It's really great to be back in the Temenggor Rainforest. My plans to live on the boat have finally been realised - and I simply love it. There is something quite magical about sleeping in a boat on a vast labyrinth of a lake, deep in the jungle. The only drawback - if it is a drawback - is that I rarely have Internet or phone connection. Anything more than about a kilometre from Banding Island Jetty (where I leave my truck) has little or no phone service. This year I fully intend to explore all of the Temenggor lake, so there will be long periods in the week when you won't hear from me at all!
However this is the best way to do it. The other alternative is to leave the fishing before sunset to travel back to base camp and begin travelling again at sunrise to get back to the fishing, but this doesn't appeal to me because sunrise and sunset is exactly the time when I always want to be fishing - and not travelling - and besides I want to be on my own and not surrounded by people! So the plan of making 6 1/2 day stints into South Temenggor is a reality. I'll pull out once per week, so that I can make the 40km drive to the nearest town, buy shopping for the next week, upload photos using the town's 3G network and then catch up with my friends at the resort on Banding Island. To be honest the way I feel right now, this is already a drag but I can't carry water and fuel for two weeks!
This past few days I've been exploring a place I fished with Ashly earlier in the week. We had some great fishing moments together. Ashly caught a few few fish, some small Jungle Perch and another fish that I didn't recognise, and I caught an 8 1/2lb Snakehead on a small popper cast on the HT8, to a fish that was free-rising just on dusk. (Snakehead are a lung fish of course, and when they sip air you have the extremely brief opportunity to catch them - they also nurse their babies, but catching these fish is not nearly so challenging - although it is certainly still a challenge - hence "free-rising", i.e. no babies).
While Ashly was here, and following one rainy morning, I noticed lots of termites on the water and something rising to them further up in one bay. I tied on Irhamy's Terrible Termite Fly - which he tied after I sent him some photos last trip - and stealthily we made our way up towards the fish. First cast with the Hot Torpedo 4 (awesome rod by the way!) and a three pound Jungle Perch sipped down the fly - WHAMMO! A fantastic fight, and using Lasse's Rimfly reel!
Ashly went back to Kuala Lumper on Wednesday evening and so I headed back to the lake on my own that night. I fished the same small bay where I took the 8 1/2 lber because there are other fish there! And despite fishing the cove three times, I have not managed to score another of those fish. I also came across Jungle Perch rising to dries in the mouth of this bay and didn't catch them either! I had two blank days on the trot. They were not a dead loss however, and they were certainly enjoyable, for there were opportunities that I missed as well as time for experimentation - I have this idea that it must be possible to catch Snakehead on sunk lines and Catfish imitations (their favourite food) and so I tied some heavily weed guarded Catfish lookalikes that are buoyant, fished them on fast sinking lines, booby style, through the snags. So far I've lost five flies and not had a bloody take - but I will persevere.
Around the stumps on the west side of Frog-Snake Island - I call it Frog-Snake Island, because there are both frogs and snakes on it, and I don't think the frogs are there to eat the snakes, which incidentally brings up another topic: on one of my earlier trips it was recommended to me that I camp on any of the many islands on Temenggor - so that the elephants don't get me - this is a great idea and I can thoroughly recommend it, but only if you really like snakes, because every morning I've camped next to an island I've seen swimming snakes leaving it... anyway, around the stumps on the west side of Frog-Snake Island (great place to camp) I've found some very large Snakehead that feed every morning. Some of these may be in the 7-8kg class. I have yet to stick one, although I blew a great shot on Saturday when the dry line got stuck to my fingers on the shoot. I did have a small, pretty Snakehead just off the back of this island.
Finally, let me give you a bit of a run down of my days here. I get up half an hour before dawn. Now those of you who know me will have a hard time swallowing this fact, but it's true. The best opportunity to catch fish is in the morning, the evening can be good too, so I fish that was well! But the morning is when it is most likely to happen. Generally I sleep with the cover on the boat, many thunderstorms roll across the lake at all times of the day or night, so putting the cover up before I go to sleep prevents me having to wake up and do it in the middle of a downpour! In the morning I remove the cover, have a slash over the side and put the kettle on. It starts to get light at 6.30am.
The first hour or maybe two is best for Jungle Perch. Most of the flyfishers I know in KL fish for these with fast sinking lines and Clousers or similar. Any snaggy bankside area should hold them. To be honest almost all of my Jungle Perch have come to surface flies either very early in the day or else very late in the day. I plan to start working more with sinking lines to catch these fish, for one thing these are the fish I eat! Snakehead can be active during this time too, but they really come into their own once the sun has hit the water. From then right through to about 11.30am you can get shots at surfacing Snakehead.
Come 12.30pm or thereabouts I'm looking for bankside shade so I can cool off, grab some lunch, tie some flies, write an FP!, answer some emails, or just have a siesta. There is not often very much fish activity around in this part of the day, unless it's overcast, in which case it's best to keep fishing.
4pm I'm back out again looking for fish. But first I'll have a quick cooling-off swim. Nightfall is 8pm. Come 8pm I'll have found a tree stump to which I can tie up for the night. In the past I would pull the boat into deep coves, but I've since been warned about snakes, and I'm seeing them most days, so I tie up 20m offshore when I can, and in more open water than previously. This doesn't mean I'm not going to get snakes in the boat, but as in all things in life, it's not actually worth worrying about something that's not currently happening! After this is music, wine and more fly tying. If it's not raining I'll watch the stars or the moon, and maybe have a cast of the Sexyloops Lumi-line. Come 9.30pm I'm usually pretty shot. This year I have a large solar panel onboard, so keeping things like laptops, torches and cameras charged is not a problem.
It's Saturday afternoon at the time of writing this. I have another couple of days before uploading this on Monday from Gerik. But not it's time to tie some poppers!
Final update: Four Snakehead for the week landed and one lost. A number of Jungle Perch landed and seen no Gourami. I really need an electric motor; trying to paddle the boat and fish at the same time is nigh impossible, so that's first on the list. It's been a great week, but I really need to up my game. I'd like to be catching at least one Snakehead each day and lift the numbers from there. Mind you, I have managed that for the last three days! It's hard, no question. There are no harder shots than surfacing Snakehead IMO. I think the Gourami are feeding at night... and the place is beautiful as ever.
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