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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Malaysia: 'Mencandat Sotong' or Squid Jigging in Terengganu

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia


Mencandat sotong, or squid jigging, is quite popular in Terengganu, my home state which is located on the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Despite its popularity, not everyone from Terengganu has been on a squid jigging trip. And that included me, at least until last April when I was invited to join Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014.


Although I have never been on such a trip (until then), I have heard about it so many times from my friends who raved about their trips and experience. A friend of mine, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, even goes to Pulau Kapas (Kapas Island) in Terengganu at least twice a year for a quick holiday and just to go squid jigging it made me wonder what is really appealing about it.

Squid jigging is usually done in the evening or overnight during its season, which usually runs from April/May to August/September. You can rent a boat complete with the crew (arranged either directly or via your hotel) and travel to the open sea late in the afternoon or early evening. It is said that this activity is best done during the full moon nights because the squids are attracted to the moonlight and swim upwards to the surface towards the light rather than just sticking around at the bottom of the sea. To substitute moonlight though, a spotlight or even fluorescent lamp can be used to attract the squids towards the boat. Clever, huh? ;)

Well, mind you, those squids can be clever too! :D

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

On our first trip out to the open South China Sea, we left from a jetty in Pulau Chepu in Setiu, about 1 hour drive to the north of Kuala Terengganu. The boat ride took about 2 hours before we anchored the boat in an area where our boat captain believed to be the place for squids. We were eager to learn and experience something new so it wasn’t long before we started jigging. (Needless to say, a reward for those who manage to catch the highest number of squids and the most in variety also motivated us.) If you’re into fishing and think that it’s about patience, then you might want to test your patience a bit more by going on a squid jigging trip. Why? Because when you go fishing, you can just leave your rod and do your own thing, like read a book maybe, or play cards with your friends while waiting for some poor big fish to eat your bait and start tugging the fishing rod once it gets hooked.

So what’s the difference with squid jigging?

With squid jigging, you cannot just leave your rod and then continue minding your own business like you can do when you go fishing. First and foremost, because there’s no rod being used in squid jigging, and second, you have to continue tugging the line up and down to attract the squids to the colourful jig and to make sure they are caught by it. 

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

It can be tiring and can certainly test your patience if you haven’t been able to catch anything after an hour or two, which was what happened to me and most of the team members on the boat. We didn't catch anything that night and had to endure listening to the happy shouts from fellow jiggers from other boats that have managed to catch plenty of squids.

It was frustrating but then again, of course it’s part of the experience. I guess the squids were not easily fooled by the fake moonlight from our boat.

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

Our consolation was that we caught a beautiful sunset over the horizon and that was followed by seeing spotlights from a flotilla of traditional wooden boats on the calm waters around us in the open sea…

That was just a beautiful sight. It’s not something that you see or experience every day.

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

We left Ri-Yaz Heritage Resort & Spa in Kuala Terengganu for our second squid jigging trip two days after our first experience. Our team was down to three after 2 had to pull out for various reasons. The sea was really choppy and it wasn't long before I started experiencing sea sickness. I took some pills and was advised to focus my sight on the horizon line to forget about the choppy waters, and the resulting motion sickness. Have to say that whoever is successful in doing that – focusing their sight on the horizon line while the boat is moving up and down – have my total respect! :) 

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

Despite not feeling so well, I still started jigging although somewhat less enthusiastically than during the first trip. I just wanted to do something to forget about the sea sickness that I was experiencing, and to make sure that I wouldn't be throwing up because, well, that would be embarrassing, no?

But then of course I had to throw up and threw up plenty I did, hahaha! 

The funny thing was, I managed to catch a squid not long after that! The feeling, oh man… I felt like jumping up and down and dancing around the boat! (*cue music* ♬ ♬ ♬ Getting Jiggy with It ♬ ♬ ♬ or should it be Ulek Mayang?)

Happy, and feeling a bit more motivated although still feeling sick, I continued with the jigging. The sea was still a bit choppy and so it wasn't long before I had another round of throwing up, heh!

After emptying my stomach for the second round, I still didn’t give up jigging. Luck appeared to be on my side (or maybe the squids just liked what I had tried to feed them with, I’m not sure) because I managed to catch another one before we left for the shore.

We arrived back at Ri-Yaz for dinner a bit late compared to most others. There, we submitted our catch to the organiser and upon measurement, one of my squids measured some 38 cm, apparently the third longest catch of the night. Not bad, aye? ;-)

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

Despite not winning anything (it was just the 3rd longest catch of the night, not the overall 3rd longest after taking into account of all other squids from the first trip too) and despite experiencing sea sickness during the second trip, I still felt happy and satisfied with the whole experience. The feeling that you get once you start catching the squids is just amazing!

So would I recommend it to others? It’s a definite YES. It might not be for everyone but if you want to experience something new, different and unique to Terengganu, why not? Would I still do it again? Yes, I certainly would but I would try to check & make sure there’s no choppy water whenever I go out squid jigging again in the future, heh heh!

But then again, maybe I could catch more squids if I get sea sickness...





Acknowledgment:
My appreciation and thanks go to Tourism Terengganu and Gaya Travel Magazine for the opportunity to join Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014 (#TourismTerengganu #SquidJiggingTGG #VMY2014 #GayaTravel).

Squid Jigging in Terengganu, Malaysia - Mencandat Sotong di Terengganu, Malaysia

You can use this photo for bookmarking on Pinterest if you like ;)


Going to Kuala Terengganu? Do check out these Kuala Terengganu hotels for your accommodation there.

Wondering what to eat whilst in Kuala Terengganu? Read this recommendations on Where the Locals Dine in Kuala Terengganu.

For other www.RambleAndWander.com blog entries on Malaysia, click here.


17 comments:

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. Alahai teringing sangat nak mencadat sotong... tapi tak tahu bila kah ada rezeki untuk aku mencadat akan sotong-sotong itu :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boleh rancang awal2 untuk tahun depan. Sewa bot ramai2. Buat pertandingan sesama sendiri :)

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  2. pengalaman menarik, saya cuma dapat tiga ekor je semalaman ... sotong merajuk agaknya time tu...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Salah tempat kot? Kawan2 lain dapat banyak tak? Tapi rasanya kalau pergi ramai2 dgn geng mesti masih best walaupun tak dapat banyak sotong.

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  3. WOW. Got to say I don't have the patience for it. But I love squid. Everything leading up to actually catching the squids I will enjoy and more so after eating them.

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    1. I got to say that I never understood why some people go fishing but after having done this trip, I guess it's about the joy of catching something (esp. after waiting patiently for a while) and of course, eating the catch with some feeling of satisfaction :)

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  4. What a detailed description of a rare experience from the other side of the world. I am not a seasickness nor calamari fan, but your story and photos are beautifully executed.

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    1. Thank you, heh! :) I'm not a fan of seasickness too but it was quite fun being at the sea when the water is not too choppy :)

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  5. Sounds like a great little adventure! I would love it if it wasn't for the fact I am sure i would end up seasick.

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    1. It was quite an adventure. Getting seasick could be fun too, especially if you're on a boat with a group of friends and all of them felt it, ha ha! Definitely something to write about ;)

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  6. Sounds like a really fun experience...just not the throwing up part!! I will add this to my fishing bucket list along with fishing for piranhas!! :D

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    1. Yup, it's fun when you finally manage to catch something! The throwing up part? It's fun too, albeit only in hindsight when you can make fun of each other about the seasickness :D

      Fishing for piranhas? Sounds cool! :)

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  7. Oh man, now that is one thing we never got to while we were in Malaysia and after reading this I wish we hadn't skipped it!

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    1. I know it's not top of the list of things to do whilst in Malaysia but it's getting there, I think! There are more and more squid jigging packages being offered nowadays. Getting popular because it offers a different kind of experience, I guess.

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  8. This is a very unique experience and such a great time reading your detailed story! Glad you could experience this and have so much fun doing it!

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  9. Wow--what an interesting experience! Sounds like a great day, except for the seasickness!

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  10. Looks beautiful! I've been to Malaysia before, but never here. I'll have to add it to the list for next time!

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