Here are anglers (occasional pay pond visitors who have nothing better to do) and there are anglers (hard core enthusiasts who were probably fisherfolk in their past lives). Project director Norafandi Mokhtar, 43, falls in the latter category.
Having lived by his life philosophy, “Have rod, will travel”, he’s ready to scurry off to the next fishing destination at every opportunity, with his 12-year-old son in tow. The great thing about fishing, he claims, is that there is no concept of elitism.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a boss or a clerk, a Tan Sri or a nobody, you’re equal aboard a boat. You share the same food, sleep in the same places . . . and I guarantee you, after two or three days of doing so, you’d be the best of buddies,” he says.
Norafandi’s endless pursuit for the perfect catch has seen him fish atop rickety rafts, houseboats, small ships and . . . oil rigs?
“Yes, that’s where the big fish are,” he says. “But I don’t recommend it for beginners. It takes one day to get there and another day to get back. It’s expensive too. You must be prepared to spend a few thousand ringgit for a trip like that.”
Needless to say, there aren’t many people like Norafandi around. That’s the main reason he set up a Facebook group . . . to find others as devoted as he.
Through word-of-mouth referrals, his group — which began with only a few of Norafandi’s friends — has now grown to accommodate 221 members of mostly rough-and-tumble men. He has organised two trips so far — Tasik Kenyir and Endau Rompin last year.
“First timers are always very enthusiastic but many a-time, their imagination gets the better of them,” says Norafandi.
“There was one incident where, because of the weather, the boat was rocking. This guy started crying and begging us to leave him back at the shore, so we had no choice but to dump him on the nearest island until we were done. Even now, it’s a great story to tell my fishing buddies.”
The group is organising a trip to Taman Negara next for a round of kelah fishing. Companies who are willing to sponsor, he declares, are always welcome.
“So are the fairer sex,” he adds. “We have a few ladies in our group who are interested in fishing but we need to get more so they can organise their own trip.”
And to all marine lovers, don’t worry. Norafandi claims that he is fully behind the catch-and-release technique, especially where protected species are concerned. Sounds fishy? We think not.