Hunting for the PB
Over the Songkran break I had the privilege of once again getting to fish in Malaysia with Chin from Sport Fishing Asia. This time, instead of sailfish, he introduced me to his new interest: the peacock bass (PB). Originally from the Amazon, this colourful predator was illegally released into the Malaysian freshwater. Soon after, they spread like HIV at a Nana brothel. These suckers were every where thus, turning Malaysia into a lure fisherman’s dream come true and the stuff nightmares for an environmentalist. Being a guy that does a lot of fishing in Thailand, it is hard to imagine anything more aggressive than our giant snakeheads.
Apparently, according to my American friend David, these fish were like “bass on steroids”. I’ve never caught a bass. Let alone, one that’s jacked up with ‘roid rage so Chin’s suggestion to join him in his PB fishing trip was easily more than enticing.
An Unexpected Competition Begins
Bright and early on Saturday 16th of April, Chin was parked outside my Kuala Lumpur apartment ready to drive us to Clear Water Sanctuary (CWS) near Ipoh. The two others sitting in the car was Allan, whom was on the Rompin’ trip with me, and Alvin, the man who had suggested the CWS fishing trip. Oh yeah, and I found a disgustingly sweet beverage from out petrol stop.
CWS, many years back, was a mineral mine. When all the digging was done, all the was left in the ground were ginormous holes that over time filled up with water. Years later, this mining site was transformed into one of the most beautiful golf and country clubs I have ever seen. To top it off, the waters here was really crystal clear as the name suggests. And, for some reason the very deep ponds of the CWS has a thriving PB population. Alvin had already fished there twice before our trip.
In the car we talked about our different fishing styles for the day. Allan and Alvin were both armed with spin-fly tackle. Chin brought with himself his fly fishing gear as well as a spinning rod set armed with plenty of lures. I on the other hand had brought along my Texas rig gear since it has become my most recent obsession.
To decide which setup would be best suited for the day we created a competition with a basic set of rules: each PB caught would count as one point; each striped snaked would count as two points; and anyone awesome enough to land a giant snakehead under our conditions would gain three points. Whoever walks away from the half-day fishing trip would be the winner.
With the Texas rig, I was quite confident that I’d take a pretty good lead on the striped snakehead category seeing that it was the technique I learnt simply for that species. So long as there were striped snakehead I’d be fine.
I wasn’t. There wasn’t a single striped snakehead that would take my lure. I would only get juveniles curiously chasing down my little rubber worm without any takes. My epic fail senses were tingling bad.
The others had caught 5-10 PBs each while I was at zero. Finally, I remembered something from a Rapala promotional video I saw once, “big fish go for big lures!” I quietly thanked the voice in my head and set up a five-inch pumpkin seed coloured soft crawfish. I casted the softbait into the deep and bounced it back one bit at a time, mimicking the creature the lure was meant to imitate.
After a few casts I felt it. A solid bump on the line and the rod. The indication that something had taken the lure. Slacking the line, I let it run and counted to three.
One, two and THREE!
With a quick jerk of rod, I set the hook. Like bass on steroids, I could now tell that David was in no way exaggerating! Every time the fight looked like it was over, this mini Lance Armstrong would keep on going. After a good few minutes of fighting, the fish finally gave in. I kept my guard up just in case it was playing possum but it was really over; the fish had turned to its side from the exhuastion.
At 44cm and roughly 2kgs, the fight was equivalent to that of a 5kg striped catfish!
When I showed the fish to the others they seemed shocked. Apparently no one had caught a peacock that size before! I guess it was worth being stubborn and using my own methods!
Being the most experienced at CWS, Alvin easily scored the highest with over ten PBs. I maintained the number one spot in size but definitely came last in quantity.
Not a single person caught a striped snakehead. In fact, among the thirty fishes that we caught in total, all of them were PB.
My theory is that their aggressive behaviour had made it impossible for other species to breed properly. Even if it was armed with a big sharp set of teeth, the giant snakehead would be helpless in defending its fry from a large school of PB hunters. Which makes me wonder how it would affect fishing in Thailand?
That’s it for the Malaysia trip. What’s your favourite method for catching the peacock bass? Let us know in the comment section below!
* As some of you may notice, I had already posted this story before but due to a little error this post got deleted and I had to write it again from scratch.