Where there’s fish, that’s where Leon Chan and his fishing buddies would go.
Chan, 29, a web designer, began angling a year ago and considers himself quite a newbie.
Generally, he goes fishing every week unless the weather is bad or if his motorcycle is in the workshop for maintenance.
Sometimes, his wife would tag along.
When he was in secondary school, Chan joined the police cadets and went to the yearly camps where he underwent training and learnt survival skills.
Chan also loved Japanese culture so he started a Japanese language club, and went on a student exchange programme (he attended a high school in Chiba prefecture, Tokyo). He also worked in a Japanese company.
He befriended Harada Keisuke, 33, a mechanical engineer, from a forum website. An expert in fishing, Keisuke works in Malaysia and was looking for someone in Kuala Lumpur to go fishing with. He is one of Chan’s fishing buddies.
Chan was hooked on fishing after watching a video clip from a Japanese fishing channel, Tsuriyoka, on YouTube.
Before fishing became a passion, Chan would spend his weekends with a group of friends, travelling around on their bikes.
He likes to “camouflage” himself heavily whenever he goes biking because he is “a military fan” as well. His friends would tease him about his unusual fashion sense, saying he looked like a scout trooper!
The furthest that Chan and his angling kakis have gone is Pangkor Island in Perak. Recently, they went to Rompin, Pahang.
He remembers a short camping trip a few months back, to Port Dickson, where he did some fishing in the jungle.
He said: “I left Kuala Lumpur at 3am and when I reached the place, I fished from 6am to 6pm!”
When he and his friends are in PD, they charter a boat to take them out to sea. Their target fish are giant trevally and giant grouper.
A chartered trip for sea fishing costs between RM600 and RM1,800 depending on the boat size and the number of persons. Normally, it departs at 9am and returns at about 5pm.
“My biker friends are hardcore sea fishing gangs. They tell me their stories and teach me some fishing skills,” he said.
A few years ago, these friends went fishing in the Straits of Malacca. They were caught in a thunderstorm while out at sea. The boat eventually ran out of fuel. All that the anglers could do was pray. Luckily for them, a fishing boat came by. The fishermen gave some fuel to the anglers, and the boats returned safely together to the port.
Chan is looking for new fishing experiences overseas when he visits his friends in Japan.
“We may go river fishing near Kyoto and rent a boat to go to the Sea of Japan,” he said.
He admits that fishing requires patience and is therapeutic.
Actually what he likes about this pastime is “being in control” after he casts the line.
“If the fish bites the bait, the best part is reeling in the catch. You keep fighting with the fish until it runs out of energy and gives up the fight,” Chan said.
He doesn’t mind if he returns home empty-handed sometimes.
What’s important is that he enjoys his “small journey by bike to the fishing ground”.
At times, after catching the fish, he would just release them back into the water.
He reminisced how, when he was a young boy, his father took him fishing sometimes.
“Even with a full set of fishing gear, he was very unlucky and never caught a fish. I sat beside him as he threw his bait into the lake and waited until sunset,” the avid angler said.
When he’s out fishing, Chan is not bothered by the scorching heat of the sun or the pesky mosquitoes. What matters to him is the quietness of the place. So he dislikes people drinking beer or making noise at the fishing spot.
His proudest moment was when he landed a 6kg grouper – his biggest catch so far. He caught it in a sport fishing pond in Banting.
Recollecting the moment, he said: “I felt excited and satisfied. My friends said it was the biggest grouper in the farm’s pool. I think this is just a beginning of bigger catches to come!”
He did not take the grouper home nor ended up eating it.
“At this pool, it’s catch-and-release unless you pay for the fish,” he said.
Once, Keisuke caught a 7kg barramundi (aka Asian sea bass or ikan siakap) at the same pond.
Chan said: “Someday, I hope to land a barrel-sized tuna that weighs over 100kg.”
What if he caught a mermaid?
“I would tell her, ‘I’m sorry for disturbing you. Can you please give me back the (fishing) lure? It’s expensive!’” he quipped.