Sungai Kejar, Royal Belum – 27 AUG 2016
Today was going to be a big day. It has been 3 years since our last visit to Sungai Kejar. Our first ever upstream trip which has led me to fall in love with freshwater fishing. Day 2 is on, and our morning session will start in Sungai Kejar as we are still in search for our first Sebarau of the trip. They were not around on day 1, hopefully we will find one in the Sungai Kejar section.
We wake up fairly early, with Asrazi already prepare us some fried rice. Thanks to his fiery Anchovy Sambal, it was a full-filling breakfast. Didn’t waste any time and we moved further north about 1km from Sungai Mes. It is evident that the water level was so low and the boat hit the river bed, 1km from the Sungai Kejar base camp. Weather suggest that it was raining in central Kelantan which feeds the river with more water but still it has no effect on the water level. Thus we need to push the boat further up river until to a point we are within walking distance of the base camp. The bed of the river was muddy about 1 feet deep and we can feel sand which hold the ground steady.
Upstream sediment forms the river bed with decaying leaves which gives the river a natural brownish coloration. So the last point of boat entry was at the Jahai people settlement or village. Jahai People is one of six Negrito tribes that inhabit the Peninsula of Malaysia. They are believed to have migrated to Southeast Asia about 60,000 years ago, but according to people of Belum Lama Village, they are not the original inhabitants of the Royal Belum because of their nomadic life. Such a wonderful fact that people have lived in this area for thousand of years.
Maneuvering the boat upstream was no easy challenge and we could not have made it without great team effort. I took us probably 30 minutes by boat and another 30 minutes on foot. The feature of Sungai Kejar was a very long and straight river, with several rock formation can be seen only during low tide. The water was crystal clear and very cold, but as we reach a short section Sungai Kejar rapids, it turns murky.
After we parked our boat, it took us another 10 minute on foot to reach Sungai Kejar base camp. It was not empty as regiment of the Malaysian Royal Army were stationed at that base and were about to head back home after 2 months of boarder operations. It is just less than 10km from Thailand, which makes Royal Belum as one of the most preferred route for smugglers and even animal poachers from Thailand. Thus the MRA help to safe guard the area from any foreign threats.
We just couldn’t wait anymore, while I was sitting to catch my breath, Zahir has already hooked a Sebarau. It is a promising sign. A good size, and a keeper for lunch today. We walked further upstream and stopped by along the rapids to cast out our spoons. I couldn’t keep thus I wait closer to the base camp as some of the stuff is left behind. It is amazing to see a number of small Sebarau would roam freely at the edge of the rapid. Even big splashes from the banks, a sign of even bigger Sebarau.
We came across a group tour off 30 pax, heading even further upstream for Mahseer fishing. It is great to see families brought their you ones to experience the oldest jungle in the world. By mid-day its time to head back to base camp and greet Azrul’s team in Sungai Mes. It would have been better if we catch a bit more Sebarau, but we are grateful to experience such a beautiful place.
Once we reach Sungai Mes, it is good to see Azrul’s team already setting up base camp and Epul becoming the head chef for lunch. The whole upstream journey knocked me out for good. After a welcoming shower in the Sungai Mes stream, dark cloud start to form around Sungai Kejar mountains. A sign that it will rain soon. It rains heavily, but thanks to the trees, it reduces the intensity within the base camp. As soon as the rains stops, they head our for their evening fishing session while my session was cut short due to fatigue haha.
That day, 3 Toman were landed and for bottom fishing, we didn’t catch any. I did stayed for about 2 hours fishing from the river banks but still no takers. It has been an amazing journey so far. Feels a bit secured when all team members are here. Last day tomorrow and hopefully we can do even better than today :)… To Be Continued