By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.
November started with a 2-day trip to the Similan Islands
with a Swedish couple who had won their fishing trip
and a 10 day holiday to Phuket on a Swedish TV Bingo program!
We departed from Patong beach and it didn't take very long before the first Skipjack Tuna
were in the cooler. Close to the drop off we started to catch some good size Wahoo,
the biggest was a 34lb fish. We followed the drop off north, and about 20 miles
south of the Similan Islands, a Black Marlin hit one of the out rigger lures,
a 10" lure fished behind a bird teaser. The fish made some spectacular jumps
and almost jumped over the outrigger when it came in close to "Gecko".
The fight lasted about 30 minutes on 50lb stand-up Typhoon equipment.
When the fish surfaced close by the boat, we saw it was bleeding heavily
and was hooked in the gill plate with one of the hooks.
We tried to tow it behind "Gecko" for a long time but it never recovered and sadly died.
The crew salted the fish and their families are still having it for dinner!
The fish weighed in at 180lbs. Altogether we had 6 Wahoo, 35 Tuna
and one Marlin during this trip.
The next trip was a day trip aboard "Gecko" to Racha with 4 Russian tourists.
They were not very lucky with the big fish; the first strike was a big GT
that took a jet head lure over the reef between Racha Yai and Noi Island.
One of the Russian ladies fought it with a little help from her husband for a long time,
but the hook pulled just under the boat. Just 10 minutes later,
a nice Sailfish hit one of the outrigger lures and this fish
also somehow managed to shed the hook.
I thought it was going to be one of those days when nothing goes right,
and after we had been trolling for 4 hours we still hadn’t landed a fish!
However just after lunch we started to catch Wahoo, and also some nice Tuna.
At last the Russian anglers had something to smile about in the end.
English angler Peter Cahill, and his charter boat owning friend
also from England, along with his son, chartered "Gecko"
for a 5-day trip to the Similan and Surin Islands.
Again we caught Wahoo close to the drop off, and close to an F.A.D.
we had a very nice 23lb Dorado that put up a sensational fight
making some impressive jumps. The billfish never showed up during this trip,
but the moon phase was maybe not the best for Marlin and Sailfish,
although the Wahoo fishing was quite good.
We also had a 220lb Nurse Shark one night on a popper rod
that really gave a great fight on the light outfit!
Peter and his friends were very happy with the boat and crew, and they said
that the food served on "Gecko" was the best Thai food they had ever tasted!
After the trip Jonas was treated by the anglers to a night on the town in Patong.
They still can't figure out why they can beat an old Swede at pool?
The next time they come, they promise to bring along their fishing buddy
who can maybe give Jonas a game; non other than ex world snooker champion
and big game enthusiast, Steve Davies!!!
Stefan Sjoeqvist returned to Phuket to go fishing with "Gecko" once again,
and this time he brought his wife along as well.
We fished at Racha Islands the first day and the fishing was quite slow
with only Tuna caught. Stefan and his wife stayed overnight at The Racha Resort
on Racha Yai Island. The next morning we decided to try the drop off instead
and here the fishing action was better. Stefan and his wife
caught many good sized Skipjack Tuna, and also some nice Wahoo.
"Reel Thing" our smaller boat is now back in the water
and looks like brand new after re-painting and other work has been carried out.
Freshwater fishing this month started with a few trips to Par Lai Lake in Phuket.
The first visit to the venue was with Swedish angler Robert Olsson.
It was action all through the day with the Pacu, with over twelve fish landed
with an average size of around 5 Kg. We also lost around 4-5 good fish.
The last casts of the day produced the second double hook-up
of the afternoon with this fine brace of Pacu, pictured here.
In contrast, as we anglers know only too well, catch results can change
from one day to the next, and unfortunately for Singaporean angler Dzuk
and his Malaysian wife Paula this was the case on our next trip to Par Lai Lake.
Oxygen levels must have dropped dramatically as many fish were up at the surface,
including quite a few Giant Snakeheads, two of which I actually scooped out
with the landing net! The fish were so lethargic they didn’t even try to avoid the net.
Only two days after the great day we had with Robert, the Pacu
were hardly feeding at all, though we did have a few runs
that I suspect may have been from Pacu that snapped the line in snags.
Dzuk did however land a really nice Rohu of over 2 Kg, one of the biggest
I have seen from the lake, and Paula had plenty of fun with lots of Tilapia.
We decided in the early afternoon to have a go for the Striped Catfish,
but these also were not feeding, and Dzuk and Paula stopped fishing at 3.00 PM.
I decided to stay on for a while on my own, and less than 10 minutes
after they had left, I hooked into a big Catfish that couldn’t resist my surface bait.
I had done all the hard work of keeping the fish away from the snags
and had safely stopped the fish from running down one of the channels
when the barb less hook slipped out!
It seemed like it was just going to be one of those days, but a little later
I released a 3 Kg Catfish, followed 20 minutes later by an almost identical fish.
These fish were nowhere near as big as the one that slipped the hook,
but on a day like this, any fish was a bonus!
The next anglers at Par Lai Lake were Finnish father and son, Tommi and Janne.
Morning action was slow, and it wasn’t until well into the afternoon
that the fish started to come. The Pacu forming the bulk of the catch,
including 3 over 5 Kg, and also 3 smaller Striped Catfish, that for their size
gave Tommi a very good scrap on the light tackle he was using.
A morning session at Par Lai Lake with German anglers Wolfgang and Günter,
produced some good Pacu, pictured here and here.
A large bottom bait intended for the record breaking Striped Catfish
was taken by this greedy Pacu!
The two fishing buddies also had a short session at Cheow Lan Lake.
Thankfully the water levels are now finally starting to come down,
following a very heavy rainy season, and the Hampala Barb
are once again prevalent in some areas of the lake.
On arrival at our floating bungalows, a large shoal appeared at the surface
hunting bait fish. I had a rod set up already, and second cast produced this nice fish.
On this trip Günter acted as camera man while Wolfgang did all the fishing.
We concentrated most of our efforts in the rivers for Barb
and had some decent fish, including this one caught by Wolfgang.
Whilst fishing for Barb in one of the rivers, Wolfgang had a bit
of a by catch with a 1 ½ Kg Giant Snakehead.
Though at the usual Snakehead hotspots, the water was still a little high,
making strikes quite hard to come by, even shoals of Giant Snakehead fry
that is usually accompanied by parent fish
didn’t produce strikes from adult fish.
As the water levels have been so high for such a long time now,
the fishing should be fantastic for the Giant Snakeheads
once the water level return to more normal levels.
This reprieve should benefit the fish stocks for years to come.
Geffy a return customer from Sweden fished Bungsam Lan
for the second time this year. Quite a slow morning was soon made up for
with good action in the mid afternoon – early evening period.
Robert, who first fished with me earlier this month at Par Lai Lake,
joined me and English angler Michael Cunliffe for their first visit to Bungsam Lan.
Robert and I arrived earlier than Michael and while I was setting up
the equipment a large Arapaima surfaced 2 meters from our bungalow.
In freshwater fishing terms, this has to be one of the most spectacular sights
you can see, when a predator as large and beautiful as an 80 Kg Arapaima
breaks the surface almost right under your feet!
I quickly caught some Tilapia for live-bait, and set up our "heavy duty outfit"
ready for when Michael arrived. Michael wasn’t due to arrive at the lake
for another 30 minutes or so, but I dared not put out the live bait until he arrived,
because I couldn’t leave Robert alone. We put out a rod for the "Cats",
which attracted a few runs, but it was the Arapaima we were interested in
as it surfaced 3 or 4 times again very close to our bungalow.
Eventually I got the call from Michael that he was in reception,
so I raced over there as quickly as I could to meet him
and then we hurried back to the bungalow.
I set up a "humane" live bait rig
( The hook doesn’t penetrate the fish using this method )
and put it out in the area the Arapaima had been patrolling.
We also put out two rods for the "Cats", one rigged for bottom fishing,
and also a float rig. The morning was quite slow, and apart from
the odd Striped Catfish, only the float rod was producing fish.
Some maintenance workers showed up, so early in the afternoon we changed
to a bungalow away from these guys and within 10 minutes,
Michael was into a really good fish.
A long powerful first run stripped line slowly from the reel for over a minute,
and a further 25 hard fought minutes later; we released Michael’s personal best fish ever,
this very impressive Giant Mekong Catfish.
As the afternoon progressed, the action got better and better, with almost every cast
producing a run. The exertion of fighting fish after fish began to take its toll on both anglers.
Just as it got dark, Michael had been fighting a fish for around 20 minutes
and became very tired and handed me the rod to me to finish the fight.
I pumped the fish one time and it came up straight away and we netted it!
Whilst all this had been going on, I had repositioned the live bait rig close to the walkway
in an open area at the side of our bungalow. We had pretty much forgotten about it
with all the action we had been having, and it came as a bit of a surprise to all of us
when it went screaming off! I picked up the rod and slowly wound down,
but feeling no resistance, the fish had already dropped the bait.
I set the trap again in the same place, and we continued having our fun
with lots of large Catfish on the other two rods. An hour later
the live-bait reel screamed off again. This time I was quicker off the mark
and set the hook straight away. As soon as the fish felt the strike,
it went off like a torpedo, ripping 100 meters of 80 lb braided line
from the tightly set drag of the Shimano Baitrunner, as if it was on free-spool!
The fish was shaking its head violently, and I could feel everything
through the braided line and feared the hook slipping out.
Even putting my hand around the spool trying to stop the fish had little effect,
and I was immensely relieved when the fish finally stopped just short of the walkway
120 meters to my left. Then the line went slack and I was sure we had lost the fish.
I started to wind and was pleased to discover the fish was still hooked,
but swimming straight towards us at full speed! I wound as quickly as I could,
but I was struggling to keep up with the pace of the fish.
It then kited around to our left and tried to head for the bungalows there.
I locked the spool as tight as I could and put maximum pressure through the rod
in a “shit or bust” attempt to stop the fish. Thankfully it turned just in time
and headed out towards the center of the lake. We still hadn’t seen the fish
in the darkness, and when it finally surfaced a few minutes later, we were amazed
to see this Chao Phraya Catfish (also known as Giant Catfish) ready for the net.
I have caught much bigger Chao Phraya Catfish than this one before,
but the initial speed and power of this one were nothing short of incredible,
and all three of us were convinced that a much larger fish had taken our bait,
especially with the Arapaima repeatedly surfacing throughout the session.
The Giant Mekong and Striped Catfish kept on coming right up to the last cast,
when around 8.15 PM we called it a day. Robert enjoyed his time
at Bungsam Lan so much this time; he will again be joining me
for another session at this unbelievable fishing lake next month.
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