Ulu Sia, Pahang – 6 AUG 2016
It was back on 2013 when Fishyology first deployment on an upstream fishing expedition, at a location called Jeram Ketir, upnorth of Royal Belum. Upstream fishing can be considered very challenging in terms of the physical ability of an angler including their mental ability to surpass all obstacle to ensure a great fishing outing. Thanks to our recce team who did their first camping trip in Raub back in June, has open up a new opportunity to explore a section of a mountain river called Sg Sia.
Initially 12 individual sign up to take part of this exploration, but in the end only 4 were up to the challenge. Myself, Azrul, Gadek and Fitri were about to experience a journey of our lifetime. After 2 months of preparation, finally opportunity arises for us to land one of Malaysia’s trophy species, the Copper Mahseer or also known as Tengas among local. The journey took us 5 hours to reach a small town outside Raub. We also make several pit stop for lunch and supplies, and finally we reach Abg Rosli’s house at 2.00pm.
Abg Rosli, the owner of Eco Kembara Camp is one extraordinary guy when it comes to fishing, eco-tourism and wild life protector. He just started improving the ecological state of Sg Leper, thanks to a collaboration with the Fisheries Department, releasing thousands of fishes and he was given the responsibility to feed the fish appropriately. A synergistic collaboration between community and agency has helped developed the “kampung” economy. I find it inspirational and hopefully Fishyology can be part of this collaboration to boost the presence of this locality. A short stop for a cup of cold tea and Pengat Ubi is a welcoming treat. We chatted for a while and he told us that a team is ready to bring us to Ulu Sia.
We unload all our stuff and load it on the back of Abg Rosli’s Hilux 4×4 truck. This is it, we are about to begin our upstream fishing expedition. It took us 40 minutes to reach the first check point, a small village just before the off-road track begin. Here we pick up 2 of our guides, Pak Razak and Pak Chu. Luckily several other local villagers decided to join us to experience Ulu Sia themselves. We recruited 8 other individual, it is a relief that now we have 12 people to part of this journey and we do feel a bit safer as we will be spending 2 night in the jungle.
I think in any jungle expedition, it is always safer to have at-least 8 people and a guide. Honestly we have to be ready to react at every worst-case scenario that might happen when we are in a Jungle. It is not a walk in the park scenario or a visit to your ordinary fishing pond. We must be prepared that we are exposed to all sort of possible danger like animal attack, poisonous snakes and bugs. Even the road up ahead is perilous and hazardous. Thus never underestimate the journey and always prepare for the worst.
The first stage was to travel along a loggers track that head straight to Ulu Sia. We travel via a 4×4 truck and the journey took us 1 hour before we had to travel by foot for another 2 hours. The track were used for loggers to carry out hundred year old, huge log like Meranti and Chengal. It was a sickening sight to witness an utter destruction of nature. The track were developed to cross several hills, journey by foot would take days to reach Ulu Sia as it is quite a mountainous region. The track flows just at the ledge of the hills, nothing covers the edge, if our 4×4 run-off the track it can be fatal, it will take several second to reach the bottom as the hill is quite high and steep.
I still remember we made it half way and at half way point, we need to drive up around 100m 60 degrees uphill cllimb haha. How is that even possible!! Abg Rosli described to us if the attempt to climb the steep hill fail, we need to quickly move out of the car and stuck a rock underneath the tire to stop it from sliding back. FOR REAL??? apparently yes. The truck slowly move forward and it felt like the truck was about to turn over haha!! It was a gut wrenching experience, I was sweating and praying that we can make it. It was too steep!
The 4×4 were roaring for last gasp of torque and finally we made it to the top! What a relief! The next hill climb and decent seems less intimidating after that, the journey was put to halt as the track were blocked by a land slide. We get out off the car and discussed were we should camp for the night. At first they decided to stop at midway point and not to proceed to Ulu Sia. Well boys, we are not here to camp midway. Ulu Sia is our target and I’m not serving second best stories to our readers. Realistically, I am not that fit to travel more than 2 hours to Ulu Sia. My spirit is much stronger than my physical look. As they waste more time discussing where to camp for the night, I packed my bag and move along the track to Ulu Sia.
Luckily they made the same choice to head to Ulu Sia. Other wise I have to back track and my macho plan backfires me hahaha. It was a tiring walk, travelling uphill and downhill until we reach the end of the road. In order to get to Ulu Sia, we will begin our final stage trekking the Jungle Section to Ulu Sia. We continue our track to our base camp. We travel along the ledge of the hill. Again, one false move can be a nasty 20-30ft fall below. We progresses slowly, and finally we have reach our base camp. Azrul turn back and picked up my 60kg back pack. It was a relief to see we have reach our camp point. I hugged Pak Chu and smiled at him, I’ve made it!!! We setup base camp and prepare to cook our dinner. It was a bit late and we only manage a short luring session with Senses 50s and 3d Popper. Getting the base camp ready is priority and we manage to do it on time.
Pak Chu cast out his fishing net and he gathered a batch of small Tengas or Copper Mahseer for dinner. We work collectively preparing base camp and dinner. Thanks to one of the guys who bring Tempoyak or Fermented Durian which will cooked into a broth and we add fish in it. Some of the smaller ones will be fried til crisp. A humble dinner indeed, enjoyed by every single member of the expedition. Nothing is being put to waste and we are grateful for the lovely dinner.
We can’t hardly wait to begin our night fishing session. Copper Mahseer are well known to be nocturnal hunter, and trophy size Tengas would roam the shallow water in search for food. Bottom fishing for Tengas an only use bait that is available in our surrounding like grasshopers, freshwater shrimp and even fermented palm oil seed are some of the effective bait for Tengas. All lights must be turned off and stay absolutely quite to increase our chance in catching this sensitive fish.
I hooked my first Tengas, a several inch specimen. Thanks to a freshwater prawn, clearly part of the Copper Mahseer diet. Several other attempt proves fruitless as most of the time, Tengas would outsmart us and run away without being caught. First night was awesome with Azrul landed several big size Tengas. It will be enough for our lunch tomorrow. The fish is gutted and kept in the water as the water that flows in Sg Sia is super cold! We didn’t wait long and decided to call the day early as we still have another full day fishing tomorrow 🙂