20,000 days of fishing

20,000 days of fishing

Paul Arden | Monday, 30 April 2018

Imagine experiencing that moment right before death, when you look back on your life and thinking to yourself, with disappointment, "I didn't fish enough!" What a waste!!!

My overall ambition in life is to fish a minimum of 20,000 days. Currently I'm somewhere around 8,500 - more than 8, less than 10...

I've spent 4000 days on trout stillwaters, close to 3000 fishing in NZ, just over 1000 here in the Malaysian jungle, and the rest is made up from a variety of other circumstances - not all fly fishing - I coarse fished as a boy, fished with a hand net before that, spent a winter on the East Anglian coastline fishing for cod with beach casters, but the vast majority of my fishing time has been spent with the fly. 

I'll do another 2000 days here in the jungle then 3000+ in the salt, living aboard a yacht. For me the mark is 3000 days. That's when you really ought to know your shit. In life I can get to thoroughly know around 6 fly fishing disciplines - Stillwater Trout, NZ Trout (mostly big freestone rivers, sight fishing for big trout), the Malaysian Jungle and Tropical Saltwater will be the first four. 

I haven't gotten to know chalksteams yet and am very much the beginner with perhaps only a few hundred days under my belt. Maybe I will do that later; while it's hard to envisage leaving a sea-life, there will come a time when I may wish or have to. One thing I know, however, is that of all the fishing I've done so far, what I'm currently doing right now in Malaysia, is the best, the hardest and the most rewarding fly fishing I've done and it's going to be very hard to top. 

Join me fly fishing in Malaysia!

It's a case of the one-eyed king leading the blind around here - I've only fished slightly over 1000 days on this fishery and not the 3000 one would expect of a local fishing guide. However I am also virtually the entire encyclopaedia of all things known about catching wild Giant Gourami and Free-Rising Snakehead on fly! For the next three months - May, June and July 2018 - you (or you and a friend) can join me fishing here in the jungle and I've pieced together a special fisherman's package...

For the almost-all-inclusive price of 750GBP/week for one angler or 600GBP/week each for two (doesn't include beer or getting here!). This is not a group fly fishing trip; there will only be you, me, your friend or not, and possibly one other on a separate boat. 

For this you will get:

- 7 full days of fly fishing here in the jungle. (The lake is vast and over 80km long).

- One full day of me teaching you on a 1-1 basis on my boat (with two anglers you get two full days divided up between the two of you)

- For more 1-1 days there is a surcharge of 200GBP/day (in the event of only one angler fishing and therefore only one boat in action, the fee is an additional 100GBP).

- Two or three cooked meals/day - lunch may be a snack! (I'm a fantastic cook, even Chuan said recently that he survived my cooking). I don't cook meat - but I have no objection to you eating it: bring some cured meat along and add it to my amazing meals if you want). 

- A campfire every night. I am the Campfire God having made many thousands of them in my life. At least 3000 Tongue Out

- (We are camping incidentally). It is possible for you to stay in a resort but then you will lose the two most important fishing times of the day, dawn and dusk. If you want to stay in a resort on your first/last/some other night/s this can be arranged (but not included in the price). The resort is approx 100GBP/night but varies.

- Camping equipment is included - although please bring a sleeping sheet and a camp towel. We are sponsored by Lawson Hammocks and these are so comfortable that you will undoubtedly want to buy one afterwards and hang it in your bedroom. 

- A shovel. I have the cleanest, greenest outdoor facilities known to man.

- A free bath in the lake every night. During this period the water temperature is a very pleasant 32-34C. 

- Your own boat. After I have taught you everything necessary in the first day/s, you get to take out "The Ronan" on your own. Life jackets will be provided!

- Includes petrol and a thruster motor. I will make the runs back to jungle basecamp - aka "Tor Tambra Bar" - to pick up spare thruster batteries and/or petrol as required. 

- Walkie-talkies so that we can stay in touch, even if we are out of sight, but mostly we will hunt fish together. 

- A 30 minute casting lesson every day to make sure that you are in peak fly casting condition! This can be on any single-handed casting techniques by the way, not only Jungle tactics. 

Does not include:

- Getting here. After arriving in Malaysia you will need to find your way to either Banding Island by car or taxi, or to the town of Gerik/Grik (it has two spellings, but they are both wrong since it is pronouced "Greek") by bus, where I will collect you. I include further details below. 

- Fishing equipment. I can provide limited gear on request but it is better that you bring your own lest you break mine. Details also below. 

- Beer, booze, alcohol. These essential items should be purchased duty free and topped up in town before you arrive. If you pre-order I can buy for you in advance to save you time.  

To get here: either fly to Kuala Lumper and take the "Transnasional" bus to Gerik/Grik town where I will meet you. Alternatively hire a car and drive straight to Belum Rainforest Resort on Banding Island. Journey time from KL is approx 4.5hrs. 

Another, perhaps more convenient route, is to fly to Penang (either via KL or Singapore). KL-Penang flight time is around 40 minutes. KL-Singapore approx 1 hr. From Penang the easiest method from that point on is a driver. For approx 70GBP you can take a Taxi straight to Banding Island - same price to return! I can help arrange this (you will need to arrange it in advance). The journey takes 2 hours. Occasionally I can pick you up/ drop you off depending on how my truck (soon to be painted in Snakehead colours) is running. The journey may take longer.

For tackle:

Snakehead should be tackled with a 9 or 10WT rod and tropical floating line. (Hot Torpedo 10 is best Frown). I use twisted leaders of 40 or 50lbs Mono (I'll teach you how to make these) and a bite tippet of 30-40lb flexible wire. Snakehead eat Poppers and I'll teach you to tie and glue these together. (TZ doesn't think it's "fly tying", by the way, and thinks it is "fly gluing", which is why we call it "fly dressing")

Gourami are best fished using 6WT outfit with preferably a tropical 6WT floating line. (Hot Torpedo 6 is best Innocent). If the line is not tropical then it needs to be on the stiffer side. I will have to show you the leaders because it's complicated to explain. They eat dry flies from #16 to #1/0 with #10 being the most useful. The flies need to be dressed on bonefish hooks because Gourami pull like trains.

If you want you can also try for Jungle Perch. Here an 8WT outfit (Hot Torpedo 8 of course Money Mouth) with fast sinking line (minimum 6"/sec) is the perfect big Jungle Perch outfit. JP are best fished for in the Wet Season however which is Nov/Dec (and believe me, you don't want to be camping in the Wet Season!). 

I have a full fly tying kit aboard but you are most welcome to bring along yours for some additional evening entertainment.

Here are a few facts that you should know:

There are no mosquitoes in the jungle. Actually that's not true but if you get bitten by one, anywhere other than at the bar, then I will be very surprised. There are lots of mosquitoes in Grik and KL. They like cities and plantations best - I assume that there is little suitable standing water for them in the jungle. 

Hantu Tetek is a Malaysian ghost with enormous tits that likes to suffocate fly fishermen while they are sleeping. She has been seen here. You might get lucky. If you don't believe google it.

There are wild elephants here and approx 45 tigers. You won't see any tigers unless you are incredibly lucky or possibly remarkably unlucky. The rule is if it looks dangerous then don't fuck with it. In five years I have never had a problem - we camp on islands to avoid elephants. Some islands have elephants - those islands we don't camp on. 

It is warm here - you might consider it hot depending on where you usually live. Daytime temps are normally a pleasant 34C all year. Occasionally it gets warmer. The coldest it gets is 5am when the temp drops to a decidedly chilly 22C. You will need sunscreen but the sun here in the tropics is not strong as it is say in Australia or NZ. 

During these summer months, it can rain in the afternoon every third day or so - sometimes it's possible to avoid the storms, sometimes it isn't. The rain usually lasts one hour and if you've ever visited the tropics before then you will know what real rain is. I will loan you an umbrella. There may be lightning. Don't be alarmed this is only God having a good time. 


Belum/Temenggor is a very challenging fishery. Don't come here expecting to catch trophy Giant Gourami and trophy Giant Snakehead every day. It is not like that when you first arrive. I call it a "one fish a day fishery" and the first time you come, the goal is for you to simply catch one decent fish on your trip. This is a major achievement, believe me. 

You will however learn a very great deal; you will learn about this type of fly fishing, you will undoubtedly become a better fly caster, I'm sure that you'll have an amazing time and you may even catch some incredible fish! Everyone who has been once, has either come back, or has plans to. 

Email me any questions you have. (July is starting to look fairly busy by the way).

I've included a casting teaching video on this page. If you can master this Slipped-Lift PUALD Shooting Shot before you come, then you stand an excellent chance of catching Snakehead on your first trip. Flavio managed one on his very first cast and four trophy Snakehead in the first two days. I'm not saying that you will, because you won't, only that he did. I very much doubt that this will ever happen again in the history of Man.

Later this year Ashly and I will have a houseboat on the lake. Stay tuned for news on that!  

Finally, I feel very much that I am a small pioneer with this fishing, particularly with regards Giant Gourami. Flavio felt the same too. So if you want to feel like a pioneer you should get here before I work it all out! Testimonials next week Cool



(Two 4KG Gourami and a baby)