Recreational fishing is the new pandemic activity you need to try

·Lifestyle Contributor
·5-min read
Sunrise over the marsh with man holding a fly rod and reel
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

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SINGAPORE – Just like road cycling, longboarding, and rollerblading, the art of fishing has seen a sort of revival in recent times.

Before you dismiss fishing as a sort of older man’s hobby, consider this: celebs like The Rock, Michael Jordan and even Tiger Woods have all talked about the mental health benefits of fishing.

“Spending time in nature has positive effects on mental health, including conditions like depression and anxiety. Fishing and related outdoor activities check both of these boxes, “says Dr Steve Levine, a board-certified psychiatrist and co-founder of Heading Health to Yahoo Life in the U.S.

In Singapore, fishing is permitted at selected reservoirs and waterways, so it might feel restricted in some ways. Thankfully though, D’Best Recreation at Pasir Ris Town Park offers both novice and experienced anglers the opportunity to fish without worry.

Spanning five hectares, D’Best has four ponds to cater to different levels of experience.

The Sure Catch zone, for example, guarantees amateur anglers a catch while trying fishing for the first time. Sure enough, while there, we managed to catch fishes like groupers, red snappers, and even sea bass.

We spoke to Mr Jessen Lew, lead organiser at D’Best, to learn more about the different ponds and history behind the space.

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Could you share the history behind the ponds?

Pasir Ris Town Park was developed in the late 1980s by HDB. Over the decades, fishing in Pasir Ris evolved from a kampong activity to a commercial industry before becoming a recreational space. However, the fishing pond keeps Pasir Ris’ fishing heritage alive, bringing together anglers and residents.

D’Best Recreation is the largest seawater pay pond in Southeast Asia. It was opened to the public in 1988, and was officially acquired and renamed to D’Best Recreation in August 2014.

Tell us a bit more about the various ponds and what they offer.

D’Best Recreation offers a variety of smaller ponds that cater to different levels of anglers, ranging from beginners to seasoned hobbyists. The complete list of ponds are as follows:

  • Main Pond Fishing - accommodates up to 500 anglers at one time, with more than enough room to cast the line and bait the best fish. Seawater fish are released into the pond every day, including giant trevallies, golden pomfrets, groupers, snappers, sea bass and many other unique fish species.

  • Pro Pond Fishing - a smaller pond that puts seasoned anglers’ stamina and agility to the test; fish are released every other hour, depending on the number of anglers at the pond.

  • Premium Pond - this is where anglers can catch the largest seawater fishes (minimally three to four kg, up to around 20kg per fish), such as giant trevallies, groupers, barramundi, mangrove jacks, golden snappers and red drums, to name a few.

  • Sure Catch Pond - this is the pond for beginner anglers who can fish for as long as they like until they walk away with a catch.

  • Prawning - for a change, visitors can try catching prawns instead and in the comfort of an indoor air-conditioned prawning pool.

Aside from fishing and prawning, D’Best is also an outdoor recreational space with a mini-mart, eateries and bars. Located in Pasir Ris Town Park and the vicinity of White Sands Shopping Mall and Pasir Ris MRT, the venue is family and wheelchair-friendly, perfect for family gatherings or a day out with friends.

A successful angler with his giant ‘catch-of-the-day’ from D’Best Recreation’s Premium Pond. (PHOTO: D'Best)
A successful angler with his giant ‘catch-of-the-day’ from D’Best Recreation’s Premium Pond. (PHOTO: D'Best)

How does D’Best keep the ecosystem of the ponds sustainable?

Fish are brought in from fish farms in the neighbouring regions. The number of fish released into the ponds is carefully monitored and controlled to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem.

Seawater is also pumped in from the sea into the ponds during optimal periods (i.e. during high tide) to change the water and ensure fish are healthy in an environment that mimics their natural habitats as much as possible. As such, over time, the pond has grown to become its enclosed ecosystem.

Water wheels are also switched on 24/7 to oxygenate the ponds.

How often are fish in the ponds replenished?

Fish weighing up to one tonne are imported every other day to D’Best. These fishes are from fish farms in the neighbouring regions. We release around a few thousand fish into the different ponds every week.

Depending on the pond in question, fish are released every session or when the number of fish in the particular pond falls beyond a specific number.

Anglers of all ages showing off their catch at D’Best Recreation. (PHOTO: D'Best)
Anglers of all ages showing off their catch at D’Best Recreation. (PHOTO: D'Best)

How big is the angling community in Singapore?

The angling community has been growing progressively, especially during the pandemic, as more people pick up fishing as a recreational activity or new hobby. Unfortunately, there is no exact data on how large the angling community is. Still, D’Best estimates that there might be around a million anglers based on information from local tackle shops, various pay ponds and fishing grounds in Singapore, and participation in fishing competitions and events.

D’Best welcomes a few thousand visitors every month.

What are some of the goals D’Best Recreation hopes to accomplish?

We hope to make recreational fishing fun and accessible for anglers of all ages and skill levels. We also aim to provide an alternative form of activity and entertainment. People can have fun with their family and friends in the great outdoors without compromising their safety, especially during the current pandemic where safe distancing needs to be observed.

For more information on D’Best, prices, and to book spots, visit their website here.

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