Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fantastic Fishing 3 - Highway Haruan

By Trevor Tau Fik
It was a case of being driven by desperation. With the recent thunderstorm spell keeping us indoors (yikes!) so often, Mr Koh and the gang were showing signs of withdrawal dementia. We had to go fishing… quick!

Pic 1 - Some of the roadside ponds are quite productive, mainly because anglers tend to ignore such spots.
We had limited options, ‘coz most of our “within Selangor” spots were either flooded or inaccessible. Since off-road locations were out, we considered places closer to rural main roads, which normally run along higher ground. Our quest took us to Batang Berjuntai, which is a good place to start, as there are numerous ponds and lakes located right beside the trunk road. Let me just say right out that, normally, I wouldn’t give these sites so much as a second glance. But being in a van with four restless anglermen who were ready to froth at the mouth, these were pressing times.
Our first stop was an inviting pond with lush aquatic vegetation on one side and clear water on the other, ideal for both dual-treble lures as well as single-hook soft plastics. For a roadside reject, the pond actually looked pretty good.
As usual, our motley crew presented a mixed buffet of offerings to the fish. I stuck with my all-time haruan favourite of a soft rubber frog, while Mr Koh brought out his array of candy-coloured soft plastics. Mr Onn the naturalist, naturally, preferred to use good old-fashioned frogs. To maximize chances of a hit, our other two friends used a combination of both natural and artificial bait.
Pic 2 - Bad news for anglers ... possible sign of otters in the area.
Apart from the sizzling effects of the late afternoon sun, nothing was felt in the first half hour. But soon after that, I saw a splash near Mr Koh, who was fishing directly across me on the opposite bank. Next, I noticed the splash moving towards him and I thought it was odd for the fish to remain on the surface for so long. Then I realized that he had a hit, and he was actually hauling in his captive which was tumbling and thrashing on the surface. When he raised the splasher, we saw that it was only a pre-teen haruan of about seven inches, although the fish thought of itself as much more, wriggling and wrangling furiously as Mr Koh unhooked it.
With that capture, I felt more confident. If the fishes here could be tempted by a soft plastic, surely my realistic rubber frog could entice more than a tap or two? Thankfully, it did. But not before Mr Onn demonstrated (yet again) his indisputable premier prowess at haruan hunting.

Pic 3 - Mr Koh caught this fat stick with
his improvised "SP Spinnerbait".

Just seconds before, I had heard Mr Onn talking loudly on his cellphone, so I paid him no heed. But then suddenly, he was at the very edge of the pond, grappling with a crooked rod that seemed to have a life of its own. As he struggled more to bring the fish closer, we saw the water in front of him begin to heave. Big fish! Since none of us were close enough to assist him, we could only watch in awe as he threw every trick in the book at the fish, in an attempt to raise its head. I must have been turning blue from holding my breath when finally, the haughty haruan burst into the air with a rancorous roll of its thick body. Perhaps it might have thought to thrash it out on the surface, hoping to throw the hook. But the fact that it was now on the surface, was all that mattered to Mr Onn. He quickly muscled his rod back as far as it would go, and then started walking backwards. We could see that there was only one way this would end… the disgruntled fish was forcibly slid up the bank, slashing its head in protest all the way. Even from a distance, we could see that it was a trophy. The fact that it was raised from a roadside pond, made it even more of a prized catch.

Pic 4 - Mr Onn with the roadside rogue from "Haruanasia".
As I was taking pictures of it later, Mr Onn revealed that he had seen the fish come up for a gulp of air, when he was on the phone. Seeing two big swirls as the fish went back down, he correctly deduced that it was a sizeable specimen. All it took was one cast… and wham! The bait was taken with such force that the shock was felt from tip to butt, confirming its worthy size. Mr Onn made a scathing strike and… well, we already know what happened after that.
Pic 5 - Mr Onn's catch chooses not to be photo friendly.
We also already know that I eventually did get a bite on my rubber frog, which didn’t result in much actually. But since it was my only catch, it gets a mention (hehe). While working my bait along the weeds at the bank, I felt a little bump and saw the familiar feed-bubbles rise to the surface. Yeah man, I got a take. As I lined up for the strike, the fish started moving slowly to my right. It was so keen to run off with its meal that I had to retrieve almost six feet before I caught up with it. Once I did, I let him have it with malice. Because of its modest size, my unrestrained whip completely blasted the toddler haruan clear out of the water. I quickly unhooked, photographed and swum it to help it recover from the shock, before sending it on its way.
Pic 6 - My little haruan kicking and screaming to be let loose.
While Mr Onn and I rejoiced with Mr Koh on having enjoyed such hospitality from our roadside host, our friends Mr Lim and Mr Ken were unfortunately not accorded the same courtesy. It was then decided to try fishing at another pond on the opposite side of the road. The move was readily accepted by the scoreless duo, who saw it as a chance for them to break even. Apparently, these grown men have a kinda ongoing wager, where fishless anglers have to pay $1 extra when they split the bill for dinner later (lol).
Pic 7 - The evergreen "Tomanasia".


The next pond looked “wilder” than its neighbour, with plenty of greenery all around. In fact, we had some difficulty accessing its banks. Since fishing spots were limited here, I opted to sit this one out. Mr Onn switched to a spinnerbait and promptly defended his “Gladiator” title with the swift capture of a fledgling toman. Mr Koh also caught a couple of ‘em, as did Mr Ken awhile later.
Pic 8 - One of the many young citizens of "Tomanasia" that we met.
I amused myself thinking of the earlier pond as “Haruanasia”, and this one as “Tomanasia”, with the dividing road being their common border. Just as I finished the thought, Mr Lim introduced another citizen here, an elegant jelawat, dressed in its native gold and red finery. I took a picture of them in the illuminating brass light of the setting sun, which enhanced the jelawat’s colour and gave Mr Lim a radiant glow on his face. Or maybe his glow came from the relief of finally getting a catch, thus saving him from our sniggering at the dinner table.

Pic 9 - Mr Lim basks in golden glory with his ingot.
But we gladly traded the sniggers for the hearty laughter that came from having had a wonderful day where everyone on the trip caught something, which is quite a rare accomplishment these days. And we achieved it at possibly one of the lowest ranking locations… without even really trying.
Crazed Peacocks will be splashing onto your screens come May 10th, 2008!!!


Unknown said...

Nice catch. Better keep the place a secret, or else, it will be like a 'pasar malam'.

Unknown said...

yo tau fik.. nice to see & hear you out on ur super duper lookin blog n great write ups.. sori been M.I.A. but my hands are itchy, so expect your phone to ring wif my no showin up :) till then.. cheers mate!