Life lessons learned while I was jigging for squids

One of the oddest festivals I’ve been to to this day is no doubt the International Squid Jigging Festival in Terengganu, Malaysia. I almost didn’t take the email seriously because of the name. I mean, would you? Squid jigging is, unlike how it sounds, fishing for squid, not dancing with squids. But, I’m glad I did. For five days I learned so much about squid, the marine life of Malaysia, and ate so. many. squids everyday. Everyone was tired from the intense schedule (squid fishing isn’t child’s play!), but it was totally worth it.

While I was out on the boat jigging for squid I learned some valuable lessons. If you look around, there are lessons to learn everywhere, anytime.


Patience, patience, patience

Patience is highly required in squid jigging. You have to cruise out to the deep ocean to catch squid. The ride itself might take an hour or two. The boat ride is rocky, the floor is wet, the sun is scorching hot, but there’s nothing you can do but be patient. You just have to trust your captain and go with the flow.


Sailing out to the deep ocean
Sailing out to the deep ocean
Jig until you feel something
Jig until you feel something

Isn’t life like this? You have to study four years to get a college degree. Fourteen hours of uncomfortable flight is necessary to get to where we want to go. We have to work every day for a period of time in order to earn money and be more satisfied with life. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Rome wasn’t unbuilt in a day, as US New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said about his weight loss progress.


Research, knowledge, and know-how beats luck

It won’t work if you drop your jig anywhere in the ocean. Maybe you will get lucky, but fishing doesn’t work that way. You have to know where to go and not to go before embarking on the trip. We had to move the boat a couple times to be in the right spot. Also you have to know more about squid behavior before throwing the heavy jig at a random spot. The reason the jig is heavy is because squid swim near the bottom of the ocean. If you didn’t know, you would hold the jig the whole time trying to make it float.

This big body of water, the ocean, is one of the greatest mysteries of our time, and fishermen have been trying hard to survive from the ocean for centuries. There are certain areas that are good for squid fishing, and some are good for flounders. Some of our participants got a crab and octopus, but that’s just like how life is. Some random things happen.

But don’t forget, luck comes only to those of who try.


Hard work pays off – at least we have to believe it does

I almost gave up. While my boat mates were getting two or three squid, and our fishermen caught a whole bag, I got nothing. Fishing is hard! I hated going fishing with my father when I was little. I couldn’t make loud noises, I couldn’t put my feed in the water, and I never caught anything.

The first night of squid jigging, my fisherman friend caught one for me with my jig because he felt sorry for me. Same jig, same spot, but he got one and I hadn’t. What was the difference? I’ll never know. The second night was a similar story. The sea was particularly rough, made people sick, and we got nothing.

Stephen got his squid!
Stephen got his squid!

Bam bam bam-

The hard work finally paid off. After an hour (or two, I totally lost track of time while trying not to get sick) when I almost gave up and lay down, I finally felt something tugging on my jig. It was like a movement a puppy dog makes when you try to hold him when he wants to get out from your hands. I pulled the jig line and there it was, a beautifully half-transluscent squid dangling from my jig upside down. He was looking right at me with his big cartoon eyes, and trying to breathe with his hollow torso. What a funny-looking creature. I’ve been eating squid all my life, but never caught one.

This is life. No one knows the end. No one can guarantee that there will be a squid at the end of your jig. You might go home empty handed, or you might bring a bucket full of squid, and maybe one or two octopus, home. This is your choice, what you will believe. Which one do you believe: is your destiny an empty jig, or a cute little big-eyed squid? It’s your call.


#Thanks Tourism Terengganu and Gaya Travel Magazine for this opportunity. As always, all the opinions are my own. 

7 thoughts on “Life Lessons Learned from Squid Jigging”

  1. It was quite an experience, wasn’t it? I didn’t get seasick during the first night and I didn’t catch anything either.

    On the second night however, I threw up once and then I caught one. Then I threw up again and caught another. I did not manage to catch anything else after that because I had stopped throwing up by then.

    So my life lesson: I need to throw up to catch squids. 😉

  2. I love the name of this festival! What a wonderful experience it must have been. From one of the pictures it looks like there were loads of boats in the same spot. Is that the case?

  3. So, did you throw up? Hehe

    It sounds hard. I never like fishing because to be patient for several hours under extreme condition with rocky ocean, well, just like you said, our choice. Hehe 🙂

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