Earlier in the month, 146 anglers stood on the beachfront behind the Seaview Hotel in Kuala Belait during a competition to hook the biggest catch of the day.
The sport that attracts plenty of fishing enthusiasts across the nation requires a combination of skill, knowledge of the environment, a little bit of luck and a lot of patience.
The anglers that day plied all of those traits in a fishing style known as surfcasting, also known as beach casting, which generally refers to fishing from the shoreline.
Typically done during large changes in the tide, surfcasters take into account the environment, choice of lures and rods to suit the type of fish they wish to catch and changing them to adapt to the situation, said competitor Haji Ariffin bin Haji Daud.
Haji Ariffin is the president of Kelab Juran (KEJURA), based in Tutong District comprising fishermen and surfcasters alike. He said the sport challenges those seeking to further their skills in reeling catches from the sea.
“We started Kelab Juran when we noticed that it is possible to reel in fish from the shore.
“We started around 2014 when we brought fishermen from Sabah to Brunei to pass on their knowledge and skills in showing us the myriad of fish that can be caught along the shores of Brunei through surf casting,” he said. All four districts, he said, had a high potential in supporting the sport.
“Being able to catch a fish by surfcasting presents a sense of excitement and pride. This not only encourage us to do better in catching more but also inspires others in the sport to do the same.”
Haji Ariffin hoped that tournaments such as the one held that day would help the sport grow by providing a platform for like-minded enthusiasts.
The club is also doing its part, through its instructors teaching the nuances of the sport.
Haji Ariffin received an award for catching the first fish of the day, just 10 minutes into the competition.
Another dedicated surfcaster who is also a KEJURA committee member, Haji Zulkaimy bin Haji
Kinin, explained that while he started fishing when he was young, he only started surfcasting a few years back together with the club.
In that short period, he recalled the many challenges faced by him and the club members especially in competing against more seasoned surfcasters in overseas tournaments and the lessons learnt through them.
Haji Zulkaimy said he remembered watching videos and how skilled surfcasters were able to catch fish from lures just by standing along the shore.
This inspired him to take up this particular style of fishing and pursue the sport professionally.
“The community of surfcasters in Brunei are very supportive and there are many surfcast clubs in Brunei,” he said.
Despite all the training and knowledge, luck remains something that anglers will find themselves at the mercy of. It is an uncontrollable factor, said Haji Ariffin, one that determines what kind of fish they would reel in that day.
“Even with all the practice, there are still times that we might not be able to catch anything or encounter other issues,” said Haji Zulkaimy.
However luck was with him on the day of the competition.
Against 146 other anglers, he reeled in a 8.775 kilogramme stingray, monstrous enough to have him the tournament winner.
It was a clear reward for his perseverances and patience. Haji Zulkaimy expressed his joy at being able to reel in such a catch.
“For all this time and more, we have always been practicing and are on top of our game. This is just one of the results from our training and effort.”