A friend’s birthday was around the corner so he decided to treat us all to a boat fishing trip. It’s not that unusual. Men have been paying for the pleasure of other people’s company since the dawn of time itself. Lol. Sorry bro. I couldn’t help it.
I was late. It didn’t help that I parked at the opposite end of the carpark and that I had to lug my gear along. It wasn’t that much. Just a small tacklebox, a water bottle, a small ice box and my fishing rod, and some gear that I that I had to pass to some of the guys. But the odd handles didn’t go well together.
I wasn’t the latest to arrive though. Another dude arrived just after me.
In attendance were Along, Fendy, Han, Hendrik, Hermann, Mael, Omar (the birthday boy), Titi, and naturally, myself.
With everyone ready to go and a few people sporting surprisingly heavy gear, we boarded the boat.
The boatman was friendly and assertive, stating that we were going to the South China Sea area and that our sinkers should be no less than size 6. We all looked around at each other as most of us had brought light tackle only. That was the plan after all.
The boatman looked around at us, gave a wry smile then headed to the wheelhouse and began to move off.
We were barely 6 metres from the docks when the boatman suddenly stopped the boat and began to re-berth.
He struggled to shout out from the wheelhouse as he was laughing, “You guys are on the wrong boat!”.
We disembarked from the boat to an audience of somewhat bewildered fellow anglers, the ones who had chartered this boat.
Just to confuse them, we shouted out loudly about what a great trip we had had.
Eventually, we found our boat, the Ocean Jumanji.
The boatman was more friendly and more accomodating and we were relieved when he confirmed that we were going to Changi, where light tackle works brilliantly.
We made way at a decent speed to our first spot where I very quickly hooked up this snapper.
With the pictures taken, I rebaited and recast out my line, suddenly realising that my little corner of the boat had suddenly become more crowded.
Barely 10 minutes had passed before I caught this guy.
My spot suddenly become much more crowded and in line with protocol, I made way for them although I stuck close by.
We drifted for about an hour before we started getting hits again.
5 minutes later:
10 minutes after Omar caught his flounder, my rod took a sudden dive and my Shimano Twinpower started to scream.
I fought what seemed to be a very strong fish for a few minutes before I brought him close enough for Mael to net him up.
My little corner of the boat was now full, because between the rod holders, there were people holding their rods and gingerly casting between the lines. I was inched out of my spot. I didn’t even have the opportunity to give up my spot.
15 minutes later, while crossing my line (but not tangling it up), Fendy hooked up this little guy with his tiny rod.
There were a few hits and a few misses but nothing that looked substantial and so we shifted spots.
About an hour later, while some were eating their lunch – Spaghetti Bolognese prepared and packaged by Titi, Hendrik hooked up this guy on a maprawn setup.
Barely a minute later, Hermann hooked up this fingermark.
And barely a minute after that, Hendrik caught this small Kaci (Sweetlips) on his other rod.
The fish were coming thick and fast, small though they were.
In the next minute, 3 more people got hookups.
We continued drifting for about 10 minutes but with no hits, the hardworking boatman moved us to a new drifting line.
Eventually, Hermann caught this pretty coral trout.
Shortly after that, Omar caught this small but pretty Orange Spotted Malabar.
Despite already paying for the boat, Omar had also brought along some snacks. He had also brought along a box of 5 Alpen strawberry bars. I was already hooked on them and since no one was taking any, I may have singlehandedly finished it. Possibly.
Just shy of 1pm, Fendy’s rod suddenly took a nose dive and he struggled a little to pull it out of the holder.
Before the cameras could start rolling, the fish had swum from the back of the boat to somwhere off the port bow.
He skillfully played with his baitcaster and kept tension on the line. I personally find baitcasters hard to use so I don’t really use them. It may be the other way around.
He struggled to reel the fish in as it started to turn around and head straight for him.
After a few muted arobatics, it eventually came close enough for Mael to net the guy and then we could clearly see that it was a Tek Ngor (a.k.a Giant Herring, a.k.a Tenpounder).
While fendy was still glowing from the excitement and busy trying to get everything in order, I took the opportunity to slide my rod back in my corner holder.
10 minutes later, and with the boat now drifting to our right, Omar caught this small but feisty Queenfish.
But there were no more hits after that so the boatman brought us further out.
Which is where Along caught this little trout.
Half an hour later, and finding myself out of the corner spot again, I caught this little Kaci.
And a half hour after that, Fendy caught this little guy.
They were a handful of hits and misses after this but nothing was landed.
The wind was picking up and the currents were getting weird as by now we were along the East Coast Area. We tried our luck for the next 3 hours, with the boatman trying his best to put us on the fish but eventually we had to call it a day.
It was a great day of fishing with great company. I found myself reacquainted with the conveniences of fishing on a proper boat but still prefer a kayak, except for the ‘getting to the spot’ part.
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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.