Yesterday I met up with one of the finest fly tiers I know, Dron Lee, who very kindly gave me 10 Cicada patterns, a couple of grasshoppers and a couple of Snakehead Poppers. I'll get to fish the poppers very soon, tomorrow in fact! The Cicada will have to wait until around the end of January when, I think, they'll be very very effective. Giant Gourami are the most amazing dry fly fish on the planet... but more of that soon!
I'm really excited about this trip. Ashly will be with me this time, not just for a few days here and there, but living with me on the boat and fishing every day. It's going to be a big learning curve for her fishing and I'm really looking forward to seeing her catch her first big Snakehead.
We're heading smack into the Wet Season - basically it rains daily, the downpours are heavy, there's a lot of lightning - but by all accounts the lake is still low in expectation for the massive amount of rain that is due. I'm not kidding when I say that it's going to be uncomfortable fishing through heavy rain. The fishing is possible of course, fishing sinking lines for Jungle Perch and/or hitting the banks with Poppers, chasing the odd set of Snakehead babies. Until the 24hr rains hit we'll fish the dry parts of the day and fly tie and so on during storms. When the real Wet descends I think I'll set up a semi-permanent base camp on an island with a tarp for cooking and campfires, using the boat for fishing and probably sleeping. I have brought a tent this time so it opens up some more options.
Today/tomorrow I'll be working on the roof of the boat. I need to find a way of raising it so we can see out and don't feel too confined during heavy rain, but still be able to lock it down tight when storms pass through. Storms are often accompanied by high winds. I love the storms and they always make me feel invigorated. Lightning hitting the stumps around me has happened a few times. Luckily Ashly is a brave girl!
And this time I will be uploading video on a weekly basis. We'll initially be shooting video on the phones (every other camera of mine - part from the drone - is now officially dead!) but when I get a little bit more organised we'll have something a bit more flexible.
Lastly but certainly not least by any means, about one week each month we guide on the lake - this is Ashly's business. Now I'm not kidding when I tell you that this is the hardest fly fishing you'll ever do. Being able to make an accurate PUALD slipped-lift, shooting shot to place the fly on an area the size of a dinner plate in 1, max 2 seconds flat, is in fly fishing not something that you are normally called upon to do. And then fighting to try to hold the fish, giving a maximum 27lbs pressure direct through to the fly is a new skill that doesn't come easy. Any momentous run means a lost fish. That's just Snakehead. Picking Gourami out of snags is another level again. These fish are incredibly spooky, will eat maybe, and will then fight like Permit - which you cannot allow of course. I can see a need that we open up on the Jungle Perch fishing!
But when it comes down to it, we are the only people teaching fly fishing for Giant Snakehead in North Malaysia. Ashly is Malaysia's first female fishing guide. We are pioneering Giant Gourami fishing on fly. We guide very very limited numbers. As I've said we only guide one week/month but if you are interested in joining us here for a week then please get in touch and we will try to accommodate you. You will have a superb time fishing in the world's oldest rainforest, you may catch one or more of these incredible fish and you will get the best set of fly casting and fishing lessons that it's possible to get!
Everyone who has been keeps coming back, I think that says something; this fishing gets under your skin. I always say that the first time you come you won't hook any (decent) fish. Second time you come you won't land any. Third time you come then you've got it. There have been exceptions but that's really what you can expect. This is not a fishery where you can just come along and get lucky - even with a guide - not unless you get very lucky (without a guide you can forget it). To fly fish for Snakehead and in particular free-rising Snakehead and even more particularly to land Giant Gourami on fly, then you are going to have to learn to fish out of your skin.
I think that's probably why we are the only ones mad enough to do it! Because we can teach you to do this.
Many thanks to Dron for such amazing flies! Thanks Nick Ooi at Tacklebox Adventures for hosting us last weekend. Great to catch up with so many great friends again. Hope to see you guys up North. Now it's time to get wet and get back to jungle fishing!
PS I've been very active again this week in the Hot Torpedo Owner's Club. Last week we built rods with Ritz grips, short specialist grips for Bart, signatures on rods. I'll be making a movie this week of our latest addition to the line-up; the incredible HT10. My rod, serial no4, shall be called "The Snakehead Slayer"...