Air Kuning, Perak – 12 NOV 2016
Hello everyone,before I start off with Part 2 of my visit to Air Kuning, here is a summary of Part 1 from my trip to Air Kuning on the 29th of October.(You can read the whole article too if you’d like J )
It was my first visit to Air Kuning with some friends who were regulars. Having friends who knew what they were doing was a plus. Their experience played a role in making it a great trip. It was monsoon season but over the day of fishing the weather was great. It was a mix of heat from the sun and occasional light rain which was nice. The fishing was great and the day started with a 46cm Peacock Bass on soft plastic and until the end of the day other sizes were landed. I witnessed firsthand how big soft plastic worms were used for Peacock Bass and I had quite an experience watching Air Kuning Peacock Bass busting baitfish. I did not catch any Peacocks but I went back home with a smile.. and anticipation. Why? I remember as Mr.Fahmi dropped me off in Subang Jaya, I told him I was keen to visit Air Kuning again if the chance came. Things went well for me as Mr.Fahmi contacted me if I was in for a trip on the 12th of November. The obvious answer was a yes… and here is how it went.
Trip members were Mr.Azman, Duane, Mr.Roshdi (Duane’s father), Mr.Fahmi, me and a star appearance by Mr.Radzik. Our journey began slightly later than the previous trip. We left at 6 a.m and arrived at 8.30 a.m. I traveled with Mr.Radzik and Mr.Fahmi while Duane traveled with his dad and Mr.Azman. Duane’s group left much earlier at 3 a.m and they began fishing earlier. The latest info on Air Kuning received the night before was not very promising. It rained heavily. This could cause water levels to rise and get colder. If water from a nearby river floods in, the water could get higher and murkier. The plan was to fish another lake called “Lombong Kandang” which was packed with weeds but plans changed last minute as we decided to fish the same lake we fished in part 1 which was the big main lake. The routine from the previous trip repeated with a two and a half hour journey from Subang Jaya. I slept for a majority of the journey and was woken up by System Of A Down’s Chop Suey playing hard as we reached the town of Air Kuning.
After breakfast at 8:30 a.m we rushed off to the launch point at the main lake.Some other guys with boats were about to launch. As we prepped our gear I spotted some surface activity around, but not as much when compared to the first trip. It was sunny and we were off to the left side of the launch point. It was a bay where I spotted an angler hook up on a Peacock on my previous trip. The water was crystal clear and there were a few deep areas with hydrilla. We were targeting Striped Snakeheads by fishing topwater lures close to vegetation around this bay. We spent roughly half an hour with only Mr.Radzik and Mr.Fahmi having some topwater misses from Peacock Bass.
The Island, Air Kuning
We sped off to the island and anchored down where Mr.Azman caught the 46cm Peacock Bass in the previous trip. It was obvious that water levels were higher by one or two feet. The other guys probed the area with big soft plastic worms and creature baits while I focused on fishing a carolina rigged 2” Powerbait Power Minnow in hopes of a small Peacock to start the day. Both of the guys had missed bites on carolina rigged creature baits and Mr.Fahmi missed a hookset. The next two hours was pretty much down time with barely any bites on various baits. We spotted a group of Peacock Bass fry but our attempts to fool the parent were a waste of time. Fast forward to 12 p.m, we were at an area I call the shallows. There were some small islands around with shallow sandy sloping banks. The sand was great for Peacock Bass and the shallow areas seemed great for snakeheads. Some areas had clumps of hydrilla which were good ambush points. Duane’s boat was already here earlier but they did not have any action. By then the sun was up above our heads and what we were about to experience was quite amazing yet frustrating. Peacock Bass began to pop out of nowhere to scoop bugs off the surface and bust baitfish at the edge of the shallows. They were all around the boat but we could not spot them even in the clear water. By the time we looked what was left was just a big tail swirl. We tried all we could and the results were disappointing.
I noticed baitfish scattered with a wake behind them beside some hydrilla. I made a quick cast and I twitched my 4” soft plastic through the group of bait. The wake changed direction and blasted my soft plastic but it missed. I was a bit happy because it was my first piece of action for the day even though it was a small Peacock Bass. Later on Mr.Fahmi had a bite from a Haruan on the Zoom Trick Worm but he missed the hookset. By 1 p.m it was already too hot and we parked at an island and jumped in. We cooled off in the waters of Air Kuning and an accidental discovery came.. the water was actually quite warm but areas with hydrilla was colder. No wonder the Peacocks love hydrilla. We continued our Peacock pursuit from land as small Peacocks chased baitfish around in the shallows. Fishing smaller baits would definitely fool them but we weren’t interested. Mr.Radzik had multiple bites on a dropshot without a hook up. I walked a bit further to a bay while the other guys probed the islands with soft plastics. I noticed some tail wakes in the shallow bay which was an open area with a hydrilla bottom. After a few minutes of fishing an 8.5cm topwater pencil, a Peacock Bass blasted it and the lure disappeared as my line began to zig zag. Just 2 seconds later the lure floated back up and boy was I disappointed. Further efforts brought no results and I gathered up with the guys back at the boat at 2:20 p.m to move to our next destination, ‘The Channel’. On the horizon, dark clouds were coming with an even darker shade right below. That was not a good sign.. or so I thought.
The Channel, Air Kuning
If you have read part 1, you would probably know that the channel could be a productive place. For a deeper description of ‘The Channel’, check out part 1.We parked at the corner of ‘The Channel’ where it seemed to get deeper. The hydrilla bottom was ideal for Peacock Bass to cruise around, making it a key target zone. We began probing the area with soft plastics with no action. The rain arrived with high winds which added a little drama to the scene. Luckily the rain was not too heavy and it was scattered. Over my life I have experienced both bad times and tremendously good times while fishing in the rain.. Sometimes it could be a blessing in disguise. I saw one of Mr.Fahmi’s long 9” worms on the deck and he let me try it out. It was my first time trying a 9” worm (the colour was electric blue – as shown in the previous trip, this colour seems to trigger bites from Peacock Bass) and I just tried to duplicate what Mr.Fahmi did.
I fished it on a Jika rig and hopped it aggressively in and out of hydrilla across the bend of the channel. It felt weird for me. Such a long bait just didn’t feel right for me. Until at one point I felt a dull weight which felt like trash. You know how it feels to pull on trash. For a second I lifted the rod slowly and blurted out “What is this”,”Is this a fish” and then it happened. The rod was jerked forward. Mr.Fahmi and Radzik told me to set the hook and the next split second decision I made would determine the outcome. The soft plastic was roughly 30 meters out and I had a 5 meter leader of 15lb mono on (I will explain later). I cranked quickly and set the hook with weight on the end. It was good solid weight and after a few more cranks the weight turned back to dull weight. The soft plastic came back to the boat a bit torn up along with hydrilla and disappointment. I wasted the hookset. It is fishing but I couldn’t accept the fact that I failed that one. I was very sure it was a solid fish and it could have easily broken my personal record Peacock at 46cm.(All lost fish are record breakers right.Hahaha).
After that I set the hook on each bump I had. I am quite sure Mr.Fahmi and Mr.Radzik were laughing inside as I continued pointless hooksets on weeds. Haha. The other guys rigged on the same bait and began probing the area. As Mr.Fahmi pulled his soft plastic worm back, a Peacock Bass whacked it by the boat and missed. Somehow a bite window opened, possibly due to the rain and dark clouds above. The window only remained open for a short while as the Peacock seemed to disappear just 5 minutes later. The next hour produced nothing so we rolled on to the next destination, Mini Kenyir.
Nothing much happened at Mini Kenyir other than a group of juvenile Giant Snakeheads rising for air.Mr.Fahmi casted a long worm into the group and bubbles came out. It was a bite possibly from one of the juveniles or a parent. Mr.Fahmi also managed to hook up a small Striped Snakehead which was guarding its fry ball in a weed edge but he lost the fish to weeds. At 4:40 p.m we sped off to an area packed with weeds just before the entry to Mini Kenyir from the main lake. On the previous trip Mr.Azman caught a juvenile here but the landscape was totally different. On this trip all the weeds were gone and flooded with 2 feet of water. It was snakehead heaven. On Mr.Radzik’s second cast with a craw soft plastic I heard a “gulp” along with a tail swirl followed by a hookset. The fish made it into weeds and it got off. We continued fishing in the area with a few Haruans chasing our soft plastics. We drifted over the weeds while casting and we were back near the entry of Mini Kenyir. I saw a splash and casted a 9” soft plastic worm right to it.
After a few hops I felt pecks and I missed the hookset. It was probably a juvenile Peacock Bass. We were back at the island at 5:40 p.m and we fished there until 7 p.m with no results. Duane’s boat was there as well but they left for the launch point a bit earlier. As the darkness came the Peacocks began chasing baitfish around but there was much less activity compared to the same time on the previous trip. Mr.Radzik had a fish gulp his topwater pencil but it floated back up.
Another fish tried Mr.Fahmi’s pencil but missed. Before we left a solid Giant Snakehead came up by the boat, twice. It was tempting. We sped off to the launch point to end our day and Duane told me that Mr.Roshdi scored a 2kg Giant Snakehead on the 9” worm, Mr.Azman scored a 30cm+ Peacock on a popper while Duane missed some juvenile Giant Snakeheads. It was another day of fishing and another day of learning. Here are some words from Mr.Radzik that described the day. ”We had bites, we had fish on the end of the line but we didn’t land them, that’s all. It is fishing. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be fun.“
In conclusion, line selection matters. Here is what I noticed from part 1 and part 2. In part 1,I fished with a braided mainline and a 1 meter plus fluorocarbon leader. Halfway through out the trip I wondered why the other guys had bites while I had close to nothing. Mr.Fahmi recommended me to tie on a few meters of mono as a leader and that changed the game on both trips.I had way more bites.The guys that fished full mono and full fluoro had even better bites. As Mr.Roshdi puts it, “Rule #1 – Always use fluorocarbon leader”.That is one thing I will remember if I go Peacock Bass fishing..I could blame the mono for my missed hookset as well..hahaha.
Now, back on to the second conclusion..utilizing techniques that are not commonly used can produce good results. Fishing big worms in both trips brought the best bites and Mr.Fahmi said that Air Kuning Peacock Bass can still be considered wild and they will readily take big worms,provided that they are in the area.Big worms won’t bring you a ton of bites,but when you do get a bite it will be from some quality fish.Before the last,the usual run and gun approach.While fishing with Mr.Fahmi, I noticed that he will probe every single inch of water before moving on to the next spot.The usual drill would be run and gun for most anglers. Stop at a spot, fish it quickly and if there is no action, move on to the next spot. Boat engine noise can spook fish in an area and cause them to not bite. Waiting it out a bit and probing the area thoroughly can bring bites especially in pressured waters like Air Kuning where the fish probably recognize the sound of boat engines. This is where patience comes into play. Lastly,ever changing conditions make every day of fishing different. Variable conditions can put fish at places that you can’t predict. Be ready to adapt to those changes and always have a positive mindset on the water.Tight lines.
For an in depth read on the soft plastic approaches used in this article,particularly with long soft plastic worms, visit www.hardworkingangler.com.
A big thanks goes out to the guys that joined both trips for sharing information to complete the articles and special thanks to Duane and Mr.Azman Ramli for contributing pictures from the trip.