Hill Country Streams

Mahseer: hill country streams fly-fishing

Here’s the scene – a lazy hill country stream meandering through the lowland jungles… It is alive with wild native  fish that have never seen a fly fisherman before… In these back country areas, human population density is low, with small Karen villages scattered along their length, or at higher elevations on ridge lines far above. In these valleys, the fish stocks are highest in the small Protection Zones that are overseen by the local Karen people. “Catch & Release” is the conservation method of choice, as it allows some modest income generation from the fishery,  without diminishing it in any way…

Mahseer - stream fishing in Thailand

Sports fish of unmatched power, that have never seen an imitation dry fly or nymph… or a Woolly Bugger!  Sounds like a dream, right? However, this unique and largely unknown fishery is a well-hidden reality in Mae Hong Son province, along these Salween River tributaries…

Once Wet Season ends in October and the water volumes drop and clear, the fishing just gets better and better! Throughout the Dry Season (Nov – May) there is good fly fishing to be had in many of the headwater tributaries. Sportfish species include several different types of Mahseer and Burmese Trout, plus Tinfoil Barb and the occasional Catfish.

Mahseer fishing - hill country streams, Thailand

The ability to skillfully cast large dry flies into the shadows of overhanging trees and vines will serve you well… the rewards can be larger than you’d think possible on a small stream! Moreover, if you were expecting an easy time landing these big fish, you’re in for a rude awakening… the Mahseer is a powerful, aggressive and mean-spirited fighter who’ll immediately seek the boulder-studded bottom of a deep hole, or the shelter of a log jam!

Mahseer fishing - hill-country streams, Mae Hong Son province, Thailand

Surprisingly large specimens of the various Mahseer species are found in these lowland streams, often reaching 3 or 4 kgs (8lbs). A fish of that size is a major challenge in a small stream on light tackle such as a #6 weight rod! Casting skills are tested too, with lots of overhanging vegetation under which fish like to hide. All in all, it is an exciting type of fishing that tests both the angler and his equipment to the full.

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