Once in awhile I go visit one for one or more of the above mentioned reasons or even to try out some new gear or rigging, against fish that will offer a decent fight.
This time around we went to Damai Fishing Village located at Skudai, Johor.
What is the place like?
Damai Fishing Village reminds me of those saltwater pay ponds in Klang. Like Sealion, for example. That’s assuming they haven’t changed much as I have not been there for many years.
I counted six ponds at Damai Fishing Village. They offer various fishing packages and target species.
We went for the pond with the GT and barramundi and the five of us had the pond to ourselves for six hours. The going rate to fish this pond is RM450 per three hours block. Up from RM400 a couple of months ago.
There should be more toilet around and those available can use with some cleaning. There are rubbish everywhere, some in the water. Now, I know a lot of anglers are sadly lacking in the civic conscious department but it helps to have trash cans easily accessible and workers keeping the place tidy. When a place is clean to start with people tend to litter less frequently. That’s human nature.
It also doesn’t help when the foreign workers employed to assist anglers find it convenient to just throw empty plastic bottles into the adjacent mangrove. Huge stacks of empty bottles and soft drink cans are left at one corner of the pond we fished at and was not cleared. Looks like they have been collecting for a couple of days, at least. Garbage is a huge turnoff for me.
The attitude of the worker really got us pissed. We also notice him being lazy and sneaky reflected by his actions and words. One of us at one time told him to just get lost and don’t bother working if he does not feel like it. He did try to be friendlier and pretended to be more hardworking after that. With worker attitude like that I cannot help but wonder if it reflects on the management, too.
What was the fishing like?
Each of us caught our fair share of GT’s and I had one barramundi on briefly before it breached the surface and cut the leader with its sharp gill plate. Although we had fun with our catches, I was made to understand by those who fished here months ago that there is a sharp drop in terms of bite rate.
A group fishing the pond next to ours did not have much to show for – casting lures for three hours. I also did not see much action from the bait and bottom fishermen fishing at the other ponds.
Sport Fishing or Fish Feeding Centre?
When an operator stocks a pond with gamefish and charges a good amount of cash for anglers to fish for a limited time, that would constitute a sport fishing pond. Plus, anglers are to use only de-barbed single hooks and all fish are catch and release.
That’s all good for encouraging sport fishing. When these centers open for business, sport fishers will flock to them to sample the great fishing. They will willingly pay the high entrance fees and drive hundreds of kilometers to get their fix.
Soon, a trend often develops.
The fish starts to get wary and become that little bit harder to fool. But that is exactly what fishing is supposed to be, challenging. Think about it, if catching fish is so easy we will soon get bored and will not be tossing and turning in bed thinking about fishing and going back to it repeatedly. It is the challenge of fooling the fish into taking our lures and baits and winning the fight that makes fishing fun.
Show me the money
However, the impatient anglers soon rear their ugly heads. They will lament about paying a lot of money and having limited time to catch their fish. They don’t want to be making hundreds of casts to catch one fish. That’s what they have to do in the wild. Here they expect to catch fish with every single cast. Non-stop action to get their money’s worth.
So these anglers will pressure the operators to start chumming the pond with fish feed or fish pellets to get a feeding frenzy going. When you get a frenzy going, anything you cast into the frenzy will be eaten. No sweat. A lazy angler’s dream come true. The anglers go home satisfied with a big grin on their face.
Soon, they’ll be back for more. Their buddies will come to get a piece of the action too. Words gets around. When the fish don’t bite the operator will resort to chumming to get things going. Guess what happens not long after doing this repeatedly?
First of all, the fish have become adapted to this method of feeding. The need to “look” for their food is no longer in their system. After getting hooked and released repeatedly they too, grow wary of these floating food pellets. They learn to identity and avoid those that look “unnatural” as in those with a shiny hook or line connected to it means that particular pellet is not real food and can be hazardous.
Fishing then, starts to get difficult – again! Less anglers show up and business starts to suffer. Pretty soon the sun begins to set for these sport fishing ponds.
Isn’t it better then, to avoid this pellet feeding lust in the first place?
Keep the hunting instinct of the fish intact. So what if they grow wary? As long as it is in the fishes’ instinct that they have to hunt for their meal, they will take our lures. We just have to improve our presentation and techniques to fool them. Feed them with their real food source like bait fish. Sport fishers’ will continue to patronize these places and pay good money, as long as what they are after is met.
Gangsters turned softies.
This is the first time I fished for GT using pellets. It was a real strange sensation and I could not help myself from laughing at what was happening. Predatory fish such as GT’s should be chasing down their food. It is so wrong to have them gulping down inanimate objects floating on the surface or dead bait from the bottom.
Sure, the GT’s still put up a respectable fight when hooked (don’t expect them to fight as hard as those that live in their unforgiving natural habitat where they have to chase down their meal while constantly fighting strong current and waves) but throwing fish pellets to them and seeing them coming up to eat and at times inspecting pellets remind me of feeding koi! That is so… weird.
I will leave Damai Fishing Village to anglers living in its vicinity to get their tight lines-fix as it is certainly not worth the effort to travel hours just for what’s on offer.
Having said that, if you’ve never caught a GT before and don’t see an opportunity coming up in the near future where you’ll get to tussle with one in their natural environment, you may consider Damai Fishing Village to temporarily fill that void. After all, you can still (quietly) have that satisfaction of having caught a Giant Trevally.
* Obviously, this is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of the general angling fraternity.