Monday, July 20, 2015

Prawning for Yabbies at Orto, Bottle Tree Park

"It just isn't productive anymore"

I came from an era where prawning produces very large prawns and each person would get around 30-50 prawns for every 3 hours of prawning even though they may be beginners at prawning. The prawning costs are usually 3hrs - $30 and it was a whole lot of fun. After some sporadic prawning trips to Jurong Haibin and Orto, Bottle Tree Park, I somehow feel that prawning isn't productive anymore and the trend seems to be dying off.

So if you were into prawning last time and going to visit a prawning pond soon, do lower your expectations.

Orto - Bottle Tree Park  

Orto at Bottle Tree Park came across as a very experienced prawning operations setup in the ever popular Bottle Tree Park at Khatib. Bottle Tree Park is also where Fishing Paradise is operating. At first glance, you could see space maximization, efficient operation setup and impressive use of technology to ease operations. Rods were tagged using bar codes, there was NETs available and even fixed prawn release timings. I was quite impressed by the whole setup. Orto had a "members" package at 10hrs for $108 and it was a no brainer to take that package since you can divide the 10hrs into many rods if you're going with a friend.

Orto prawning pond also featured electric grills so no messy charcoal was needed if you wanted to grill your prawns. Neat!


Prawning for Yabbies


Look at those claws!

Yabbies are usually tastier and bigger
Prawning for the usual prawns got very boring but Orto had freshwater Yabbies in some ponds designated as "Yabby Ponds". Yabbies are tougher to catch as they have very tough shells to pierce and they are also heavier in weight. Once you hook onto a yabby, you'll have to fight it very carefully. Yabby claws are also much more lethal than prawns so handle them carefully.

I somehow find Yabby ponds very good for teaching newbies the basics... This is because Yabbies are heavier and when they get on the bait, it is extremely obvious. They also grab the bait better and don't let go often. You can then teach newbies how to set the hook firmly. You'll need to strike hard for Yabbies for the hooks to go in deep but after you get the hang of it, it's very easy.

Looks very tasty and it is!
Cajun spices for the win
Electric Grill
Oh yes, Yabbies are also more tasty then the usual freshwater prawns and I highly recommend a blend of Cajun spices to accompany your prawns!

Friday, July 17, 2015

11 reasons to go fishing with Jimmy Lim!

I seriously miss fishing with Jimmy but it's open season and that usually mean's we're fishing further out from Singapore. Most anglers in Singapore would be fishing in Malaysia fishing areas like Rompin or Pekan. As I look through my fishing photos with Jimmy, I realize what a guy he has been and what a joy it is fishing with him. Here's 11 reasons why you should go fishing with Jimmy. Go ahead, give him a call.

1. He is not a charter captain or a boatman. He is a friend.

We all know that insensitive, uncaring and boring boatman that merely drives the boat and brings us out fishing. At the end of the trip, we no longer keep in touch and we forget about each other unless we have to go fishing. Jimmy isn't like that. We meet up for supper on other days, we talk about life during our fishing trips and age is no problem (I'm 26 and he's 60 but we still have fun).

2. Most multi-talented charter captain in Singapore

Jimmy is no stranger to a variety of fishing techniques. He does fly fishing, kayak fishing and he even goes scuba diving. With someone like that, you're bound to get fish.

3. Visionary human fish finder

Jimmy has a sixth sense for locating fish and he knows where the fish are at. Fishing kakis are seldom disappointed and even if the fish aren't biting, Jimmy's a pretty funny guy.

4. He gives haircuts on his boat (sometimes)

I remember I was joking about having a haircut on his boat. Well, he made it happen. Check out this post for the evidence.

5. He is an avid fan of micro jigging

It's quite common to find micro jigging being popular in the Southern Islands and it's fairly easy to get a hookup. That's the opposite for Changi where fishing spots aren't that productive for jigging. Still, Jimmy braves the odds and regularly produces catches on micro jig. You got to admire that.

6. Highly kissable

He is a super sporty captain and won't mind kissing anyone (or anything)

7. Hot body charter captain

He is extremely macho and fit even though not very young. Ladies, he'll steal your hearts.

8. Always catching fish

If you caught nothing, you can rely on him to get you some fish for dinner. He rarely disappoints though sometimes he does this.

9. Always going the extra mile

Jimmy is always going the extra mile to give his customers a good time. Sometimes, if there's enough time, he'll stop by the floating restaurant at Pulau Ubin to give customer a memorable end to the fishing day.

10. He is a LEGEND

People don't seem to know that he has been doing this since 20, 30 years ago. Jimmy has so much experience under his belt that he basically is a legend! Here's a picture to prove it.

11. He also gets 'sangoat' while fishing on land

Jimmy joins customers for casual fishing and while he is a fishing legend, he's not immune to getting 'sangoat'.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top 10 common fishes to catch and eat

Every angler and fisherman in Singapore has a favourite fish to catch and eat. Here's 10 of the most common fishes you can catch in Singapore and general information on how to eat them. Tips are general and according to the best practices here. Tastes can differ. e.g. Some of us thinks its atrocious to make curry fish out of a nice coral trout.

1. Snappers

Snappers are just about the most common fish in Singapore that you can find. The most common fish in Singapore is the Golden Snapper or Ang Chor but other snappers such as Red Snapper, John's Snapper are also in the mix. Snappers are generally a one fish cooks all type of fish. Larger snappers such as the Ang Kuey are used in curry fish head while the table sized ones are steamed. One can even make fish and chips out of large snappers! Versatility 10/10.

2. Tengerri Batang or more generally known as Mackeral

The mackerals in our water are usually good for fish soup and any good old aunty will tell you how delicious they are. Many famous fish slice porridge or soup in Singapore also use Batang as the main fish. The mackeral is also good for deep fry and usually matched with a black sauce condiment. If you come from Singapore, the main difference you need to know is that this is not the BBQ or grilled mackeral from Japan that we are talking about.

Dr Leslie Tay has a good writeup on Mackerals in Singapore that you can read up on.

3. Toman

The Toman, also known as the Snakehead is the poster fish of Singapore freshwater fishing. There are generally 2 types of Snakeheads that are common here - Haruan and Toman. Most Snakehead on the food tables in Singapore are farmed and not wild. Local anglers are not encouraged to bring back the Toman for consumption. If you have to bring back a wild Toman, you will regret it because the meat is somehow more dry and less fatty than the farmed ones. Trust me because I brought one back before! The Toman is known for it's medicinal qualities and usually used in fish soup or stir fry with vegetables.

4. Grouper

The Grouper is a world famous fish and present all over the world in various forms like Cod, Hapuka and so on. The Singapore species are usually estuary or tropical reef species like Orange Spotted Grouper, Red Groupers (Coral Trout) and Estuary Cod. It is a highly rated fish (especially by the Chinese) and it can be steamed, fried or used in steamboats.

Madai Jigs are very effective for Grouper. You can get some here.

5. Catfish

The Catfish is severely underrated in the Singapore fishing scene and is the one fish most anglers don't bring back home! That is a pity because the Catfish is actually pretty palatable if you know how to cook it. It can be used for Fish & Chips which I have done here. Malay fishermen often use the Catfish for Assam Pedas or Curry dishes.

6. Stingray

The Stingray was never thought of as premium fish until the Singapore BBQ boom happened. The rise of prominence for dishes such as Sambal BBQ Stingray led to much acclaim for this fish. An old fashion way to cook this dish would be using salted vegetables and sambal to stir fry Stingray cubes.

7. Barramundi

The Barramundi is Singapore's most famous fish and affectionately know as the Siakap or Seabass. It is also a heavily farmed fish and prized catch for anglers in Singapore. While the farmed fishes can be very "stinky" and have a heavy fish smell, the wild Barramundi make for excellent table fare. Smaller ones can be steamed while larger ones can be done a variety of ways like Sweet and Sour, BBQ, Curry, Fish & Chips... Just Google online for some ideas.

8. Wrasse

Wrasse fish are delicacies for Chinese cuisine and the Parrotfish (Eng Koh) is the most common fish here. Eng Koh usually goes into the steamer though bigger ones can be oil fried (yao zham). Bigger Eng Koh's also should make excellent Fish & Chips. I've also found that wrasse are best eaten fresh. The cheek and head area of the Eng Koh is highly valued for the high gelatin content.

9. Grunters

Grunters are quite similar to the Snapper and we have the Javelin Grunter & Guhood (long head grunt) in our waters. Grunters follow the same rule as Snappers and they can be cooked in a variety of ways.

10. Chermin

The Chermin is the most common trevally species you can find all over Singapore and it actually tastes good when steamed. Beware though, I usually advise anglers to only steam Chermins below 1.2kg as bigger ones can be a little too firm. For bigger ones, you can do potato balls, otah, fish & chips or even curry fish head.