Fishing the jungle rivers

Fishing the jungle rivers

Paul Arden | Monday, 20 January 2020

Last year I started inquiring about a couple of things here on the lake; namely how to dispose of septic waste in an environmentally friendly way and also about an idea I had about giving a percentage of earnings off the lake to local causes such as “save the tigers” - a bit like Patagonia do with “1 (or 2%) for the planet”. As a result of those talks, I discovered that there is a river in the National Park that has been closed to fishing for some years but there is interest to open it as a sports fishery project with the Orang Asli peoples, mainly for the Red Mahseer that are local here. I’ve just spent my first two days fishing this river...

Firstly it wasn’t the type of fishing I expected. I expected NZ style stalking, with naive fish that would leap on big flies with gusto. So I had lots of big floating foam sandwich things, and one or two other flies, but my main trouty box was not with me - because I lost that in a tropical storm last summer! And man, I wish I’d had that!

I landed two Red Mahseer on the first day (afternoon) and five on the second. But the fishing that I had imagined, was not what I got. Instead of Backcountry NZ, imagine Montana! This is hopper/dropper territory, double foam dry fly fishing, fast broken water - which is where I had most of my “success”. But 5 landed out of maybe 150 try to eat is actually pretty fucking frustrating. So the thing that I now need to do before I return is a) tie a decent foam box with hooks that are not just size 4 FFS, b) I need small nymphs for the flat water for sure (grayling style for a fish called Tengas - this is Copper Mahseer), c) I need heavy nymphs for French Nymphing fast water d) I need a fast sinking streamer setup for tackling the Jungle Perch which hunt the tails of pools in packs and e) I need a fast sinking line and God knows what fly-wise (certainly big and heavy and probably ugly too) for one or two deep pools.

FFS!!!! What I’m basically saying Is that I need to revisit all my trout and grayling tactics, and apply them all here. The gung-ho wham-bam-thank-you-mam NZ approach is not going to cut it and I need some sophistication (and a lot of flies).

My problem is that I already have a lot on my plate, learning and opening up lake fly fishing methods - which for me is more interesting fishing, if only because it’s so different to everything I have done before. I just can’t get all that excited any more about stream fishing, especially when there are Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami to catch in the lake! And what is really needed right now is a full season spent fishing this river; day in - day out, refining the techniques and learning everything about it. It’s not that difficult actually; it has remarkable potential and I will certainly help organise something.

Anyway I’ll sort out my fly box, make some tackle adjustments and plan to come back  again soon and really dial down the methods. But before next time... well it’s all about to happen with Snakehead!!!

I enjoyed the company very much of Fong (who is in fact quite literally my neighbour in Gerik) and Haddie and Cairo, two local villagers. I really must learn the Malay language. It can’t be all that difficult and it’s going to be a lot easier than teaching everyone English. Millions of people speak it and so I’ll start learning the language (again) today!! It’s now become really important and I’ll learn ten or twenty words a day.

Very interesting.  I can see some sort of package deal in the future for Sexyloops’ guests. Five days on the lake getting your arse kicked and two days on the river setting about some fish. There are lots of benefits to this as I see it, not least that you will catch fish - but also there is something about the jungle that is always special - I saw wild boar, deer, erm leeches, and it’s just nice being in the forest. Also this way you also get to meet the original peoples of Malaysia; a culture that goes back 80,000 years.

It’s a project that has great potential both in restoring the river and also giving the local Orang Asli tribes an income stream. Once I’ve dialled in the flies and methods a bit better, then I’ll teach the locals to fly fish. We are looking into the future now, but if in the years to come, we can create some Orang Asli fly fishing guides and a pristine Catch and Release river, then I think this has to be great for everyone. It’s certainly something I can do and I think it would be rather rewarding.

Right I have a bunch of work to catch up on. Have a great day!

Cheers, Paul