We planned to meet at Nigel’s place at 5.30. At 4.40, Nigel texted me “Uo?” which I assumed to mean “Go?” and I replied “Like got choice”.
Despite having a relatively easy job yesterday, the long hours over the past week had drained me and I had to drag myself out of bed.
I met Tommy there and the three of us headed off to the causeway. This was my fourth time in as many months that I had headed to Desaru. The first was for a micro family holiday that lasted 1 night and 1 day and the last two were for jigging trips. The first time we were lucky enough to stumble on the Senai Desaru Expressway and the second time we took a half hour detour (each way).
There is one set of “false entrances” which look like the real thing and even have the signboards but apparently will lead you to the wrong place. I have yet to confirm this. According to Tommy, you need to hit about 18km from the causeway to reach the real entrance which is the Ulu Tiram Toll for the expressway. To get there you need to go down Tebrau Highway and hit the estimated 18km mark mentioned by Tommy.
As per normal, we met the boatman at the row of coffeeshops at the first left turning when exiting the expressway. The tea and coffee get better as you go down the row of shophouses but they also open later and later as you go. In the mornings, only the first coffeeshop is open.
We had our breakfast and stocked up on supplies and headed off. The boatman was actually double booked so he got one of his friends to drive the second boat and assured me that we were going to fish at the same spots. But ultimately, this did not happen.
We piled into the boatman’s 4WD while the other group (Malaysians) went in their own 4WD.
It took us half an hour to reach the launch point but the boatman did not have the second boat ready. So we waited another hour for him to get his second boat and bring it here. By now, the Malaysians had piled into the first boat and had paddled themselves out quite far due to boredom (not shown in picture).
When our boat finally arrived we proceeded with the launch.
And so we headed out….
When we finally headed out, we went our separate ways (which tickled me somewhat). Our boat was also significantly slower than the main boat.
The catch was pretty dismal so from this point on, it will mostly be pictures.
We reached the first spot…
… but caught nothing.
Helping Tommy retreve “MY” scum frog. lol
Underwater weeds were everywhere and in most areas, the “clear water depth” was only between 50cm and 1m deep (1m if we were lucky). That’s only counting the tiny “channels” between the islands of plants.
The “lake bed” was made up of a thick coat of overgrown water plants
At the second spot and on my first cast, a massive toman tried to hit my lure the moment the lure touched water but it missed it by about 10-20cm.
At about 11am we arrived at yet another spot with massive weed overgrowth.
I casted out and hit nothing. Despite their being toman fry and baby toman schools, no big ones were hooked up.
As we drifted around, I saw a big splash and I informed and pointed out the splash to the guys. Before I could turn my head and check if Nigel had heard me, his frog hit that spot and within seconds, he had a fish on with a big toman! Unfortunately, the hook was not set right and within 20 seconds, the fish was lost.
Somewhere around noon, we arrived at a spot where there were less weeds.
On his first cast and on fast retrieve, his minnow hooked up with a good specimen of a baby toman around the 500 gram mark.
At one spot, Nigel started to cross my line. Because my line was over his, I stopped reeling my sasuke 105 in at about 5 metres from the boat. Once his line was clear, I put my left hand on the reel and instantly, an estimated 4kg toman hit my lure! The lure had been stationary for about 20 seconds! I fought the fish and had it at the boat within 1 minute. Nobody was helping me pull my leader and the fish in so I bent over to try and pull it in but the fish dehooked itself and I let out a loud groan.
At around 3pm we stopped off at a rest stop to relax.
Tommy relaxed a little too much.
The boatman was quite a nice guy in that he regularly shifted spots, took body cues from us on when to stop and go and automatically shifted the boat when someone’s lure/frog got stuck. Tommy got stuck twice in weeds and Nigel and me got stuck once. Unfortunately, he was really very quiet and this tickled Nigel.
We left the rest place and headed out again. The boat was moving super slowly. Like barely 1knot.
We arrived at a spot near to the resthouse. We casted and casted but got nothing.
A lot of time went by and we reached a narrow river that was blocked my stilts. We had no hits and were about to leave when my lure got stuck on a rope. The boatman maneuvered the boat while I tried to free my lure. Once I freed it, we started to move off. I tried trolling my lure in the water and about a minute later, I hooked up a small baby toman! The water was exceptionally clear so I actually managed to see the fish sprint to the lure and take it. That made that hookup much more enjoyable.
We tried only a handful of other spots but at the last spot and at Nigel’s very last cast, he hooked up a big mama on frog! He fought the fish for a good 2 minutes but then all of a sudden, the line went slack. When he reeled what was left of his terminal tackle back to the boat, his snap was bent wide open. The hook at the end of the snap was untouched though which meant that he had forgotten to close the snap. He had lost a 1 day old frog and a fish worthy of a picture.
We returned back to the row of shophouses where we had begun our day for dinner. While Nigel and Tommy were in the toilet, I took the opportunity to talk to the boatman.
He explained to me that this place was once full of fish before it was overrun by toman. He went on to say that once that happened, the people living on the river began to aggresively hunt the toman to sell until their numbers had dwindled.
The weeds are super thick and based on our record and the words of the boatman, the only way to catch them is to reel fast then stop, then repeat. This made incredible sense and was in fact the conclusion I had arrived at when that toman hit my stationary floating sasuke and which was how I hooked up the small baby toman. If you do not stop, then the there would be no way the fish was going to emerge from the massive tumble of weeds to chase after your lure, unless it was still visible.
After that, we had our dinner and went back only to be hit by a massive jam on the causeway.
And once back in Singapore, a fine, 5 minutes before I reached my vehicle.
Me (fish missed): 1x big toman
Me (lost): 1x 4kg toman
Me (landed): 1x small baby toman
Nigel (lost): 2x big toman
Tommy (landed): 1x 500 gram toman
Known lures used
Me: Yozuri Tobimaru (Floating) – Orange
Me: Sasuke 105 (1x lost)
Me: Scum Frog (1x fish miss)
Me: $10 90/110cm Sasuke clone
Me: Small and big Daiso lures
Me: Eupro pencil lure
Me: $3 pencil lure
Me: $6++ Eupro minnow (1x landed)
Me: Eupro X-Power 6Ft ($77) + Ryobi Zauber 4000 loaded with 15lbs Tuffline – Green/20lb Fins PRT – White + Daiwa Freams 3500 (2011 model) with 20lb Fins PRT – White.
Nigel: Shimano basstera with Daiwa Tierra loaded with 15lb Varivas – Turqoise blue.
Tommy: Sabel dance with unknown reel and line.
xZoga 30lb FC leader with a knot that I appear to have made up (can’t seem to find this supposedly common knot online) at swivel and snap ends.
Sasami 47Kg swivel to join main line and leader and Angler’s Pal “Nice Snap” at the end of the leader.
Also tried braided main to leader joined with FG knot and terminated with the Sasami swivel and Angler’s Pal “Nice Snap”.
Shawn started fishing in 1994. He caught his first fish (an Ah Seng) on that very first trip to Changi Carpark 4 (before it was barricaded). He built up his fishing knowledge and gear over the years but still keeps his old gear, just like the memories.