The Search for Toman

The Search for Toman

Paul Arden | Monday, 2 November 2015

Tim Kempton stopped over for three days of fishing last weekend, following a Rompin Trip for Sailfish (which he caught of course!). I was really hoping to see him catch some Snakehead up here. I know his casting is good enough and I told him it would be both fun and interesting! Tim's been here before but hasn't stuck a big Snakehead. He had a nice Jungle Perch on the first evening followed by three days proper of fishing for Snakehead. The result was one big fish on and lost (not sure why, but it broke off) and a solid chase from another big fish - both off babies, and a third free-rising fish attempt to charge down the popper at the boat. Hard work! But we had a great time. Tim knows that Snakehead shots are the toughest sight-casting shots going and I think he learned a lot, certainly we had a brilliant time as usual, watching the rugby at night and fishing hard during the day.

On the third day, while looking for babies, we came across a large pack of serious Snakehead off one peninsular. I'm estimating that there were 15 free-rising Snakehead in the larger sizes with most around 3-4KG but some in excess of 6KG. Unfortunately Tim didn't hook any although moved a couple. Of course I went back the following day on my own to annihilate them, but they had gone (or it was too windy for them to rise). However looking for a similar location quite close by, that was protected from the wind, I found a mother-load of fish! I'm camped on them now actually. Two Snakehead landed, three other chases, lost a Gourami off the stumps and there are Jungle Perch here too - I missed one. If only Tim had stayed just one more day I'm sure he would have landed a Snakehead here - isn't it always the way?!

I'll tell you something interesting, as I came into this spot I saw quite a few slow rises, and held back a little to work out their patterns/sizes. Quite quickly I caught one - I should have waited for a bigger fish, but I really just wanted to catch one because I had given Tim all the shots when he was here. Anyway I caught one of 3KG which put up a hard fight, and at one point I could see there was another similar sized fish with it. After releasing the fish I could see that the entire pack was spooked with fish some 20m away in either direction doing the classic up-down splash rise that let's you know they're spooked. So I left them and came back on dusk to go for them again once calmed down. But the lesson here is take out the biggest fish first because you rarely get to catch two out of a school back-to-back unless you are fast!

I think now I'd like to catch an 8KG Snakehead. I've seen four now in two days that I would estimate to be this trophy size. I have a new Vince Popper design that has an upside-down magnum-sized olive bunny strip for the tail that is working well and I think the increased weight that the wet zonker strip gives is beneficial for pick-up-and-lay-down shooting shots. The technique I'm using is to have a short length of fly line outside the tip, maybe 2-4 metres max, laying straight, to slip line on the lift, catch it, make a fairly open backcast, shooting line, catch it, and then deliver a fast shooting forward delivery shot with a good wrist snap and a vertical loop. I've experimented with many variations but this for me gives the fastest, most accurate straight delivery shot. The money-shot for Snakehead is to put the fly on a a saucer, leading them by about two feet (closer if they've angled steeper down). It's incredibly hard to do in the 1-2 second time frame they give, but this is of course why it's so exciting!

My HT10 Prototype - which I wrapped around the electric prop rather spectacularly last trip - has been repaired and I'm looking forward to getting it back. Once I've got it back I'll be able to compare 10 to 8 for Snakehead. I think I'm going to run with this rod in the shop quite soon. Fast ten weights typically give me tennis elbow after a month or so of constant fishing, and I know why - it's because when most of the rod is rigid from butt up, the rod is harder to stop because you are effectively stopping a longer lever. The HT10 has a more forgiving butt section but is still fast enough for speed shots. I fished this rod hard up until my prop broke it, in both Australian Saltwater and the Malaysian Jungle - well of course you know how sure I like to be about Sexyloops rods before rolling them out!

I also have my broken HT6 that I drove over with the truck due back too. This will be good for Jungle Perch and Ashly. In fact I have a whole bunch of rods coming my way - happy days!! I'm terrified that I break my last remaining HT8 on a big Snakehead - which would effectively end my fishing for these fish for a while. I'm really pushing the 8 on these fish, even with the straight-line fighting techniques, particularly when getting the fish out from under the boat.

It was nice to sleep in the Belum Rainforest Resort for a few nights, eat real food and drink cold beer. But I have to say I'm much happier sleeping in the jungle on my boat again. I don't really like hotels since it's not my personal space and besides the view is much better on the lake and I don't have to walk for a piss. In fact if I walked anywhere I'd be over the side. Best of all I can fish both dawn and dusk without the complications of negotiating the lake in the dark... Tim and I got hit by the Thunderstorm from Hell on the second night, at the beginning of a long ride back in the dark - normally that sort of thing doesn't happen to me because I simply tie the boat up, pull the tarp over, drink wine and go to sleep - instead we got saturated and got treated to a spectacular lightning show that could have blown us up. The bilge pump works.

Great seeing you here again Tim! Looking forward to next time :-)

Have a great week everyone.

Cheers, Paul