Prawn Stars

By Steve the Humble Angler on May 4, 2013

There are certain experiences which don’t relocate well, hand fishing for Catfish seems to be a uniquely North American pursuit (at least according to the paid channels I watch). The same could be said for Shark Fishing off the coast of South Africa during the annual sardine run. In fact there are fishing experiences all over the world which reflect local tastes and opportunities and provide a snapshot of the cultures of specific countries and regions.

I’m of the opinion that one should always make every effort to immerse yourself in local customs, in order to really understand the country that you are visiting. It’s not only interesting, but it also gives you new perspectives and as far as fishing is concerned, exposure to new species and local techniques.

A year ago I relocated to a small island in Southeast Asia and as a newcomer I was at a bit of a loss as to where and how to wet a line. You see, my new home is located in the middle of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. My experience of salt water fishing has been in pristine ocean environments characterized by sparkling blue waters and the smell of fresh sea air. Standing on the sand and looking out over the South China Sea I inhaled the fragrance of diesel fumes mixed with the heady aroma of Mangrove swamps. Small rafts of solidified petroleum product nuzzled at my feet as the gentle waves washed the white sands. I was discouraged.

Singapore Ghost Fleet-L

No room for fish. With a good enough casting arm you could probably hook a container load of flat screen TV’s.

 Every fisherman has been faced with the challenge of the blank day when nothing you can do will entice the prey onto the hook. But they say that even a blank day is better than a day at the office and I was itching for the chance to wet a line.

Waiting for my ride home in the blazing midday equatorial sun and 100% humidity I happened to glance over to my left and spotted a cheerful young Asian man with a plastic shopping bag slung casually over his shoulder. As I watched the bag twitched, bulged suspiciously and then something or somethings made a spirited attempt to tear through the thin plastic and make a break for freedom.

Seeing my frankly bemused and wary gaze (this is Asia, curiosity about the contents of bags at lunch time can leave you feeling queasy for the rest of the day) he smilingly swung the bag from his shoulder, beckoned me closer and opened it.

Inside were some of the strangest looking crustaceans I had ever seen (and I’ve seen some odd looking ocean based wildlife). It seems as if the bag was filled with a fishmongers worth of assorted prawn species. Some built like marathon runners, with pincers that looked capable of delivering a nasty nip, others short, fat, and deficient on the claw department. All extremely annoyed.

Seeing my startled, but intrigued look my new Asian friend, still grinning, removed his backpack, unzipped one of the compartments and removed the most compact rod I had ever seen since salivating over a Hardy Smuggler Fly kit on a London High Street. In perfect English (so much for the language barrier) he explained to me that he had just returned from a morning excursion Prawn fishing.

This was my introduction to some of the most fun I have ever had with a rod and reel.

The next weekend, with dubious family in tow (“you’ll love it, we can mix with the locals, eat what we catch, really you’ll love it.”) we set out for one of the three Prawn fishing destinations within a short trip from our apartment.

Well, to say that prawn fishing met and exceeded my admittedly low entertainment threshold when it comes to all things fishy is an understatement.

Prawn fishing (or “prawning as it is known locally) is hardly pitting your wits against wily saltwater foe while strapped to a fighting chair, but it’s fun and that is what fishing should be. The moment it becomes work it’s time to hang up your rod and sign on for a season of Deadliest Catch.

The concept of prawn fishing pares down the fishing experience to its absolute basics, a short rod, no reel, chicken liver bait and heaps of (fairly subdued) action. A bonus is that you can choose to eat your catch immediately after handing your loan rod back to the venue owners.

Prawning barbecue

Out of the water and onto the barbecue.

 Lean back on your garden chair, chuck your baited hook into the prawn pond, insert rod into handy rod holder and wait for a twitch on the line. Gently lift the rod tip and with a smooth motion deposit the prawn into the waiting cooler box (more challenging than it sounds). No weighing in, catch as many as you want.


Fun for the whole family. Bonus – beer.

 After an afternoon at prawn central I had the grand total of one prawn (obviously one of the less quick witted of a species not known for its analytical powers) and a bleeding finger courtesy of the fighting spirit shown by my single catch. My daughter of 9 had over a dozen (and a generous patron gave her his catch of 20 prawns – bonus).

Big prawn2

Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.

 In summary I had found the solution to a quick fishing fix. A venue not too far away, not too expensive, not too challenging but heaps of fun, in short a sort of Goldilocks fishing experience (“just right”). Your adrenaline gets a bit of an outing and you have plenty of laughs.

We headed straight home, popped the prawns into a pot of boiling water and within 10 minutes were enjoying a fresh prawn salad.

This only goes to show that if you look hard enough you can find fishing opportunities anywhere. Fishing seems to be a universal pastime. It appeals to many different cultures and provides each of us the opportunity to learn more, not only about our chosen hobby, but also about new species and techniques.

Most of all it teaches us about people. No matter where you are, fishing is a pastime that can be shared and enjoyed by ordinary folk from all walks of life. It is a great leveller, whoever you are, no matter how much money you make or your social status there is always the distinct possibility that you will be out fished by a 9 year old. And that you’ll be bitten, stung, pronged, or punctured by an interesting variety of species on a regular basis. But we continue to seek out any opportunity to get a line wet – that’s what fishing is all about.

This article was published by Steve of


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