Monday, April 10, 2017

Sibu Island is now a light and micro jigging fishing paradise

Gone are the days when we looked to Sibu Kelong as a quick getaway from Singapore. It used to be a kelong fishing paradise but suddenly it was gone as authorities closed it down. Fret not though, one style of fishing may be gone from Sibu (from Tanjung Lehman Jetty) but another has taken its place.

Preparing to set off
Good old Tanjung Lehman jetty. Memories!
Enter the likes of Ah Bee, Micro Jig, James Chai (Ah Niu) and so on. These people have really set the tone for fishing at Sibu ever since the kelongs were closed. They have already been there for some time so they're rather experience with the fishing spots there. A typical day of fishing would involve light & micro jigging, lure casting, and even some bottom bashing via live prawns. Tenya is also rather popular.

Our group of kakis caught on to the Sibu fishing scene quite late on as we were busy with Merchong. Soon though, we booked a trip and called Ah Yip (Engler's Charter) to send us there. The trip was very easy to arrange and we just had to meet Ah Bee (the fishing captain) at Tanjung Lehman Jetty. He would get the ice and prawns. The good old provision shops were still around at the jetty so getting some food and drinks were easy too.

Ah Bee (even though he was young) was quite knowledgeable on the fishing spots and had good variety. He had some bottom fishing spots where we scored some good parrot fish (eng ko), ebek and other reef fish. The highlight though was when he brought us "close to the island", a term familiar with many Sibu fishing regulars. Monster fish were often found here as the rocky terrain meant that the area was less prone to over fishing and you needed skill to get the fish. Sometimes anglers lose the battle to the big ones there. We've seen some 30kg GTs landed on light setups there and according to Ah Bee, coral trout aka ang gao were so common here he would get a few every trip.
Master Yip with most tastiest catch of the day

Great capture on pink tenya
Not sure why Yip's face is in shock
Strong hooks won't open on you
Good sized ebek on pink tenya!
It wasn't happening for us though. The gang lost a few jigs and lures during the initiation when we went close to the island but during that time only Yip got a decent coral trout on tenya. Ah Bee later told us it was very windy and the water conditions made it difficult to drift past the coral peaks. He didn't smoke us though as we saw good fish the next day on his Facebook.

Conclusion? We only had one trip there but it really is a good place to wind down, get your casting gear wet and land a few good fishes. Day trips are possible and the fishing is reasonably priced. If you're looking to go test some fishing gears, you can do it here. One wonders though whether the wonderful catches are just temporary. Some of the fish caught in Sibu aren't migratory and at the rate they're being hauled up, it's only a matter of years before it is over fished...

Our decent haul
Some Sibu light jigging and micro jigging contacts available here:

Ah Bee

Micro Jig

James Chai (Ah Niu)

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 must 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.
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