Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Threadfin Salmon (Kurau) on Changi Vincent's Boat!

Although I have lost count if how many times I went offshore fishing at Changi, nothing is as sweet and rare as seeing a Kurau landed right before your eyes. And a beautiful one at that! Kelvin landed this beauty of a fish on relatively light offshore tackle and to see that golden sheen on the fish was unreal.

It wasn't a day with much quantity but very good sizes! Very happy for the guys that they managed to score some as we have lost some monsters during our previous trips.

Kurau - 5.5kg
Barramundi - 4kg

I went home, gutted and scaled the barramundi and steamed the slices the very next day.

Recipe to steam for 5 minutes:
Some ginger slices
Rock sugar water
Light soy sauce
Minced garlic

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Fun day with Changi Offshore Ah Fong

Been terribly busy these days with career and family so much that fishing isn't really important anymore. But... that's what all anglers say until they hooked one. Recently has been a tough time for me because I've been outwitted by the fishes on multiple occasions.

Today though no such incidents as the big ones weren't biting but I managed to score a decent sized grunter (guhood) on one of David's (Dactylus) new prototype jigs. I barely jigged 30 minutes with it and I was rewarded! It's a very effective jig and I reckon it will be a big hit - that's a respectable promotion for you.

Anyway, the usual Changi Offshore suspects were caught... not the best trip according to Ah Fong's standard catches this week but still great fun. Let's hope we can continue the fishing in Singapore and not face another lock-down...

Brilliant Guhood! See that jig there?
Love the shimmer of this fish!
David caught a 4lb flattie!
A whopper flathead for Singapore waters 
Mangrove jack lor...
Another Jack... 
A gao by david on his tournament tenyas
EK by KY
Gao by Weiyee whom caught the most gaos today!
Decent table sized fish!

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 https://www.barelangfishing.com/

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.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Batu Pahat Threadfin Salmon (Kurau and Senangin) Jigging trip with David Ho

Catching the elusive Threadfin Salmon in Singapore has always been a challenge here. They used to be more common but are now scarce due to habitat destruction. This graceful fighter also tastes heavenly and has quite a few species. The more prized species is the Kurau (Orh Ngor or Black Threadfin) and is commonly served to new Mothers as it is nutritious and believed to boost breast milk supply. There is also the Senangin (Pek Ngor or Ngor Soon) though. During this Batu Pahat trip with David Ho, we caught both of them! In the below write-up, I detail my experience during this trip and what to look out for if you're going to Batu Pahat for the first time to jig for threadfin.

What tackle to use?
Micro Jigging tackle that can comfortably jig 20g to 40g jigs will be suitable. However, try to go a little on the heavier side as the captain does mention that sometimes they can get huge kuraus on the micro jigs. Micro is fun but surely you want to have more firepower against a 20kg kurau? Thinner leaders are also suggested with #6, #7, #8 FC leaders (or 16lbs) being recommended. On this trip, I used a Shimano Vanquish C3000 paired with a St Croix 8-14lbs rod and #7 Seaguar FC.

What jigs to use?
You can use 7g all the way to 40g or 60g as long as you can touch the bottom. However, bite rates seemed better if you use 40g and below. Of course, since the Dactylus Kurau Jigs were built for this purpose, it is almost the best jig to use for this application. However, it can get boring because the kurau jigs may make it too easy to secure hook ups. In that case, you can go with any micro jig that has good flutter, moderate sinking features. Good fall action is important here as it is a crucial aspect of how the fish feed. e.g. imitating injured baitfish falling to the bottom water column.

What is the jigging stroke, style or method to use?
Most of the action is centred on the bottom water of column so let your jigs "hug" the bottom. You can present it fast or slowly pitch it or simply lift up a stroke or two and drop it back to the bottom. It's kind of like eging but on a faster stroke. It is essential to keep your line fairly straight down when drift fishing (and not let it fly) as this affects the action of the jig. During the stroking, it is highly possible that the fish may "tap" your jig as it is known that threadfin can feed very lightly. A sensitive rod and an angler mind in tune with your jig's action can increase your chances of hook up. In fact, I find that being sensitive and in tune is the most important thing to do here as jig presentation won't differ much since everyone will be doing the same thing. Do note that there are other fish like golden snappers, grunters, flatheads etc. that may also take your jig. The same jigging method can be used.

Once a threadfin is hooked up, the fight also can be pretty tricky since this fish can quickly swim up to reduce line tension and will thrash on the surface. The mouth of the fish means that it also can dislodge hooks very easily. Hence, the advice is to not rush the fight and to aggravate the fish when it is at the surface (and waiting to be scooped). "Follow" the fish when it swims around in circles and if it swims under the boat, dip your rod into the water and "guide" it back. It takes some getting used to but catch a few and you will get the hang of it. Sometimes, they do get away even if you put in your best shift. It is just the name of the game.

How to book such a trip?
Contact David at +65 90154088, he will be more than willing to advise you.

What is the difference between Kurau and Senangin?
Put up a separate post at https://baktao.blogspot.com/2020/04/what-is-difference-between-kurau-senangin.html

Catch Reports
Below pictures taken by David. Can you spot the kurau and senangin?

Decent Batu Pahat Ang Chor on Kurau Jig!
The Senangin can be schooling so hook ups are fast and furious.
Surprise grunter came along! 
Another grunter!
Melvin scored premium species. Kurau!
Another kurau!
Good size Chor by Nolric
Vince with another Senangin. Can you tell the difference between Senangin and Kurau?