Taking On Giants In A Toman Heaven
By: Isaac Kuek
There is a magical place somewhere that has been called a toman (giant snakehead) heaven. A place where the fishing pressure was low, allowing the fish to thrive and multiply exponentially. With plenty of good eating species like haruans and baungs in its waters, the toman population was kept relatively safe from overfishing by netters and local anglers.
[ With such a healthy population of toman, groups of them can be seen busting on baitfish along the ‘highways’… ]
My initial trip here was just over a year ago, and it was definitely vastly different from what I expected. Traditionally, lakes in Malaysia such as Royal Belum would have deep crystal-clear waters with little soft structure in it. However, the waters here are both murky and shallow, and its banks are packed full with water hyacinths.
A good size toman that gave me some good fun.
Thus, as compared to other lakes that prioritizes the style of waiting for the toman’s to rise before casting aka sight-casting, this place allows for blind-casting along the weed edges in search of bites. This makes fishing here a lot easier, as traditionally windy days on lakes can mean a less than good day of fishing as spotting the rises of tomans become hard.
However, with blind casting being a viable option here, even windy days can still be productive when blind-casting along the weed edges. In fact, some of my best days here were done blind casting buzzbaits or jump-frogs along the weed edges. This however does not mean that sight-casting is unproductive. With such a healthy population of toman, groups of them can be seen busting on baitfish along the ‘highways.’ A well placed topwater lure is almost guaranteed a whack.
The amazing giant snakehead, definitely puts on a good fight.
When it comes to targeting fry-guarding toman aka mama tomans, this place is also vastly different from traditional lakes, where if the parents do not take the lure in the first few casts, they usually will not take lures at all no matter how long you target them. This can be attributed to the clear waters of such places, hence the parents might stay far away from the fry ball.
Here, continuously casting at them usually guarantees a strike. The standing theory is that the murky waters cause the parents to stay closer to the fries, hence casting at the fry balls long enough eventually gets the attention of the parents and they strike out of aggression. Spinnerbaits work well here especially in the ‘lubuks’ or fishing holes where the water is shallow and snaggy
Another toman that hit our spinnerbait.
Should you be looking for a pocket friendly seaworthy low profile baitcasting reel from a big reliable brand; look no further. The Abu Garcia MAX4 61 (and 41) s a fantastic reel to consider. It handled many hard fighting saltwater fishes from fast swimming mackerels, to dirty fighting giant trevallies that would break rules just because it can. What’s more fantastic is that these reels remained smooth after working so hard.
Recently on social media, there were even pictures of these anglers taking home fry-guarding snakeheads, which will be a heavy blow to the future population of fish in this lake. With this in mind, I would once again like to remind all of anglers to practice a bag limit and to release all fry-guarding snakeheads to ensure a healthy population in our waters.