A friend of mine invited me to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon on the beaches, bars, clubs and restaurants of Sentosa Island. However, Singapore having a wet and humid climate, you better prepare for plan B, since it might start raining at any time.
April is in the so-called inter-monsoon period, and thunderstorms, usually severe, occur in the early morning and afternoon. Due to the humidity, it also feels a lot hotter than it is.
My friends called and asked me if i would agree to switching the planned beach ‘activity’ to pond fishing. Of course I agreed, but little did I know that we were going for prawn fishing. That detail I only learned in the car.
So of we drove to Hai Bin Prawing in Bishan park.
Note: The site in Bishan park closed down in 2013, but prawn fishing is still alive in Pungol and Sembawang. Visit the Hai Bin Prawing website for the latest info.
Yes, it is Real, I’m not Kidding
People living outside Asia might look a bit skeptical now. Really, prawn fishing, and with a rod?
Keep in mind however that these prawns are not the very small variety sold in Europe, but are of the big fresh water variety commonly known here as big head prawns (‘Dua Tou Heh’ in Teochew).
The pictures should give you a good idea about the size of these little monsters.
How to Get to Hai Bin Prawning
The full address is 603, Sing Ming Avenue, Singapore 575735, but most taxi drivers will find the place if you tell them to drive to “prawn fishing at Bishan park”. A taxi from the city centre should cost you less then SGD 20.
A much cheaper option is to use the MRT and alight at the Bishan MRT station. Bishan MRT Station is on the Circle Line and on the North South line.
Especially during the week-ends, I would recommend using the Circle Line, since the North South line will be packed by eager shoppers. Then take bus 52 or 54 opposite the station for 4 stops.
Update: the site in Bishan park closed down several years ago, but prawn fishing is still alive in Pungol and Sembawang. Visit the Hai Bin Prawing website for the latest info
How Much Does Fish Prawning Cost?
The price (April 2011) was
- SGD 18,- for one hour/rod or
- SGD 33,- for two hours plus one hour free.
This price includes the bait (chicken liver or heart) and a rod.
I would recommend to go for three hours, this seems like a nice period of time to enjoy your friends, have some beers, buy some food such as chicken wings or otak-otak (spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaf) and put some of the catch on the BBQ (yes, BBQ pits are provided!). The perfect ingredients for a lazy Sunday!
Prawning House Rules
There are some house rules that must be obeyed in order not to scare the prawns, your friends or the other customers. The sign reads as follows (this might scare some grammar Nazis however):
- Only a single hook is allowed
- Do not attempt to hook the prawns (I thought that was our objective, but I might be misunderstanding this)
- Do not use nets to catch the prawns
- Do not use pork or beef as bait
- Do not throw litter into the prawn pond
- Kindly produce your receipt upon request by staff
- Kindly return the things to original positions after use
- Counter will not supplied any fishing equipment to personal rod
- Do not eat and smoke on the bridge
- Do not spit.
Secrets of the Trade
Pssst, do not tell this to anyone else, keep it a secret between us two.
We will be kings and queens of the Prawn Fishers while the common people will drool at our catch of the day which will be sizzling away on our BBQ pits.
With great danger to my life and personal belongings, I managed to get access to the real truth on how to be a success at prawning:
- Do not put too much bait on the hook
- Cover the point of the hook, but leave a small amount free (this makes it easier to hook the prawn, once it bites)
- Change the bait every 10 minutes
- Point your rod downwards, and let the float, erm, float
- Observe the float
- When the float sinks, give the rod a light snap
- Pull the prawn out of the water, grab it from behind (careful, they do have claws), and unhook.
Prawning is great fun. With 3 rods, we managed to catch about 20 delicious prawns in 3 hours. Good enough to start bragging about, although I have seen claims (but no proof) that people hooked 40 prawns in one session single-handed.
For those that are not into prawning, the food court nearby is really good, and other relaxing activities can be enjoyed nearby.
See you there next week!