By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.
Bungsam Lan Lake in Bangkok has really started to produce some amazing results,
the best of which has to go to my good friend Lee "Leeroy" Sargent.
The last time Lee fished at Bungsam Lan, he landed his first ever Giant Siamese Carp,
a lovely fish of 17 kilos pictured here. This gave him the taste for the species, so on
his latest session he decided to forfeit the Catfish in an all out attack for Carp.
We started to feed up two areas, using a massive amount of bait that we kept topping
up at regular intervals. We didn’t start fishing until around 14:00, as Lee was
exhausted from his journey from the UK. Little did he know he was going to get a lot
more exhausted as the session continued! After a while the two baited areas started to
show signs of fish activity, at first just a few bubbles and silt being stirred up by fish
foraging on the bottom, which climaxed into a fish feeding frenzy with the baited
areas resembling a muddy Jacuzzi!
We kept piling in the bait and the rods started to signal lines bites with the bait being
knocked around by the huge fish. Eventually the first run screamed off, taking around
twenty meters of line in a matter of seconds before Lee struck into the first Giant
Siamese Carp of the session. The rod buckled and bucked in his hands as the fish
made its darting erratic runs into open water before it switched its escape plan to
getting underneath the fishing bungalow. Lee countered, turning the fish left and right
trying to thwart its efforts, but the fish was too strong and too fast and smashed his
line against one of the supporting legs. Lee was disappointed to say the least; he knew
the fish was much larger than his previous personal best from his last session.
As we kept putting more bait in, the runs started to come more frequently and it
wasn’t long before Lee was fighting another massive fish. It was soon obvious though
that it wasn’t a Carp, but he was still happy to slip the net under this 29 kilo Giant
Mekong Catfish, not the intended species, but still a nice fish, his joint second largest
Giant Mekong ever.
Both rods were now getting runs, but unfortunately from "nuisance fish"; 10 kilo
Striped Catfish! We dealt with a few of these, and then Lee hooked into something
absolutely huge…Within seconds we knew it wasn’t a Carp, Lee still tired from his
last fight with a large Mekong Catfish didn’t feel ready for another marathon tug of
war, so he handed the rod to me. The fish was moving slowly, but not stopping for a
second. We were using the heaviest equipment we had, and the reel's drag nut was
tightened up as far as it would go, but someone needed to tell the fish this, it was taking
line as if it didn’t even know it was hooked! The rod I was using was brand new and
untested on something this big, but after 40 minutes of being bent fully double as far as
it would go, I knew it was up to the job! The fish had taken a massive amount of line
and we had to keep cooling the spool which was steaming every time we poured
water onto it, and my thumb was blistered by trying to add more pressure to the spool!
The fish came in close, and slowly I started to feel the fish tiring a little and just as I
was starting to get confident, the hooked slipped out right at my feet! There was no
slack line, it was just one of those infuriating moments that happen from time to time
whist fishing. What made it worse though was that I had done all the hard work, kept
the fish out of the snags, fought the thing for 50 minutes in the blazing sunshine wet
through with sweat, and all for nothing!
We had a few more Catfish, taking turns on the rods, and then I hooked into a large
Giant Siamese. After a short powerful run, the fish turned and came straight towards
me and buried itself deep into the structure of the bungalow. I toyed with it for a
minute or so, trying to tease it back out, but then the fished piled on the pressure and
broke the line. Things were going from bad to worse…
I was beginning to feel that it was going to be one of those days when nothing seems
to go our way, an absolutely huge Giant Mekong lost, and more importantly two 30
kilo plus Giant Siamese Carp lost. Things were not looking good…
Thankfully I was wrong, very wrong! Not long after the loss of the Giant Mekong
Catfish, Lee was into another Giant Siamese Carp. Lee was right on his game this
time and matched the massive Carp turn for turn. Fighting the fish right below his feet
on a short line with a maximum bend in his rod we netted the first Carp of the session,
this spectacular Giant Siamese that pulled the scales down to 30 kilos exactly! A new
personal best for Lee!
Most of the fight was caught on video, which you can take a look at by clicking here.
Watch out for the fish almost dragging Lee into the water!
Things slowed down for a while, with only "nuisance fish" hitting our baits, a steady
stream of 18–23 kilo Giant Mekong Cats!
When darkness arrived I tried to persuade Lee to switch one of the rods to a live–
baiting set up as there were lots of predatory Giant Catfish topping in front of us, their
elongated dorsal fins slicing through the calm surface of the lake. Lee wasn’t
interested though; he had landed 3 of these on his last trip and still maintained he only
wanted to target Giant Siamese Carp.
As it turned out it would have been a grave mistake to change tactics, because the rod
I had earmarked for live–baiting produced the best fish of the session just before
midnight! Things had been a little quiet, each of us taking turns to wrestle with the
Giant Mekong Cats that were hitting the Carp baits and on this occasion it was Lee’s
turn. It was a slow run and Lee solidly set the hook into a slow moving powerful fish.
"Another Mekong, a big one." he said, so I didn’t even bother getting out of my chair
as I knew he would be fighting it for 20 minutes or so. After 10 minutes I picked up
the net and went to stand by Lee who was starting to feel the strain of fighting lots of
big fish, and also a little bit of jet–lag kicking in. I wasn’t paying too much attention at
the time as we had already landed about 8 large Cats, but as the fish started to tire and
near the surface I saw a flash of a tail fin and wasn’t so sure anymore that it was a
Catfish. I asked Lee if he was sure it was a Mekong, he said it was fighting like one,
but now we were both starting to have our doubts...
The fish dived again without us getting another look at it, and it was a few more
minutes before it finally surfaced again. When it did, our hearts really started
pumping because it was a massive Giant Siamese Carp! Lee had been fighting the fish
very calmly, wrongly thinking it was a Giant Mekong all along, but now he was
starting to get nervous, it was huge, and he knew that this was the most dangerous part
of the fight, when many fish are lost. Lee was doing everything correct, but from
previous experiences I knew that these fish are notorious for fooling you into thinking
they are finished and ready for the net, only to go on one last unstoppable dive
breaking the line against the bungalow and disappearing into the depths leaving the
angler cursing himself and "the one that got away".
I slowly slipped the landing net into the pitch black water, and as usual the fish saw it
and made its final attempt at escape. It dived straight below our feet, the rod
slamming right over into a full bend and the bait–runner reel smoking under the
pressure. Lee felt the heavy braided line scraping against one of the pillars, and swung
his rod right over in the opposite direction trying to turn the fish. Mercifully he got it
just right and the fish turned back out into the safety of the open water in front of us
and the waiting net.
We were both overjoyed and punching the air, there was going to be no sleeping this
night, the adrenalin was pumping too much!
The fish pulled the scales down to 40 kilos exactly, without question a fish of a
lifetime for my friend who couldn’t take the smile off his face.
You can take a look at the incredible fish here; the photograph is not brilliant though,
because my hand was shaking too much!
We cracked open a couple of beers to celebrate, but Lee didn’t have time to enjoy his,
he was into another massive fish almost straight away. Although completely shattered
by now, adrenalin was keeping him going and fought the fish like it was his first of
the day. This wasn’t a Carp this time though, "only" a 35 kilo Giant Mekong Catfish.
Somehow he managed to land this fish in record time, making very short work of the
fight. I was still tired from lifting the last massive fish onto the scales and it took a
couple of attempts for us to lift this one onto them.
The rest of the night was fairly quiet, just the odd average sized Mekong or Striped
Catfish putting our weary bodies back to work.
For a session that started so badly, it turned into the best fishing session ever for Lee.
Another night session at Bungsam Lan was very productive for Matt from Australia,
lots of Giant Mekong Catfish up to 23 kilos, but unfortunately no runs from Carp. The
morning session was quite good though; we switched to live–baiting, had 3 runs and
released two predatory Giant Catfish, one that weighed 12 kilos, and this one that
weighed 17 kilos.
Paul Roper also from Australia had a productive second visit to Par Lai Lake in
Phuket, the Pacu are now starting to produce some spectacular sport, that it of course
when they are not smashing the 25lb line and crushing the hooks with their bolt–cutter
Here is a pic of Paul with a nice Red Bellied Pacu, and here is a pic of one of the best
fish of the day, another nice Red Belly.
Surface baits are starting to produce lots of action, with Carp, Pacu, Giant Gourami
and Catfish willing to hit the baits, not to mention the massive shoals of Tilapia that
are touching the 2 kilo mark.
Darren a UK angler had a great fishing day on his first visit to Par Lai Lake, landing
an incredible 6 different species; Pacu, Tilapia, Striped Catfish, Walking Catfish,
Giant Gourami and Rohu. Amongst his catch was a decent sized Rohu that had
been bitten by a large predator, with large teeth marks on both sides of its head, the
offender probably being the monster sized Giant Snakehead that reveals its presence
every twelve months or so.
Even using the new beefed up rods that we are now using to try and tame the Pacu;
we still lost around six of the brutal fighters that seem to know instinctively where all
the snags are!
Please click here for November's 2007 saltwater fishing report.
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