Fishing tends to be a sport associated with old men in flannel shirts and sun hats waiting around for the fish to bite.
While they may exist in the fishing community, 19-year-old Lim Yi Xuan, one of the youths behind popular fishing YouTube channel, Facepalmfishing, finds the sport of fishing with lures to be much more exciting and challenging than others may think.
"There's much more to it than just the cartoon stereotype of digging up worms on the beach, hooking them on a hook and just waiting on a stool after casting out," he told Youth.SG.
Yi Xuan, who has been fishing for more than eight years, shares more about his passion for fishing with us.
Discovering his fishing hobby through YouTube
Yi Xuan got into fishing when he was around 10 years old.
"I went to this random reservoir and used a really cheap fishing rod with bread as bait. I just cast out and caught my first fish," recounted the mass communication student.
Some of Yi Xuan's current fishing essentials are his tackle box full of artificial baits, sunglasses, pliers and sunblock (not shown here).
Although his uncle claims credit for teaching Yi Xuan how to fish, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic student admits he learned most of his fishing skills from YouTube.
"I used to watch a lot of fishing videos and learned most of the stuff on YouTube. I had a favourite YouTube channel, thefishinginHS, but they stopped making videos. I really wanted to watch fishing videos, so I just decided to start creating my own," explained Yi Xuan, who started Facepalmfishing with his cousins Markus Lim and Kinston Lim in 2013.
Currently, Yi Xuan is interning at Shimano, a company that sells fishing equipment.
At first, the three youths shot on their phones and made random videos about their fishing adventures, expecting nothing much to come out of starting the channel.
However, the lack of other fishing channels back then attracted many like-minded viewers to their channel.
Yi Xuan said: "I think it grew because there's demand for the videos but no one was supplying it. We were the only ones supplying, so we started gaining a lot of views."
Together with his cousins and friend Jaron Han, who handles social media, the Facepalmfishing team gets recognised quite a bit in the angling (another term for fishing) community.
Facepalmfishing has close to 2 million views and 10,000 subscribers, pushing out video content like coverage on local fishing competitions and trying out fishing challenges.
Running the YouTube channel has also helped Yi Xuan get more involved with the angling community through collaborations with other anglers and filming videos which shed light on issues like illegal fishing.
Overcoming limitations faced by fishing community
In Singapore, there are only 15 designated fishing spots that you don't have to pay to fish at.
Yi Xuan at one of his favourite fishing spots, Marina Reservoir.
Yi Xuan believes that this number may not be enough to cater to all anglers, which is why some resort to illegal fishing.
He said: "There are not many fishing grounds in Singapore. They're pretty small and confined so not many people can squeeze there. The entire fishing population in Singapore could definitely not fit in these 15 areas."
Once, Yi Xuan even got chased away from his spot by other anglers when he was younger.
To avoid running into trouble, Yi Xuan keeps to the legal fishing grounds and avoids illegal forms of fishing.
On top of limited fishing areas, Yi Xuan feels the angling community has a hard time dealing with the comments they get from conservationists who see fishing as a cruel sport.
"I do feel sympathy when the fish gets hooked pretty badly, so I bring them home since they most likely have a low survival rate. Whenever I catch something I like to eat, I only bring home what I need, which is about one or two fishes," explained Yi Xuan.
"Normally, I release freshwater fishes, undersized fishes, sharks and rays which have a struggling population."
Yi Xuan occasionally finds litter in our waters, which he helps to dispose of properly.
The long-time angler believes these challenges do scare some interested youths away, but many are still undeterred from picking up the sport.
Not just a hobby for old men
From his observations and interactions within the angling community, Yi Xuan estimated that the youth make up around 30 to 40 per cent of all anglers. He also noticed that younger anglers tend to be more active and willing to try new tricks to catch fish.
"I feel that more youngsters are getting into fishing because a lot of them are encouraged by friends who bring them along.
"Our channel also guides beginners who don't know what to purchase or what to do. We've been getting quite a bit of messages from the younger generation," he added.
Despite more youths joining the local fishing scene, the sport cannot seem to shake off the "old man hobby" label. Sometimes, Yi Xuan even gets called "uncle" by those around him.
"I've grown to be okay with it. Some people do call me 'uncle' every now and then. But the anglers know it is not an old-man hobby because it gets really tiring at times.
"Frail people can't do stuff like this. It's quite an active hobby and we have that pride for ourselves," shared Yi Xuan, who does not get bothered by the stereotype anymore.
Yi Xuan likes to fish around 5pm to 6pm when the weather is not too hot.
Although fishing is stereotyped as a boring pastime, Yi Xuan revealed that there's more to fishing than just waiting around.
One of his favourite parts of the sport is crafting solutions to solve fishing-related problems on the spot while luring, a form of fishing where anglers try to deceive the fish by using an artificial bait to mimic a real one.
Each lure creates its own unique motion in the water to attract the fish.
"Luring's actually a lot more detailed, much more advanced and faster. The fishes are like the problem and the artificial baits, line, hook and rod are like your solution. It's really satisfying when you catch or hook a fish. It is the best feeling on Earth!" he explained.
As the fish didn't bite, Yi Xuan looks through his tackle box to find a more suitable artificial bait.
As such, Yi Xuan believes a good angler has to have a lot of perseverance, determination and drive to keep themselves motivated in the sport.
"I know of anglers who would fish before work and others who brave the hot sun and cast for hours and hours, it's crazy. I can't do that. I'm in no way a good fisherman, I merely find it entertaining."
Ultimately, Yi Xuan hopes that videos about his fishing adventures and experiences can inspire others to try their hand at fishing too, or at least change the mindset that fishing is something evil.
He also hopes they can promote good fishing ethics in the community.
"My greatest advice would be to appreciate the little things," he said.
"When you're trying to catch a fish, try to appreciate the fact that you're out in nature and enjoy that time with your friends."
PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH
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