By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.
Our first Similan area trip of the season had some good action
for Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna and Black Marlin.
Judd Briggs and his friend booked "Gecko" for a 3 day Koh Rok trip,
but after having really good weather for a couple of days and no waves,
we decided to fish the sea mount 12 miles west of Similan Islands instead.
On the first day we followed the drop-off west of Phuket north to the Similan Islands
and picked up this nice 15 Kg Wahoo and many Tuna.
Early second day we headed out to the sea mount and in 200 meters of water
between Similan and the sea mount an approximate 50-60 Kg Black Marlin
hit a medium size marlin lure fished from the outrigger on 50 lb equipment.
The Marlin took a couple of hundred meters of line before it started to jump.
Judd fought it back to the boat and we thought it was going to be an easy release,
but the fish came up and shook its head and the lure was thrown.
This didnít let us down for too long a time though, when we reached the seamount
we hooked the first Wahoo quickly and we soon ran into a big school of Yellowfin Tuna.
Both Judd and his friends hooked up Yellowfin Tuna non-stop for the coming 2 hours,
when the Tuna moved on we fished close to the F.A.D.ís with diving plugs
and hooked another 7 Wahoo and also missed many strikes.
When the current slowed down we moored up to one of the F.A.D.ís and did some bait fishing.
Before all lines were out Judd hooked a Dorado and he was over the moon,
his target for this trip was Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna and Dorado,
and by the second day his wish had been granted.
On the way back to Phuket on the third day we had a Sailfish
coming up on the small tuna lures, but it wasnít hooked.
Skipjacks were caught in large numbers all the way back to Phuket.
Hong Kong angler Milton Kung and his girlfriend Yoko, were picked up
at Racha Island Pier for a days fishing around the two islands.
Milton had brought along some of his own equipment for a spot of popper casting
close to the rocks, but unfortunately the weather made this quite difficult
with fairly rough water, so on the day it was decided it would be
a better option to concentrate on trolling.
After a couple of hours trolling, the Tuna started to feed,
and we also released 2 nice Wahoo. We spotted a couple of Sailfish
jumping in the morning, but by the afternoon it appeared that they had moved on.
US angler Rick went fishing with us for 3 different trips this month.
A trip aboard "Gecko" to Racha produced many Tuna, a nice Wahoo
and also a Barracuda on a pleasantly calm day with lots of sunshine.
Rickís trip to Cheow Lan was also nice weather, a bit overcast at times,
but very little rain making very good fishing conditions.
The water levels at Cheow Lan were still very high, but the weed growth
seems to have reached the waters surface again. The Giant Snakeheads
were in an aggressive mood, producing very many strikes for me, Jonas and Rick.
Fishing a flooded area quite close to the bungalows produced this Striped Snakehead
and also a few Hampala Barb. Fishing the current hotspot produced this lovely
Giant Snakehead for Jonas, many smaller Giant Snakeheads
plus a few Hampala Barb deep inside an overgrown jungle river.
I personally had 2 or 3 really good strikes from big Snakeheads which failed to hook up.
One strike coming from a sideways direction from around 3 meters away,
the fish forming a large V shaped wake as it smashed into the lure!
Ricks next fishing trip with us was at Bungsam Lan Lake in Bangkok,
where we were joined by fellow American angler Terry.
The fishing in the morning was really slow, with hardly any fish being caught
across the whole lake. We had landed a few Striped Catfish, but it was after
11.00 AM before Terry hooked into a good sized Giant Mekong Catfish.
To say Terry had never fought one of these super powered fish before,
he handled the fight magnificently, the fish not once getting it self snagged
before I was able to net this great fish. A few more fish came our way
before things once again slowed down for a while, but when late afternoon arrived
things were back to normal with the bait hardly hitting the water before being taken.
Both Rick and Terry were exhausted by the time we packed up around 5.00 PM.
A similar trip was had by Danish angler Thomas when he fished
this big fish venue for the first time.
Again quite a slow start in the morning with just 3 Striped Catfish
and a small Giant Mekong Catfish of around 16 Kg to show for our efforts
up until around noon. With the action being very slow, we fished the bottom
in the hope of continuing to land a few Striped Catfish
until the Mekong started to feed properly.
It had just started to rain when we had a slow take, Thomas quickly wound down to the fish
and firmly set the hook. I didnít pay too much attention at first, as I was expecting it
to be another average sized Striped Catfish, but after over 2 minutes
of the fish taking line continuously I began to suspect a much bigger fish!
At this point the heavens opened, and in less than a minute
Thomas was completely soaked to the skin!
I had to shout above the noise of the rain my advice to Thomas
as I sheltered inside the bungalow from the pounding rain.
The fish really behaved itself for a while, the fight taking place right out in the middle
of the lake out of harms way. The rain continued to hammer down, and there was nothing
Thomas could do but stand his ground and try and tire the fish.
There was no way this beast was coming in until it was good and ready!
The fish had behaved itself very well for around 30 minutes, but inevitably
things were going to get tricky sooner or later. Eventually the fish thought
its best means of escape would be closer to the bungalows
and started to veer towards them.
As the fish started to kite to our left, we got our first glimpse of her.
The long length between her tail and dorsal fin gave us a rough guide to her size.
I took off my shirt and glasses, and seeing as the fish still had about 80 meters of line out,
I headed to the next door but one bungalow with the landing net incase she got too close.
Thomas took up the maximum pressure fighting position, the rod as low to the water
as possible to his right, his back almost facing the fish with the rod bent
almost completely double. The fish slowed and I held my breath, landing net
at the ready to splash in the water, but it wasnít needed, the fish turned
and headed back towards the middle of the lake. "Only another ten minutes!"
I called to Thomas, the strain of the fight beginning to show on his face.
Twenty minutes later, the fish was still in the middle of the lake with no sign of tiring!
Taking his time, pumping the fish, slowly and smoothly, Thomas started
to gain back some line. I wish we had a video of the way Thomas fought this fish
to show people, because he did so perfectly. As soon as the fish started to turn,
he reacted quickly and steered the fish back the other way.
"Only another ten minutes!" I once again called to Thomas as he fought the fish
in the relentless rain. Playing a fish this size, it is very important to not try
and bully the fish too much. Keeping constant steady smooth pressure is much better
than trying to wrestle the fish, which more often than not usually ends up
with a broken line, or the fish becoming snagged in the bungalows.
When she finally did slide into our large heavy duty landing net,
we had to be really careful she didnít slide out again, because
only her huge head down to her pectoral fins could fit inside the net.
We steered the fish through the water to the back of the bungalow still in the net,
and into the shallow water for the photograph. Thomas was exhausted and shaking
with nerves and excitement, and unable to lift the fish on his own,
so I got into the water to help him. We were both totally soaked
from the rain anyway, and couldnít get more wet if we tried!
Then disaster struck!
The batteries in my camera failed and only one poor quality photograph
that hardly showed any of the fish had been taken.
Very luckily, Charles Ward who was fishing nearby at the time
kindly took this great picture of the capture and sent it to us.
We released the fish unharmed, cleaned ourselves up,
then had a well earned lunch and a break.
The weather started to brighten up, and into the afternoon, the "normal sized cats"
started to feed, and we released a steady number of Giant Mekong Catfish
average size around 17 Kg until it was time to call it a day around 6.00 PM.
Thomas was over the moon with his magnificent days catch, and described his day
at Bungsam Lan as "Way beyond his wildest expectations!"
Michael fished Bungsam Lan with Swedish anglers Alexandra and Daniel
on a day of almost non-stop action that even a Swedish international
Tug ĎoĎ war competitor found hard work!
Straight from the first cast as Michael was explaining about the equipment
and how to hook-up the fish, the rod was almost dragged from his hands
by the first one in a long line of Giant Mekong Catfish that were to give Daniel
good training for his next bout of Tug ĎoĎ war! The action only slowed down
when some maintenance work was being carried out close to their bungalow,
but as soon as the work finished, it was straight back into the action.
It was mostly Giant Mekong Catfish all the way, and it was the late afternoon
before the first Striped Catfish of the day made an appearance.
A nice Pacu was also released after it took the bait as it was being retrieved.
The remains of the old bridge, parts of which are still submerged below the water level
are still causing problems for anglers fighting fish, and Alexandra went very close
to breaking the Bungsam Lan record held by Lee 'Leeroy' Sargent
for losing the most number of fish in one day in the bridge.
The maintenance work being carried out by the lake's staff was actually
removing the old parts of the bridge still left in the water,
so this problem should soon be resolved.
After a great first time at Bungsam Lan, needless to say, both anglers
were completely worn out by the time they called it a day around 9.30 PM.
Andy and Archie from the UK returned once again to fish Bungsam Lan this month.
Andy has fished the lake many times before, but this was the first time he fished
from the new bungalow which has been recently built.
He was so impressed with the bungalow that he insists that he now
fishes from the new bungalow every time in the future.
As well as being in arguably the best position on the lake, the bungalow is also
the best equipped, including TV, western toilet, shower, 2 bedrooms with ceiling fan,
sinks, table and chairs with umbrella plus sun loungers and deck chairs.
The fishing proved really good with almost non-stop action
with Giant Mekong Catfish all day long averaging 17-18 Kg.
The new luxury bungalow mentioned above can be booked
for an extra charge of 1,000 THB per fishing party.
The bungalow can comfortably fish up to 6 anglers. It is also ideal for families
or fishing parties with none angling spectators. It is in the most private position
on the lake, giving anglers plenty of room to play their fish
without the worry of crossing the lines of other anglers.
Spanish angling journalist Epi Amiguet took a trip to Cheow Lan Lake.
The weather was quite bad, and we endured almost constant rain all the time.
The fish were "still up for it" though, and we had a good number of strikes during the trip,
resulting in 8 or 9 average sized Giant Snakeheads and a few Hampala Barb.
What would have been Epiís best fish of the trip was a good sized Giant Snakehead,
but unfortunately as these fish are very good at, threw the hook very close to the net!
Here is a picture of Epi with a nice Hampala Barb caught from the mouth of the jungle river.
Jonas also lost a good Giant Snakehead that became entangled in weed.
Fly-anglers interested in fishing with us will be pleased to know
that our fly-fishing expert Meik from Denmark has joined us
once again for the high season.
Speaking of the high season, Bungsam Lan is getting increasing popular
and we urge anyone thinking of booking with us to do so as soon as possible
to ensure that the best fishing bungalows are available.
On some of our recent trips, our most prolific bungalows have not been available
and catch results have not been as good.
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