Little people, small fish, fond memories

We signed up for a parent-kid bonding event hosted by a local fish farm. There were about six families in attendance, a total of about twenty people.

I was excited about the day as the highlight of the event was to catch fish with our bare hands — a fishing method that I’d never tried before.

For the warm-up, we were led to a small pavilion that sits above a fish pond.

The organizer had already prepared some primitive fishing rods and baits for us to try out fishing.

By primitive fishing rods, I meant they were bamboos that were cut to about three-quarters of adult height with a string and a hook attached to one of its ends. And by baits, they were frozen shrimplets that had been left to thaw in the summer heat.

Other parents were quick to pick up their fishing gear and started scouting along the pond’s perimeter for the best place to cast the line. Before we even managed to sink our bait into the water, other participants were already bringing in their catch.

Unflustered by the merriment around us, I coached my son to drop the line right beneath us slowly, then gently jerk the line up-and-down a few times. I noticed a sudden taut in the line and instructed my son to pull immediately.

Fish on!

My son pulled out of the water a fish four times the average size of the previous catches.

Everyone else was envious and started to crowd us out of our fishing spot. By that time, all the bigger fish has swum off.

No one caught any fish after that. Anyway, my son and I were happy that we caught a big one.

After a short break, the organizers started to prepare us for the main activity.

They led us to a cargo container that had been repurposed as an oversized fish tank with water reaching just past children’s ankles. All the children were given gloves, fishing nets.

They were then instructed to descend into the fish tank. The task at hand was to catch as much fish as possible within a set time. All the kids were excited, running around the tub, trying to catch fish. No one caught anything.

The organizer gave out a canny smile; she then demonstrated the necessary technique to catch a fish in that situation. The trick was first to corner the fish, then scooped it up with the net.

The kids went to the tub a second time, and this time everyone caught something. I still remember the wide grin my son wore when he caught his first fish and how eager he was to show it to me.

It felt like no amount of achievement at school could compare to the joy of holding your catch.

Now that the children are trained, we are ready for the final activity — hand fishing.

The event required more elaborate coordination than I expected. We were led to a fish pond the size of about four basketball courts. The organizers instructed the parents to line the perimeter and hold onto the brim of a tarp that enveloped the lake. A loud mechanical noise then pierced through from afar, which originated from the water pump’s workings.

The water was too deep for the kids to go in, so they had to pump some water out to lower the water level. Once the water level is safe enough for the kids, we all went in and started to fish with hands.

It was harder than I expected. We roamed around the ponds in multiple rounds but no fish. We could feel it swimming around us, taunting us, but they were too elusive to catch. Ever just seconds too soon to swim off into the murky distance.

We were not discouraged.

It was a hot summer day, and being submerged didn’t feel all that bad. We continued to push our luck and skills (or the lack of) for another half an hour; finally, we caught one.

The capture was a blur as it was such a spur-of-the-moment.

I was elated that we did it.

Though this hand fishing experience was unlike those televised on sport fishing programs, it was hard enough.

I can only imagine how much harder it would be to catch those catfish along river crevices.

Nevertheless, it was a unique fishing experience offered in Hong Kong that we thoroughly enjoyed.

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