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By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.

June 2007:

Noel, a fly angler from Holland fished Par Lai Lake Phuket for the first time this
month. The weather was appalling, with heavy rain making things difficult during the
first few hours of the morning. When the rain eased, Noel was getting strikes from a
small shoal of Tarpon that where lurking beneath the foliage of an overhanging tree.
The strikes were very fast, and combined with the hard boney mouth of the Tarpon,
frustratingly they seemed impossible to hook. In the meantime I was having some fun
with the Pacu, which didnít seem to mind the rain, and released a nice one after the
first cast. Jonas came along for a few hours and released this nice Giant Gourami.
In the afternoon, Noel adapted one of his flies, and straight away started to catch lots
of Tilapia, almost every cast producing a strike. Here is a photograph of Noel with
one of the first small ones he caught. Tilapia are not the best fighting fish,
but they put a nice bend in a lightweight fly–rod!

I was fishing close by using a light float fishing set up with bread–flake as bait. I was
quietly enjoying myself catching lots of Tilapia, some nice sized Rohu to around 2
kilos (pictured here), and a Giant Gourami when something quite bizarre happenedÖ
I had just missed a bite, the float had slid under, and I struck, missed the fish and
proceeded to reel in my line as to check the bait. The bread–flake bait was spinning in
the water as I retrieved it, and suddenly 4 meters out it was "whacked" at the surface
by a good sized Giant Snakehead. It took me completely by surprise, and the ferocity
of the strike almost made me overbalance! I was only using a small hook, but the fish
was hooked alright, it was going ballistic in the typical Giant Snakehead fashion! I
had the fish on for around 20 seconds, and just when I thought I was getting the fish
under control, it bit through the leader. Thatís how it goes with Giant Snakeheads,
some days they will strike at anything within a 2 mile radius, and other days you can
put every lure in your arsenal bang on the nose and they donít want to know! Thatís
fishing for you!

Bungsam Lan lived up to expectations for Dave and John from the USA on their first
visit to the legendary Bangkok hotspot. Sometimes the morning sessions at Bungsam
can be a little bit slow, but on this day it wasnít the case, with action right from
the off. Fortunately we were fishing from one of the best fishing bungalows on the
lake, and it didnít disappoint, giving us good action all throughout the day. Here is a
photograph of the result of a double hook–up. No really big fish, but action all day
nonetheless. Dave and John had also booked another days fishing with me that was to
take place a few days later when they were also bringing along their friend Kane.
I had booked one of the bigger bungalows for the four of us, but I gave them the option
of fishing the same bungalow if they wanted, but we decided to fish
the big bungalow to give us more room.

The morning session was fairly slow to begin with, and typically the bungalow we
had fished previously was fishing very well! Not to worry though, as the morning
wore on, the fish started to come more frequently and we started to catch up with the
numbers of fish being caught on the other bungalow. Here is a photograph of John
with a good sized Striped Catfish. Later in the afternoon we decided to try a bit of
live–baiting for the predatory Giant Catfish (not to be confused with the Giant
Mekong Catfish
). Dave landed this nice one pictured here, and after it became dark,
after a few missed runs John landed this massive one. Certainly one of the largest
Giant Catfish I have ever seen landed from the lake.

Cheow Lan has started to produce some really big Hampala Barb (Jungle Perch). On a
visit this month with Jonas and French angler Jean Pierre, we started fishing the rivers
first, and on my second cast I was really "miffed" to lose a very nice Cobra
of around 2 kilos. It jumped clear of the water close to the boat and spat
the hook. The first big Hampala Barb went to Jean Pierre, which was this magnificent
specimen here. Jonas was soon to follow with this even bigger one pictured here.
Here is a photograph of Jean Pierre landing a small Hampala Barb in one of the rivers.
Jonas was using a new spinning outfit for the first time, and later in the afternoon a
massive Thai Mahseer showed him what it thought of it! We were approaching a
bushy tree that was in the water where a raft of driftwood bamboo had become lodged
in the branches. This is an ideal ambush position for species such as Hampala Barb,
Thai Mahseer and not to mention Snakeheads. We were around 30 meters away, but
Jonas tried a long cast, casting beyond the tree and retrieving his lure close to the raft
of bamboo. A Thai Mahseer, one of the biggest I have seen at Cheow Lan shot out
from beneath the raft, snatched his lure and powered upstream on an unstoppable
run. Jonas was powerless to stop the fish at such a distance and it dived into a snag of
tree branches. We maneuvered the boat quickly to the fish, which was still taking line,
but as we reached it, the 40lb test braided line broke against the snag.
Jonas wasnít down for long though when he released another really big Hampala Barb
pictured here.

There is a very shallow muddy area of Cheow Lan, that when conditions are right can
be good for Striped and Cobra Snakeheads. It is sometimes a good option to go for
during the hottest time of the day when the Giant Snakeheads can be reluctant to feed.
Here we get out of the boat and walk around the bank side casting between the trees.
Jonas caught this possible world record size Blotched Snakehead, a species not
commonly caught at Cheow Lan. This area also produced one or two small Striped
and some small Barb.

The best Giant Snakehead of the trip was this beauty pictured here that was also
landed from one of the rivers. The fish was guarding fry and hit the lure as soon as it
got too close.

During this trip we were alarmed to find a dead Giant Mekong Catfish floating in the
water out in the main lake. It was a really big one, and there were no obvious signs as
to how the fish had come to die. There is no netting in the area, so it remains a
mystery how the fish met its end. You can take a look at a photograph of the fish here.

Please click here for the latest saltwater fishing report.

Tight Lines!

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