Storm waves of 3.5 metres, heavy winds and rain dampen phone signals. Pak Uning sends me a video of a rainbow at sea - always a sign of strong winds to come - and immediately after this, angin kuat closed in on his boat. He didn’t catch anything at the rumah ikan.
A king tide, but Pak Uning still moves from rumah ikan to rumah ikan, mapping routes of fish feeding areas, the kinds of fish, the size they are now. He puts the smaller ones back in the sea. A photo of a 5.6kg ikan merah - a bottom feeding fish - then ikan cencaru and a small ikan mayok, two middle feeders.
Ikan mayok yang comel! Ikan mayok is cute! I reply, because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. A small fish with a yellow tail, cute. And delicious bbq’d, says Pak Uning. Ikan mayok becomes ikan comel in our messages. Ikan comel stops by early on in rumah ikan, seeking out ikan bilis (anchovies) and baby fish. A bucketful of ikan comel, caught with enjut, a seven-eye hook strung with green raffia. Ikan comel, ikan cencaru, ikan tengiri like this bait, says Pak Uning, and ikan comel only likes the colour green, not other colours. So he imports green raffia from a small island in the Natunas, spends evenings constructing enjut. Can’t you buy the same thing in the town? I ask. No, they only have other shades of green, he replies. Ikan mayok only wants this colour string. Just this one, from the Natuna islands.