The Long Haul

The Long Haul

Paul Arden | Monday, 23 February 2015

The fishing here in North Malaysia has been extremely hard this year. My original plan was to spend six days/week fishing the protected Belum area, sleeping on the boat, and one day each week getting provisions, socialising and so on. It hasn't quite worked out this way, but it might just do so yet!

At the very tail end of last year we experienced major flooding, which saw the water level in the lake rise 10 metres, higher than it's ever been in its 40 year history, and the water rose right up into the jungle, and of course that's where the fish went. So in order to help a mate out, keep reasonably dry, increase my pool skills, work on the new site format, save some cash and just generally have an interesting time, I took the job of running the rainforest bar for a month (which actually turned into seven weeks!).

Well I quit that job last week, because it had become seriously time consuming, and I'm here to fish, not work! Last week I did catch a snakehead and moved a few others in one area that I know well. I also experimented in the same area with night fishing, but either snakehead completely shut down en masse for days on end, or else they are nomadic, because while for a few days there may have been some 30 snakehead in one particular bay, there is bugger all there now!

So anyway I've been doing some research. Let me explain: Lake Belum-Temenggor is in fact one lake divided into two. The top part is a rather famous jungle area that is protected. There are army and police camps (because it's an old smuggling route) and the entire jungle is protected by conservation - of course there are still poachers, and maybe even some illegal logging. The fishing is not protected in the way it should be, but against sportfishermen it is protected, because in order to go there you need to have a guide and a registered boat. 

Of course this has led me to research how I can become a guide, and there are three options: a nature guide, a fishing guide and a tourist guide. I have put the wheels in motion in these regards, and after the Chinese New Year madness is over I will make a lot of enquiries, because while I don't want to guide, equally I don't wish to be guided!

And then there is the Temenggor side. There is as much water south as there is north, and I now believe significantly less fished. Certainly the three fishing guides I met last week showed me photos of some of the fish that they had been catching; a 10Kg Snakehead and a 5Kg Jungle Perch (ok not on fly, but on a fishing rod!) - and these were all caught on the Temenggor fishery. So I've agreed to exchange fly casting skills (they want to learn) for top secret information!

Currently I have only a month left in Malaysia (and I have to make a quick border hop over to Thailand next week to renew my Malaysian VISA) but that month can of course be extended. And I'm beginning to suspect it might be extended for a while to come... time will tell! But one thing is for sure: I'm in for the long haul.

Have a fantastic week!

Cheers, Paul

PS There are some really good discussion on the Board at the moment - some are rather technical.