Project Sungai Tiang

Project Sungai Tiang

Paul Arden | Monday, 25 May 2020

I was approached last year to see if I would be willing to assist the Orang Asli community in creating a fly fishing project, to generate jobs for the Orang Asli and an income for the local village, while both preserving and enhancing the local Mahseer fishing. So I paid a visit to the river at the end of last year, and explored it with my Gerik neighbour and good friend, Fong, along with the couple of local village anglers. And it’s a very interesting river! Quite beautiful and full of a small and healthy Mahseer population, that have returned after being virtually wiped up and the river being closed since 2015. There are in fact at least two species of Mahseer in the river as well as some large predatory Jungle Perch that hunt in packs.

What I’m not doing is coming in as the guy who knows everything! What I plan is to create fly fishing, barbless hooks, minimal handling, well run, Catch and Release only fishery with a beat system on the river. Access will be limited to light numbers of guests to keep fishing pressure low. I will train the Orang Asli to fly fish and ultimately guide these waters. I will also start teaching their children to fly fish too because they are our next generation of fly fishing guides! 

I plan that we open doors to paying guests in August. Initially the camp will be a jungle camp - but ultimately I hope to build some nice, comfortable, accommodation for International as well as local visitors. Some of the walking tracks need attention, the tracks need marking in places and I need to divide the river into beats and fully explore them all, along with the Orang Asli, while teaching them fly fishing at the same time. (I also need to dial in the flies and methods!)

I’m not making any money from this project, in fact I won’t even guide the river when we are up and running. This is all for the Orang Asli. The Coronavirus, while being very problematic for fishing in the southern part of the lake, has given me a wide window to give maximum attention to this project. 

The satisfaction for me, will be when I see smiling visiting anglers and smiling local Orang Asli guides, having a great time together. If I can make that happen, protect the river while doing so and bring an income to the villagers for whatever they need - schooling their kids, buying boats, solar power projects - then I think this will be a huge all-round success. And whichever way you look at it, it’s just a great project and well worth the effort. 

It’s not very often you get to make a difference to people’s lives, but to be able to do this through fly fishing, while protecting the fish, is a really great thing.

And we will get the kids casting too! I started fly fishing at the age of ten. It’s a shame to start any later than this. Think of all the great times you can have fly fishing when you are young. All my earliest memories are related to fishing, first hand-net fishing up the age of 6, spin and bait to the age of 10, and then fly fishing from then after. If you can get the children into fly fishing, then in years to come they will run the project.

I will be learning more of the Malay language in the next months - that is for sure!! 

For a large project such as this, I am not in the position to provide all the gear required. I’ve been busy writing to various tackle companies in search of fly fishing gear for these guides and their children. If you have anything to give - reels, rods, fly tying materials, vices, boots and nets even - then please get in touch. The more gear we have the better. Everything will be most gratefully received and some day I hope to see you all here! 

Drop me an email on paul@sexyloops.com 

Thanks, Paul

PS You can read more about the project on the Board here:

https://www.sexyloops.co.uk/theboard/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=3256

And there are more photos from the river (shot by Fong) in the Pic of Day series: 

https://www.sexyloops.com/index.php/gallery/show/rumble-in-the-jungle