Wednesday, October 15, 2008

catching prawns and pasir pasir

my walking kaki at bukit batok nature park, the 80-year old former physical education lecturer, was describing to me how they caught prawns, pasir pasir and kelong fish in the sea off pasir panjang. before 1964 he used to live in a bungalow - the house which they vacated when the japanese came - at yew siang road which is located at the 5 mile-stone pasir panjang road. the house is still standing today.

they usually went prawn catching at night and when the tide was just coming in. he would carry a carbide lamp and a net. the light from the lamp was to attract the prawn and to make it visible. they would wade in ankle deep water to search for the prawns. the two shining dots in the water were a giveaway for the prawn.

he would place the net behind the prawn, slightly above the surface of the water. then using his leg he would disturb the water in front of the two dots. the prawn would instinctively jump backwards, into the net which he held in his hand. he would collect the prawn and stuff it into the cane basket that he carried. later, he would have fresh prawns to eat when he got home.

with reclaimed land, the extension of the port and some heavy industries located along the stretch that was once the sea, the prawns would have disappeared to somewhere else.

to catch the pasir pasir, he would use a bamboo rod with a line and sinker. first, he needed to hunt for the bait. this could be found in the exposed sand along the beach of pasir panjang. he would use the water that his mother had used for washing the rice grains. this water was sprinkled over the sand. then he would placed his palm on the sand. when he felt the worm biting, he would swiftly grasp its head with his thumb and forefinger and pull the wriggly worm out of the sand.

the pasir pasir fish were commonly found along sandy stretches of the sea. long along when we camped at changi beach, we employed the same technique to catch the worms and used the same type of bamboo rod to catch the pasir fish.


Lam Chun See said...

Some years ago I visited St John's Island and saw a Malay man catching the worms using the 'rice water' technique you described. Quite an eye-opener for my kids; and me too as I grew up far from the sea and did not know about such techniques.

Anonymous said...

The fish has an interesting name - Pasir Pasir? Eh, sandy sand fish?

yg said...

i am not sure of its scientific name. it may be acanthopsis choiroryhnchos. i have seen such fish being sold at the geylang serai wet market.

nah said...

The chinese called this fish 'suar chiam'.Its marine name is 'silver sand whiting'(sillago sihama). My favourite fishing spot for this fish used to be the area near car park 6 (coconut grove) changi beach before the reclamation, using my telescopic 12ft very flexible rod.

yg said...

nah, thks for the info.

whoa! you never gave the fish a chance. 12ft rod with telescope. the poor fish sure got no chance to escape.

yg said...

nah, i checked with tye thong today. yes, we used to catch 'suar chiam' at changi in those days using the bamboo rods. according to him, using the sea worm as bait was a sure way of landing a few pasir pasir.

peter said...

The other day I read an article about the prawn size afetr Newton Hawker Center episode. Seems that very giant sized prawns could be as old as 69 human years old. After reading article, now got no appetite for big prawns.