Here in this part of Malaysia, the Wet Season runs from November through to the middle of January. During this period it can rain every day, in fact it can sometimes rain non-stop for a week. The water level in the lake rises by some 8 to 10 metres. Funnily enough it's actually the most popular time to fish here for the majority of anglers. That is because it's prime time for Jungle Perch (Sebaru). During this period they congregate at the river months and enter the rivers to spawn. Also, because the water level is rapidly rising, many fish can be found feeding right in on the bank edges. It is not however a fish species I know particularly well because, while I enjoy fishing in the rain, I don't enjoy sleeping in a wet bed for weeks on end! Furthermore mostly Jungle Perch is not sight fishing, and apart from dawn and dusk, the best approach is to fish fast sinking lines with streamers.
It is a species I am learning, and later this year when Ashly and I have a houseboat on the lake I think it will be quite fun. A hot shower and a cold beer after a long day of fishing in torrential downpours, while sitting back enjoying the storm from the comfort of a dry houseboat has to be excellent fun indeed - particularly because I know what it was like to sleep in a wet bed! However as much fun as this might well be, it's not something I am currently offering - I need to learn it myself first. Therefore the season really kicks off for us sometime in early February.
It's interesting how the Wet Season can abruptly end and immediately stop raining, completely, and for two months. I've seen it here where for 10 weeks it has not rained one single drop. It's also a beautiful time in the jungle since many trees flower at this time of year, and consequently I think of it as Spring! February to April really is Parenting Snakehead with Babies Season. During this time the main fishing option is to actively seek out the babies and fish for the parents. Don't worry - after releasing the caught parent returns to its family and they live happily ever after. If Catch and Release helps educate fish so that they don't get caught by less conservationist-minded anglers, and therefore eaten, then Catch and Releasing these parents has to be the best education of all, because you are educating the young as well as the adults! Happy days!
On a really good day you may find as many as 15 Snakehead Sets (although anything over 8 is really excellent), and remember there are two parents to every fry ball, but you can only catch one fish off each, because they spook easily. In fact disturbing the fry ball will spook the adults and the fishing (and casting) can be quite technical. What it will offer you, is the opportunity to catch a very big Snakehead and often in open water. So Feb-April is often an excellent time to visit.
April can see Cicada on the water, which means Gourami at the surface. In the past three years it's only happened once, but when it happened it was incredible for one week.
From mid-April through to the end of October is what I call the "Summer" period. Typically during this period the water level will be continually dropping - remember there is a 10m difference between normal high water levels and the low water level occurring at the commencement of the Wet Season. During this Summer period the typical weather pattern is an afternoon thunderstorm for one hour every third day or so. Immediately after the thunderstorm can be great fishing for Gourami, as long as there is still daylight.
Any time that the water level is dropping, Gourami can be found eating the algae on the exposed stumps. In April/ May Ant falls can bring the Gourami to the surface. Later in the season Termite falls do the same thing and more. The first Termite Fall of the season happened last week, but it happened at night. The further into the Summer season we go the better becomes the fishing. As the water level drops we find more Gourami activity at the surface and the greatest challenge of all: Free-Rising Snakehead. By July these Snakehead start to appear in packs or communities and can be targeted from mid-morning through to lunchtime and again in the late afternoon session (assuming no storm).
So basically we have all year around fishing. Nov-mid Jan is Jungle Perch time in the Wet. Feb-April is Snakehead on babies during the Dry Season. May-October is Summer fishing for Gourami feeding around stumps or better still in wind lanes (or flat calms) as well as free-rising Snakehead living in communities.
July 2018 is looking busy for me. June is currently completely free although I'm thinking of visiting another lake (you are welcome to join me there). This month I am free for the next 8 days or so, away for a week and I am most likely booked at the end of the month.
The past few days I've been having fun with a 7'6 HT10 which offers distinct advantages and disadvantages when compared to the 9ft HT10. More on this some other time. I've also been working a few days on my 5WT distance game (hence the switch to the shorter rod for fishing; the HT10 is also my Competition 5WT Distance rod)! I have a few rod prototypes being built a the moment - I'm very excited to try these. Also I'll be getting the Rampage Rod out of storage and start practising for the T27 shooting head distance event. I've never been good at this game, but that's probably because I've never practised it!
I shall be in England for all of August. There is a possibility that will I tour the UK visiting tackle shops for a cunning plan that I have in mind. If you are a member of a fishing club then why not book me for a day or weekend of casting fun? My rates for the day are 1000GBP and 1600GBP for a weekend. You'll get to learn fly casting from me first-hand and get to test cast the entire HT Range. I'm actually quite an almost normal person and a very experienced flycasting coach. I've taught all over Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada as well as many European countries, both East and West, and many parts of SE Asia. If you are interested please drop me an email and we can discuss! :-)))
I started triathlon training seriously some weeks ago, and now that my body is over that initial shock I'm really enjoying it again. It's a long way to go yet, but I'm enjoying the struggle :-))) Getting fit is never really the challenge for me - it's staying fit where the problem is!!! I have to say however, this time I feel that I am getting fit very quickly. The Jungle doesn't lend itself well to long runs, so instead I've been "shuttle-running" up and down hills while wearing a heart-rate monitor. I'm getting excellent results. I'm not very keen on swimming in the lake - so that's a problem - and strange as it may seem but I imagine that there are some very big fish down there - after all I spend most of my day trying to catch them!
Finally - for those if you who were thinking about the Fly Swap... I'm on it! My fly for the longest swap in history will be an Arden Ant Special. And it will be delivered in a special edition Sexyloops Fly Box! Very exciting news and just in time for summer.
Wishing you all a fantastic day and I hope to see some of you over here or when I'm back in Europe.
Here are some testimonials....
Everyone who knows me personally is aware that I'm addicted to fly fishing and that I don't need anything else than fishable water and my gear. I don't need a luxurious lodge, or 5 star service. I can live from water and canned food for a while. The only thing what counts is, that I wanna find a way to catch gorgeous fish whatever I have to do for it and no matter how long it takes. For those who are looking for a real adventure, I can recommend a trip with Paul Arden at lake Temenggor in Malaysian's rainforest around Royal Belum. Gorgeous surroundings, wild Elephants, Tigers, monkeys, great fishing water, uncommon fish species and pure wilderness. Paul offers everything you need to be happy. Hardcore, really hardcore but satisfying! I was really surprised about the challenges. It has been totally differed to what I was used to do on all my trips around the globe before. I was used to have plenty of time to get prepared for the best shot and to have a lot of time for casting. I had to learn a lot of new things to get a nice shot to come a little closer to my targets, and all of that in only a second. Paul was really patient with me, he spent a lot of time for training after lunch every day, so that I could get some nice monsters; but, I must say, it took a couple of personnel disappointments to reach my targets at the end. Targeted species are Giant Snakeheads, Giant Gourami and the Malaysian Jungle Perch. All of them are very special in behaviour and all of them needs a special tactic. To find them is the first thing, to hook them the second, but to land them is the most difficult thing! All that makes it to a real adventure. I had unbelievable situations, great moments, and the time of my life. I have been there a couple of times to get better and better and I will come back as soon as possible. Many thanks Paul for your hospitality, for your patience and for sharing your unique knowledge, it was a great pleasure to be with you!!!
PS: Many thanks that I never have seen your famous socks ;-)
For anyone that wants to have an astounding experience and a very challenging fishing for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami in Lake Temenggor, that is situated in the world's oldest rainforest, I can with all of my heart recommend Paul Arden as your guide and fly casting instructor. I stayed with Paul for 16 days and I was given the best care I could think of and beyond. Paul is very social, kind and knowledgeable about the fishing in this lake and has even pioneered the fishing for Giant Gourami. I am happy to be the sixth person in the world* to land a Giant Gourami on the fly! Everything is taken care of by Paul regarding camping and cooking, (if you don't opt for staying at Belum Rainforest Resort or Banding Adventure Camp). If possible though I recommend the full experience of camping on the islands since it puts you closer to the fishing areas. The vegetarian curries Paul makes are super tasty, it's like having a 3 star Michelin cook in the middle of the jungle, an experience in itself. In the second half of my trip I enjoyed the luxury of using his second boat "The Ronan" which increased the opportunities of covering water and finding fish while communicating via walkie talkies.
One thing is for sure and that is that I will return!
Joakim "Piffen" Hammenstig
* Piffen is the sixth person on Lake Temenggor to catch a Gourami on fly. I know of several others who have caught Giant Gourami on fly but not here. Certainly for all purposes it is a new fly species and here is where it's happening.
If you're looking for something different, possibly fly fishing's greatest challenge, then Paul is your man. Snakehead and Gourami will test your casting to the limits. Paul has specific casting techniques developed for both species which he will teach you! These techniques will simply make you a better angler for any species. Aside from the fishing, just go and hang out with Paul! His way of life may change yours ... if you survive his curries!
Stuntman Ronan Creane
Joining Paul on his quest to catch Giant Snakehead and Gourami in the Malaysian Jungle has been by far my best fly fishing experience. It's not just the fish, which are incredibly hard to catch and thus super rewarding: Every catch will make you feel high for a couple days! It's the whole setting: Sleeping in hammocks on islands in the jungle, enjoying evening camp fires and cooking on them, experiencing tropical heat and thunderstorms, seeing astonishing wildlife - and all of that with an amazing jungle sound background.
Moreover, Paul is a great teacher - he is not only very passionate about sharing his vast knowledge about fly fishing and casting, but he also lets you be an active part of his own learning experience in the jungle. To participate in such a pristine fishery and the discovery of some of it's untouched secrets was just awesome. I will definitely be back!
You can find out more information, including costs, on this page: http://www.sexyloops.com/index.php/ps/20000-days-of-fishing
Paul Arden is the fly rod designer for Sexyloops and has been fly fishing for over 35 years and teaching fly fishing and fly casting for more than 20 years. Paul has extensively fished for trout in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America and for the past 25 years has been fly fishing more than 300 days every year. He currently lives in the North Malaysian jungle, fly fishing and guiding for Giant Snakehead and Giant Gourami. A competition caster, he has reached the finals in the World Championships in 5-weight distance on three occasions, winning a Bronze medal last year. Paul has appeared on Discovery Channel in the USA co-hosting a fly fishing programme shot in New Zealand. He is full-time manager of the Sexyloops website and brand. Websites: sexyloops.com and sexyloops.tv
Paul's "Jungle Fishing Sponsors" are PowerFilm Solar: powerfilmsolar.com Lawson Hammocks: lawsonhammock.com and of course he fished the Sexyloops brand of fly rods; The Hot Torpedo.