By Trevor Tau Fik
Angling is a lot like life … you never know what your next move may bring. Your best efforts could come to naught, just as easily as your casual moves could result in some out-of-this-world achievements.
I did not yet know it at the time, but I had just been invited to go on the fishing trip of the year.
The intro was simple and honest, as my friend Chin is not one to exaggerate. He had been to this place a coupla times before in search of bujuk, and the catch had been "good".
"But there is a fair amount of trekking involved," he cautioned.
When you’re not looking at the water, try exploring the amazing surroundings where you’re fishing. I met this ‘alien bug’ in between my bujuk bashing sessions.
While Chin is not exactly Mr Buff Bod, he is pretty fit and has ... erm, how shall I say this... "fat in all the right places".
So I thought if he can do it ... skinny ol' me should do just fine.
The trek in wasn't all that bad, except that it was two hours long! And we got stung by bees!
But I guess if it were easily accessible to all and sundry, the place would be mostly fished out like Batang Berjuntai and Bukit Beruntung.
Bujuk aka jungle haruan … one of the more tenacious members of the Chana clan.If they are there, catching them is easy coz they are just so goddam badass that they’d snap at anything.
The first thing an angler would appreciate about this place is its pristine state. There are no signs of human passage and you kinda get the feeling that the grass around you had been growing in peace since Malaya.
The are also no signs of fish ... no splashes, swirls or "boofs". But don't let that fool you.
We had the good fortune of arriving here in the dry season, where the fish were confined to sporadic weed-ringed pools of deep water landscaped with fallen timber - prime bujuk swims.
Territorial predators that had not been "educated" on the perils of lures stuck in little pools of water? It'd be like shooting fish in a barrel!
Every hole I worked would need no more than five casts. If a bujuk was in there ... wham! And it didn't even matter whether I was using a hard-bodied or soft-plastic lure ... wham!
The bujuk here are fin perfect, with commando colours and combat skills to match.
This video is the epitome of bujuk bashing at its best!
One of the larger bujuk I caught regurgitated this partly-digested prey. It looked like a bulus (whiting), though I cannot imagine how that could be true.
I pretty much caught a fish from every hole I tried, with the bigger ones usually caught on its second hit on my offering. Here's how it would go down with the big boys ...
I'd often start with a hard-bodied surface lure, chugging it along the weedline. When it came out to open water ... boof! Most times, that would be followed by a hookup, some frenzied thrashing and then some random bujuk of about 800gm would be unceremoniously hoisted on land. But quite a few times, the thrashing after the hookup would be startlingly more intense - indicating a BIG fish. Then it would break free! #@%$!!!
And no amount of persuasion after that with the surface lure would get me another hit. Figuring that my quarry may be sulking at the bottom, I would switch to a weighted soft-plastic presentation and crawl it along the bottom. Again, it would usually not take more than five casts... tope! Then there'd be the tell-tale feeding bubbles rising to the surface. A savage strike at just about this time is usually followed by some crazed-ass splashing and thrashing and if I'd been really polite to the spirits of the forest, they'd let me land a good bujuk the size of my arm - about 1.5kgs.
I prefer bright-hued surface lures, as these territorial predators seem to have a thing for them … and you get to see the explosive hit as they come up and ‘boof’ the lure.
Check out this wicked video. I got a tap on the 1st cast, but on the 2nd cast ... BOOF!!!
Given that not all the fishes here are big (we did catch a bucketful of Cornetto-sized bujuk as well), but here and only here can you actually hope and even expect to meet bujuk in excess of a kilo on a regular basis.
FYI, Chin's best fish here was as big as HIS arm... easily 2.5kgs. I'll buy you a Ferrari and throw in a case of champagne if you can show me a place within 2 hours of the city where you can consistently catch bujuk of between 1 - 2kgs.
Had to work a little harder for this one, as its swim was beyond a thick swath of jungle ferns. Also had to deal with some mean kerengga (pincer ants) too!
As if the obliging fishes and surreal jungle sights weren't enough to put this place on my mental map of the top places to fish, we met an orang asli pakcik on our trek out (which took 3 hours *groan*).
The friendly pakcik said he sets out a few lines at the lower reaches of the river and regularly hauls in tapah of between 3 - 5kgs.
Wait... what? Did he just say t-t-t-tapah?!
He probably sensed that I didn't quite believe him when I asked him when was the last time he caught anything here, to which he replied that he'd just taken two good fish the night before.
Before I could utter any more doubt-laced questions, he said that he's got the fishes at home - kept alive in a tank and all ... and offered to sell it to us!
That's all Chin and the guys needed to hear. We hauled ass outta there, followed the pakcik back to his quaint kampung house, grabbed the two glorious tapah and headed home.
Now that we know that this place has bountiful bujuk and thumping tapah ... I guess we won't be fishing anywhere else for quite awhile.
Erm ... did I say this was the fishing trip of the year? Heck, make that the trip of a lifetime!
Part of our catch before the sack got too heavy and we started releasing ‘em. The biggest one here was an impressive 19 inches.