For a person who fear to scale a raw dead fish, took the golden chance to swim with thousands of Malaysia’s most expensive gourmet and game fish in Sungai Petang, Terengganu.
How Expensive Are We Speaking?
The Malaysian mahseer is Malaysia’s most expensive gourmet fish and sought-after game fish for anglers. A living Malaysian red mahseer can cost between RM800 to RM1,000 per kg so it imagine paying more than RM1,000 for a fish!
Also dubbed as “King of the River” in Southeast Asia, this freshwater fish is so expensive because the meat is super tender and soft unlike other fishes! Also called Wan Bu Liao or Kelah by Malaysians, mahseer’s exclusive meat is believed to come from their diet. Malaysian mahseer is omnivorous and would eat fruits that are dropped into the river, resulting in their amazingly tender meat.
The Mahseer Sanctuary
Driven by excess overfishing, the mahseer has been threatened and dwindling in numbers over the years. Now, a special rehabilitation and conservatory zone is set up for the species to naturally breed at Petang River on Kenyir Lake in Terengganu.
It takes a good 40-minutes hike before you’ll reach the breeding point. You may also purchase some fish feed at the rest stop along the hiking route.
The long hike makes it all worthwhile when you reach the breeding point. Imagine jumping into the cool running river under the heat of the sun!
These mahseer are familiar with human interactions and will playfully surround you as you enter the running stream. Pro tip: keep your hand fisted at all time with the fish food inside as you put it in the water to experience these mahseer feeding (or sucking the food out) from your palm!
This sanctuary prides on breeding the mahseer at their natural environment so be reminded that you are actually swimming in a wild running river of Padang Mountain in Kenyir Lake. However, there are floating barriers placed to indicate the designated area that is safe to interact with the fishes.
It is definitely prohibited to fish there and the sanctuary is only open from 9am till 12pm daily from March till October.
It is best to arrange a visit to the Mahseer Sanctuary with your houseboat operators or check out Kenyir Information Center if you’re not spending the night at on the lake. To read more on Kenyir Lake, see our full experience here.
Text and photos by Jessy Wong