the shore. Bites were almost instantaneous and when we were sick of the swa chiams, Jeff brought us to cast for some palm sized golden snappers which were a delight for the pot! There is much criticism now in bringing back small fishes but if you know your stuff, you would also know that bringing back big fishes do harm the environment and there is much evidence now that you should leave the big ones alone and bring back the small ones.

Well, cheem things aside, just not being wasteful is good enough for me. The small fish that I take I usually would fry as a side dish or use to cook soup. The giant herring will be used for crab bait or deep fried. This way, I do not need to go to the market to source for these things. This leads to a smaller carbon foot print.

Beautiful firm flesh!
Perfect size for a meal for two
The snappers were slightly harder to catch as they were finicky eaters and took small live prawns. But we managed a few! And then when the bite stopped... we went back to our swa chiam friends. If you want to fish swa chiams, downgoing will be the ideal time to fish. In fact, a few sickle fish (chao xi) also visited us and we had great fun on small sabiki rigs.

The snappers were there!
Sickle fish on sabiki. Shiok!
Sabiki rigs, size 0.5 sinker, 2m water. Where to find?! Give Jeff a call at +65 9742 8579 if you want to try. You can ask me along too if you're willing to pay my wage.

Stay safe all and be strong too.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Southern Island Night Fishing 2020 Update

The best catch. No point posting the rest.
Night fishing trips, heavy gears, catching squids and setting them out for the elusive giant golden snappers. This is still one of the more appealing kind of fishing trips for me as there is certain sense of helplessness against some fish you hook up at night.

And that happened this very night even when live squid was rare.

So basically what happened was that I hooked up a piece of kelong sotong to my night setup meant for harvesting fish: Calstar 20-50lbs overhead, Daiwa Genpaoh 40 with 65lbs braid, size 20 Seaguar leader which is rated about 90lbs estimated. The usual happened... bite alarm went off, I gave the fish a good yank, and reeled it off the bottom. This was all good for five seconds until the fish turned its head and nose dived. It just wouldn't stop even after I dialed a few clicks on the Genpaoh's star drag. What?! No prizes for what happened next. A humble reefing. Bite leader came back frayed. This has never happened to me before night fishing at Southern Island. Even big snappers weren't as fierce as this.

And best of all Abang was just beside me lying down (resting) and he told me, "I knew you wouldn't land the fish. Just a feeling. Yesterday they also lost a big one here."

Well... what can I say?

Anyway, the catch was below average although it wasn't bad. We only scooped like a few pieces of squid and this wasn't enough. The "nam hong" had also just started blowing and this made conditions very difficult for night fishing or even bottom fishing in particular. Different story for jigging though and on the way back we stopped by Cyrene to pick up some queenfish, sagai and selar.

It's jigging season at southern islands now.
We didn't take the fishes out for pictures but below tally is accurate:
  • 3 golden snappers
  • 1 kaci
  • 2 deep sea kims
  • 2 sagai
  • 1 golden trevally 
  • 3 queenfish
  • 1 kim chu seng
  • few selars
Oh well, heart pain for awhile...

Monday, May 11, 2020

Fishing at Barelang Fishing Pond, Batam

It's never easy for angler-couples with kids to go fishing. You bring the kid along, it doesn't really feel like quality fishing together. You leave the kid at home, you're basically confined to one day trips which can only mean fishing in Singapore.

But... there's Batam too! At the now very famous Barelang Fishing Pond. It's a fairly inexpensive fishing venue, surrounded with nice restaurants, massage parlours, shopping malls and you bring rupiah. It's definitely easy to arrange too. I detail below three steps on how to arrange an affordable one day trip to Barelang Fishing Pond.

1. Pre-book a trusted driver with car for your one day trip

There are many operators and drivers around. Just search around in Facebook and you'll find plenty. It is always a good idea to pre-book one as you'll be assured you have transport on that day! My driver was Aan +6281268187673 and he has WhatsApp. The fee to book Aan is $60 per day. Note that there are cheaper options around.

2. Book your ferry tickets online

Many, many promotions for Batam ferry tickets. The usual would be Harbourfront Centre, Singapore to Batam Centre Batam. There is a one hour time difference. There is a 7.40am ferry and we took that one so we can have as time in Batam as possible.

3. Have a schedule in mind

After booking a driver and ferry tickets, just do some research and plan your day. If you're lazy, you can ask the driver to do so for you.

My plan was
  • Barelang fishing Pond 9am to 12pm (40 minutes from Batam Centre)
  • Seafood lunch at kelong 12pm to 2pm (two popular ones, Citra Utama and 007).
  • Massage 2pm to 4pm
  • Shopping for kueh lapis, shopping mall till 6pm
  • Ferry from Batam at 7pm.
Anyway, generally follow the above steps will do. Google if you need any more information. Fishing rates are found at

As for the fishing, it was generally boring for me as the pond was just full of hybrid groupers and they were very easy to hook up with bait. We got ourselves the tuna bait which was literally cut tongkol. The guide will cast it out, you wait for 5 seconds to 5 minutes and you will almost likely get a hook up. Remember to use big hooks at least 7/0 and set the fish well. The other way to get fish was to spin lures. I brought some rubber lures and it definitely worked. Gave up after a few fish as it was quite boring to be catching the same species of fish. Probably won't ever visit this place again except for experiments or if the variety of fishes improve.

Fatty Hybrid!
Getting boring...

Line wrapped around torzite guides...

Some fishes went bust. Well that's life.

Food and massage was good though. We went to a massage place that just opened. See Kamaya Spa.

Below pictures for food.