The time has come, news of its re-opening spread like wildfire however the response seemed dull, spirits though lifted quickly simmered down with rumours that the elusive Giant Snakeheads of Rawang’s Natural Exotic Fish Fishing pond (NEFFP) were just not worth a try. Open only once a year, shouldn’t something of a “limited edition” nature in the sport of Fishing attract anglers like fishes to pellets?
It piqued our curiosity, which we enjoy rewarding. We spoke to anglers who have tried fishing it and most of them headed home without a triumphant story to share, for some, not even a glimpse of the ferocious predator was caught. “Deep Divers”, the successful few said worked best in the pond, which allows only the use of artificial lures and single, de-barbed hooks. We must admit, we were not a big fan of the Giant Snakehead, they were always located in areas that require a lot more effort to get to in the wild which does not complement our idea of “family-friendly fishing trips”. A Giant Snakehead pond that is not flocked by anglers even on its limited-time-only opening definitely struck our fancy.
The Giant Snakeheads are also known as the “freshwater great whites”, a voracious predator that will chase and eat anything that fits in their mouths (Wiki), however, not in the NEFFP. Could it be that being tricked endlessly forces them to adapt to their surroundings- developing their senses to recognise an artificial lure from their usual diet? The first mistake most amateur anglers make is to assume that fishes are not smart.
Too early on a Sunday morning, Gill, Naweshad and I prepared our gears whilst waiting on our friends Tessy & Victor to try out the Giant Snakehead pond. We wanted to pick the ideal spot early however further enquiries with the caretakers led to the discovery that there was a high chance no one else would be fishing alongside us. That may not be great news for them, however it was music to our ears. An entire Snakehead pond to ourselves, all the better to test, understand & unravel its many mysteries.
With our shadows casted on the water, the Snakeheads responded with surface explosions. What a welcome!… Was it a welcome? Their heads peeped out of the water, as if to investigate who we were and what were our intentions parading into their territory with our gears. We did no research prior and were not well informed of their general habits; all we had going on for us were recommended deep diver lures, a positive attitude & the willingness to give our best for the 3-hour fishing duration. In the wise words of Rob Beattie that we carry with us always, “fish well, and then you can blank with dignity”.
Tessy and Victor arrived after a few casts, Tessy armed with a tip, “retrieve as fast as you can” and wham! a take on my rod upon increasing my retrieve speed. I saw my lure being spat out just as fast as it was taken. I stared in disbelief at my floating diver, no time to waste, we continued on. Switching lures, a variety of colours, sizes, even rattlers; all of which achieved at least one bite before it was spat out. The drag setting on our reels were ideal, however something was not quite right. It is good to take note that a fast retrieve is highly dependent on the type of lure you chose- it is essential that you are able to obtain the ideal swim of your lure at a speed that would get the Snakeheads chasing. Therefore try a variance from fast to slow and keep to the speed that gets them chasing and biting for that lure of choice.
Naweshad decided it was time to turn to Google, Snakeheads are surface predators- he tried popping, it didn’t work. He then said, “If I were a fish, would I want to bite onto a hard lure?”; he ran to the car and took out a bag of soft plastics he always had handy & began casting a red and white pre rigged paddle tail swimbait. First cast, he was on a fish! This time, it hung on a little longer before a successful spit of the lure. We all switched. Constant bites on soft plastics, but none as successful as the red & white Naweshad had on. I decided to match his bait to determine if that was preferred.
First cast and my world was sent on an ultra-light tackle roller coaster ride. It sped off to the opposite end of where I stood. I hung on for dear life, anxious, not wanting to lose it this time. I kept the line tight and gave it the freedom to run if it so wishes, reeling it in slow and steadily. There was sheer power at the end of my line. My biceps, wrist and back was beginning to feel a strain, the sun was mercilessly shining and within a few minutes, I was drenched in my own sweat. Injecting an extra effort, I lifted my rod to catch a glimpse of its colour, instead, my heart sank at what I saw. The Snakehead was tail-hooked.
I was baffled, a part of me wishing it would escape the hook this time. It was just one cast before the powerful take, how could that have possibly happened? The ghillie disrupted my train of worried thoughts with an estimated weight, “six kilograms!”, he said in Malay. That meant it was one of the heavier specimen in the pond, I wanted even more to land it, to understanding what that would look like up close. After 10 minutes of battle, slowly melting under the intense heat, the ghillie nets what was a 6.5Kg Giant Snakehead sending disbelief and adrenaline shooting through my system. I understood its ferocity as it clamps down on the fish grip with its sharp teeth refusing to let go. Lifting it for a photograph after such an intense fight under the sun was straining parts of my body I normally never paid any attention to.
How was it tail hooked? According to Victor, when a Snakehead refuses something offered, it would use it’s tail to whip it away- it may have tried to do that with my lure, accidentally hooking itself. That however explains the powerful, explosive take I felt just seconds upon my lure landing in the water.
The heat wave in Malaysia was draining our efforts. One battle alone had me knackered. I tried casting after but had to call it day with an hour left to the session. Everyone experienced powerful takes and fights which lasted seconds before the lures were spat out, continuously. Could the almost impossible nature of landing the Snakeheads be turning the anglers away from this pond? The constant bites were still keeping our mission alive, we knew it was only a matter of time before one of us could get a proper hook-up and win the battle.
At the very last minute, a Snakehead slams onto Naweshad’s lure, sending his rod bending, his posture tense as he hangs on to his gear, keeping his line tight- hoping, praying, to finally land this elusive creature. We were anxious for him to land it, silently focusing on his efforts. It surfaced, proving that it was not only a decent size, but it was hooked beautifully! Finally, after 3-hours of non-stop efforts casting in the scorching heat, a 4kg Giant Snakehead is landed by Naweshad, for all of us! The shades and patterns on it were mesmerising to say the least. Photographs proof how ecstatic Naweshad felt, and we shared the same sentiments.
It would take a lot more trips over a significant period of time to truly unravel the mystery of the pond, however, we fail to understand why anglers are quick to shun the idea of trying it out. Fishing requires effort, patience, focus and perseverance, amongst many others- all of which is tested in this pond. Something we anglers need, to remind us why we love what we do for when we succeed, the adrenaline, confidence and triumph is unmatched.
If you would like to try something new over the weekend this month (March 2016), we highly encourage you to give this pond a try. Fish well, and then you can blank with dignity, remember? One man’s inability to land a Giant Snakehead does not determine your experience if you were to try it out. So grab your gear, get out there and good luck!
Need more inspiration? Watch the video of our trip below!
The NEFFP Giant Snakehead Pond
(Known locally as Toman Pond)
Dates open: 1st March – 30th March
Business hours: 8a.m – 6p.m
Fee: RM 100/ 3 hours
Refundable Deposit: RM 50
– Lure fishing only
-Single de-barbed hooks only
-Catch & Release