Friday, December 18, 2015

Snakehead Hunting in the Khao Sok National Park.

 After our two days of wonderful fishing in Mike Bailey's EFT, the plan was to head to the North to fish in the 173sq km Cheow Lan Lake situated within the 739 sq km Khao Sok National Park, a ''dense virgin jungle with towerlike limestone Karst formations and home to a fabulous array of rare creatures such as hornbills, gibbons and even tiger''.

Before  entering this formidable fishing area we had spent plenty of dosh on artificial lures at Mr Moo's tackle emporium in Phuket in the vague hope we might have stumbled upon whatever lure was best for the particular day we happened to arrive.
 Mr Moo has been based in Phuket for a long time now and has proved to be a great source of knowledge. On asking his opinion he looked at me with those wise, all-seeing Oriental eyes and said; 'I dunno. Never bin there'.
 Well....we HAD been there before but not to fish. Just to enjoy some truly wonderful scenery and to spend a night on one of the floating 'resorts' dotted about the massive lake.

This time though we had chartered a longtail boat to take us as far inland as the lake went....right into the furthest north-western reaches. 60 miles from the Ratchaprapha Dam; a two half hour journed on a 20 knot longtail boat.
 The scenery here is absolutely stunning. Mountains, Jungles, vast expanses of water....mist covered mountains
 Once we reached the upper limit of the lake we found many small bays with the remnants of ancient trees sticking out of the flood waters. This was snakehead country.
 Navigating our way through narrow waterways...this was a great trip to reach likely looking spots.
 This was all about accurate casting of the lures towards the banks but trying, often unsuccessfully, not to catch the undergrowth or submerged obstructions. Were using surface lures so we managed to retrieve everything.
 It was a bit tricky all balanced on the bow of the longtail....but, as long as we worked and cast together we were able to stay tangle free.
 As evening closed in we headed back out into open water to travel to our overnight accommodation.
 The accommodation consisted of little bamboo shacks floating on various support drums. There were no toilets or washing facilities in these little 'bungalows'. It was piddle direct into the lake or throw yourself in for a cooling-down dip ( was hot) or wash. There was a toilet block. It was full of bees about the size of Weymouth beach deckchairs so we decided to be a bit wary. There was an en-site 'restuarant' with great food as always.
 Outside 'veranda'. Perfect for listening to the evening jungle sounds...and yes, it is just as loud as in the films!
 View from the bungalows.
 We were right on the water so easy for a quick dip!

Staying with us were a hardened and experienced trio of Malaysians who had been coming there twice a year for the past 10 years. They were seriously well prepared with jungle clothing and hefty boots. They were well armed with various rods and a massive array of lures. They explained that often the best places had to be reached on foot. They had charted a small, very fast longtail speedboat each with a guide (£30 per day) and were fishing all hours day and night. We also met a Canadian group who also had some degree of experience having been to the location a couple of times and who were stayng for 4 days.

Ours was just a one night/two day exploratory trip to see what we could learn. My conclusion is that you must have a knowledgeable guide and it is not easy to find one. It is easy to find people who say they are good...but, as ever, it takes time to find someone you believe in. We need to know a lot more about every aspect of spending time in the jungle and emerging bite-free and generally unscathed. If we do this trip again then I am going to have to ask a lot of questions in order to try and find a good guide who is willing to help and advise us.
However, it needs to be firmly pointed out that your illustrious  Dorset charter skipper, inceasingly know as The Old Scroat, won the biggest fish, best fish, most fish, best specimen and most species category. and here is the ONE snakehead that we managed to catch between the six of us which took all categories.

Wow...I feel proud to be the Champion of our first ever Jungle Fishing Expedition.

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