Catch of the day

Itching to go a-fishing? Here are the five best places to fish.

IMAGINE a warm and slightly humid afternoon. Every now and then, insects buzz around your ears to whisper hello.

The sun rays reflect off the ocean tides as you sail off on a quaint wooden boat. The creatures of the sea eventually take the bait while everything is extremely calm as the ocean breeze.

Not only an abode to incredibly diverse cultures and traditions, but Malaysia is also home to a great variety of fauna, including many different species of fish.

Many have never fished their entire lives yet can relate to the joy of an angler fighting a fish and ultimately reeling in a catch.

As our country is home to a wide range of freshwater and saltwater fish species, with both offshore and inland fishing opportunities, Malaysia is a prime destination for fishing locations.

They say if nothing goes right, then go fishing. So here are some excellent spots to cast your line!

Bakun Dam (Sarawak)

Bakun Dam is located in the Belaga District, Kapit Division of Sarawak, on the Balui River. – Gem Lyn/UNSPLASHBakun Dam is located in the Belaga District, Kapit Division of Sarawak, on the Balui River. – Gem Lyn/UNSPLASH

Bakun Dam is an impoundment in the backcountry of Sarawak on the Rajang River, where the fish population booms. The dam reservoir itself is huge, almost reaching the same surface area as Singapore.

Getting there is a little bit tricky and as such, it’s recommended for seasoned anglers and travellers. You’ll need to traverse to the Bakun Dam jetty after entering the Sungai Asap area and then aboard a boat to your destination – one of which is The Bayoh Lodge, located about 20 to 30 minutes away by boat.

Alternatively, you can opt for homestay options with the local Dayak and Kenyah fishermen community who will guide you through the dense vegetation to prime angling waters.

Here is where you can land Giant Snakeheads (also known as Toman to locals) and Malaysian Mahseers. The Giant Snakehead is a powerful species known to grab baits or lures before dashing to the nearest structure, leaving your line in a tangled mess.

Lahad Datu (Sabah)

From the Malaysian peninsula to its islands and surrounding waters, freshwater and saltwater fish are abundant. For starters, there are 1,200 different fish species in the Sulu Sea alone, while our lakes, rivers and streams are dominated by some 1,951 species of freshwater fish.

One of Sabah’s greatest assets is its surrounding waters.

Notably, Sabah hosts a variety of freshwater fish species that can enthral anglers with their ferocity when taking lures, such as the Malaysian Jungle Perch, also known as the River Wolf, or you can tussle with the elegant Malaysian Mahseer (Empurau) using ultralight fishing gear.

As a coastal nation, plenty of angling spots with comfortable accommodations are available nearby.

Located about 16km from the town of Lahad Datu, Silam Fishing Village Resort is one of the premier fishing spots you can visit.

With a small fee of RM50, you’ll be able to enjoy the fun with activities such as swimming and fishing for the fierce Dragon Grouper which you can also cook and have for dinner (with an additional fee). This place allows you to cook and eat your catch of the day (with extra charges) which is perfect for teaching young kids the payoff for determination, hard work and perseverance that comes with fishing.

However, if you’re looking to sail out into the clear blue waters of Lahad Datu, you can also check out Lok Buani Angler Boat Rental located at the tip of Lahad Datu, out on the coast facing the Sulu Sea.

Eager anglers can hope to reel in the ever-popular Sailfish, Amberjacks, Dogtooth Tuna and Barracudas whereas Narrow-barred Mackerel can be caught seasonally.

Temenggor Lake (Perak)

Dating back to over 130 million years, Royal Belum is older than the Amazon and Congo rainforests. – Tourism Malaysia archivesDating back to over 130 million years, Royal Belum is older than the Amazon and Congo rainforests. – Tourism Malaysia archives

Perak is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world with Royal Belum State Park being one of the highlights of Malaysia’s ecotourism scene.

Situated at about 70km from Gerik, the Belum-Temenggor Lake is a manmade lake and is regarded as one of the best spots for freshwater fishing in peninsula Malaysia. The surrounding rainforest also boasts several campsites and hiking trails for nature enthusiasts.

This lake is where you will find Giant Snakehead and Hampala Barb (or Malaysian Jungle Perch) amongst the abundance of wildlife betwixt the evergreen trees, making it a hotspot for local and international anglers.

If you’re new to fishing and wondering where to begin, one option you can go for at this location is Fishyology Charter and Tour which can simplify your accommodation and logistic needs.

They also specialise in fishing with either artificial bait or lures. Conveniently, you could also rent fishing equipment from them.

Port Dickson (Negeri Sembilan)

If you’re around Pulau Burung jetty, you can try your hand at port casting too. -- Tourism Malaysia archivesIf you’re around Pulau Burung jetty, you can try your hand at port casting too. -- Tourism Malaysia archives

Port Dickson has long been one of the fan favourite locations of Malaysians for its accessibility to the beach which spans 18km along the coastline.

Over the last couple of years though, a new trend has emerged called kayak fishing. Combining the two activities is a true test of stamina and patience for anyone.

Not to worry, you won’t have to bring your own kayak. There are plenty of water-sport rentals in Port Dickson with one of them being PD Water Sport. If you go with the rental companies, you’ll be able to get a complete set of kayaking equipment for either fishing or touring (with some helpful guides too if you’ve never tried it before).

This saltwater adventure is most suitable for more technical fishing like saltwater jigging, bottom fishing and fly-fishing.

Port Dickson is home to not only its highly popular Queenfish but also other trophy catches like the Giant Trevally, Diamond Trevally and Barred Mackerel.

Kenyir Lake (Terengganu)

Created in 1985 by damming Kenyir River, Kenyir Lake provides water to the Sultan Mahmud Power Station. --Tourism Terengganu archivesCreated in 1985 by damming Kenyir River, Kenyir Lake provides water to the Sultan Mahmud Power Station. --Tourism Terengganu archives

Kenyir Lake is surrounded by more than 300 picturesque islands and is connected to roughly 25 waterfalls and 30 rivers. It’s also one of the most interesting spots to discover in the country and is the largest artificial lake in all of Southeast Asia.

The lake, which has over 25 fish species and is surrounded by jaw-dropping limestone caverns and lush rainforests, is known as an angler’s heaven and a freshwater fish’s haven.

For those who love the outdoors, the lake offers countless Instagram-worthy photo opportunities with its stunning surroundings where you can go birdwatching, canoeing, and boating too.

Large species of fish such as the Giant Snakehead, Arowana, Giant Gourami, and Malaysian Jungle Perch are found in waters in and around the dead trees which provide them with plenty of algae for nutrients.

There is a good number of fishing spots at Cacing, Leban, Petuang, Saok and Terengganu River to name a few.

Anglers are advised to arrange for dedicated fishing trips through chalet or private boat operators for the best fishing experience since you’ll need a fishing permit from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for fishing there.

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