Fishing and prawning are sports loved fervently by a select group of people, and I’ve never understood the passion behind it. I tried prawning once and failed terribly, with an outstanding catch of one prawn in three hours. Since then, I’ve decided that prawning isn’t meant for me, but maybe I’ll have better luck with fishing.
With that in mind, I decided to take on My Fishing Frenzy Academy‘s Beginner’s Angler’s Course. They hold this course on sunny Lazarus Island, with up to 10 in each class. I naively thought that after taking the course, I could be a pro in just a day.
The course takes place every weekend from 9am – 5pm. This whole-day class may seem like an overkill for an amateur who hasn’t developed an interest in fishing, but it’s also inclusive of a theory lesson on how to fish.
We set sail from Marina South Pier on a 15-minute journey to the island, and found a spot among the shelters provided. The equipment provided for the theory lesson included a handbook and an entire fishing kit.
Most people would think that the lessons aren’t that important, especially if they already know the basics. But you would be mistaken.
Even the setting up of the fishing rod wasn’t simple; you have to understand the types of reels, types of fishing lines, and how to make a rig (the knots required to attach the hooks and weight).
The lesson also included the types of baits, the depth you should fish at and of course, safety in fishing. Most importantly, I was surprised at the concept of sustainability in fishing. If you don’t plan on eating the fish, it’s vital that you unhook the fish and return it back to the river or sea.
However, if the fishes swallowed the hooks (which inadvertently leads to death), we were told to feed them to the stray cats that roam the islet. It keeps them busy and prevents them from stealing your bait!
Once the theory lesson concluded, Lun, our instructor, taught us how our fresh prawns should be cut up to be used as bait. Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty here, it’s part and parcel of the experience in fishing.
Apparently, fishes can tell that your prawns are dead, so you’ve got to remove the shells for the prawn’s scent to be better released. Talk about being pampered!
Setting up the rig with my fresh prawn bait, the fishing began.
I flicked the rod, allowing the end to swing a good 10m and reeled in the excess line. At this moment, I was able to feel my weight bounce on the bottom of the seabed just by lifting my rod by a few centimetres.
Within a mere minute, I felt several tiny nudges and tugs on my reel. With my acute reflexes (heh) and nimble fingers, I jerked the rod up and began reeling. Just as the hook began to surface, it appeared that my bait worked really well in luring, but failed terribly in ensnaring the perpetrator.
The quote “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” by Vince Lombardi reverberated in my mind. I went on for a second, third and fourth try but still failed miserably.
On the fifth try, I felt as if a really big fish had been hooked! Was it a sailfish? Was it a marlin?
No, my weight just got trapped in between the pebbles on the seabed.
“I caught it! I caught it!” One of my fellow coursemates, Daryl* (who’s only 10 years old, urgh), started reeling in his first fish. And that’s when I knew that I wasn’t destined for the fishing life.
As the first hour passed, yellowtail, groupers, snappers were all caught. Even the stray cats were enjoying themselves with their own all-you-can-eat sashimi buffet. But there I was, with neither fish nor bragging rights.
Lun decided to tie a better rig for me to replace the one I made. And almost as quick as how he tied the new rig, I started reeling in my very first catch! Sweat dripping and heart pumping, I prayed fervently for this not to be another pebble or ocean trash.
And at last, my very first baby grouper. Barely the size of my palm, this fish was one of the calmest fish I’ve seen getting caught. I felt terrible about sending it straight into the paws of the cats beside me, so I unhooked it and released it back into the waters.
I now understand why people would invest money, time and even go on holidays for fishing. The thrill of successfully converting all that patience and hard work into a reward, materialising into something you can be proud of is exactly like the purpose of most sporting competitions.
Likewise, fishing follows a similar concept! The rarity of the type of fishes you catch also gives you the kind of kick you’d get in gambling too.
Just as I was revelling in my dignified glory, Daryl caught his eighth fish of the day. He was inadvertently the best fisherman from the course! I guess we aren’t all born equal, and fishing is a sport that isn’t defined by age.
If you think catching prawns is too elementary for you, level yourself up and transit to fishing by taking on this course!
Prices: S$90 per pax, exclusive of food