Dodge the Elephant!

Dodge the Elephant!

Paul Arden | Monday, 6 July 2020

You might have seen the pictures of the first four days training the Orang Asli to fly fish, so that we can plan how to organise the river for C&R fly fishing for Mahseer. It was a great trip and fun had by all. We had a few permit delays and an overloaded boat to deal with, but eventually Fong and I reached Sungai Tiang village. We experienced another delay when we found the long stem of my 30HP outboard didn’t offer enough clearance to make it through the rapids! Still we did actually manage to start on the first day!

Four chaps - Khairo, Ray, Roy and Hasan along with a couple of guys who work at the Mahseer sanctuary; Elong and Ralak, all learned the basics of fly casting and fly tying. We discussed a little bit about fishing strategy with dry, nymph and streamer fly fishing. Much more to be done here since we were unfortunate with the weather - two rainstorms and a dirty river. On the fourth day the river had cleared slightly and some small Copper Mahseer were caught.

Interestingly during the dirtiest water period, the sort of water where I wouldn’t normally fish, I caught quite a respectable Jungle Perch on a popper fished in slack water. I suspect there may be quite a lot of mileage in this technique hereabouts, which is promising for the Wet Season when the river is coloured for several months at a time. However no Mahseer were caught in the dirty water.

For the flycasting we covered Overhead Casts both shoulders, the Roll Cast, Shooting Line and the Double Haul which they all managed to pick up to varying degrees :D As usual of course the issue is with wide loops, particularly on the backcast. One drill I set up was to try to throw the back loop through a standing hoop which was an interesting game. They were great to teach because they have a tight friendly bond between them, and so to set up games made the whole teaching experience fun to watch and take part.

I thought it really important to get them fly tying from the outset, partly because most of my suitable flies ended up in Davy Jones’ Locker during a tropical storm last year but mainly because for me it’s one of the cornerstones of fly fishing; developing flies for given situations. I found Elong to be really quite naturally talented in this regards.

However next week the plan is to cover as much water upstream as possible and to map it out fishing-wise (as well as for the lads to all catch fish and build on their experience), and so I’ll be tying those flies in advance. I really think that Hopper/dropper will work on the fast water. Stuff like RFUs, foam patterns (I’m informed by Wesley that they like rubber legs in Thailand - so no surprises there), small nymphs for the Tengas (Copper Mahseer) in the flat water, and I want to tie some big stuff as well. We will walk and fish up for five days and then bamboo raft back out again.

Tengas grow to around 2KG and are around in good numbers. Kelah (Red Mahseer) I’m told can grow to 10KG, but anything over 4 is a damned good fish. I still haven’t caught a Red Mahseer in this river yet. The Jungle Perch - well the world record is out of Tasik Temenggor and is 6.8KG - I’ve definitely seen 3KG Perch in the river. I had one pushing 4lbs (didn’t weigh it but I’ll carry the measuring balances next week). 

So all good. We are still in need of tackle, money, gear to get fully started. When the project is up and running properly I believe that it will be very successful. Small projects like this carry a lot of weight and change the way people think. I have a video to edit - today - and then I head back to the Battleship for a few days of fishing for Snakehead. We had some great news while we were away and our Battleship has been legally registered! To put boats on these lakes they must be registered and you must live locally. We had tried to register the boat while it was being built and tested and we were told to wait until it was launched! And then we had Lockdown! Still now everything is above Board and I’m very happy!!!

If you would like to support this project then please either donate here:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/sungai-tiang-mahseer-fly-fishing-project 

and/or send you unwanted rods, reels, lines, boots, fly tying tools and materials, hooks, hats, socks and tea pots to:

Att: Paul Arden
Perbadanan Taman Negeri Perak
Kompleks Bangunan Kerajaan Perak,
33300 Gerik,
Perak,
Malaysia.

tel:+605-7914543

Thanks!
Paul

PS I'm enjoying Buckethead, Andy!
PPS Lots of trip photos here.