Thursday, January 26, 2012

A busy time!!

It's been a hectic 8 days which have seen me in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar in my attempts to find a big Mekong catfish. The Jai joined me for a few days of sight seeing along the mountains between Myanmar and time Bandit Country, the mecca of the south east Asian Opium trade before dramatic changes took place in the 1980's onwards and the locals were persuaded it would be better for their health if they grew tea and coffee instead!!

Thailand is stuffed full of fascinating sights, lakes, mountains, rivers, temples, many different ethnic minority 'tribes' and cultures. As Thailand is a long country running from 20 degrees North right down to 5 degrees North, the temperature varies enormously. Our fishing today was taking place in temperatures of 34 degrees C. 5 days ago, right up in the north of the country, I was fishing in just 8 degrees C.

Anyhow, these next days of fishing had been carefully worked out thanks to our Game Fishing Captain, John Pearce, in Phuket who knows anyone in the fishing world worth knowing. He had put me onto our guide, Gob, and Gob..altho' we didn't see much of him in his disguise during the day...was excellent and worked really hard to keep us catching right through the day.

The first lake was a good hour's drive north of Bangkok and contained a variety of monster fish including carp to 50kg (yeah....over 100lb!), arapima to 150kg (????what???) and catfish to 100kg. We had come for the catfish....and that's exactly what we caught.

These fish are tough. We needed heavy weight spinning rods and bait runners which were loaded with 30lb mono to 60lb braided hook lengths set just below bait cages. The hook wasn't just hung free beneath the rice bait ball.

The cats fight with agressive resistance and can be hard to control. The main problem is encroaching on another angler's swim or not being able to stop the fish going under the wooden pylons that support the fishing piers.

In the first photo you can see the houses that you can rent. At £40 per day and able to sleep up to 4, it's a better bet to spend a couple of days on this lake rather than having to travel as we did. We had been warned the journey back could take twice as long because of the Bangkok traffic (the warnings were correct!)

Now, you all know that Thai people can squat all day long with no ill effect. Here I am practicing the semi squat...which is, I can assure you, painful. The reason I am in this daft position is that my 30lb catfish has hurled across the lake towards me and gone belting under the bloody pier trying to take me with it. It took a good 15 minutes to get this buggar back out....not funny when it's a tad warm and the sun is beating on your back. You will also see that The Jai insists I look smart when I am fishing and had only packed my long trousers....bloody great!

Anyhow...with magnificent dexterity...(Gob, our guide handhauled the damn thing out) I coaxed the monster to the net.

Meanwhile our Bertie had more than got the hang of these rascals. The first one (well over 20kg) hurt him. Now Bert's a strong lad, but it's all about technique and making the rod do the work. These fish really are nuts and definitely on drugs...if you bully them they just get angry. What's that Blazing Saddles phrase...'Don't shoot Mungo...he just gets angry'. Wel, give these critters a bit too much grunt to start with and they don't respond too happily either!

Gary has gone over to the Dark Side. He is now a full time Commercial Fisherman back in sunny Weymuff. He doesn't bother with a rod...just reaches in and pulls 'em out. (What? Mungo's mate, you say? Dunno what you mean).
 next bloody fish had also gone back round the piles. I get the feeling Gary's technique is a lot easier. They certainly put a LOT of pressure on your back when they're jammed underneath you....

Bertie started and finished the day with the biggest fish. We caught at least 10 each. We lost count. So, 30 fish (at least) at an average 20kg = 600kg = 1300lb approx...well, that's pretty impressive for a 6 hour session using just two rods between the three of us.

We met a lot of very fanatical visiting anglers around the lake. Two German lads were on a ten day fishing trip...and then were going back to Germany for two months before returning in April for a 60 day freshwater fishing marathon all round north Thailand. I got some good hints and places from them to go....we are just scratching the surface...there is SO MUCH excellent fishing here to explore. Gary, Bert and I have already got next year's first place in mind. There's a big dam across the River Kwai (as in the film) at Kanchaburi to the north west of Bangkok. Gob has described the snakeheads that live there. We are hoping to do a three day stint there and stay in one of the floating bungalows on the massive lake.....

Meanwhile Steve 'el Crusty Thorne has already ear marked a three day stint at Gillams fishery over to the east of Phuket for Dec this year...and that is definitely a world class venue. You know, chaps, it IS all about how much money you are prepared to pay as freshwater fishing is not cheap. Keeping a big lake stocked with quality big fish is an expensive the angler MUST pay or it just won't work.

Saying that though...we shall be off to our lake in Phuket in the next day or so...and that's £20 for the day. We're also booked to go sea fishing tomorrow evening with our favourite longtail boat Thai it's all busy busy....

We finished our day off in the lake's tackle shop!! I mean...look at it. And the gear is real top quality Shimano stuff with plenty of fixed spool reels in the £600++ bracket. Some of the top Shimano bait runners were well over a £Grand. We, miserable paupers that we are, purchased 3 sets of tackle for our next day's baramundi fishing at £150 for the lot!

The Jai laughs at us and calls us 'Keeneo' which apparantly means 'Tight Old Gits' or some such equivalent.

I have many more stories to relate...but I have a feeling the next few days are going to dominate the past ones..Happy Days and Keep Fishing.

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