By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.
One of the wettest and longest rainy season I have experienced
during my 21 years in Phuket ended on October 17th.
Many day trips to Racha Yai and Noi islands have produced steady Wahoo
and Sailfish action during the month. German angler Stefan Kreupl
author of the German game fishing "Bible" Blue Water Fishing,
fished both on "Gecko" and on "Reel Thing" at Racha Islands,
the drop-off, Koh Rok and at Similan Islands.
His first fish aboard "Gecko" was a 60lb Sailfish on lure south of Racha Noi,
the same day he missed another fish and landed 8 Wahoo and some Skipjack Tuna.
His Koh Rok trip resulted in one released Sailfish and a couple more strikes from Sails.
The water was green and almost 32 degrees Celsius during our visit -
not exactly billfish water!
When the monsoon winds change from SW to NE, all the collected rubbish
blown up on the beaches along the Andaman coast is blown out to sea again,
and we saw some massive rubbish lines between the Racha Islands,
that resulted in excellent Dorado fishing.
When Stefan fished 3 days at the Similan Islands aboard "Gecko"
he caught an impressive number of game fish on both fly
and conventional methods. We raised 3 Marlin and released one small fish
estimated at 50 Kg. Some of his most notable catches at Similan
were this fantastic 55 lb Giant Trevally and a Wahoo on fly near an F.A.D.
Altogether Stefan landed more than half a ton of fish aboard "Gecko"
and was extremely happy about the boat, the service and of course the fishing!
His total catch was the following: 28 Wahoo, 15 Dorado, 2 Sailfish, 1 Marlin,
one big Giant Trevally, 5 Rainbow Runner, 10 Yellowfin Tuna,
loads of Skipjack and Longtail Tuna plus 1 big Longtom!
Stephan also fishing with Michael onboard "Reel Thing"; and had some good sport
with Dorado between the Racha Islands. The floating rubbish that is around
at this time of year might not look too pretty, but for Dorado fishing it’s ideal.
Almost every pass with the boat produced strikes, sometimes double strikes.
Fly-fishing also produced a couple of fish for Stephan.
US embassy staff from Nepal booked "Gecko" for April fishing, but were unable
to leave Nepal during that time because of the political problems there.
We re-booked them to October and fished the Similan Islands for 3 days.
Wahoo, Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna were landed and we almost ran over
a big Marlin that showed up just in front of the boat!
David McKittrick and his friend from Australia also encountered jumping Sailfish
around Racha Noi, but once again they refused to feed. Plenty of Tuna
and also a Dorado made up the catch for this trip aboard "Reel Thing".
"Bungsam Bill" and his wife Roxy returned once again
to fish Bungsam Lan with Michael.
This time they brought along their son Brandon, desperate to experience
the awesome power of the Giant Mekong Catfish his parents had told him so much about.
They fished off the new luxury fishing bungalow this time, and the beds in the bungalow
came in very handy later in the day when Brandon started to feel the strain of fighting
one to many Giant Mekong Catfish, along with a bit of jet-lag
and needed to take a nap for a while!
Very heavy rain for a few hours slowed things down, but normal service resumed
when the rain stopped with almost constant action.
The new bungalow once again proved very popular with the anglers.
Robert Skilton fished Bungsam Lan for the first time, after word of mouth
from his brother who fished the venue earlier this year made the trip a ďmustĒ,
even though he doesnít normally go fishing anymore!
We arrived at our fishing bungalow around 10.00 AM, and after a few good runs,
it looked like we were going to be in for a good day.
That was until the workers at the lake turned up and started to remove the remains
of the old bridge still left in the water. We moved to the next door bungalow
a little further away from the disturbance, but with scuba divers in the area,
the runs soon dried up. We persevered for a while landing a nice Pacu,
but with all the distraction around, the cats just werenít feeding.
We again moved bungalows to a position near the center of the lake,
which soon started to produce runs, and it was back to business as usual.
The best fish of the day was this nice Mekong Catfish,
which was Robertsís personal best fish of all time.
Marc OíReagan was also a first timer at the prolific big fish venue this month,
and after a fairly slow morning, around noon, like a flick of a switch,
the place really came alive. Almost every cast in the afternoon produced fish,
the bait hardly hitting the water before being gobbled up by a greedy Catfish.
Marc fished really well the whole day, but with constant action,
and no time for a rest, it was inevitable that he would tire eventually.
This is a picture of the only fish to give Marc real problems, it was the last fish of the day
and after being hooked, the fish swam straight towards our bungalow.
Anglers that have fished Bungsam Lan know this is the worst thing that can happen,
because the fish hasnít used up any of its massive reserves of energy,
and you can be sure that you are going to have a tough wrestling match
trying to keep the fish out of the legs of the bungalow.
Marc grappled has hard as he could, but although not a massive fish
by Bungsam Lansí standards, this one seemed to have a turbo!
Eventually the fish managed to get the upper hand in the hard fought struggle,
and powered under the middle of the bungalow, right under our feet.
The line was grating against the legs, the fish showing no signs of stopping,
still ripping line from the Shimano Baitrunner 6500 at a frightening rate.
I looked around and saw the float coming out of the side of the bungalow
heading in the direction of the walkway that goes around the lake on stilts in the water
at the back of the bungalow. With the line already badly damaged, it was pointless
trying to stop the fish, so we gave the fish free-spool
in the hope it would swim out of the snag.
The fish went right under the walkway, turned, swam a few meters to the left
and came back out into open water. The line was however wrapped around
several of the bungalow supports, not to mention the walkway stilts.
The fish was still taking line, so we gave it as much free line as we dare,
then I caught the line with a grappling hook made for this purpose and cut the line!
Marc quickly reeled in the slack and raced around to the walkway
so I could try and fix the lines together. I worked as quickly as I could,
and with barely a second to spare before the fish tightened the line,
I luckily managed to finish the knot just in time!
Marc carefully tightened up to the fish again, but didnít start to put any real pressure
back on until the knot was safely reeled back onto the spool.
Taking it really easy with the badly weakened line, I eventually netted this
"Turbo Charged Mekong with an Attitude"!
Marc later joined me for a day at Par Lai Lake in Phuket for a more relaxing day of fishing.
It was a really hot day, but the Pacu still gave us some decent sport along with
a good number of quite large Tilapia. On light tackle the Pacu really are a handful,
we released many, and we lost quite a few in snags, and also a few
biting through the 110lb doubled leader!
We had a go for the world record size Striped Catfish that inhabit the lake,
but this trip they were very elusive. A few were showing,
but wouldnít get their heads down on the bait.
Marcís next fishing trip with me was up to Cheow Lan for an overnight stay
in the floating bungalows. With the rainy season finally coming to a close,
the water levels were still very high, but luckily we enjoyed nice weather the whole time.
Marcís first strike of the day took him a little by surprise
when after spotting a small shoal of Giant Snakehead fry close to the boat;
his lure was attacked by one of the parent fish.
The strike was missed, and a bombardment by both of us didnít raise another strike
from the usually very aggressive fry protecting parents.
There was one area that proved really good sport with lots of strikes
coming from mainly small stuff concentrated around a mass of weed,
resulting in many fish released. Marc was catching so many
I didnít have time to fish myself, as I was un-hooking fish after fish for Marc!
The next trip to Cheow Lan was much the same, when I went there
with Doug and Jody from the USA. Once again the weather was fine,
and with about my third cast of the trip, I had a really aggressive strike
from a decent fish. I had spotted a good fish moving around 40 meters from the boat,
about the maximum casting distance with the equipment I was using.
My cast was spot on, and the lure was savagely taken as soon as it hit the water.
I lifted my rod as high as I could to stop the fish diving into weed,
but the fish was too big to stop with the distance between us,
and weeded itself up on the bottom. I knew it was a good fish
as I could feel it strongly taking line and burrowing deeper into the weed.
We turned the boat around, but by the time we got on top of the fish,
it had already rid itself of the lure and made good its escape.
The rest of the trip produced lots of action, but again mainly small stuff,
with the big fish refusing to live up to their strike at anything reputation.
Both Doug and Jody were blown away by the awesome landscape of Cheow Lan,
agreeing that it was the most beautiful place that they had ever seen.
Please note that National Park fees in Thailand have now doubled in price per person.
We will however hold our current prices for the foreseeable future.
The prices at Bungsam Lan have also now doubled, but once again
Fishing Khao Lak will hold our current prices for the foreseeable future.
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