Thursday, January 29, 2015

Underwater Adventurers with Richard Spracklen and Keith Dowden

 Richard...came across a bad
 Keith.....shocked that Richard thought
he was responsible! 'What, me??'
 Underway...Richard showing the
smooth approach perfected in
the downtown hostelries of Chalong.
 Hard to believe the lads are under water
such is their control!
 Plenty of lionfish all over
the Kata reef! Careful how you go.
 Colourful plantlife
 Cleverly camouflaged
 Delicate anenomes...
 Some real miniature gems
like this Harlequin Shrimp and Ghost
Shrimp...the highlight of any dive.
And graceful batfish...
always a pleasure to watch.

Can't wait for the next dive!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

EFSA members at Phuket Fishing Park

Unless you go well offshore and fish preferably on a liveaboard trip for 3 days the sea fishing around Phuket (Dec to March) is expensive and non productive. This was never meant to be an angling holiday as such but we were able to fit a day in. I convinced our EFSA sea anglers to have a go at the local lake, the Phuket Fishing Park.

This small lake rarely fails to produce and with its stock of carp to 70lb, catfish to 40lb, redtail catfish to 90lb and paku well into double figures there is always the chance of several very lively tussles.

 These freshwater fish are definitely on steroids or something....they fight like demons with
 the paku being utterly manic. It's really great fun and we have enjoyed many great days there over the past 8 years now!

Here's Richard Russell bending into a lively paku (fruit eating pirhana)

And here's Richard again with a catfish in the 20lb region. Catfish are usually the most common catch but on this occasion it was all about the paku. this meant a number of fish were lost as they bite through the 60lb (!!! Yes, 60lb! Mono) trace with ease. They are also good at snapping the line just at the net with a powerful last surge away from the lakeside.

 Kim Bowden (L) and Andy Smith (R) at the ready. After trying to impress our men about the strength of these fish, Andy's first bite (minutes after casting in) resulted in his rod and expensive Penn reel shooting into the lake...gone!! Luckily the years spent pampering to my angling customers allowed me to spend an hour with my specially made 'creeper' rig casting merrily away trying to hook either his rod or the line. Fortunately my endless patience paid off and the gear was retrieved...but the fish had 'gone on' as we say down Dorset way.

 Looking understandably sheepish, Andy Smith presents one of his pacu. It was to be Andy's day as his tally increased rapidly in the afternoon with fish taking the second his bait hit the water. What a gifted EFSA member he is.....and a great pre- birthday present as today, Thur 22nd Jan, is his birthday. Happy Birthday, Andy!!

 The locals will have the shirt off your back if you don't keep a sharp eye out. I was caught out playing a fish......darn it!

And here's Andy again....with another very fine paku. These powerful fish were all in the 5kg to 7kg range.

 And Kim Bowden with another fine specimen. The fish came on either bread or carefully threaded tiny fish-feed pellets contained within the ground bait provided at the lake.

 Andy with a nice catfish.....

Andy and Richard unhooking one of the catfish.

Well we lost track of what was caught....suffice to say we were kept pretty busy, often with two fish on at a time. This was a very pleasant day and yet another reason to have a holiday here in sunny Phuket!!

First Dive.....!!

After three training sessions in the pool our latest intrepid adventurers, Andy Smith, Richard Russell and Kim Bowden,  took to the sea at nearby Kata. This is a shore dive and so we can 'gear up' in the nearby carpark and then stagger down the beach much to the amusement of the scantily clad sunbathing lovelies who must wonder at the sanity of four silly old buggars weighed down with tons of stuff in 30 degrees....
First dive in the sea for Andy Smith, Richard Russell and Kim Bowden.

Diving reveals the inner soul.....who could have guessed that Kim was a seriously talented underwater dancer??
And 'Cool Hand' Andy. in doing his mask clearance exercises, Andy also spat out his regulator....who needs air underwater??
(Left) Mr Richard 'Calm' Russell. here is a man completely unfazed and was in control of his bouyancy within minutes of his first ever dive. Amazing.

Kim gives the 'All's Well' signal.....see how the visits to the Temple have paid off???

Look at this! Mr Richard Russell in total control of his bouyancy within minutes of the first dive.

And Kim.....still dancing. now on the knees doing 'The Turtle'. Truly a sight to admire.

The dive was at our favourite 'training ground'. the Kata reef.




                                           There's always stacks of nice things to see at Kata.

The lads managed a first dive of 61 minutes which is extremely impressive. There were the usual understandable misgivings before undertaking such a daring enterprise but these were soon overcome as the underwater scenery opened up.....what a great adventure to be able to offer our guests.

And we have time for one more dive before our current guests leave for a couple of days of sight-seeing in Bangkok.

I bet EFSA never realised the talents of some of their illustrious members.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pi Pi Island Diving

I had a day with no customers!! One team have returned to UK and there was a 24 hour gap until our next guests arrived at midnight last night. it i snow nearly midday....and no-one has yet surfaced!! That darn jet lag, eh?? and staying up until 4 am didn't help.....that Thai Whiskey and Singha  has a lot to answer for. gave me a free I went diving, of course.

 Thought I'd try out the White Line Balance and Macro setting and see if I could get at least one nice photograph. Plenty of nudibrancs and fish everywhere as always. Lots of colour and coral.

A few ugly critters......just look his face. Is that a 'F**k Off' face or what??
 There were several higlights on this dive. A trio of very colourful cuttlefish allowed me to spend ages photogrpahing them. They didn't mind at all.....Cuttlefish are  a real pleasure to watch underwater wit thier constantly changing colours.
 Had to take  a load of shots as they were so obliging.
 Very nice, eh? This was about 12 metres. We were also treated to a shoal (if that is the right word?) of squid hurtling about above us. Couldn't get any shots of those as right in the glare of the sun coming through the sea.
 Another real highlight was this seahorse. About 15 metres and resting in amongst this pink fan coral....lovely bright yellow which is one of the best colours for undertwarer photography.
 Plenty of shrimps about.
The anemones are always a clear indicator of current direction....very helpful for sorting out your dive position when attempting to take macro stuff.

As a first attempt I was pleased to get a couple of nice shots...but I have a very long way to it's back to Kata on my own at the first chance and do some serious experimenting with the camera.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Exotic Fishing Thailand Jan 3rd 2015

 Our guests enjoy fishing at Mike Bailey's Exotic Fishing Thailand in Phang Gna which is 90 minute drive from Paulsthaihouse. Apart from the actual fishing, it's great to see how the project is developing with new additions and with the assistance of Nature. Readers, you will have gathered by now that the lake's location itself is in itself spectacular but now the surrounding landscaping is showing its own developing character. This is a clever touch....the water going into the holding ponds is fashioned into an elephant's trunk which is part of a cleverly cut shrub.

 Guests have a guide to assist them throughout the day. This is Khun Tee named by means Number One! I have known Tee Nueng (Bung is his real name????) for at least 5 years as he has been working in the Phuket Fishing Park which we visit often for at least that long as a fishing guide. He's terrific....very enthusiastic and hard working and will do everything to put you on the fish...which isn't always as easy as it may sound. Khun Tee Nung was Steve's guide for the day.
 Exotic Fishing Thailand is also an educational park. Circling the lake but at a hidden lower level is a walkway. This goes past the holding ponds and a number of large, recently added fish tanks. These fish tanks hold examples of the species found in the lake along with some very useful information about the fish's natural habitat, the current World Record size, biggest fish to be caught in the lake etc etc.
 Here's a view across one of the fish holding ponds showing  6 of the sheltered fish tanks each of which contain two or three different species as available from the main fishing lake.
 The new 'salas' are spacious with table and chairs. several of the larger ones even have fans. There's a large fish ID chart in the Sala. In front of the Sala is the concrete rod rest platform and lights for the hour of dark fishing. Menus are in the Salas and snacks and drinks are available throughout the day. It is also possible to pre-order dinner in the new and very impressive resturant which is a fine way to conclude the day.
 The main lake is swarming with little fish so very easy and good fun to snaffle a couple for fresh bait for the predatory species as evening nears.
 The guides are in charge of netting. these fish are usually big and always extremely lively.....especially the hard fighting pacu (fruit eating pirhana). Here, Khun Tee Nung acrobatically offers he net to a manic pacu which was not impressed.
 Here is an Albino Pacu caught by Steve. The fish are very well cared for. They are never lifted clear of the water. If you'd like a photo with one then you have to get into the water with, on this occasion, Steve's fish was photographed in the net.
 Mark caught a striped catfish...which is not one of the more usual was soon into the lake and holding up his fine catch for the camera.
 And this is a Giant Gurami, a very exotic looking creature...again caught by Mark.
To finish this little write-up, here is a photo of a well known Dorset character who realised too late what he'd done!! Guess who it is?? Answers on a Placard, please!!!!