Joy of fishing for puyu


One of the best places to fish for betok is by the padi field canal, which irrigates the farming area.

Fishing is not always about the catch; it’s about reconnecting with nature, the excitement of the pursuit and the nostalgia of simpler times.

Among the various fish species, the Climbing Perch (Anabas testudineus), known locally as betok or puyu, holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up fishing with nothing more than a pole and a line.

The gear needed to catch puyu is basic, reminiscent of a time when fishing relied more on skill and patience than on advanced equipment.

This set-up includes a straight, slender bamboo pole and a 5lb fishing line about one to one-and-a-half metres long.

One end of the line attaches to the tip of the bamboo pole, while the other end connects to a hook. A small lead sinker can be added to help the hook sink deeper into the water.

This minimalist approach is not only cost-effective but also enhances the tactile experience of fishing, with every movement felt directly through the pole.

One of the keys to successful puyu fishing lies in the choice of bait.

One of the best places to fish for betok is by the padi field canal, which irrigates the farming area.One of the best places to fish for betok is by the padi field canal, which irrigates the farming area.

Passed down through generations, the secret bait recipe consists of weaver ant eggs mixed with fresh latex from rubber trees. The eggs serve as an initial attraction, while the sticky latex ensures that the bait adheres well to the hook, making it durable and effective.

Understanding the behaviour and habitat preferences of the betok can significantly improve fishing success.

Puyu is known for surfacing to breathe air, a behaviour that keen anglers can exploit. It typically inhabits shallow, slow-moving waters in rice fields or ponds with abundant vegetation.

The joy of simple fishing by the village canal.The joy of simple fishing by the village canal.

Beyond its culinary value, puyu holds a place in local folklore. Traditionally, keeping a puyu in the home was believed to ward off pukau, a type of hypnosis thieves purportedly used to break into houses. Whether this belief holds any mystical truth, the puyu’s role in local culture adds to its allure.

Despite its small size and bony structure, puyu, which can reach about 15cm in length, is considered a delicacy when prepared with traditional recipes such as lemak pedas (spicy coconut gravy) or lemak kuning (turmeric and coconut curry). These dishes highlight the fish’s sweet flesh, elevating the modest puyu into a gourmet delight.

A man is fishing in the stream near Sg Putat for betok and other freshwater fish using poles and lines.A man is fishing in the stream near Sg Putat for betok and other freshwater fish using poles and lines.

Fishing for puyu with a simple pole and line is an enjoyable pastime that evokes childhood memories and reminds us of the simple pleasures often forgotten in our complex world.

However, this timeless fishing method, once popular among kampung children, is gradually fading away. Perhaps it’s time to revive this pastime, passing on not just the skill of fishing but also a legacy of appreciating life’s simple joys to the younger generation. Happy fishing!

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StarExtra , Outdoors , fishing

   

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