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Ronan's report

Wednesday, 17 October, 2013

Huh? What on earth is a siakap? I heard someone asked. Well, siakap is a type of fish in Malay. It is a family type of two very different fish. Siakap Putih or White Siakap is also known as barramundi in Australia and Siakap Merah or Red Siakap is also known as the mangrove jack. If you are familiar with tropical fishes, you will immediately notice barramundi and mangrove jack are very different fish. Also barramundi is not related to barracuda and mangrove jack is not exactly a jack. However, in Malaysia and northern Sumatera of Indonesia, they are both called siakap because these two fish share the same habitat. I am not a fish biologist so I am not going to confuse you any further with the biological classification of the red and white siakap in Latin. Incidentally I do not know how to classify them in Latin. Suffice to say both the siakaps are bloody good game fishes in their own ways.

Irhamy and I were in Medan, Sumatera Island of the Indonesian archipelago fishing for siakap over the last weekend. Our good friend, Wirianto Ng, the influential Indonesian fly fisherman, brought us to his new playground somewhere in the coastal part of his hometown. Wirianto is a one well-connected fella in Indonesia, more so in his hometown. Wirianto has been helping his friend, Atek to setup a natural mangrove saltwater lake for sport fishing. Atek, like many entrepreneurs in Indonesia has many businesses ranging from manufacturing to fish farming. Apart for numerous plots of fish farms, he also owns a piece of land that is still covered by natural mangrove forest and contains wild fishes in its tidal water. Wirianto and Atek saw the potential of developing this piece of land and its mangrove forest into a recreational spot exclusively for sport fishing. Over the past two years Wirianto has been helping Atek conserving whatever natural wild fishes the mangrove holds and at the same time preparing what needs to be restocked.

During a peacock bass fishing trip in Malaysia earlier this year, Wirianto promised to return the favour by bringing the organisers of the trip to his new fishing playground in Medan when it is was ready. A few weeks ago he sent me some photos of the fishes he caught. I shamelessly and almost immediately said I was going to Medan. But there was a problem; the natural tidal mangrove lake was not fully ready. I told Wirianto as long as there were fishes to be caught I was ready. So, cut a long story short Irhamy and I went to Medan last weekend. We fished in a few stocked ponds and a canal adjacent to the tidal mangrove lake. We landed a few good size specimens in the canal of mainly white siakap or barramundi. We also managed to hook a few of what we suspected were large red siakap but all escaped. Apparently red siakap fights better and dirtier than white siakap. We also caught numerous smaller lady fish, pacific tarpon and milk fish.

It has been a while since I caught so many fishes over a weekend which is exactly why I am going over to Medan again this weekend. I hope this weekend will have a happier ending compared to the last one. In the meantime plenty of pictures on this week’s POD. More stories on why you should never take a nap at work place especially when you have people like Irhamy and I around. We might even have a video of the trip on the next FP. Until then…

Cheers Mr.T

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