Home to World's largest Snakehead fishes

Aquatic life of Belum Temenggor

The artificial lake of Temenggor is the second largest lake in Peninsula Malaysia. Home to 23 main species of freshwater fish and at least 5 species of turtles, as well as several other aquatic and amphibian species, it’s made of 6,050 million cubic meters of water covering an area of ​​117,500 hectares. This man-made lake was created after the completion of the Temenggor dam in 1974. The now forty years old body of water holds not only present hydro-electric importance for the local population in the northern Perak State but also had an historic military strategic role in cutting supplies and communication to communist guerrilla groups that used the rainforest as a shelter back then.

Lake Temenggor satellite view
Lake Temenggor satellite view

Angler Paradise

Given the secluded and peaceful nature that imbues the whole area of Belum-Temenggor, a very rich and dense population of fishes and aquatic species has since developed in its lake and surrounding streams. There are no endangered species of fishes in Belum and some type of fishing, as it happens in others areas too, is even encouraged to balance certain fish population levels. For anglers, many species of fish like Toman (Giant Snakehead) and Sebarau (Hampala Barb – jungle perch) are the main target species for lure casting anglers. Other species like Lampam Sungai (Barboides), Kelah (Malaysian Mahseer), Kawan (Friendly Barb), Kalui (Giant Gouramy), Baung (Catfish) and many more are common in Belum-Temenggor area.

Fishing in Belum Temenggor can be done all year around, with probably the best time being during the monsoon season from October till January. Check the proposed activities and book directly from our website fishing experiences in Belum.

Toman fish catch
Toman fish catch

The “catch and release” policy is practiced in the rainforest reserve
. Four species of fish, known locally as sebarau, kelah, tengalan and temoleh, are prohibited from being taken out of Royal Belum. For other species, each individual angler is only allowed to take up to a maximum of three fishes out of this protected area. All fishing boats leaving Royal Belum may be subject of inspection by the Perak State park ranger patrols who may issue fines and other penalties to whomever is in breach of the Park rules.

The Toman “Fishzilla”

The key attraction for those visiting Temenggor lake for fishing purposes is surely the Toman (also known as Giant Snakehead or Giant mudfish). The lake is said home to the biggest and fiercest Channa micropeltes in the world, with few unpressed destinations remaining whereby the snakehead thrive and grow to maximum twenty kilograms. National Geographic has referred to snakeheads such as those of Belum as “Fishzilla”. Snakehead fishing in Temenggor is accessible to anglers of all skill levels, offering much greater chances of “monster snakehead” all year round simply because there are so many more fish leading to so many more opportunities for a memorable catch. Snakeheads between two and three kilos are considered small, snakeheads of four to six are very common in Belum, while snakeheads from seven to eight kilos are considered big fish and anything over that up to twenty kilos are a frightening possibility.

A golden toman catch
Fishing in Belum

Snakehead fishing with experts

Those visiting the park need permits to enter protected areas of Belum by boat and additional fishing permits are required as well for recreational fishing activities. If you book  fishing experiences in Belum straight from this website, all necessary permits will be included in the packages for the number of people in your group. Necessary fishing equipment can be rented too. Furthermore, boatmen and support staff not only will get you and your group in the lake best spots for fishing, to fit your preferences and skill levels, but they will also provide assistance in case you need to tune your skills to get a better toman catch. Some of the most proven snakehead fishing techniques are summarized here, along with the recommended fishing tackle specifications:

  1. Random Marginal Snakehead Casting (lure only) – Consists of casting lures from a boat moving at a “walking pace” speed following shorelines. Surface lures like frogs, buzz baits and poppers are used mostly, with the popper being the most effective, but only to be used in low weed areas. It is called “random” casting because casts are simply targeting the likely looking fish holding areas at random along the shoreline as the boat moves, to cover a wider area. This technique is used all year round, but it’s best during the mating season, when snakeheads wander looking for a mate and begin nest building – as such, it will allow to catch mostly juvenile specimens.
  2. Open Water Rising Snakehead Casting (lure or live bait) – Consists of casting lures from a standing boat nearby spots where individual snakeheads have been observed rising from deep water to breathe air. This is the most difficult and challenging form of snakehead fishing as it requires not only patience, but great aiming and casting skills, as the lure has to get right in front of the fish mouth at a given depth and there’s usually only one casting chance. In case of success, though, the rewards however are great, as any snakehead rising in deep open water is guaranteed to be of the biggest kind.
  3. Fry Ball Casting (lure or live bait) – Consists of tracking a fry ball from a boat while keeping at casting range and following the ball direction. Each time the ball of bright red or orange fry surfaces for air, the anglers cast their lure at the fry ball. Remembering that the male adult will be closest to the fry to guide them and the larger female will be patrolling the outside of the fry ball for invaders, it is worth casting ahead of the fry ball in the direction they are swimming to catch the larger female first.

Snakehead lure fishing tackle

  • Rods: 6ft – 7ft rods for lure fishing is the best range – however 7ft will offer more accurate casting and greater distance, longer than this for boat fishing is a disadvantage and difficult to play fish diving under and around the boat. Stiffer rod grade medium with heavier action of ½ oz – 1 ½ oz or 18-26lb class is required to cast live baits and setting the hooks. Fixed spool spinning reels are best for live bait fishing, the same size & models as for lure fishing is fine.
  • Reels: Baitcast reels are a much better reel for lure fishing than spinning reels but require a good amount of practice. The quality of spinning reels should of course be good but it is not as important as the quality of bait casting reels which unless are of high value is more of a hindrance than a help.
  • Lines: Braid of at least 50lb is required, up to 65lb. Fluorocarbon will not suffice as a leader for live bait fishing, a heavy wire trace of 60lb is essential to prevent bite offs as most snakehead caught on live baits will take the hook down into their mouths.
  • Hooks: Original hooks that come with lures are useless for snakehead; they need to be changed with stinger trebles in sizes 2 or 4 to hold the power of a big snakehead, and will need to be changed every few fish. The spilt rings to attach the hooks also need to be changed with heavy duty ones in sizes 4 or 5.
  • Lures: A good selection of lures from each category: surface frogs, buzz baits & poppers. Diving plugs in varying depths, patterns and colours. Two of every category, pattern and colour is a good idea in case there is a particularly effective lure that is then lost;  4 – 6 inch lures are generally a good size range for snakehead.
  • Bait: A ~6” walking catfish hooked once through the upper back of the bait behind the dorsal fin is most effective for snakehead fishing. The walking catfish is a natural predator of snakehead fry and therefore triggers an immediate strike from the adult snakehead, most of the time attacking from behind hence the hooking position on the live bait.