My two weeks at Lake Temenggor
Hi all! I want to share my impressions of my 16 day trip to Malaysia to fish for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami together with Paul as my guide, casting instructor and pool nemesis. First of all I got picked up by Paul, who wondered if I had brought enough bricks in my baggage to build a house, and his good friend Magic Des at Penang International Airport for the 2 or so hours drive to Lake Temenggor. We got to Banding Island and The Belum Rainforest Resort where we could have some cold! beers and quite a few games of pool while we waited for the full moon to get up so we could have some light during the boat trip to the island where we would set up camp. We got so much in to the pool game though that we didn't leave until 4.30 in the morning...
This first island became my favourite camping spot and we set up the Lawson Hammocks Paul provided that would become our camping homes for my stay and I fell soundly a sleep in it. After a few hours of sleep we set out looking for sets of Snakeheads on babies. Since my winter training by myself hadn't made me very good at the snakehead shot, things didn't go so well on my part and Paul put me on a beach shooting for his shoes while he laid back and gave me pointers on what to do: - Slip the line and just barely touch it on the lift! - Shoot line on the back cast to ring the bell straight up in the sky! - Ring the bell! - Ring the bell! was echoing through my head for the rest of the time. Even so I struggled for the most part on making the shot and began to feel frustrated that I always made lousy, too short shots, tangling up the line and so forth and I thought that Paul would get pissed off with me but he always showed me understanding and pepped me to practice when he was preparing breakfast in the mornings.
Some nights we went back to the Resort after shopping in Gerik or a long days fishing to charge the battery for the thruster and have some cold beer for a change. That also meant playing pool all night long. Now, I'm not the best player so I mostly came last except for one night when I won the tournament. My wins though were mostly because my opponents made the Piffen-shot, to do a foul when trying to make the final shot for the eight... But hell how I enjoyed playing against Mr Sexyloops, Magic Des and everybody else that was participating in the game.
The only fish that I landed was a Gourami some time into my trip. It was beginning to get dark, which goes very fast, and we had a couple of Gouramis feeding around us. Paul spotted one at a stump and made a shot for. Meanwhile i put my fly to a stump 5 meters left of that one. It was impossible for me to see the fly but suddenly i saw my line going straight down in the water and I had a fish on! After quite a short fight I was able to land a Gourami at about 2 KG so it wasn't a big one but it made me so happy and it really made the trip for me. That Paul also told me that I am the sixth person to land one was the icing on the cake.
As for the Snakeheads it didn't work out as well. One day during the last days of my stay, when Paul had to go to Gerik to sort some things out, I decided to stay at Banding Adventure Camp and practice my Snakehead shot for a good three hours or more. I took a hula hoop and tied it to a long piece of mono and threw it out in the lake and began to make shots around a foot to the right and left sides, in front of it and curved casts behind of it while it moved in the water, imagining the hoop to be a set of babies. The reason being that one never should make a shot into or over the set since they will spook then. That must have paid dividends because on the penultimate day I got a chase and even had one free rising Snakehead on for about 10-15 seconds before the knot on the leader gave out and I stood like a question mark, wondering what had just happened.
The most memorable experience I had was when we were in our boats around 20 meters from a young male elephant for close to an hour's time. First we heard him inside the jungle at the shoreline and then he came out and we shot about 45 minutes of video while we had free rising Snakeheads around us but our thoughts were only of the elephant. That was totally breathtaking!
Now, Paul is an amazing guy, very social and witty. I feel that I really connected with him. There might be some reasons for this, we have a very similar taste of music, we both like beer a lot and playing pool, which he is very good at, rest assured! Neither of us eats meat and now I will tell you this. Paul did all the cooking and if you ask me it was like having a 3 star Michelin cook in the jungle. His currys is some of the best food I've ever had. Especially since I like hot spicy food.
I certainly wasn't happy having to leave him, Des and the wonderful place of Temenggor and all the wonderful persons that I met. I really have to go back. Everytime I see Paul putting up photos of the Gouramis he catches, I just want to be there fishing with him. But I think I will try to pack a bit lighter next time I go back to Temenggor and Paul so he doesn't break his back, trying to lift my baggage.
Joakim "Piffen" Hammenstig
* If you are interested in fishing with Paul in the Malaysian Jungle then here is the lowdown...