I tried fishing for the first time at Singapore’s largest pay pond
I even managed to catch a big one.
I’ve been looking for a hobby for the past few months and I think I found one, unexpectedly, just five minutes away from my home.
I grew up a stone’s throw away from Pasir Ris Beach, a place frequented by anglers and fishermen. I was always intimidated by their complicated-looking equipment, so I never had the courage to try fishing -even though I’ve always wanted to.
So when D’Best Recreation reached out and invited me to spend a Saturday morning fishing, I jumped at the opportunity with excitement and even asked my dad and uncle to come along for the experience.
The five-hectare park, which is said to be the largest saltwater pay pond in Southeast Asia, has four fishing ponds and an indoor prawning area where people of any skill level can try their hand at baiting some seafood.
Being a novice, I practised throwing a line at the Sure Catch pond, which comprises several small fishing cages within a much larger body of water.
Like the name suggests, you’re almost guaranteed a catch.
You can bring your catches home for anywhere between $10 to -$20, depending on the variety of your catches. They usually have groupers, sea bass, and other medium-sized fish – most of which are sold below market prices.
I got a hang of the fishing rod pretty quickly – within a minute or two, I felt a strong tug from beneath the water. After a bit of pulling and reeling, I got my first catch. It felt almost too easy.
Now I know some might think that fishing from a cage isn’t exactly fishing. I must admit that while it technically isn’t, it’s still a great way to practise the basics if you’re a complete beginner like me.
Many of the pond’s fishing enthusiasts were gathered at the Main Pond (from $56) where the inaugural Million Dollar Fishing competition is taking place. It started on Jan 1 and will run until Jul 3.
The goal is to reel in fish with white and yellow tags – some of the biggest prizes are a Rolex watch, Ducati motorcycle, and even an electric vehicle. I got excited for a moment, until it dawned on me that my chances of reeling in those lucky fish were slim to none; best to leave it to the professionals.
Our next stop was just as daunting to me, a place where many local anglers test their skills: the Pro/Oceanz Pond ($50 for two hours).
The crowd reminded me of the fishermen who gather every weekend at the beach, with their fly rods and colourful lures. This pond has a lot of space for fish to swim around and evade my bait, so I was pretty sceptical if I would even be able to feel a tug on my rod.
But first I needed to prepare my bait, which was prawn. These tiny creatures were alive and kicking which, I’m not going to lie, scared me.
I mustered the courage to pick one up with the help of my dad. The prawn was quite still until I pierced it with the fishing hook, which made it jump back to life. I couldn’t help but scream and drop it, and my dad and uncle kindly offered to help set up my bait from then.
Our first catch was a 1kg fish, not bad for a bunch of rookies. Two more fish followed, courtesy of my uncle.
Maybe it was because we had to pay to fish, but there was less waiting than I anticipated. I refined the way I threw my line and cast it further, mimicking some of the anglers around me.
I then felt the sudden tug of a strong fish, and quickly reeled my line in only to find that my bait was already gone. I could feel that I was getting closer to catching a big one.
Lo and behold with our final prawn bait, my float disappeared below the water. I began to reel fervently and pulled with all my might – it was a 3.5kg grouper!
Although we already had four fish to bring home and cook a wonderful meal, I wished I could stay for a few more hours, casting my line under the sun.
It was my first time, but definitely not my last – fishing has become a whole new world of magic for me.