Fishing The Tomans of Lake Haven
By: Isaac Kuek
Lake haven, one of the last urban toman spots that regularly produce great results. Located in the heart of the city, but inaccessible from landbase, boating here has produced many unforgettable catches. Having fished here for the past couple of years, often a quick morning get-away session from the boredom of life, it’s been a privilege to call this spot a home ground.
[ Compared to most places, the parents of the fry-balls here are exceptionally fierce… ]
Over the years due to increased number of charters operating out of this lake, the action from single giant snakeheads known as “bujangs” have decreased dramatically. Where there were once bujang frenzies all around the lake which could be easily tempted into striking a topwater pencils, recent times have shown almost zero frenzies. However blind casting along the edges of vegetation still yields some amazing topwater strikes that we all love.
The method utilized here involves slowly cruising along the weed lines, casting buzzbaits and jumpfrogs on top of the vegetation and dragging them out in order to entice reaction strikes. However, on days when fishing pressure is high, using a subtle subsurface presentation like small minnows and sinking pencils yields better results for the smaller specimens known as “rempits.”
These hard fighting monsters have been known to destroy lures.
Dark shaded tomans, nicknamed “blackies” fight really hard.
We all want that adrenaline racing topwater strike, however we too have to adapt to the fishes that have grown wary towards certain lures that they have grown accustomed to over the years. The standing theory is that the smaller specimens strike the minnows out of hunger, however the larger sized specimens that have already grown accustomed to lures of all sorts rarely strike lures out of hunger but instead only will strike out of reaction/aggression.
The only proven method of getting larger size bujangs to strike have been during the pre-spawn season in the phase where they start to guard their next/territory. These specimens tend to be fully black which gives them the common nickname, “blackies.”
With the adult tomans guarding their fries from a deeper depth, deep diving lures will do the trick.
A good size toman that hit a deep diver.
The main target that we usually go for on this lake are the mama tomans also known as fry guarding snakehead. For unknown reasons, there isn’t really a season for fry-balls for this lake. Year round, there is a consistent flow of 5-6 fry-balls, with an occasional occurrence of 20-30 fry-balls. Compared to most places, the parents of the fry-balls here are exceptionally fierce and willing to take a myriad of lures from crankbaits to spinnerbaits and even topwaters.
But this does not mean that they have not changed to adapt to the increased fishing pressure. From our observations, they now tend to stay further and deeper away from the fry-ball, meaning that deeper and deeper cranks have to be used to entice a strike. We used to only need to use cranks that dive to 3 metres, however it slowly changed to using 4+ metre cranks, and now sometimes even 6+metre cranks have to be used to entice a strike.
Another good size mama toman that hit this deep diving lure.
The alternative is to cast sinking lures like spinnerbaits or sinking minnows near the fry-ball and letting it flutter to the bottom. Experimenting with lure sizes has also played a crucial role in getting strikes from more matured fry-balls. As the parents have already been caught a couple times on regular lures, upsizing the lures have proved to get strikes when the usual sized lures do not.
[ All in all, it is undeniable that our urban fisheries have been facing higher pressure over this couple of years… ]
Due to the increased pressure, it also tends to take longer to get the parents to respond to lures. This can be attributed to the fish getting smarter or simply due to increased wariness due to the amount of water movement from boats, but it definitely has resulted in tougher days on the water.
All in all, it is undeniable that our urban fisheries have been facing higher pressure over this couple of years. However, with our sustainable method of catch and release, the fish population has and will continue to be preserved. Over the years we have caught the same fish again and again, with the size growing larger and larger each year. With that in mind, I would again like to urge all of us to practice a bag limit and always release fry-guarding snakehead to allow them to guard their fry and ensure that our fisheries continue to last throughout the years.