Sg Sia, Pahang – 7 Aug 2016
On The Hunt, Copper Mahseer
In the morning, is the time when you will feel all the pain bruises of last night journey. Muscle pain, bruises and even minor cuts can be seen along my arm. Hardly felt it during the night because our mind is too focus in catching the mighty Copper Mahseer or Tengas. It was still early in the morning, the smell of coffee and clean air was just perfect. Definitely living out here in the jungle was nice, but cold during the night. Even your sleeping bag might not be able to hold the heat. A hot cup of joe is definitely a welcoming treat to get your day started. Our daytime fishing is very limited, 12 hours for today and we will start off heading down stream from our base camp. Azrul, Fitri and Me along with a guide will travel downstream along the river to try our luck for even bigger size Copper Mahseer.
A quick breakfast and pack our stuff and rod, we head downstream along a rocky track. Basically, we would follow the stream and search for a deep pool. I bet its the only place where big fish would stay hidden and ambush its pray. I wouldn’t say the Copper Mahseer is an aggressive predator like the Hampala Barb or Sebarau. I think they are an opportunist species, eating what ever flows in front of the them. It can be small bugs, fruits and even other small fishes.
As we move along downstream, the river disappear from our eyes and flows underneath the rocks. We can still hear the sound of splashing water underneath us. Maneuvering from one bolder to another was a bit risky as the surface sometimes too slippery.
We stop at our first deep pool and notice several big Tengas were swimming around the area. We move closely to the area and try to move as slow as possible without making too much noise. They are quite sensitive and once they feel threaten, they would swim away and hide underneath the huge boulders. We set up on top of a huge boulder and the pool was 10ft below. Using a small cricket as bait, we drop our bait hoping to catch one big Tengas.
After the first 30 minutes, I did get one quick jolt but that was it. Nothing more after that. To be in this position still give you the eerie feeling that one false move we could fall under and swept away by the fast flowing current. The guide told us stories that once not too long ago a kid was swept away and drown. The people could not save the poor soul as the body were swept underneath the rocks.
This is a new fishing experience for us. There is limited room for error, you pull too early than you miss, too late the fish would escape by snagging and cutting the line. It is not the usual open space or not even close to Close Quarter Battle, this is something else. Morning session was not fruitful. Base camp radio in, “Lunch is Ready!”. We pack our bag and track upward and return to base.
Again, it was a long way back to base camp. Indeed lunch is ready, plain white rice, sambal grilled Tengas and fried salted fish were considered as 5 star meal in this humid jungle haha. A sip of cold coffee kills the thirst straight away, after straight into the water to cool off from the rising humidity. Within base camp, we share our presence with another species, Bee’s! They are literally everywhere, and would go after sweaty shirt and even us who are always sweating. They are not aggressive, hardly stung by them, they just roam around and sometimes landed on us. At first it can be intimidating, as back home even a single Bee can be threat to us haha, but here, we try to coexist together.
The only way to ward off the bee’s was to take a shower. Even at midday, the water is still cold. Sit back and relax, its like undergoing the best spa treatment in a natural way. At that point, I do feel a bit hungry, but the hunger to land bigger Mahseer were on top of the list. Our village crew decided to move upstream to fancy their chance of catching bigger fish. We skip lunch and move upstream along the strong rapids and big boulders.
Equipped with my trusty rubber boots, it gives you the necessary grip to move along the rapids. We would concentrate our fishing not at calm deep pool but fast strong waterway and waterfall. At first it doesn’t make any sense. How can a fish survive in this fast flowing water? It was not long when Azrul manage to land his trophy Copper Mahseer. A solid 2kg specimen was the kinda fish that will make your day. Copperish silver body, a physical figure that is close to the mighty Mahseer. This fish was strong, as it able to survive in this fast flowing water.
Luckily I manage to witness up close when the second fish were hooked, it swims upstream through the falling water. I couldn’t tell it indefinitely but the line simply when’t upstream. It manages to escape. Third time lucky finally landed my trophy Copper Mahseer. About the same size of Azrul’s but maybe smaller. What a feeling to witness the awesome strength of this powerful fish. We continue to maneuver upstream, it all went quite after that. Alhamdulillah, with 2 fish I think we can call off our afternoon session. We did travel further up, the rocky rapid were no more.
The rapid section length was about 100m, and the upper part was a shallow stream with a section of deep flow, hardly 1ft at shallower part and 3ft in deeper area. We will explore further this upper section after we head back to base camp. Thankfully there is land pathway that head straight to base camp. It only took us 10 minutes to reach base camp and through the rapids I think it took us 1 hour or even more.
Drained all the my energy up until this point. We make ourselves some quick healthy meal. Grilled the fish that we just caught, thanks to Fitri special grill sauce. Abg Gadek was not in a position to follow us due to health reason. He was fishing at the same spot whole day and manage to catch one Copper Mahseer himself. It is proven that this place is still in pristine condition. We are lucky to be invited by Abg Rosli to fish in this area. Soon this are will be gone completely as the state government will build a small hydro dam to power the village nearby. I wish this place stays as it is but if the development helped to boost the social well-being of the surrounding area, let it be.
Later that day, we continue on exploring the upper section of Sg Sia, it was such a calm and peaceful place. Small juvenile tengas can be seen swimming around the area, disperse when we were about to come closer. Had’nt done any fishing at this point. I think we had enough for today. It was simply a walk through to one of probably most beautiful place I’ve been. Too bad I forgot my camera at this point, I guess the mental images is still fresh within me. We stopped by to help Pak Jak and Pak Chu pickup some Petai for dinner. Fresh picked from the jungle haha.
They uses a long bamboo and tied a hook eye at the end of that bamboo point. Once they grab the petai from the branch, simple twist and pull will dropped the whole bunch of petai. A rarely seen how to pick them fresh from their tree. We head back to base camp before it went dark. We cooked our dinner, special on the menu today Sambal Petai and Deep fried Tengas.
The final night we didn’t do anything. Simple sharing experience and stories was far more fascinating. The stories of Urban Legend of Sg Sia, hunting journey and even fishing. If we considered this place is still pristine, imagine what it’s like 10 years ago. I think personally after analyzing the local’s here, I think Sg Sia is in good hand. They are quite protective about their river and I think they know that this can become one of their main source for food and other resources.
The Journey Home
We clear our base camp earlier in the morning. Muscle pain and bruises intensify in the second day haha. The back track journey to meet abg Rosli at pickup up point took us an hour to reach by foot. Waiting for us to take us back to civilization. I look back and I am happy that I’ve been to this wonderful place. I meet new friends especially Fitri and Abg Gadek. I gain new experience from my fishing journey, and after all that long walk, it is worth-it to visit Ulu Sia, Pahang. Thank you to the people of Sia, they have been very kind and supportive through out the journey.
It does feel good to back back to civilization. Email start pouring in after days of disconnecting from the internet world. On the same day of our journey, PokemonGo was release and I bet thousand would embark on poke catching journey. To me, they are missing the best journey which happens to be 2 hours from KL and I’m glad that fishing has definitely shaped me to become a better man..