Malaysia Game Fish Species, Sebarau
MALAYSIA FRESHWATER GAME FISH SPECIES
Order : Cypriniformes
Family : CYPRINIDAE
Species : Hampala microlepidota
IGFA All Tackle Record : 6.5kg @ 14.33lb, Temenggor Lake, Perak, Malaysia. SEPT 2012
The Sebarau, or ‘Hampala Barb’, inhabits various aquatic habitats including clear rivers and streams, which typically flow through intact forest, with either silty, sandy or gravelly substrates. The species can also adapt to more muddy, lowland rivers and reservoirs. It is considered to be a freshwater migratory species.
The word ‘Hampala’ derives from the Javanese name for the species. In Malaysia it is called the ‘Sebarau’, the name used here. This fish has large, dark-edged silver to golden- brown scales. Its body is laterally compressed, and its head is large. Its fins are orange to red, and the tail fin is edged with a black border. Typically there is a dark patch below the dorsal fin, which may extend some way down the flank almost reaching the pelvic fin, however in some specimens this feature may be rather faint. The eyes are located towards the top of the head.
The Game Plan
Generally, in my point of view. Sebarau is ranked as one of the top tier fresh water game fish predator in Malaysia. Scientifically we cannot prove where does a Sebarau stand in the ecosystem hierarchy and we are not the subject matter expert in this field but we judge based on our own observation and experience fishing for this magnificent predator. Sebarau is the sought after species in Malaysia among lure fishing enthusiast. This is due to its natural predatory instinct, dominating the Malaysian freshwater ecosystem and will always went after other smaller fish as part of their diet and if we are lucky they will fall for our lure. Another great feat is that it can be fished all year round, although some people would say it is always better during the Monsoon Season (Oct-Jan), but for us, we can catch them in any season.
Like in Japan and and the Americas they would have Bass as one of their favorite species. In South East Asia and especially Malaysia we love our Sebarau for its agility and strength. As described earlier by researchers, they inhabits stream, river and even big freshwater lakes in Malaysia. Thus those places will be the best place to catch a Sebarau. We have caught them in the main Temenggor-Belum Lake, plus we have experience fishing for Sebarau in the heart Bera River and even in the rapids of upstream Royal Belum State Park. Like I said earlier, they dominated the field and that makes them a great Game Fish Species.
Attack Mode, Deconstructed
Ambush! That is how a Sebarau would prey on little bait fish. They would dig deep in underwater structure formed by rocks or even fallen tree’s. The moment they see an opportunity, they would dash out and hammered the helpless prey. Like an underwater torpedo, they would use their agility and accuracy to beat their prey. Countless time we have seen a Sebarau would aim for one single bait fish and hunt it down like a homing missile locked on to the target. Thus when fishing with lure, an angler must read the field and place the lure at the correct spot for better result.
Sebarau is also well known to hunt in a small group. The only time when you can see this happens when it encircle a Toman or Giant Snake Head fingerlings or even a school of bait fish. It is one of the best sightings for an angler to experience, an the intensity when it hammered that school of fish is beyond words. All we can see is just big splashes and even vaguely figure of the silver body of Sebarau.
The Ultimate Lure Fishing Experience
Ultimately they best way in catching a Sebarau to use a lure. You can still catch’em with bait like small live fish or even frogs and bug larva. Lure fishing is much more enjoyable and to feel it take the lure at the end of the line is an ecstasy. Even fly fishing along the rapids with a floating line or near underwater structure with a sinking line is proven to be effective. The standard equipment is less demanding and as mentioned below.
The most easiest way in catching a Sebarau is to use metallic spoon. The basic 3 colors Chrome, Bronze and Gold are the three must have lure in your tackle box when going out fishing for Sebarau. Size range of 4 grams and 12 grams is recommended for any fishing field but bigger and heavier range is more suitable to scout deeper section or even increase the castability range when engaging further target.
The recommended shape will be Abu Islands, Yozuri Altima’s and Tokwan’s Iron Lure and it doesn’t have to be a branded spoon, even substitute product works well and pretty much equally lethal. The only changes to be made is to equipped it a single hook as they are effective against snags. Spoons often use to penetrate their strong hole “underwater structure” where lure is less effective.
There are 1001 choices of lures that are being offered in the market, color selection, depth range and size plays an important role. It should suits the characteristic and environment of our fishing ground. Goldish, bright hot colors are some basic indicator of an effective color. Natural color is effective in clear water and rattling works too. Infinite selection but at the end of the day, it takes practice and experience to help anglers to select the best selection of lure for the infamous Sebarau.
Since the rapid development of Malaysia fishing industry back in the 90’s until today, our Sebarau is facing heavy pressure to sustain itself due to excessive fishing, illegal fishing method, destruction of natural habitat and the natural struggle with invasive species. Over the years catch report has dropped significantly and overall size were smaller compared to the previous years. Soon or later, we could lose one of our prized game fish species. Local authorities doesn’t impose any specific guidelines on catch limit or size limit. Even without those guidelines, we ourselves as anglers should discipline our selves to follow this basic rule to help ease the pressure and hopefully give them a fair chance of survival.