It’s been a delayed trip so far. I’ve been waiting in Penang in Malaysia for ten days more than I thought. Paul Arden world casting guru, Hot Torpedo rod designer and owner of the famous web site
has been waiting to come and get me and take me to his Jungle.
They have told me I”m too old for eye surgery using laser technology. The cataracts that have been plaguing me tying flies and tying on small flies quickly over the past two years are not going away and they recommend taking out my cloudy human lenses and putting in some clear synthetic ones.
I agree with them as its half the price or maybe even less than what it would cost In New Zealand, knowing that makes me scrape enough together to get it done.
I’ve read online that 3% of people may have problem as I go back in for the third time as they try to help me actually see out of my right eye and its all not really going to plan. It’s looking like I’m in that magic 3%! “Oh! Bugger, best I keep smiling “ I think to myself.
Paul’s telling me to hurry up as he can’t keep waiting when there are fish to chase!. I”m getting restless with all the waiting rooms and eye tests and fiddling around they are doing with my right eye ball, as the left one they had already done is perfect. I decided one eye is good enough and before I fly back out hopefully they can fix the right eye before I start guiding. I can’t miss out on any fishing , its been that long since I actually got out fishing .
Little did I know in two weeks I would be back out the Jungle and back to the eye specialists with no focus in my right eye after discovering two eyes are way better than one in the Jungle and for any fly designs i was meant to be working on.
In my room at the hotel all my rods and equipment are laying on the bed If you walked in and did not know it was fishing equipment ,the police would no doubt be called.. My Hot Torpedo fly rod that I’ve had for years and have called Mabel, is looking a bit sad. I tell her she will soon be happy as soon she will be feeling the pull of fish again, plus she’s on holiday! Now if you thought people were strange that talk to dogs, how about grown men talking to fly rods?.
It”s all arranged and Paul being the night owl he is will drive down from his base (a small one-man boat) in the middle of the Malaysian Jungle and pick me up, very early in the morning at 3.30am to avoid any traffic jams as there are some big religious events happening which is not on our agenda.
I decide to have a couple of beers with some other travelers and stay awake till 3.30 am and meet Paul in the car park straight across from the hotel. At 3.27am I send a text asking when does he think he will arrive, as i thought he may be delayed. I lay back on the bed stretching my back waiting on an answer. Before i realize it the force of nature or the beers send me to sleep. Suddenly at 4.45 am I wake up. I look at my phone with my good eye there are 28 missed calls and one text, I read the text “where the F### are you? that's only the nicest words used in his text!. I dive out of the hotel and meet Paul. It was probably not the best start to any trip. :)
Paul my guide has lots of work to catch up on due to my delays. So we base ourselves where a internet signal can be found.
We head out the first evening and float into the darkness.The surface of the water is covered by hundreds of thousands of spent Termites. No Gourami lips break the surface to eat any of the floatation of dead bodies. Paul can’t believe it ! I can.
The next day with a boat full of noddles, chilies, bread and cheese slices and an x marked on a map. I take one of his guides boats down the lake to explore. Paul has given me a lend of his Hot Torpedo 10 wgt a very stiff powerful rod which was all rigged up and ready to go, for giant snakehead. This rod is also now used by many of the top competitors in the world casting competions. If I had known that at the time I would have been casting 200 meters easy to all the fish at the other side of the lake!!, like a real bloke.
The x on the map is a small island one of many on the lake and I slide my boat ashore as I step out of the boat. I can’t help but notice large holes in the mud, large elephant foot prints are heading to towards the same trees and the only ones on this island that I need to go and hang my hammock from. Using my old tracker skills I realize that the prints were a day old and can’t see any elephants with my good eye, so I carry on to the trees and rig up my hammock.
I decide to go to bed early, before I can figure out whats going on I”m laying upside down on the ground. Slightly confused and dozy i get back into the hammock and stretch out, again I end up in the dirt. The hammock Paul had given me somehow keeps throwing me to the ground. “he’s given me the dud hammock” I think to myself. I should be upset, though laughing at myself seemed more fun. I now wished I had brought my tent there pretty hard to fall out of.
The next day despite the heavy thunderstorm showers I sneak around the lake shores in the boat like James Bond with a fishing rod. It’s all very exciting. Every now and then a snakehead would come up for air. Using Paul’s super fast snakehead cast that he had taught me in the car, my popper would still land too late though some times just in time. This was super fast challenging casting and i was loving it.
The pull of a snakehead is powerful and the quickness of making the shot makes it all worth it, when it comes together.
With no Paul to help me yet, I struggle. I manage to land two in two days around 1 kilo though maybe they were 10kg as I did not have a scale to weigh them. :)
I find some strange pink looking blob thing moving just under the surface in a bay. I thought they were some sort of exotic turtles at first mating under the surface,Though as I got closer. The small fry of a mother and father snakehead could be seen. I blasted my popper again and again into the middle of the fry, waiting on the parents to come flying out from under them and eat my fly. As that's what all the text books and movies say happens. Nothing happened.
On one group of quite large sized snakehead young I did see ma and pa snakehead though they both avoided my popper fly
Only when one of the small snakehead latched onto my popper did big mama come rushing out and munched down on her little one. Some may say she was trying to save her young one, though from my recent observation, that for me did not seem to be the case!.
On the forth night Mr sexy himself arrived to come and get me. I told him snakehead stories ,he quickly told me I should have waited on the parents coming to the surface and not cast into the middle of the young as the snakehead generally then know ,that something not right.Lesson learned .
We then headed off for the weekend to the big city of KL some 4 hours south as Paul was training up and helping some local fly fishers prepare for there MCI fly casting tests. It was great to sit there and listen to the guru himself help these people and It was impossible not learn lots from listening.
With our bellies full of spicy curries we were soon heading back to the land of giant snakehead, It was getting dark and I though, there was no way we would be back in the boats on the lake in the dark when we get back, how wrong was I.
I look at my watch its 1.38pm. I’m still following the light from Paul’s head torch the spray from his outboard starts to slow down and I also decrease my revs and try gently to ease my boat along beside his on the orange clay muddy banking. Though my James Bond plan was ruined as I hit the revs a bit to hard and bumped his boat . He was being nice as he looked at me startled. I could see the imaginary think bubble above his head saying “you unless ###t “. I just smiled and said sorry.
Paul was going to sleep on his boat tied up to the shore and due to my boat called “the Ronan “ not being set up to sleep on, I was going to be sleeping on the island. It had steep banks long grass and one tree and trying to hang my hammock from just one tree was not going to work. It meant I would have no choice but to sleep in the long grass along with the brown and black solider ants with pincers like nail clippers and obviously a good chance of a cuddle by a local snake?At this point I wished I had not been sorry for bumping his boat.
Paul offered me one of his warm beers to try and stop me for complaining.I settled for nine of them after the seventh I started to forgive him after all, he had bought me a coconut and some black Bananas for my dinner earlier. He’s been a great guide and host so I don’t complain much, after all I”m trying to loose some weight but what really made my night more pleasurable was that I could still log on to my Tinder account even in the jungle I may just get lucky.