Malaysia is well known for its many angling or fishing arenas. Malaysian waters are home to a variety of fish both inland and in the deep seas. Not many are aware of these places or are keen in this sport except for the enthusiast.
The tropical seas have Black Marlins, Blue Marlins, Striped Marlins and Pacific Sailfish. Tuna Yellowfin, Bigeye and Dogtooth are found in the deep waters around atolls and drop offs. Wahoo, Giant Trevally, Cobia, Narrowbarred Mackerel, Dorado, Barracuda, Escola, Rainbow Runner, Greater Amberjack Hooked on fishing in Malaysia and big sharks add to the variety of game fish to be found. The deep, nutrient-rich waters of the Spratlys, off the coast of Sabah, offer a virtual fishing paradise. This deepwater area, with coral atolls rising from depths of 1,000 to 2,000 metres, is Malaysia premier saltwater game fishing destination. With strict numbers of boats and anglers permitted at any on time, the Spratlys provide a world-class deep-fishing challenge to those who are passionate about the sport. The islands offshore from Rompin, Johor, are playgrounds of the Pacific Sailfish. These shallow waters produce specimen fish on fly, troll and bait. Up to 20 or more fish have been taken, by a single angler, in one day, with specimens reaching to over 60 kilogrammes. This may be the only place in the world to be called sailfish capital, where massive congregations of sailfish can be found.
The island of Tioman, Pahang, is located close to the country’s Black Marlin territory. Although rarely exceeding 100 kilogram’s in this area, they can be great fun on lighter tackles. Malaysia’s rivers and lakes, too, are great destinations for fishing. The man-made lakes of Malaysia, in particular Lake Kenyir (380 sq km) in Terengganu and Lake Temenggor (150 sq km) in Perak, set against the tropical rainforest backdrop, are favourites among anglers. Originally developed to harness hydroelectric power, the two lakes are now popular tourist attractions and provide a fishing challenge to enthusiasts. Here, there are over 250 species of freshwater fish but anglers come in search of the Giant Snakehead, a powerful and ferocious predator, they grab baits or lures and dash to the nearest physical structure, leaving your line in a tangled mess! Fast flowing waters and deep pools around the area are home to the Malaysian Red Mahseer and Hampala Barb. Accommodation for anglers is usually on houseboats that ply the lakes they provide relaxing accommodation and fishing. Other choices are in chalets and basic wooden rooms.
Fishing in certain parts of Malaysia is under the supervision of park authorities while several fish species (such as the Malaysian Bonytongue) are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and catch-and-release techniques are observed. For fishing holidays in Malaysia, it’s best to hook up with local fishing operators / organizations who can develop a package to suit your group?s particular needs, i.e. saltwater or freshwater fishing, etc. The main season for all fishing is between March and October. A properly-organised fishing package encompassing local knowledge may prove the difference between success and failure. For those who want to take part in competitions or just be a part of the audiences, look out for these fishing competitions happening throughout the year in Malaysia Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge, Sauk Sotong Langkawi (Squid Fishing Fiesta in Langkawi) and International Squid Jigging.
PLANNING A FISHING TRIP
Proper planning is always essential when considering a serious angling trip anywhere. Malaysia is no exception. A properly organised fishing package encompassing local knowledge may prove the difference between success and failure. Fishing is normally customised to suit angling groups and their particular choice of destination. Whether you want salties or freshies, or a combination of both, packages can be tailored accordingly. The main season for all fishing is from the month of March to October each year.
Early correspondence with local fishing organisers is necessary to prepare a suitable schedule to meet your needs. Packages are not inclusive of airfares, international or domestic. Early booking is an absolute in order to ensure availability of resources. The packages can be varied and customised to suite requirements or combined in various ways to enjoy the best of both sea and freshwater. Other saltwater destinations include Tukun / Pulau Perak, located midway between Langkawi and Penang, and Pulau Jarak about 40km out from the mouth of the Perak river. Both of these destinations are known for GT, Sailfish and other species. Pulau Mabul, off the coast of Semporna in South Eastern Sabah is also a deepwater destination. Yellowfin Tuna, Marlin, Sailfish and many other species including big bottom dwellers can be found in these waters. A comfortable refurbished oil platform adjacent to Pulau Mabul will be your home. Fishing is daily, with speedboats taking you to the nearby FADS or drop offs.
Most Operators do not provide fishing tackle as part of their packages. Depending on the type of fishing you want, your operator will recommended the tackle you should bring with you.
RULES, REGULATIONS AND BAG LIMITS
Currently rules and regulations with regard to angling are being drafted by the government. However, at present no legislation has been imposed on angling in general. The only exception to this is with with regard to national and marine parks. In national parks a permit to fish is required and is obtainable for a fee of approximately US$3 from parks’ offices. A camera fee of approximately US$2 is also imposed. In marine parks, fishing is not permitted within 2 nautical miles of the park boundary. In order to sustain the quality of angling, catch and release is highly recommended for the majority of species.
As with all tropical destinations, it is advisable to carry high UVA/UVB sun block skin protection and good quality polarised sunglasses. Hats should be worn at all times during exposure to sun. Anti-malaria protection is strongly recommended.
All angling visitors should arrange their own personal accident insurance and sufficient cover for their fishing tackle, cameras and other valuables.
Many factors need to be considered when it comes to angling and even if all the required measures are taken to ensure a good trip there is still no known method to force a fish to bite. Excellent catches, however, should prevail.
FOOD & DRINKS
All customised fishing itineraries include meals as part of the package while at sea, camping or at major lakes. This, however, is mainly local food. Mineral water is also usually provided. All other drinks and meals are at one’s own expense.
The seas of Malaysia are home to most of the IGFA recognised tropical game fish. Freshwater species are, however, on the most part, indigenous to Malaysia and the surrounding Southeast Asian region.
Endowed with a wide variety of marine and inland angling destinations, Malaysia hosts a plethora of fish species in both environments. The tropical seas hold most of the main target species of tropical game fish including the king of the seas, the Black Marlin and the Blue Marlin. Striped Marlin have also been taken and the Pacific Sailfish is common. Tuna – Yellowfin, Bigeye and dogtooth are found in the deep water areas around atolls and drop offs. Wahoo, Giant Trevally (GT), Cobia, Narrowbarred Mackerel, Dorado, Barracuda, Escolar, Rainbow Runner, Greater Amberjack and big Sharks add to the variety of game fish to be found. The rivers and lakes, surrounded by primeval tropical rainforest, provide a backdrop to angling second to none. This pristine rainforest waterways, although more limited in the number of species extant, never less, can test anglers’ skills to the limit.
Many other species exist, often not in the record book, while quite a number of species are not even identifiable. Recently, Malaysia has recorded its first International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records in both environments. The sheer fact of being able to catch fish in their natural habitat on nature’s own terms means that your angling dreams could become a reality in Malaysia. Coupled with the potential of world record catches, an excellent climate and a wealth of diverse cultures, Malaysia provides an angling venue ‘par excellence’ and the chance to possibly have new species named after you. Whether surrounded by primeval equatorial jungle or pristine tropical islands and atolls angling in Malaysia is sure to prove a rewarding experience.
DEEP SEA FISHING
The deep nutrient rich waters of the Spratlys offer a virtual fishing paradise with an unparalleled variety of species. This exquisite deepwater area, with coral atolls rising from depths of 1,000 – 2,000 m, is Malaysia’s premier saltwater game fishing destination. Strictly controlled with regard to boats and numbers of anglers, and no commercial activity whatsoever, the Spratlys provide a top world-class destination and wide spectrum of species. The Rolex-IGFA Labuan International Offshore Qualifying Event, held annually, is now part of the International Angling Circuit, culminating in the world championship each year. The Myriad islands offshore from Rompin are playgrounds of the Pacific Sailfish. These shallow waters produce specimen fish on fly, troll and bait. Up to 20 or more fish have been taken, by a single angler, in one day, with specimens reaching to over 4 60kg.
This may be the only place in the world where Sailfish from such massive congregations and can be dubbed the world’s Sailfish capital. The Malaysian Angling Association, in conjunction with the Billfish Foundation, Rod & Line Magazine and Mc Donald’s Malaysia, has developed its own tag and release programme for Billfish. Uninhabited rocky islands with steep drop offs provide excellent trolling and live/dead bait fishing opportunities. Popping along atoll drop offs often produces good sized Giant Trevally. Situated at the epicentre of coral diversity, Malaysia’s deep reefs produce oversized specimens of Groupers, Snappers, Coral Trout and other bottom dwellers. Accommodation on remote beautiful islands can be basic but adds to the spirit of adventure that encompasses the majority of angling in Malaysia. The island of Tioman, the setting of the 1960’s film ‘South Pacific’, is located close to the Peninsula’s Black Marlin Territory. Although rarely exceeding 100kg in this area, they can be great fun on lighter tackle. Larger specimens are occasionally recorded.
“lost lots of expensive lures, broke a favourite rod, damaged two reels and really enjoyed myself, Fishing, Food and Fun. I will be back again with more groups. “
Allan Riboe Denmark (Mr. Danish Dynamite).
Fishing tackle shop owner, fishing holiday organiser, holder of eight simultaneous world records, lure and rod designer and world-renowned angler
Malaysia’s rivers and lakes, set amidst lush tropical rainforest, deliver fishing experiences. The two massive man-made lakes of Kenyir, covering a surface area of around 380 sq. km and Temenggor at around 150 sq. km, both developed for the creation of hydroelectric power, provide numerous fishing challenges.
King of these waters is the Giant Snakehead, a powerful and ferocious predator. Although Malaysia boasts over 250 species of freshwater fish, it is only a handful that are of interest to the angler. The Royal Belum Forest reserve in the part of Temenggor has excellent, but remote fishing to challenge the hardiest of anglers. A few houseboats ply the man-made lakes and provide simple but relaxing accommodation and fishing. Other basic accommodation is available upriver, deep in the jungle. Camping trips can be arranged and all supply small boats with outboard engines for anglers and sightseers alike. The virgin jungle backdrop makes for excellent pictures, totally at one with nature. If you are lucky, sharp-eyed and really quiet, there is a generosity of wildlife to be seen in Malaysia’s forests. Monkeys, wild pig, elephant, deer and Tapir are the most seen mammals. Tigers also inhabit the forests of the peninsula, though they are rarely encountered. Bird species from the fish hunting eagle to hornbills, humming birds and jungle fowl can be spotted regularly.