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Monster Kelah Fish Almost Guaranteed At This Place!

kelah fishing

What tourists are saying about fishing at Tahan River (Sungai Tahan)

“Lazy – Easy Fishing”

Very decent for anyone wanting a good pull and guaranteed that you’ll catch fish.

The place is a little hard to reach but if you have a tour guide, things get a lot easier!

Visited July 2015

sungai tahan

Sungai Tahan, Taman Negara.

“Exciting and fun fishing!”

My husband and I had a very fun half day fishing here. We were exhausted after fishing for about 5 hours.

We caught quite a number of fish such as tapah, kelah, toman and some magnificent cat fish.

Overall, the trip was great. We enjoyed the environment as it was very calm and serene.

Visited August 2015

“Relaxing and love the scenery”

It was a relaxing day to spend with an old friend.

I wouldn’t say its totally fishing as you have the guide to do everything for you, from rigging to putting on the powder bait, all you have to do is just sit and relax until you see your line starts to run then its your turn to do the fighting.

But to me its just a relaxing day to sit and chit-chat, drinking beer & having food while waiting for the fish to be hooked.

kelah sanctuary

Kelah sanctuary, Taman Negara.

“Monster kelah almost guaranteed!”

My husband and I love to fish and we could not pass up the opportunity to catch some fish at Sungai Tahan while visiting Taman Negara.

My husband caught 6 kelah in the range of 10-25 pounds and I caught 1 tapah that was around 20 pounds. It was a great morning of fishing with an excellent, spicy lunch to end the afternoon.

We hope to return to Sungai Tahan to try out some other fishing spots in the future.

Visited October 2014

“Amazing once in a lifetime experience!”

The lake is full of these massive kelah and toman and you are guaranteed to catch one – we had a bite within the first few minutes.

Actually, it gets to a point when you’re so exhausted that you want them to not eat the bait so you can have a rest!

It’s a huge workout to reel these fish in so you do need to be reasonably fit but the fact that it is difficult makes the experience that much more exciting.

About Taman Negara, Pahang

Sungai Tahan has fish a-plenty – thanks to an eight-year ban on fishing which has increased the fish population.
Source: TheStar – Malaysia Travel

giant sebarau sungai tahan

A giant Sebarau fish caught at Sungai Tahan, Taman Negara.

Many years ago, when our country was mainly covered in thick, almost impenetrable jungle, the colonial Brits gazetted a huge expanse of forest deep in the bowels of Pahang into a national park.

They called it King George V National Park. Nowadays, we fondly refer to it as Taman Negara.

It certainly was a visionary decision. Few would have envisaged that our jungles would eventually be ravaged in the name of development to the point that many species of flora and fauna are driven to extinction.

Taman Negara now serves as a sanctuary for these same flora and fauna, ensuring that future generations can appreciate our rich diversity of wildlife.

The story was not quite the same for the wild fish in Taman Negara’s rivers. For years, fishermen could angle for the likes of kelah, tengas, sebarau and toman with just a RM10 licence. Catch-and-release fishing was unheard of then.

How Sungai Tahan became a major attraction for fishing enthusiasts

Some time in 2000, the administrators of Taman Negara decided to close one of the rivers – Sungai Tahan – to any kind of fishing. The fish populations thrived, both in terms of size and quantity.

Later, the Kelah Sanctuary was created to properly manage the fish. Special fish wardens were appointed to protect the fish, and certain pools like Lubuk Tenor were turned into fish feeding areas, enhancing eco-tourism whilst burgeoning the fish population.

giant kelah sungai tahan

A giant kelah fish caught at Sungai Tahan, Taman Negara.

Catch and release fishing method

Recently, parts of Sungai Tahan were re-opened for sportfishing, but with a difference – catch-and-release is the only order of the day here, and you can only fish the river under the supervision of Golden Mahseer Sdn Bhd, the operator appointed by Taman Negara.

Golden Mahseer – the common name for ikan kelah – was established by a group of Kuala Tahan locals led by Encik Roslan, an affable man in tune with the ecological issues of the river.

He and his able fish wardens and fishing guides have been operating the Kelah Sanctuary for several months now, and the results of their activities have elicited great interest from visiting tourists.

What to expect when you fish at Sungai Tahan

Last September, a group of anglers from Kuala Lumpur decided to see what Sungai Tahan had in store in terms of sportfishing.

The prospects were exciting enough. Kelah, sebarau, tapah, toman, even toman bunga, were realistic targets for the angler. Roslan himself had landed and released a 9.7kg kelah and a monstrous 37kg tapah.

It took us just three hours to drive to Kuala Tahan, the basecamp of Taman Negara. Roslan and his team were there to receive us. Minutes later, we were taken by longboat to the Kelah Sanctuary floating house.

giant tapah sungai tahan

A giant Tapah fish caught at Sungai Tahan, Taman Negara.

A briefing on the sanctuary was followed by a half-hour boat ride to Lubuk Tenor, our temporary home for the trip.

The trip is more of an adventure

The Tenor camp was well-appointed. There’s a lodge and dining area plus interpretive section, running water tapped from a small, clear stream, camping and bathroom facilities.

From the big platform above the pool, one can watch the hundreds of ikan kerai, lampam and kelah rising to catch food pellets thrown by visitors.

We stashed our gear in the allotted tents and promptly took to the boats again. Just below Lubuk Tenor is Lubuk Nohong.

There, at this short run above the big pool, Tan Jiin Sheng, our youngest member, hooked and landed a 3kg kelah, his first ever. He was grinning from ear to ear after that!

My biggest catch at Sungai Tahan

At the pool proper, I had one of the biggest “smashes” of my fishing life. A big tapah had taken my spoon lure and proceeded to swim upstream, no matter what I did to halt it.

My rod was bent down into the water and across the keel of the wooden longboat. There was nothing I could do. Minutes later, my heart sank as the 14lb line broke.

Fresh water fish at Taman Negara

A red mahseer landed (kelah) on a silver spoon lure.

Types of fish that awaits you at Sungai Tahan

It seemed like this stretch of lower Sungai Tahan had fish a-plenty, and big ones at that. It was obvious that the eight-year ban on fishing had positive effects.

Almost all of us landed specimen fish, from kelah and 2kg sebarau, to 4kg toman and 3kg toman bunga (called jalai in these parts). The only sore absence was the mighty tapah.

The second and last day brought even greater surprises. A giant kelah of over 9kg took a silver spoon cast by Foo Weng Keong.

After a colossal fight that broke his rod, the monster was landed. Hours later, another feat was achieved: Monty Ming landed a 4kg sebarau – something to write home about!

Not only did we catch big fish, we had lines broken by even bigger ones. Most notable was that big tapah, something that will haunt me for months.

Even the 3.5kg kelah and 1.5kg sebarau did not remedy the affliction, for I knew that I would have to come back for my revenge!

Roslan asked me how big I thought that naughty tapah was.

“Probably between 3kg and 30kg. Who knows? But I’ll tell you its true weight when I come back for the next trip!” I said.

giant kelah sungai tahan

Another red mahseer landed (kelah) on a silver spoon lure.

Getting to Sungai Tahan

From Kuala Lumpur, take the Kuantan Highway, turn off towards Jerantut (there’s signage for Taman Negara). At Jerantut, there are ample signs to guide you to the Park. Total driving time is about three hours.

You will first need to book your trip with Golden Mahseer Sdn Bhd. Early booking is advisable. Call Roslan at 012-483 2006.

The fishing costs between RM150 and RM300 per day per person, depending on how far upstream you are going. Camping and fishing licence cost extra.

Photo credits: mhaziq luqman, Mohd Fahmi Mohd Azmi.

Attractions in Pahang that you might be interested

  • Genting Highlands – Genting Highlands is one of the most popular tourist destination in Malaysia. It’s one of the best city of entertainment. Head out to this highlands township for a cool and refreshing day.
  • Bukit Tinggi Resort – This 16,000-acr retreat captures the essence of different cultures of the world in a single destination. The main attraction here is Colmar Tropicale, a French-themed resort town.
  • Sungai Lembing – A serene town tucked away about 40km northwest of Kuantan, Sungai Lembing offers a glimpse into Malaysia’s bygone days during the British and Japanese eras.
  • Cherating – This is a seaside destination long popular with budget travelers. It is the site of Asia’s first Club Med and the charming Cherating Village.
  • Balok Beach – About 15km north of Kuantan, this vibrant beach is a playground for windsurfing, sailing and kite-boarding.
  • Cameron Highlands – Known for its tea plantation and various plan gardens. It’s one of the best places for a family trip. The place is well known for its refreshing air and temperate climate.
  • Janda Baik Homestay – There is nothing like taking a break from the busy city life by relaxing in kampung Janda Baik under the homestay programme which features traditional Malay life at the village, authentic Malay food and some wild fruits.
  • Tioman Island – Acclaimed as one of the best island getaways in the world, the warm waters and good visibility make it a paradise for divers and snorkelers.

Location, Map and Driving Direction to Taman Negara

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Thisaway August 6, 2009, 2:33 am

    There are lots of things that you can do in a short time.;

  • Karl January 9, 2012, 10:36 pm

    did you have to bring your own rods or were you able to rent them?

  • Kevin March 6, 2017, 10:55 pm

    Can you share the contact for this fishing arrangement?

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