Kenyir Lake becomes an angler’s paradise during the monsoon season


Kenyir Lake is known for game freshwater fishing like sebarau or toman. — Photos: Eddie Chua

The best time to go to Kenyir Lake in Terengganu is during the monsoon season when the huge body of water transforms into an angler’s paradise.

Unlike the disruption in many parts of the country, this season offers a thrilling opportunity for game freshwater fishing for keen anglers.

During this period, the lake teems with Malaysian Jungle Perch, locally known as sebarau and toman. Both these carnivorous species, known for their aggressive hunting patterns, become particularly active during and after rainfalls.

The rainy season, especially in the afternoons and evenings, brings a spike in their activity, making them more likely to bite.

This increased activity, attributed to the abundance of food washed into the lake and cooler water temperatures, offers anglers a higher chance of a successful catch.

Kenyir Lake is the largest man-made lake in South-East Asia, covering an area of over 260sq km. The damming of the Kenyir River formed it, and its waters encompass an intricate network of 340 islands, 14 waterfalls, various rapids and carbonate caves.

The lake is surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest estimated to be over 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world.

The monsoon months also coincide with the sebarau spawning season. This natural phenomenon increases their numbers around the lake, particularly hiding in submerged logs and weedy banks.

During this time, the sebarau are more concentrated and active, making them easier to locate and catch.

The tree stumps in Kenyir Lake are the spots to fish for sebarau and toman, where they hide to hunt their prey.The tree stumps in Kenyir Lake are the spots to fish for sebarau and toman, where they hide to hunt their prey.

With plenty of food being washed to the lake, all the fish, including the smallest species, would come out to find food in the open. Similarly, the toman, too, would come out to hunt their prey.

The influx of rainwater during the monsoon season would also lead to higher water levels in Kenyir Lake, expanding the fishing area and habitats for sebarau and toman.

These conditions often bring the fish closer to the surface and the shore, making them more accessible to anglers.

Sebarau and toman are attracted to fast-retrieving lures, including poppers, stickbaits, spoons, plugs, and spinnerbaits.

Their predatory nature means they are drawn to lures that mimic the movement of their prey, making aggressive retrieval methods more effective.

The ideal setup includes a medium or fast-action rod paired with a small spinning or casting reel.

Lines between 15lb and 25lb are recommended, with a preference for braided over monofilament due to their strength and durability.

Long rods, preferably over six feet, are advised for achieving greater casting distances.

Given the sebarau and toman’s powerful jaws, strong, durable hooks are essential to prevent breakage and ensure a successful catch.

Catch and release keep sebarau population at the lake from dwindling.Catch and release keep sebarau population at the lake from dwindling.

Anglers may add a short wire leader for the toman to prevent the fish’s sharp teeth from cutting the line.

The peak hours for fishing these two species are at dawn and dusk.

This is when they actively hunt for food near the lake’s natural structures.

Listening to the splashing sounds of feeding both species can guide anglers to the right spot.

Practising catch and release, especially with larger specimens, is crucial for maintaining the fish population in Kenyir Lake.

This approach ensures the sustainability of the species and the continued enjoyment of future anglers.

Anglers are encouraged to consider their impact on the lake’s ecosystem. This includes properly disposing of waste and avoiding practices that could harm the lake’s natural balance.

Kenyir Lake is not just a fishing destination; it’s an adventure into nature’s rhythms.

And if you are lucky during your stay at the lake, either camping or in the boat house, you can also witness wild animals and colourful birds on the banks of the lake, lurking for food.

Happy fishing!

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StarExtra , Outdoors , fishing


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