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By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.

August 2006:

After a couple of fish filled trips to Bungsam Lan, Swedish angler Johan decided
to try his skills against the Giant Snakeheads and Hampala Barb at Cheow Lan.

We picked him up early morning from Phuket Airport, and drove straight up to the lake.
The rain was very heavy during the journey, but we were very lucky that after arriving
at Cheow Lan, apart from a little light rain on the last day, the rest of the trip
was quite pleasant weather, which allowed us to fish as long as we wanted to every day.

Since our last trip to Cheow Lan, the water levels were still rising, so we took a chance
on fishing a different area than last time. An hour into the first fishing session
and Johan had a multiple strike off a decent sized fish in open water.

Quickly re-casting just beyond where the fish had struck, a few turns
of the reel handle and the fish struck again. This time a hookup, a good fight ensued,
and then into the net went this great fish. Not bad for your first Giant Snakehead
especially after fishing for only an hour!

The rest of the afternoon brought plenty more strikes for all three of us,
and we all caught fish, mainly Giant Snakeheads in the 1-2 kilo bracket.
Our combined hook-up rate on this afternoon was fantastic,
with almost every strike converted into a released fish.

In the corner of this area, a small jungle river enters the lake,
and the entrance provided good sport with Hampala Barb.

The next day we ventured into the opposite far corner of the same area,
where a narrow channel leads to an expanse of very swampy water,
divided by long thin channels, thick with vegetation and overhanging trees
providing a perfect natural habitat for the ambush predators we were targeting.

The "perfect natural habitat" also means difficult to fish however, and casting
is quite restricted at times. Even so we had many strikes from Giant Snakeheads,
also a double hook-up when I and Jonas both connected with fish
within seconds of each other.

It was a good day overall, with plenty of action to keep us all busy.
Our hook-up rate was not as good as the day before, but we all released a few fish each.

The next morning we headed back to the same place expecting the same sort of action,
but such as fishing can sometimes prove frustrating; we hardly had a strike between us.
We persevered for a while before we went back out into the open area and worked our way
back along the right hand bank; back over to the far corner where the small river comes in.

The action was quite slow until around 11.00 AM, when we entered a shallow weedy area
and the action really started. Almost every cast produced a strike, but the fish
proved really difficult to hook. We persisted and all released a few fish,
like this one here caught by Johan.

Johan was really pleased with the whole Cheow Lan experience,
and described his time at Cheow Lan as "Three of the best days of his life!"

Still on a high from his trip to Cheow Lan, Johan booked "Reel Thing"
(our 22 foot sportfisher) for a day trip to Racha Island. I joined Johan on the trip,
with Michael taking care of the fishing. It was a beautiful day,
with a light sea making it a very comfortable trip.

We started the fishing trolling two Tuna lines, and two lures. As time ticked by,
we were starting to get a little concerned, because we needed plenty of Tuna
to make belly-strip baits to use for the Sailfish in the afternoon.

We had passed both Racha Noi and Racha Yai Islands and into the heavier open water
before we had our first strike around 11.00 AM. The strike produced 3 Tuna
on one rod, and a single Tuna on another.

For the next hour it was strike after strike culminating with an ice box full of Tuna,
and also this nice Wahoo on one of the Tuna lines. It was a sporting battle
on the light gear, and also quite lucky to actually land the fish,
because its razor sharp teeth had almost completely severed the line!

After a nice lunch, Michael set about making the belly-strips, dissecting the Tuna
and sewing the strips of flesh onto the hooks with the skill and precision of a surgeon.

We trolled four belly-strips and one teaser line in an all out attempt to target Sailfish.
Trolling close to the islands, it wasn’t long before we had a multiple strike.
I and Johan got quite excited, but Michael stayed cool, calmly telling us
it was just a shoal of Longtom! Not long after, we actually landed this nice one.

Michael however had to make more new belly-strips as the Longtom
had made a right mess of the ones we had been trolling.

We knew there had been a good number of "Sails" around recently,
but on this day we had only seen one or two jumping in the distance.

Undeterred we carried on, but no strikes came until just before
we were to head back to Chalong. Michael had taken in all but the last rod
when literally just as he was about to pick up the rod, it screamed off!

Another nice Wahoo fought like crazy, making a long first run,
and leaping out of the water a couple of times close to the boat.

American angler Greg Cox tried his hand at fly-fishing at Par Lai Lake.
Our usual fly-fishing guide, Meik from Denmark was out of the country
(he will be back mid September) so it was down to I and Michael to stand in.

Just as Greg was getting ready for his first cast, his fly dropped in the water
at the bank side and was immediately taken by a nice Pacu which promptly shot off
with it giving Greg a very welcome surprise!

Greg also landed a few more Pacu throughout the day including
a very big one just as we were about to pack up.

French couple Jeremy and Sandrine also had a nice trip to Par Lai Lake,
which produced some nice fish. Sandrine had a few nice Pacu, and also a Rohu.
Jeremy also took a few nice Pacu, and was also very unlucky to lose a good fish
with the last cast of the day. He also landed a small Striped Snakehead
during a short spinning session.

American angler Erik returned once again to fish with Michael at Bungsam Lan
for two days. According to Michael, Erik fished very well over both days,
and his improved technique helped him no end...

The first day he only fished from 1.30 PM until 5.30 PM but still was able
to release around 250 Kg of catfish! The second days’ fishing started at 11.00 AM
and was action all the way until he hooked into something even by Bungsam Lans
standard that was absolutely huge! The fish made off with the bait incredibly slowly,
but even applying maximum pressure, there was no stopping this beast until it managed
to entangle itself in the submerged remains of the old wooden bridge.

They thought they had lost the fish, until it started moving again very slowly.
A tug of war ensued for around an hour with the fish hardly moving, Erik gaining
some line, before the fish got it back. Eventually the fish broke the line,
but Michael with his vast experience of the venue was quite sure
it was one of the biggest fish he has seen hooked at Bungsam Lan!

English angler Mike Smith and his 3 friends returned to fish aboard "Gecko"
with Jonas at Racha. The rainy weather of the previous few days
luckily cleared up and they enjoyed nice weather for both days.

The first day they fished Racha Noi Island, where they had 3 Wahoo,
also 3 more strikes from Wahoo on diving lures. Many Tuna were caught,
and a nice Sailfish came up on one of the Tuna daisy chains,
which unfortunately was not hooked. A shoal of Longtom came up
jumping close to GT Rock south of Racha Noi Island, being chased
by a 100 Kg Black Marlin just 30 meters in front of "Gecko".
The Marlin inhaled one of the Longtom in a spectacular splash!

After a relaxing BBQ of Wahoo steak, just off the beach at the southern end
of Racha Noi, they tried a bit of bottom fishing. Only the Barracuda
seemed to be biting, so after a while they called it a night.

The next day they headed out to the drop-off 18 miles west of the Racha Islands.
There was plenty of action with a nice Wahoo, 4 Dorado, 4 Yellowfin Tuna,
10 Longtail Tuna a few Kawa Kawa Tuna and 60 Skipjack Tuna!
On the way back to Chalong, Mike landed a nice 10 Kg Barracuda.

KK Law had a bit of bad luck when he chartered "Reel Thing" for 2 consecutive days.

The sea the previous day had been a little rough, so Jonas upgraded them to "Gecko",
but unfortunately KKs’ wife became sea sick after an hour and they had to turn back!

Better luck next time KK!

Tight Lines!

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