Ops Sangraal. 10 months later
Hot off the heels of the Native Fishing League, and after our first foray into power boating our way to fishing Nirvana (or as it turned out, simply another day of fishing in Singapore), came this semi impromptu luring expedition.
As is almost always the case, soft plans were made the night before.
Nigel: “Tmr Sangraal?”
Me: “Possibly. Depends on the weather, what time we wake up, etc…”
So basically, the usual plans. This time though, we also had the option of going kayaking instead.
Before I went to bed on the night before, the sky was completely red. I knew then, we could probably head out much later. Without trying to come off all high and mighty, based on past experience, we sort of have fishing Sangraal, during or after rain, down to a science. As it turned out, I do not have the same skills and/or luck when it comes to weather forecasting but fortunately, it didn’t really matter as the fishing turned out to be fairly good anyway.
Unusually though, I didn’t wake up at 7am and so we didn’t have the opportunity to officially call a delayed start to the luring session, though it happened anyway.
I woke up at 10ish, reached Nigel’s place at 11.20, and we drove to the spot.
I knew our usual entrance was covered in flora since the last time we came here with Nick. However as it turned out, this time, it was completely shrouded (as we found out when we were heading back). So we missed the entrance entirely but luckily I had my GPS with me so we bashed through heavy cover and found the original path.
Throughout this trip, our feet never really got wet, which was a first for me. Usually, our feet would be covered in mud, water, twigs and leaves.
Having not gone bashing in a long time, we were only slightly more winded than usual, probabaly only tempered because of all the exercise we had while kayaking. I did notice that my rod and reel didn’t feel quite right in my hands though. Somehow, it felt unbalanced.
We finally reached our first spot and to my horror, I saw the shallow bed had been overgrown by a weedy plant. Nigel was more optimistic though, citing Desaru and claiming the fish would be hiding underneath. I was doubtful that there would be any large fish hiding underneath but more than that, I was completely unconvinced that it would be an enjoyable fight what with all that weed dampening any mad dashes the fishes would have made.
I cast out a few times but had some difficulty achieving the distance and accuracy that had usually graced me. Having experienced long periods of not luring before, I was unconvinced that I had somehow lost “the touch”.
So I sat down for a smoke, and then had another one. Then I got up, and continued casting again and saw a bit of my skill begin to come back, but only on the overhand casts. After quite a while, I took a long hard look at my rod. Something felt off but I carried on anyway. My reel was acting funny too but could have been due to a lack of maintenance (which I could have sworn I had done after the last time I used it).
It took me a while more but I finally realised that I had brought the wrong rod! To top it off, it was a really shitty rod. It had a mix of carbon and graphite (something I no longer use when luring due to their tendency to break – probably due to where I store them), was way too stiff to properly load the road with my lures, was completely unbalanced, was way too short, and to summarise, shitty, at least for luring the way I do, in the place I was at.
I expressed my anguish with a flurry of words probably not suitable for public consumption and began complaining to Nigel. When I was done, I saw down and lit a cigarette.. and continued complaining.
I finally calmed down and took up the rod and began to cast again, this time, aware of how to compensate for the rod’s shortcomings, but it was still a pretty unsuitable piece of kit and I had difficulty getting the distance I was used to but the accuracy was much closer to what I needed. To be clear, I was still complaining about this rod.
After quite a few casts, I realised I had also brought the wrong reel. This made me complain even more. This Daiwa Crest 3000 that I had brought had a huge problem since day 1. The reel would begin to get very rough once it had just a slight load on the other end. It would also suddenly lose the ability engage the anti reverse for short periods of time.
Quite frankly, this really was a bad setup and I made sure to vocalise the situation to Nigel and continued doing so throughout the trip, though in lesser quantities and smaller decibels.
About 10 minutes later, I realised that I had loaded 30 lb line into the reel and about 10 minutes after that, I realised why there was an FG knot on my leader (which Nigel had pointed out at the carpark and which is something I don’t use when luring). I don’t know why I was putting it all together so slowly. I was fairly well rested after all. Perhaps it was the anguish or the excitement of going luring again.
In any case, we moved on shortly after.
We were leaving the 2nd spot when Nigel suddenly spotted a school of Toman fry. So we quickly walked back down and began casting at the school. We were looking at the school and how oddly it moved while commenting on the low likelihood of there being a mama Toman when suddenly we saw a flash of white, dart towards the school. Then there was a big splash of white erupting from the surface.
They were Temensis on the hunt! The sight of Nigel’s lure darting towards the school seemed to turn the Temensis on!
We quickly casted and casted again and on his third cast, Nigel landed this guy.
Oddly, while Nigel was reeling in the fish, the school of red fry seemed to think that particular Temensis was after them and they dashed to the shore before heading left, back to the first spot. We took the customaries.
The splashing had stopped by this time but now we knew the Temmys were there. Although the fry had retreated to safety, we continued to cast. I had a miss when a fish tried to hit my lure as I was pulling it out of the water. At one point, Nigel’s lure got stuck on a branch on the opposing bank. He began to tug and pull until finally it came loose. He began to reel it in real fast when I noticed a Temensis chasing it. As it was about to strike, Nigel lifted the lure out of the water.
That was when I spotted the school of fry surfacing on the left. We considered moving back to the first spot to chase them back here. We didn’t have to wait long before the decision was made for us because we heard a lot of splashing coming from that general area. Nigel quickly rushed to the left to chase them to me. And run right into my arms they did. On my 2nd cast, a small Temmy hit my hoime made fly as it was approaching the fry.
As had happened before, the fry dashed to shore, then headed left again. This time, we had an inkling of what would happen. So after casting just a bit more to see if the Temmys would take our lures, we began to relax.
In the mean time, Nigel landed this juvenile on my setup and using my fly, so technically, this was my fish. lol.
About 10 minutes later, the fry again surfaced at the same spot I had seem them, headed for the same tree I had seen them head to, and we began to cast again. This time though, the school was visibly smaller, and by the time they were within casting distance, they had split into 2 schools, one very small, and one tiny, with the tiny one consisting of about 5 fry. We tried to get the one on the right but it was difficult to get there, even more so for me, in the wrong position and with a shitty rod.
I managed to land a slightly bigger one this time.
This time though, the fry dashed right and try as we might to cajoul them back to the left, they disappeared. We considered waiting a while to see if the Temensis would chase them back to the left but we decided to move when we heard lots of splashing coming from the far right.
I managed to land these 2 guys a few spots to the right.
The hits began to dwindle when we decided to head direct to the log spot for a quick survey before heading to the tree spot.
The water was very still and seemed lifeless and with evening approaching, we declared that this would be the furthest we would go for today. We began to pack up when we heard the distant roll of thunder and were about to leave when we spotted 3 young adult Tomans moving out from the right. We tried to get them to take our flies (as we didn’t have time to change to lures), but they ran away as soon the flies neared them.
We tried in vain to chase them, moving spots twice to catch up to them but they were no where to be seen. On past trips, we havd seen toman swimming left and out into the open so we knew they were probably already gone.
We eventually gave up and began fishing back.
I eventually landed this guy at the spot where I had caught the 2 fish.
Nigel moved on ahead and began fishing at the spot where we had seen all that action and landed this guy.
We eventually moved back to the first spot and despite there being some action, because of the heavy rain that was coming, we called it a day and headed back.
A pretty good half a day of fishing in unusual circumstances.
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.