Time passes, memories stay. There is always a time when someone gets cut off from something. This feeling can come from missing a person, a place or a particular event. The notion, that one cannot go back in time and relive the moment, leaves a sting in the chest. Aceh’s waters, for example, are such a place for me. All the waters are connected. And this is my personal note about fishing in Aceh. I explored this fishing ground in late 2007 to the beginning of 2008, to test my lures and discover new spots. My following fishing report opened the eyes of the local sports fishing world. The findings I published showed the great potential sport fishing spots the region offers for jigging, popping and trolling techniques. After releasing my findings, sports fisher started organizing hundreds of trips to this fishing ground, located at the western end of the country. I do not know how many years later the major media covered sports fishing in the Aceh Sea. The “silence” was broken, so many impressions started attracting sports fisher to explore this previously untouched fishing destination. Once we know and build a connection to a place it becomes hard to leave. That was also the case for me. I couldn’t stay for long because as a sports fisher I have to explore other places. Other journeys awaited me, but I never actually expected farewell.
Years later, the connection with the waters of Aceh was unexpectedly recreated. I had sent some Batanta poppers to a Malaysian angler and sports fisher named A. Syanid Razak in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (The full name of the State of Aceh). He seemed to have a strong relation with Bang Fauzan, a fishing hobbyist living in Banda Aceh (Capital of Aceh). I stayed in touch with Bang Fauzan through social media and saw posts and pictures of giant trevally, with a very seductive size for anyone who’s passionate about popping techniques. Memories of my fishing trip resurfaced and floated through my mind. Since I had last been there in 2008, numerous news about the declining potential of the spot had reached me.
The practice of unsustainable fishing methods has caused a decline in population. Fishing with no concern for bag limit or catch and release has its impacts on the sea. For me, seeing these pictures raised hope that the conditions for sports fishing in Serambi Mecca (Indonesian for Bandah Aceh) were still promising. Seeing how various parties like Wild Water Indonesia engage to spread the concern for nature-friendly fishing practices, and how this message is spreading across the country at a fast pace, makes me hopeful. I hope the future of this ground can be maintained. I write this note in memory of the Acehnese waters and two good friends I lost to the sea. The late Jafar, Captain KM Dian Sabang, and Mas Jarwo, an Indonesian Air Force Paskhas, may they rest in peace. All the waters are connected. One life some big fish!(Michael Risdianto)