Peacock Bass Fishing in Malaysia

Are there peacock bass in Malaysia? Yes, peacock bass are possibly one of the most commonly targeted freshwater fish species in Malaysia. The reason could be because their numbers are quite prolific.


Although there are a fairly healthy population of peacock bass in the country (mainly in lakes and ponds), the sizes are not large. Any fish caught that are between 40cm to 50cm (16-20 inches) are considered good fish. Anything above 50cm (20 inches) are considered trophy size and can be proud of.

Big cichla temensis caught in Malaysia
Peacock bass just under 60cm which are considered a very good sized fish

Are peacock bass native to Malaysia?

They are not.

When was peacock bass introduced into Malaysia?

It all started in the mid 1990s in the silver state of Malaysia, Perak specifically in the Kinta Valley area.

The Kinta Valley area, not far from Ipoh, the capital city of Perak is practically littered with disused tin mining ponds. There were thousands of them, even to this day.

A sample of the area taken from Google maps showing the spread of mining ponds in the Kinta Valley area

The glory days of tin mining ended in the 1980s due to competition and falling tin price. One by one the tin mines stopped operating and the ‘holes-in-the-ground’ were left idle to slowly fill with water and life.

Why Were Peacock Bass Brought In?

It is said peacock bass was first brought into Malaysia by fish farms as a potential food source and for the ornamental fish market. But the fish were neither popular as a food fish as they are not that good eating and was not popular with the fish-keeping community either.

But they sure are popular with fishing enthusiasts! A fish that looks great (in some ways), eats almost anything be it natural or artificial, jumps and fights hard. All the ingredient of a good sport-fish.

Double-edged Sword

The peacock bass were also aggressive feeders, grew big fast and grew in their numbers fast, too. Which is both a good and bad thing as they can decimate a pond pretty quick.

This fish became both very popular and were also a hot controversial topic as concerns were raised about this invasive alien fish killing off the local aquatic residents.

The First Peacock Bass Competition

I remember driving to Bidor, with young family in tow and taking part in the first ever peacock bass fishing competition that was organised by the now defunct ROD & LINE magazine.

The competition was a bust. The pond was crowded with competitors standing shoulder to shoulder. Very few fish was caught in the half-day competition, I didn’t get a single bite.

Flooding contributed to peacock bass getting into more and more places around the state soon after.

The Spread

Soon the peacock bass started to show up in neighbouring state of Selangor, which also has many disused mining ponds and lakes.

The glory days of fishing for them was in the late 1990s to early to mid-2000s in terms of numbers and size. That was also when I started guided fishing trips for them.

The introduction of peacock bass also became controversial with certain tree-hugger anglers that sang a bad tune for the alien species. While they may not be entirely wrong, it was also not helpful to the recreational fishing industry.

Currently there are very few states in Malaysia where you will not find peacock bass in.

Much of that was attributed to anglers releasing peacock bass locally for their convenience.

Perak and Selangor however, remain the states with the highest concentration of the species.

JW holding up a cichla temensis peacock bass
JW with a decent temensis peacock bass (cichla temensis hybrid in Malaysia?)

Do People Keep Their Catch?

The 2000’s saw a lot of culling, not helped by the influx of migrant workers and locals that grew a taste for killing and netting them for food.

Although their presence grew and peacock bass started to inhabit more parts of peninsular Malaysia, quality fishing spots became scarce. Instead of the common +/- 50cm size fish we often catch, 20+cm fish became the norm and it was less worthwhile spending time chasing after them.

Fast-forward closer to around 2017-2020, sport anglers became more secretive about their peacock bass fishing holes and the (possibly hybrid) temensis species began to appear more frequently into the scene.

All that factors made peacock bass fishing in Malaysia ‘less predictable’ as to where good fishing may be found at any one time. A good reliable source would presumably greatly improve chances.

Good peacock bass fishing spots in Malaysia often mean heavy underwater vegetation growth as these habitats are ideal for the species.

Fishing in places with plenty of aquatic plants also mean you cannot take it easy when you get hooked up, especially to a nice fish.

Popular Methods of Fishing for Peacock Bass

Lure casting and fly fishing are very popular. A myriad of hard and soft lures can be used depending on specific local knowledge.

Fly fishing have proven to be a very effective method and can often out-fish lures. So deadly even spin-fishers use flies regularly aided by a small weight to cast them out.

Fly fishing is a very effective method for catching peacock bass

Are they easy to catch?

Local anglers often fish land based but unless the place sees very little fishing pressure, fishing from a boat is much more productive as one can cover a lot more water.

Even though peacock bass can be found in many ponds and lakes scattered throughout the country, they are constantly under heavy fishing pressure.

And because there are no fishing regulations, the fishing are often inconsistent.

As soon as words get out or posts in social media channels of good fishing anywhere, pretty soon an outing to that location will be a futile attempt to experience good action.

What do you think of peacock bass fishing? Leave a comment.

For more information about fishing for peacock bass in Malaysia, get in touch using the Contact form in the menu above.

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