We will be off to Sabah, Borneo in about 24 hours for the fly-fishing conclave and some pelian (Mahseer) fishing at some of the rivers. There have been plenty of rain of late over at Sabah. Hope that will not affect the fishing too much.
I may attempt to do some updates to this blog from my mobile device if connection and other factors permits. Really looking forward to meeting the fishers there and of course catching some fish!
Flight arrival at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
2pm – 3pm – lunch and depart to Babagon
4pm -6:30pm – fish at Babagon
7pm – Dinner
8pm – 10:30pm : fly tying clinic at Penampang Village Homestay
7:30am : Event Start
7:30am – 12pm : Outdoor casting clinic
12pm – 1pm : Lunch break
1pm – 5pm : continue outdoor casting – tune up clinic
5pm – 6:30pm : fishing
7pm – 8pm : Dinner
8pm – 10:30pm : indoor casting and tying clinic at Penampang Village Homestay
Day – fishing
Evening – Kota Kinabalu
Update: Wednesday 23 January, afternoon.
We’ve made it to Kota Kinabalu or popularly known as KK. Man, those economy flight seats are cramped. I had to turn into a contortionist to last in those chairs.
We had a quickie session at the Babagon river before we settled down. The water is a little murky. Still, a couple of pelian (Mahseer) was raised.
Update: 3:30AM Friday 25 January – Penampang Sabah
I may not be posting photos. Depending on time and connection speed.
We’re off to do some fishing today at some rivers about 2 hours by road from here. I got up a little earlier than the rest. Some of which who were up fly tying and slept later.
We did a little bit of fishing the past two days at Babagon, the venue of the fly fishing conclave. I think everyone managed to catch some fish. The pelian caught are not big though with most averaging 500g. The biggest could be the one by famous tattoo artist, Pip Lubasi, at around 800g. We understand that this was due to the fact that the river was recently harvested.
The fly conclave with the North Borneo Fly Anglers went well. They are an enthusiastic bunch and very quick learner. Some participants came from Sarawak and Indonesia. Casting and tying lesson/demos stretched into the night with Certified Casting Instructors Tony Wee, Ben Foo and Dron Lee.
We had great support from the Sabah Department of Fisheries. A few officials joined us for the casting workshop. Top officers also came personally to support with the Deputy Director Mr. Jephrin giving a short speech, too. And boy, have they got some success stories and even more awesomeness in store. How about a Tagal for the black bass! Are you excited yet? You heard it right, tagal for the revered black bass!
There are now over 480 Tagal rivers in Sabah and with over 50 in Sarawak to-date.
The Babagon Tagal river is teeming with fish in its clear cool water. This is even after the fact that it has been just recently been harvested (hence the lack of big fish).
The place is easily accessible and not far from Kota Kinabalu. The downside of that is there can be lots of human activities as we witnessed yesterday being a public holiday. It is OK for us as we are not really there solely for fishing. There is human activities along nearly the whole stretch of river. The fish is hardly bothered as clearly they are very used to people.
The rest are up and I gotta go. Fingers (and toes) crossed for a good day at the new places…
Update: 8:00AM Saturday 26 January – Kota Kinabalu
Everyone had a blast yesterday. A lot more fish was caught and we got to visit some beautiful rivers. The drive to yesterday’s fishing location around the Tambunan – Keningau district was scenic and up the mountains. Our ears kept popping as we climbed to reach the same altitude as the foot of mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s tallest mountain.
Driving through the small towns and villages dotting the area was fun as livestocks consisting of cows, buffaloes, chicken and others are everywhere! Cow dung litters some of the roads and I believe every single home have at least a couple of dogs as they are all over the place. I’ve not seen places like these in a very long time.
The first river (Apin-Apin) yielded more pelian for everyone. No biggies but their colours richer and in deeper shades of gold and red. Incidentally, our group consists of 17 fishers and we make quite a racket.
The second river (Bandukan) is longer, has more rapids and faster flowing. Only small pelian was caught although we did see some big ones estimated at 2 to 3kg come up to inhale fruits the size of big marbles thrown-in, that we plucked from trees along the riverbank. Sadly the big ones were not interested with the nymphs we threw in.
The third and last river, Monsok, is a much wider river system, very fast flowing and the water murky when we got there. This is where we can also catch sebarau. In the end, only one sebarau was brought out, a couple of pelian and a surprise catch, a haruan (striped snakehead). It is not everyday that you catch a snakehead in a fast flowing river.
Hooking and playing a fish through fly-fishing is a lot of fun but to do that, first you have to put that fly where you want it. And the only way is to learn the basics of fly-casting and to get fundamentals right in the beginning.
Anyone can quickly pick-up the basics of casting with spinning or bait cast gear, even on their own. Fly-casting has too many variables and you need to understand what is going-on. Too many beginners attempt to DIY and in the end finds it too frustrating and complicated. They give up quickly because they cannot catch fish.
That is why events like the UFOM Sabah Borneo Fly-Fishing Conclave is another step in the right direction to promote the sports to a wider audience. The event also fosters closer ties among all individuals, clubs, organizations and everyone else.
By promoting the sport we also promote the fisheries, the Sabah state and what Malaysia has to offer as a whole. The initiatives and support by the Sabah Department of Fisheries is commendable and they are undoubtedly the best department amongst the others in the country. We hope that other state departments will follow suit and carry-on the success from the brainchild of Mr Jephrin. There are huge potentials in sports fishing and eco tourism with what there is to offer.
The event is a success given the short notice everyone had. Now that we know what to expect, we can make future events even better. Let us hope there will be more of such events and with even greater participation.
More photographs of the event and catches can be viewed at the UFOM Facebook Page here.