So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and charter a boat for a day of fishing. You make the appropriate calls, you slather on the sunblock, you get together an appropriate collection of tackle, and with much anticipation you get on board your chartered boat… only to realise that for every 10 words coming out of your boatman’s mouth, you are lucky if you manage to understand 3.

Worry not! HOOKED’s “Understanding Your Boatman” cheat sheet is here to save the day. Tear it out, keep it in your tackle box and discreetly refer to it whenever your boatman says something that you don’t understand. Now, you won’t be the only ice cream on board when the boatman tells you to siew sua because it’s time to pang kang.

Bu-bu Fish traps used by commercial fishermen to catch large amounts of fish. Sport fishermen often fish near such traps due to the high concentration of fishes there. e.g. “When you’re casting your line, careful of that bu-bu there.”

Bee Hoon fried noodles, used to refer to an especially messy tangle of fishing lines: either on a reel or with another angler’s line. e.g. “This will take a while to undo, it’s a bee hoon.”

Bo he No fish, used commonly as an expletive. e.g. “Wah lau, boatman cheat money, bo he ah!”

Char Bee Hoon see: Bee Hoon

Da pao Take home or takeaway. Usually used to refer to a fishing pond that lets you bring home what you catch, as opposed to catch-and-release ponds. e.g. “This pond can da pao one or not?”

He go See: Bu-bu.

Ice cream Sucks. e.g. “Damn ice cream, whole day still bo he.”

Lo Jia literally, “drop eat”, referring to when fishes are especially aggressive and taking any lure that falls into the water. Not to be confused with rojak, which is a local food. “Wah this place good ah, lo jia lo jia.”

Pang anchor Drop anchor. e.g. “I’m going to pang anchor.”

Pang kang See: Siew Kang.

Pang sua Literally ‘drop line’. To start fishing or to release more line. e.g. “Boatman pang anchor already, when can I pang sua?” “Eh, you need to pang sua more, your line isn’t long enough to reach the bottom.”

Play the technique one is using, e.g. jigging, luring, popping, baiting. e.g. “Boatman here
can play what ah?”

Sang koh A line that has snagged on another object, most commonly a coral. e.g. “Boatman don’t move! I sang koh!”

Siew sua Literally ‘keep line’ e.g. “Siew sua, siew sua! Boatman going to move!”

Siew kang To pack up for the day. e.g. “Siew kang liao!”

Un jam (unn-junm) Fish attraction device (FAD), a man-made structure designed to attract fish by providing shelter for smaller fishes who, in turn, attract the larger fishes. e.g. “Are we sailing to the un jum today?”

Wondering exactly what fish your boatman is referring to when he talks about talang and hung he? Next issue, we will be looking at regional terminology for local fishes – because they confuse us as much as you.


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