Half the fun of prawning is in the catch, reckons Samuel Lui, my new angling mentor and co-owner of catch-and-release pond Fishing Paradise in Bottle Tree Park. ‘There’s definitely a skill to it though,’ says the longtime angler with a wry grin as he demonstrates an expert cast from the wooden deck of the park’s small, kidney-shaped basin. ‘The trick is in the timing.’
It goes like this: attach a small piece of bait to the hook and position the line between the bubbles (‘shrimp love the aeration’, chipped in my pond neighbour gleefully). When the float submerges or you feel a slight tinkle, ‘you’ve got a customer’. At this point luck gives way to a deft, well-timed touch. Place the tip of the rod above the float and lift slowly until it bends slightly. It takes a gentle, upward flick of the wrist to hook the prey onto the line. ‘That’s the exciting bit,’ Lui says dryly. ‘It’s called The Strike.’ The quick-fire frequency of the shrimp’s bite is largely responsible for the prawning pond’s present popularity. Like karaoke, it’s a great social leveller. Continue reading this story here.
A former military pier, Singapore’s longest and most famous fishing outpost was the subject of Boo Junfeng’s 2008 short film, Bedok Jetty. It’s popular with entry-level anglers, jiggers (a type of metal lure) in search of tasty tamban fish (groupers, snapper and sea bass are also common) and experienced surfcasters (long-distance line casts) who cast in the hope of hauling in stingrays or shovelnose sharks. East Coast Park, Area F.
Experienced anglers come here to take on giant, South American big-game fish like the redtail catfish, mekong and arapaima. Set in serene Bottle Tree Park, which boasts three seafood restaurants, prawning is also available at $14.50 per hour (includes rods and bait). For saltwater fish, try Ed’s Pro Pond, Pasir Ris Farmway 3, Unit 70. Fishing Paradise, Bottle Tree Park, 81 Lorong Chencharu, Yishun (6759 7077). MRT: Khatib. Open daily, 7am-3am. Rates: $25 per hour (non-members); $20 (members). Package deals are available.
Hobbyists are limited to the wooden deck and live bait is strictly illegal, all anglers must practise lure-only catch and release fishing. Although populations are said to be dwindling, anglers come from all over Asia to attempt to catch the highly aggressive peacock bass native to the Amazon. MacRitchie, Kranji and Lower Seletar reservoirs also have legal fishing areas.
Various locations across the island: Farmart, 67 Sungei Tengah Rd, Choa Chu Kang (6767 0070); East Coast Prawning, 1020 East Coast Parkway (6227 3330); Hai Bin U Enterprise Prawn Fishing, 603 Sin Ming Ave (6554 1986); Jurong Hill Prawn Fishing & Beer Garden, Old Crocodile Farm, 241 Jln Ahmad Ibrahim #01-16 (6265 2598).
Kuala Rompin, Malaysia
Monthly three-day catch-and-release sea fishing trips organised by a trio of self-confessed ‘popping’ (floating lure) fanatics led by super-friendly angler Rob Chang. Fishers come from around the world to try and catch the spiky-backed sailfish that thrives in the region. Go to www.ultimateangler.net for more information.
Read: 'Who wants to go prawning?'