The Big Wet

The Big Wet

Paul Arden | Monday, 26 October 2020

Here in the Malaysian Belum-Temenggor rainforest the Wet Season runs from November through January on a typical year and it pours down!! I’ve seen the lake rise 1 metre in 24 hrs and from the beginning to the end of the Wet Season there can be a 10m lake level rise. But that doesn’t mean it’s raining all the time. Usually it rains in the mid or late afternoon through until next morning. Sometimes, however, it does rain non-stop for a week!

When I was living in my 12’ boat that Lars cleverly called the “Condom” – because that’s what it looks like with the tarp – the Wet could prevent me from fishing. It’s all very well fishing in the rain, but trying to sleep in a wet boat, while wet yourself, is little fun I can tell you! A couple of times I’ve left the country, for example we fished Tasmania for three months. Other years I’ve helped a friend out by running his rainforest bar.


November is always a good month to fish here. In fact last year the best two weeks were the last week in November and first week in December. Zhongxiang visited for one of those weeks and we found 34 sets of Snakehead babies in 4 days! That’s good going! Richard was over for the other week and he had some cracking Snakehead including a couple over 5KG.


The rising water level encourages the Snakehead to spawn. The eggs hatch around 24 hrs after laying, after which the adults look after their young, giving us some of the best fishing on the lake.


The Wet also encourages Jungle Perch to run up the flooded feeder streams and rivers to spawn – consequently the river mouth fishing can be excellent (and I’ll definitely take a trip with the lads into Sungai Tiang to see what is possible. (Incidentally assuming borders are open next Feb-April then this will be primetime to visit Sungai Tiang for the Mahseer fishing because then the river is gin clear).


A couple of other things happen too; the surface water temperature on the lake drops from 32/34C to around 28C. We don’t see much in the way of free-rising Snakehead in the Wet as a consequence. I believe that since colder water contains more oxygen, the Snakehead find all they need from the water. Also the thermocline comes closer to the surface. On the sounder I can see it around 12’ deep - as opposed to around 30’ mid-summer. Finally the lake water clarity improves. With less sunlight and more overcast days the algae gets knocked back and visibility can be as much as 10-12 feet. However fish show up very well against the green background and so a strong algae colour is not a disadvantage.


One of the main reasons I wanted the bigger “Battleship” boat was for fishing the Wet. Sitting out on the lake watching the rain tip down, I think is a lot of fun - and of course I can grab opportunities between rain, rain, rain to go and fish. I’ve always been an outdoors person and would much rather be outside experiencing the weather up close than sitting indoors doing whatever you people do who live there!


I have some projects to complete and the Wet Season will enable me to do these. Obviously it’s a good time to work on Sexyloops if I moor in 4G coverage; I would like to start work on the Sexyloops Glossary. It’s a good time for organising rod design - I would like to design rods for UK stillwater anglers. It’s prime fishing time for those who can handle a little extra water in their beer. I have two episodes for the TV show to present – hopefully it will fish its socks off. And finally, there is the internal fitting-out of the Battleship: building and installing cupboards, a kitchen and flytying worktop, lots of bamboo facing and an upstairs bar and lumiline casting platform to build.


Basically I’m really looking forward to the Wet Season this year! One of the things I *really* want to try is to fish sinking lines for Jungle Perch. I think it’s time to expand my skills/knowledge with these fish and this will be a new challenge. Basically it’s all about to happen!!!


Hopefully next year I’ll be able to see some of you over here again...


The original plan this year was to actually avoid some of the Wet Season and visit my friends in Australia and New Zealand. Of course this is currently completely impossible.


However we are currently selling rods down there for the new season. Basically for you guys and girls, there are two models which you should really take a close look. One is the HT6. This is a great all-round rod and was originally designed for backcountry NZ. It has flex your can feel down to the grip (remember when flyrods used to feel good?) but it’s also lightweight, crisp and fast. Perfect for fishing those mountain streams I spent 20 years scrambling up.


My favourite fishing rods have been Loomis IMX and Sage RPL. That should tell you something about Hot Torpedo design. Of course we have the advantage nowadays that materials allow us to go lighter and still maintain strength. The HT is not a copy of these, I think it’s an improvement, it’s a step from that point forwards ignoring the 20 years trend to make the lower sections feel rigid. You know there is a problem when everyone is overlining right? Even flyline manufacturers are making their lines heavy. So the HT design is very much influenced by rods that were once comfortable to cast and fish. Basically the HT is the way flyrods should be! You don’t have to redesign the wheel to make it better.


But the rod I think that you should all get down south is the HT4! This rod is tremendous for fishing the lakes. It cuts a wicked loop into the wind, has high line speed, can throw a long cast when needed... but when you need to fish fine ie .14mm then absolutely no problems. It was originally designed for fishing .10mm tippets, so you really have a flexible all-round go-to trout rod that is bang on for sight fishing Tassie (and NZ) lakes. It was actually my final attempt to make a 9’ rod in 4WT with the Hot Torpedo action and if it hadn’t worked I was going to give it up as an impossible combination to achieve. That’s how close I was!! However the Gourami Gods were smiling that day and they gave me something that is just extraordinary. I think it's right on the limit of what is currently possible.


If it’s really windy and you are “Sharking” the Great Lake (where I got married) then it’s the HT6. But for everything else I fish the HT4. These are designed for true-to-weight flylines. I use the Mastery Expert Distance 6 or Thunderbolt 6 on the HT6 and a SA DT4 Amplitude on the HT4.  Big fish are not a problem on the HT4. I’ve had 8lb trout in Russia, 5KG Gourami in Malaysia and 16lb Carp in Jersey on mine :D In fact I think it prefers big fish!


For those of you can make it here to fish with me – you’ll have to be in Malaysia because the borders are not going to open this year – then please do try to make it here before mid December. Generally speaking it goes quiet here from then through to the end of January. In fact I usually discourage bookings right through until mid-March. So I guess that’s when I’ll be doing most of the Manshit boat fitting I have planned!


Have a great week everyone.


Cheers, Paul