My Jakarta: Wikanta, Fish Caddy
When we hear the word ‘caddy,’ many of us are likely to think of the beautiful girls who work at the capital’s golf centers. But did you know that fishermen use caddies too?
Fishing is serious business in Jakarta, with tournaments held daily at artificial and natural ponds in many neighborhoods. To ensure success, most fishermen will hire a caddy to help them bring in the big haul.
Wikanta, 57, has found himself a clientele at a freshwater fishing hole in Pantai Indah Kapuk, North Jakarta. The experienced fish caddy talked to My Jakarta about how he turned his hobby into a job, and where to find the biggest catch.
How long have you had this job?
I have worked as a fish caddy for two years. Before I got this job, I used to work as a security guard at a factory in Rangkasbitung, and before that I worked in construction and as a cattle herder.
Why did you become a fish caddy?
Because fishing is my hobby. I have liked fishing ever since I was in elementary school. When I am fishing, I lose track of time. I could fish all day — except that my wife might get angry with me [laughs]. So when my friends offered me this job, I quickly accepted. I only have an elementary school education, and I love fishing, so it seemed the perfect gig.
What does being a fish caddy actually entail?
It is the fish caddy’s job to help people catch fish. We prepare the bait, give advice about casting technique and location, help them catch the fish, and show them how to keep it once they’ve caught one, especially if they’ve never done it before. Our main role is to assist people while they’re fishing to make the job easier.
How much do you charge?
I usually charge Rp 50,000 [$5.35] for one fishing session. But my customers will sometimes tip me if they’re happy with my work. The fish pond I work at in Pantai Indah Kapuk runs on a daily tournament system, with a new round every three hours. So if my customer wins a tournament, they’ll usually give me 10 percent or more of the prize.
Can you tell us more about the tournament system?
Sure. There are daily tournaments and also annual tournaments. The daily tournaments are held in rounds, once every three hours, with the winners divided into many categories. You could win a prize for the heaviest fish, or for the total weight of multiple fish you caught and so on.
Does every person in the tournament have to hire a caddy?
Yes. At this fish pond, every fisherman must have a caddy. They can bring their own caddy from outside, or they can hire one of those who work here. Most fishermen who come here bring their own caddies. Take me, for example. I have two regular customers who always use me as their caddy. So when they want to come here, they can call me up and I’ll prepare the bait, register them for the tournament and advise them on where to cast their line.
Have you had any particularly good or bad experiences at this job?
Yes, of course I have had both. As for good experiences, if you think I’m going to say it was when I got a big payment from a customer, you’re wrong. The best experiences are when my customers feel happy with my work and treat me like a friend. But sometimes I have emotional customers who get angry with me when they don’t catch a big fish. They blame me for not being able to catch anything. The fact is that fishing is not just about bait, location or even the caddy. There is also an element of luck.
The worst experience was when a customer made a deal with me and then canceled it at the last minute. He told me to meet him at the fishing hole at 3 o’clock. So I made the bait and registered him for the tournament, as usual. But when he turned up, he brought his own caddy, and canceled the appointment he made with me. Fortunately, he still paid me.
Can you give us any fishing tips?
The best position is at the corner of the fish pond because that’s where you’ll get a lot of fish. Besides that, you could try near the whirlpool, because there are many fish there, too. The fishermen in that location always win the total weight category of the tournament. And if the weather is sunny, don’t use a strong, fishy bait. However, if it’s cloudy I advise you to use the fishiest one.
What are the consequences for caddies who break the rules of the fish pond?
If a caddy is found to be breaking the rules, then they will be punished. Their name and photo will be displayed on the information board, and they will never be allowed to come back to that fish pond. If a customer wins a tournament and their caddy is found to be cheating, the win will not count.
The most common way that caddies cheat is by using bait that is prohibited by the committee.
Wikanta was talking to Erwin Chanputra