Saturday, March 25, 2017

8 tips for catching or prawning for yabbies in Singapore

Yes yes, I know. Probably everyone in Singapore knows how to do prawning by now. It's become such a cliche activity that everyone brings home a few kg of prawns every time. NOT. Well, prawning has gone from below average to bad now in Singapore mainly because of rising costs. You don't really blame the operator as well because like well, water price increase...

Ok, that's end of my ranting but what I really wanted to point out is that many prawning ponds in Singapore do have YABBY ponds these days and they are definitely cuter, tastier and more challenging to catch than usual freshwater prawns. Also, the ponds aren't really crowded since everyone still prefers prawns.

In fact, I would say, if you master yabby catching, you will have no problems in the usual prawning ponds. Yabby prawning is all about hook set and timing. It's also about patience when fighting the yabby.

I've been doing more of yabby prawning recently at ORTO bottle tree park and here's eight suggestions that could help you if you're really clueless... 

1) TRY the yabby pond

This is a rather strange tip but the fact is that people don't really go for yabbies so the ponds may be well stocked with yabbies. The yabbies might also be very hungry. If the prawns aren't biting in the prawning pond, head over to the yabby one and try for a few minutes. You just might hit gold.

2) Ensure your hooks are sharp and set hard!

Yabbies have tougher shells and claws than usual prawns. You'll find that the newbie method of simply "lifting" the rod doesn't help since the hook doesn't penetrate their shells. Sharp hooks and proper, firm setting of the hook does help get you more yabbies in the bag so go ahead and set set set!

3) Yabbies love pipes, corners and usually stack put after being released. They also love clustering with each other

Yes, prawns also have such behaviour but I realise that yabbies exhibit the pipe, corner, pump loving thing more. They cluster together more often and they often park their bodies into the debris/pipes if they can. They don't really do that scouting for food thing like prawns. Also, if the workers release the yabbies in a certain location, they tend to just stay put there so focus around that area.  

4) Baits can be big, variety usually doesn't matter

Compared to prawns, yabbies are probably better with their claws because their claws are firmer and shorter. This may explain why the bait often tends to be taken in in a firm way and even if you tension the line, the yabby usually doesn't let go. Prawns usually let go if you are too firm on them. Also, they aren't really picky on the baits. House bait, worms all work well.

5) Wait longer before you set the hook

This point helps if you want to really give yourself a high chance of a hook up. Why? If you don't wait long enough and set right after the floater goes down, chances are that the bait may still be at the claw area which means the hook may not penetrate the shell. If you wait about 5 to 10 seconds after the floater goes down, the yabby can put the food into the mouth area which is a little softer and the hook can have a larger surface area to penetrate.

Also, yabbies don't usually do the take the bait and run thing. They usually use their claws to grab the bait that floats past them and then settle down at the same spot to feed. When you notice your float going down, simply stay put there until you set the hook. There is no need to follow the yabby or panic because "your floating is running away".

6) Keep the fight very short (if you think the hook up isn't firm) or have a slow fight if you think you hooked a big one

I'm undecided on this one. Some folks like to do it fast and that works because the longer you drag, the more chance the hook has to dislodge. Similarly, because of the way yabbies fight (and their weight), bringing it up forcefully may result in a dislodged hook too.

I say, you decide. If you see that the yabby has been hooked on the claw, bring it up fast! If you think it's a big one and well hooked, play it slow.

7) Try to move the bait around more

Yabbies are very excited by movement. In fact, sometimes they may not be hungry and maybe they're just using their pincers to kiap the bait because of self defense. This works for us since you can set the hook into the claw. It also explains why many yabbies only have one claw remaining and why many of them are claw hooked.

Move the bait around slowly, try to find those yabbies. Prove them by dangling the bait in front of them like a live fish. Make them ATTACK the bait or EAT it. Both works.

8) Fasten your draw string on the keep net

This is not related to catching them but do fasten it. Yabbies can survive out of water and can crawl up the net back into the water!

Well that's all. Very simple tips lah really but probably may help you if you really are quite bad...

Not keen in yabbies? Read my prawning guide here.

Baktao Lollipop and Ice Cream micro jigs scoring on a Merchong fishing trip!

Lollipop micro jigs were conceived when Baktao wanted a micro jig that could be jigged fast or jigged slow. Adopting a very common cut, the Lollipop micro jigs are recommended to be jigged at slow or medium or fast speeds. One of the key features of the Lollipop jig is that it is very deadly on the drop or using a pitching or drag and drop (bottom bouncing) method when the boat is anchored. The jigs come in a variety of colours all centered around the theme of aurora or rainbow colours. Aurora or rainbow colours are very effective for a wide variety of species. 

Earlier on, I tested them in Port Dickson and the queenies there simply went crazy over the jigs. The question for me was then whether they would actually do well in East Malaysia (Rompin, Pekan, Tioman, Desaru, Mersing etc.). Would they be good for bottom species? Ebek? Cobia? Tengerri? Well I got my answer when Ah Biao aka Nenasi tested some of the jigs during his trip there. 

The micro jigs proved deadly no matter how they were worked during the trip. You can surface skim them, bottom bounce them, jig them across water columns or simply just fast retrieve!

Bonito couldn't resist taking a chase at the jig. Great topwater action!
Jigged across a reef column, the jig drew the attention of this cobia. Note that colour was murky and it was overcast. The lumo stripes probably did help a little.
Bottom bouncing using micro jigs! My favourite and most lazy way of landing most species.
Great take and awesome fight with this tuskfish. Destroyed the paintwork of the jig though!

You can get the micro jigs at Bakgal's fishing shop.