Prawning @ ORTO (Previously Known At Bottle Tree Park)
I must admit to being slightly biased towards this prawning location. ORTO Yishun was previously known as Bottle Tree Park and was a much smaller location. It was also the first place I had ever experienced prawning. I was reintroduced to ORTO by a friend of mine who had only recently been bitten by the prawning bug and had since been prawning there multiple times a week!
ORTO is easily accessible by train is only a 10 minute walk away from Khatib MRT Station. If you’re driving there at night, make sure to follow the signs and keep your headlights on as the entrance for cars is quite dark at night and might have pedestrians walking out.
When I first reached ORTO, I was impressed by what I saw. The entire park has transformed into what looks like a pretty hip location to hangout (despite being in Yishun), with some great dining options and other fun activities. I particularly enjoyed the SGMY restaurant that offered both Singapore and Malaysian dishes at a reasonable price.
Previously, Bottle Tree Park only had one medium size prawning pond with a tree in the middle. That tree was the bane of hooks and floats, catching unwary prawn fishermen who would strike too hard and leave their tackle either in the tree or on the ceiling. The new ORTO prawning facilities has 10 ponds, including 2 just for yabbies! Take note though, that most of the time, not all of the ponds will be opened as some will be closed for cleaning or are in the middle of a water change. I think the staff typically keeps an eye on the crowd and opens up ponds accordingly. I went there on a Saturday night at 8pm and the place was packed! They had 6 ponds available for prawning and it was still hard to find a place. On another occasion, I visited for a prawning session at 1030pm on a Sunday and they had only 2 ponds open (more than enough considering that there were less than 20 people prawning).
The location is well-spaced, with areas allocated for each person prawning and a conveniently placed PVC pipe for you to hang your keep net as well as to place your prawning rod.
The prices here are slightly higher than usual, with 1 hour of prawning costing you $20, while 3 hours being cheaper at $36. The usual price around Singapore is about $10 per hour if you purchase 3 hours, so it’s not that much pricier. The house rods and floats are pretty much the same standard as what you’d find across the other prawning locations in Singapore, which is to say that it’s serviceable but not that fantastic. They also have a nice variety of prawning gear available, with a range of rods from Pokee, Protako and YuShang costing from $40 to $165. There’s also the convenient Shrimp Assassin fridge right next to the counter offering their range of prawning baits and prawning powders.
So on to the prawning!
After setting up my rod and tackle, I put on the sinker to measure the depth of the pond and found that it’s slightly sloping down towards the middle. Not that big a difference, but just something to keep in mind if you’re positioning your rod to hunt for the prawns.
Bite rates and catch rates are obviously variable and depends on person to person. My bite rates and catch rates are typically the average of 2 trips, of 3 hours each. Prawn sizes vary from day to day, mainly because it depends on their suppliers, so I’d only mention the prawn sizes if they are exceptionally large or exceptionally small!
I found the bite rates here to be pretty consistent across both of my trips. As per my usual practice, I’d move my rod around the available corners and other areas where the water is slightly more turbulent to look for the prawns. I found this to work pretty well for ORTO, with the addition of the middle of the ponds. As I mentioned previously, the ponds slope down slightly, with the deepest part of the pond at the middle. With that in mind, I also recced the middle of the pond and got bites there too.
I averaged about a bite on my setup every 3 to 4 minutes, which was a good indicator that there was a decent amount of prawns in there. Looking around the pond, I also saw just about everyone regularly getting hits and pulling up prawns. As with any prawning pond, there will also be dry spells at ORTO. The dry spells here didn’t last that long though, and it might have been because it was nearly 2am and everyone was half-asleep!
I’d give ORTO an 8/10 for the consistent bite rates across both my visits.
On my first trip to ORTO, I caught 17 prawns, while on my second, I caught 24. Not too bad, but probably a reflection on my rusty skills! My first visit to ORTO was after nearly 6 years of not prawning (with the exception of one random session at the now defunct Hai Bin at Jurong Hill and another at the pre-renovation D’Kranji Resort prawning pong), so I was struggling with striking at the right time, as well as with a new rod. I had actually purchased a new rod just before my first visit (yes, I was very excited to get back to prawning) and as it turned out, it was a really bad prawning rod for me. My first rod was super soft and flexible, which was exactly the opposite of my style of prawning. I preferred a harder rod that would allow me to strike fast and quickly.
My second visit also happened to coincide with yet another new rod. This time, it was the ‘Little Blackie Mark 2’ or 小黑 MARK Ⅱ. I had a much higher catch rate with this rod and also a much more enjoyable time. I actually think I could have a higher catch rate, but I was trying out a new striking technique and missed my strikes a heck load more!
To be fair to ORTO, I think that I’ll be back again with a more stable setup and probably update this again.
I quite liked the overall ambiance of Prawning@ORTO. With the convenience of good food just nearby, I could order snacks and drinks with just a short walk. It’s also a big plus that they had a full service counter at their location, with pretty much all the prawning accessories to tempt me. I quite like the fact that a prawning location has all the gear available there. It makes it easier to test and try out new setups on the spot.
Having 10 large ponds in the same location is also another big plus. With each pond being roughly 15m by 4m, it’s comfortable and there’s space for each person. The only slight negative might be the shelter was about 2.5m or so up and I had to be careful each time I cast my bait out, and also each time I pulled in a prawn. My rod was a 6 foot that was extendable to 7 foot, so I hit my rod a couple of times on the shelter. Just a slight inconvenience though. The width of the pond was wide enough that when my rod was fully extended, I could cast out to within 50cm of the opposite end of the pond.
Oh and a definite BIG PLUS is that you don’t get the mosquitoes that you’d usually get with prawning ponds!
I’d give ORTO a 9/10 for their location!
Prawning @ ORTO (Previously Known As Bottle Tree Park)
Address: 81 Lor Chencharu, Singapore 769198
Opening Hours: 24 Hours
Contact Number: (+65) 8518 7088
Orto Management Contact Number: (+65) 6257 8858
Prices for Prawning
1 Hour – $20
2 Hours – $30
3 Hours – $36
Also offers package prices as do most other locations. If you purchase in bundles of 10 hours, the prices are significantly cheaper.
- Tagged Prawns with different prizes
- Personal Rods Allowed
- Electric BBQ Grills (No condiments)
- Double Hooks Allowed (As far as I know, ORTO is the only location in Singapore that allows the use of double hook setups)
- No Pork To Be Used
- Free Bait (Chicken Heart)
- Food & beer available from restaurants nearby, non-alcoholic drinks are available at the counter or at vending machines
- Sale of rods & other prawning equipment
- Shrimp Assassin products & bait available for purchase
- Yabby fishing available (Check at counter for prices)
- 10 ponds