So basically what happened is that last year I had some questions for Shah, the state parks manager and so we met and had lunch together. During our conversation he asked about the possibility of operating Sungai Tiang – “Sungai” means “River” in Malay – as a C&R fly fishery to be owned and operated by the local Orang Asli community, with all profits going to their village. I said, “I’ll go and have a look!” Which made me the first person to fish the river in about four years I believe.
So upon returning I said what I would do is to divide the river into beats, one angler (or possibly two sharing) per beat, they are going to need some sort of jungle camp (it’s half an hour trip by boat up river just to get to the start of where the fish can be found), some infrastructure, strictly C&R barbless fly only, 3/5/7 day packages and I think you’ll have something very interesting indeed.
One thing led to another and I offered to do the training, organise everything for fly fishing and market the project to fly fishermen both nationally and internationally. I couldn’t not do it – a project like this has immense value because it both protects the fish and brings a much needed livelihood to the local Orang Asli community (Orang Asli here are poor by anyone’s standard). Also it doesn’t take very much imagination to see that something like this can have far-reaching impacts – we are talking C&R, we are talking fly fishing, if we are also talking money and this all works as it should, then hopefully we will see these ideas and practises spread to other parts of Malaysia and SE Asia, so that a fish’s value isn’t measured by how much it can be sold for at market, but instead by how much we are prepared to pay to catch and release it.
And who would not want to fly fish such a river? Wild pristine native Mahseer fishing in the world’s oldest rainforest. So it has a great deal of traction.
So my plan is to take the four keenest Orang Asli and teach them first to fly fish and then how to host guests. Obviously it’s not possible to turn a non-fly angler into a fishing guide in two months(!), but it’s enough time, carefully managed, to at least get them hosting guests (showing access, being in the right place at the right time, making sure they know proper fish handling techniques – and are prepared to enforce them! – and so on and on).
I would like that we open doors to guests later this year. It’s going to be tight because the Wet Season can start in November, even October some years, and there is no way that this river is fishable in the Wet! And obviously COVID is a problem for International guests and probably for the rest of the year. But equally this means Malaysian fly fishermen can’t leave Malaysia either! So I’m hoping late August/ early September that we can host Malaysian fly fishers.
I need to do a lot more research on the river. There is some track maintenance required, we have to figure out a secure camp – we don’t want an angry nighttime elephant invasion keeping us awake, for example – and we will need I think to build a couple of pit toilets (for those guests who need these little life luxuries!).
But first up – and for the next few weeks –I’m just simply going to teach them fly fishing.
Now look, I put a request out for tackle. We are in need of tackle - old rods, reels, fly boxes, fly tying stuff, even old wading boots - so if you have anything that you would like to contribute then please post to us at:
Att: Paul Arden
Perbadanan Taman Negeri Perak
Kompleks Bangunan Kerajaan Perak,
Also we are in need of cash. Last week I started a gofundme account for the project. This is so that we can fund the training program - food, petrol and a small amount for the Orang Asli. We will be needing more for sure, particularly later in the month when we set up a guest camp. If you can and would like to, then please donate a little to assist in this project.
And a huge thank you to all of you who have helped so far! Thank you very much for your generosity. I really hope that when travel is permitted again that we see you all here.
OK busy day for me. I’m doing this week’s food shopping. Lentils, tofu, beans and potatoes. Those guys are going to love me and best of all is next week someone else will do all the shopping :D
PS any enquires please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org