A fishing jetty in Pandan Reservoir (Photo: Wikimedia)

Singapore is home to heaps of exotic freshwater fish and their presence can make fishing here fantastic.

As much as there are limited areas for fishing, the authorities have opened up several reservoirs which were previously closed to anglers.

Despite the good news, there are some rules and regulations that they have set.

Considering the increase in the number of cases involving illegal fishing activities, it is important to understand what we can and cannot do when planning a freshwater fishing trip.

The PUB is Singapore’s national water agency and they are in charge of managing the country’s water supply, water catchment and used water.

The same authority also drafts rules for anglers to follow when fishing in bodies of water they manage.

Signs are put up all over and they are easily identified by the water droplet mascot and the red slash over a vector image of a fish, hook and line.

Just to clear the air with the issues regarding catch and release as well as the type of fishing allowed, here are five rules* that are drafted by the PUB that if contravened, may see anglers warned and/or fined.

1. Fish only in the designated fishing areas

What this means:

Reservoirs big and small are easily accessible by anglers, however, only certain sections and jetties are open for fishing. These areas are usually clearly marked out by signboards—a starting and an end point. If anglers are seen fishing out of this area, they can be fined. Essentially, if there is a “No Fishing” sign in sight, go elsewhere to fish. Why do the authorities close sections of an ‘open for fishing’ reservoir? Safety of the public is the number one priority.

2. Dispose used fishing lines and hooks properly into the litter bins

What this means:

This is a pretty straightforward rule that needs no explanation. Mainstream media has been quick to pick on anglers who break this rule because, sadly, many cats, dogs and even birds have suffered the wrath of hook and line litter. Even if the litter doesn’t get stuck on animals, it is basically littering and it can be quite a joy-kill to get fined for a trivial matter. One way to prevent this is to keep a small tackle box for unwanted hooks and line. That way the animals, authorities and anglers go home happy.

3. Dispose unwanted paraphernalia after fishing

What this means:

Although it might sound like the previous rule, this one refers to all the other trash that can be result of a fishing trip. For instance, a plastic bag reeled in should be properly disposed and not left by the banks or thrown back into the water. Also, in the inopportune event that the fish you catch dies, it should be packed and placed into a litter bin (unless you plan to eat it).

4. Use only artificial bait (lures) to ensure the water quality in reservoirs

What this means:

This rule could sum up the furore going on about anglers who use bait. Using anything but lures would mean that you are flouting the rules. It doesn’t matter if the bait is alive, a chunk of dead meat or fish food. If you’re not too sure about how to use a lure, or which one to use, there are so many anglers that will willingly share tips and tricks to catch a freshwater beast. However, if you must use bait when fishing in freshwater, you may head down to pay ponds like Fishing Paradise and Iwarna @ Pasir Ris Farmway 3.

5. Use only carbon steel microbarb or barbless hooks and fishing rods under 2.7m (9 ft)

What this means:

In the world of freshwater angling, the ideal angler would practise catch and release for many reasons. In order to help likeminded folks, microbarbed or barbless hooks are available to make the release easier. This might make some anglers think that their chances of catching a fish with ‘insufficient’ terminal tackle is tough, but on hindsight, the authorities have left it open to use double and or treble hooks—as long as they are made of carbon steel with microbarbs or no barb at all. With regards to use of fishing rods more than 2.7m, it surely has links to safety being a priority.

*These five rules can be found on the PUB website.

What you may not know

Catch & Release

The issue of catch and release is an age-old debate in the freshwater angling community, but in the words of the authorities, there are no warnings or fines in place for anglers who may decide to keep their catch.

The PUB only encourages anglers to practise catch and release so that the fish stock in the reservoirs can be maintained.

Fishing in Canals

Canals stretch for long distances and some are even filled with a decent amount of water for game fish to inhabit.

However, the authorities do not allow fishing in canals for safety reasons and encourage members of the public to alert them if flouting anglers are spotted.

Reservoirs open for fishing**

  • Bedok Reservoir
  • Jurong Lake
  • Kranji Reservoir
  • Lower Peirce Reservoir
  • Lower Seletar Reservoir
  • MacRitchie Reservoir
  • Marina Reservoir
  • Pandan Reservoir
  • Serangoon Reservoir
  • Upper Seletar Reservoir

**Only in designated areas.

Disclaimer: This is not a full exhaustive list of prohibitions that are dictated by the law. For further reading, please go to the PARKS AND TREES ACT on the AGC website.

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