The end of a prawning era

The end of a prawning era

Nicknamed the "Cowboy", he expertly attached a worm to his fishing line and tossed it into the pond.

And like a rancher lassoing cattle, Mr Edward Goh, 57, was seen within minutes reeling in a glistening prawn about the size of a croissant.

Mr Goh, who is self-employed, had been going to Hai Bin Prawning's Bishan branch every weekend for the past four years to partake in his favourite activity - prawn fishing.

But he cannot do so any more.

The attraction, located off Sin Ming Avenue near Bishan Park, closed its operations for good on Sunday after six years, due to a rent dispute.

After plans by the landlord, Nature Park, to raise the monthly rent from $26,000 to $65,000, Hai Bin said that it will now focus on its two other outlets, in Punggol and Jurong.

To mark the closure, Hai Bin Prawning invited customers to its Bishan outlet for a free three-hour prawning session on Sunday.

Between 7am and 11.59pm, each customer received one rod to fish for prawns in a free three-hour slot. Members of the public went there in droves to take part.

When The New Paper went there at 8am, more than 100 people were already fishing at the four ponds there.

About 100 others were patiently queueing up at a nearby counter, awaiting their turn.

Mr Goh, who was among the first to arrive there Sunday morning, was sad to say goodbye to his favourite hangout. He had made "countless" friends there, he said.

"Fishing helps me unwind after working hard during the week. I fish for prawns as a hobby and not for the catch," he said.

"After catching prawns, most of the time, I will give them to the other people. I also don't eat freshwater prawns as they contain too much cholesterol."

So how did he earn his nickname?

With a hearty chuckle, Mr Goh said that even though he was not wearing a cowboy hat on Sunday, he often wears one to keep out the sun while angling.

He added: "Freshwater fishing is my life and I try to travel to Malaysia and Thailand once every three months just for it."

Mr Goh, who caught more than 20 prawns in three hours on Sunday, admitted that he preferred going to fishing parks because of their amenities such as restrooms and food and beverage outlets.

And because he is easily seasick, he avoids fishing in the open sea.

He said: "I only went fishing at sea twice and I spent most of the time throwing up over the side of the boat. It was not fun at all!"

Mr L. S. Wu, 58, who was in charge of construction and maintenance at Hai Bin, said he was very sad to see the Bishan outlet close, especially since it was the company's flagship.

He added: "Due to this closure, we are increasing the number of ponds at our Punggol outlet from two to three (and) upgrading our Jurong outlet to attract more customers. Hopefully, our regulars from Bishan will continue to support us."

First-timers

Aside from regulars like Mr Goh, the event also attracted first-time visitors like student Justin Tan, 16. He had travelled all the way from his home in Woodlands just to try out prawn fishing.

"I don't normally wake up this early on weekends, but one of my friends told me it's free, so I decided to join him," he said.

Even though Hai Bin has closed its Bishan outlet, the "Cowboy", who lives at nearby Serangoon North, said that he had no plans to ride off into the sunset anytime soon.

Said Mr Goh: "My prawning 'kakis' and I have already decided to visit its Punggol outlet in the future.

"Over the years, the employees have become very close to us. Of course, we will continue supporting the company."


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