3 tips if you're fishing for the first time at Pandan Reservoir

Clear requirements now
Just a few months ago, I wrote that we should give the Singaporean authorities a break when it comes to illegal fishing in reservoirs but never in my most intimate dreams would I have expected PUB to then open up more fishing grounds in our local reservoirs. What’s more was that they didn’t just open a small section or platform (like they did previously with most of the legal fishing areas), they opened up massive sections of fishing areas in certain reservoirs like the popular Pandan Reservoir.

I had to admit that the news struck me weirdly. On one hand, I was concerned that there should have been more done to evaluate the whole fishing environment and system before committing to such a big change. I.e. opening a reservoir is one thing but how do you maintain fish stocks are another. Being a seasoned newbie angler also informed me that one should definitely fish at the opened areas as soon as possible. It was not that there wouldn’t be any fish after it was “ravaged” by the constant barrage of lurers but it was that fishing pressure would occur at a heightened rate. Fish would be easily spooked and wouldn’t be aggressive anymore. That was also the reason, I decided to visit Pandan Reservoir as soon as I could.

I fished there before it was totally opened to anglers (in the past, you could only fish two small jetties) and I outline below on what to expect of the fishing areas. Note that I probably won’t be able to fish every day and most of my fishing was done at night but they generally should give you a better idea if you’re looking to fish there for the first time.

See description below

Fishing area and Fishing Deck near West Coast Road (A) 

PBs are getting small though
This area is rather interesting as the fishing area has now extended to just before the Cisco building. The waters just before the Cisco building is rather weedy and should produce good fish that take cover near the weeds. The usual haruan, peacock bass should lurk around. It’s interesting though to note that I’ve also caught belida, soon hock and tilapia here. Most of the good fishing should occur near the Cisco Building as the area there was subject to tight security when it was still not opened. I typically find the area just before the fishing jetty/deck not very productive as it seems rather shallow. The fishing deck itself has also been subjected to severe overfishing and fishing pressure. If you’re fishing at this stretch, do beware of joggers as this stretch is packed with joggers (because it is near the HDB flats).

Fishing area after Fishing Deck near West Coast Road (B)

You have to go really deep for the soon hocks. Rubbers and deep divers work well here.
Fishing is so far not really good here. Maybe just seasonal.
The fishing area above the fishing deck/jetty (nearer to the PUB pump house/Pipes) used to be loaded with giant peacock bass, belida, soon hock, keli and tilapia. I attributed this to tight security as well since the area was just beside the pump house. On a recent visit there though, it didn’t even produce a single fish and surface activity was at a crawl. This area has a steep gradient so be careful when you’re going down to the rocks to cast.

Note: If you’re fishing in the morning, the fish will be facing the oncoming sunrise (sun behind angler). This may point to not so productive fishing in the morning since the sunlight will be in the fish’s eyes.

Fishing area near Penjuru Road – Stretch before Fishing Deck (C)

Rubber works well on the fall for Belida

Getting belidas sometimes is all about sight casting. They're very obvious at night when they make a surface ripple with their white bodies.

This dude took a very slow moving Lucky Craft Pointer 70mm! It paused before striking and only took the lure after it actually stayed still!

Near the carpark and easily accessible, this area is one of my favourites!
This area has been one of the more productive areas for me as it was possible to fish near the fishing deck when it was first opened up. The area has a gentle gradient, ample lights (from street lamps) and is located away from the HDB area so it is definitely quieter. I gotten good sized peacock bass, belida and soon hock from this area. In fact, I managed a good 6 pounder peacock bass during my first trip to Pandan Reservoir after the additional legal areas were opened.  

Note: If you’re fishing in the morning, you’ll be facing the oncoming sunrise (sun in front of angler).

Fishing Deck at Penjuru Road (D)

Not casting for mackeral at night but casting for pussy!
The fishing deck was quite a decent place to go fishing when it was first opened. I managed a giant keli there on casting huge minnows at night, I managed some peacock bass, belida and haruan there as well. However, it’s now overfished and I don’t recommend much time here as you’re better off fishing the water breakers.

Fishing area at Jalan Buroh (E)

Tarpon used to be very common at this area. Now maybe not so...
Personally, I found this area less enticing as the rest of the fishing areas since it is very far and the gradient of the rocks are a little steep. Also, it is almost always windy here and you can have abit of trouble if you’re using light lures. That said, some of the bigger belidas, tarpons and arowanas were caught at this area. I have also hooked onto many big fish here that ‘never came back’. On hindsight though, I suspect they were huge pacu or carp that were foul-hooked on light tackle.

Closing Remarks for Fishing at Pandan Reservoir

I don’t think there are fixed strategies for luring at Pandan Reservoir simply because of the terrain there and the variety of species. The usual ‘cheater’ techniques like spin fly, bottom bouncing of rubber, slow cranking a minnow or fast ripping a shad would still work here. However, it is important to note that the fish in the reservoir have been around for a long time already and can be very easily spooked. In fact, there are many giant pacus, kois, gourami and arowana in the reservoir that are spooked during a loud angler’s first cast!

To make the most out of your fishing, I suggest three ways below. 

1. Always start from quiet & slow to moderate & medium to fast and noisy if possible. If you’re luring alone, start with gently flicking a small lure for the first few casts. This is so you wouldn’t spook the fishes which would get spooked. You can always do the noisy/loud/energetic luring thing later on. By quiet & slow, I also mean don’t shout, splash water or disturb rocks. It could also be prudent to sit down and fish. If this doesn’t produce, by all means, go a step further and take out your rattling lures, poppers and so on.

2. Don’t cast straight all the time but cast left, cast right and cast parallel to the water breakers
If you notice, Pandan Reservoir is not a natural reservoir and is by default, a huge swimming pool. The only cover the fish have area at the side (near the rocks) or near structures such as fishing decks. In fact, if you cast out far, you’ll realise that the bottom is barren (hint: slow cranking a lure at the barren bottom at night can work wonders). Many of the fish actually are lurking near the breakers behind a rock or two (this is especially so for fish like soon hock). Ripping a lure across the 20 or 30 degree mark will give you a good chance of scoring a good fish. If you’re attempting to lure across the 10 degree mark, use a floating lure, popper or make sure you reel fast. The 10 degree mark strategy works well at night as fish come close to the water’s edge.

3. Move your ass all the time. Don’t stay at one area. If the legal fishing area confines you to one jetty, then it’s all sad but now that you have almost the whole circumference of Pandan Reservoir to yourself, make the most of it. Move 5 meters down every 10 casts or take the hike to a different part of the reservoir. Fishes don’t typically stay in one area throughout the reservoir and certain areas can have “mini seasons” where fish congregate at during different times of the year. This is probably because the oxygen levels and water levels fluctuate during the course of the year (monsoon season, release of water from the reservoir and dry season). Fish naturally migrate to different areas as their survival instincts will guide them to do so.


JustRight said…
Hi thanks so much for this article. I have been trying to lure at Pandan at night but without much success. May I know what are the best lures you would recommend? Do spinnerbaits work at night and at what depth? For rubbers, should I rub the bottom or keep it near the top? Should retrieves be slow as per what is usually done at night?
Nigel said…
Hiya bro. I recommend lures that are bright in colour such as white or pink. Get small minnows about 65mm to 80mm. For night time, it's best to reel slowly to attract a larger variety of fishes. Look out for splashes which may be sure signs of Belida or Tarpon. For rubbers keep it near the bottom and against the rocks - you'll lose abit of rubber to snags but it's all part and parcel of getting the soon hock. Spinner baits don't really work.
Unknown said…
Thanks learnt slot from this post on urs. I'm going there next week I did not know there were so many kinds of fish there

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