By Jonas Nyqvist & Neil Robinson.
January 2008–November 2008:
The best single session we had was with Swedish anglers Jesper and Pierre at our new
destination in Krabi. I guided Pierre, and Jonas guided Jesper. We both opted for one
rod for Predators and the other rod set up for traditional Carp fishing.
We baited the Carp area with lots of balls of pellets and cast our method feeder and
maize plus boilie hair–rigged hook–baits 70 meters out onto a plateau. Our other rod
was using a dead–bait cast 45 degrees into a bay on our left. The Carp rod was first to
show some interest with a few bleeps from the alarm, but no positive runs to strike at
so far. It was a beautiful day, not too hot and a welcome light breeze blowing to our
left putting a ripple on the surface and making us more comfortable.
They say fish often follow the wind and this seemed to be the case on this day as four
or five very large Arapaima were periodically surfacing to take air in the bay to our
left. My anticipation was growing, but knowing how temperamental and wise these
awesome fish are, I was feeling confident but not overtly so.
We had been fishing for around 90 minutes when the dead–bait was taken. It was a
slow steady run, the alarm sounding the glorious one–tone we all love. Pierre was onto
it, setting the hook into a slow heavy weight fish taking line at a constant speed as if it
didnít know that it was hooked. Most people fishing in Krabi for the first time
immediately assume they have hooked one of the lakeís many Arapaima, but with the
many different predatory species in the lake such as several species of big Catfish
which may have taken it, you never know for sure. One of the great things about the
lake is that there are very few if any snags to worry about, so youíre free to take your
time and let the fish run. Arapaima are partial air breathers, so after a few minutes the
fish did indeed prove to be an Arapaima when it surfaced for the first time and took a
gulp of air. This gave the fish an extra burst of power and it set off on another long
run. When Pierre had gained some line back and the fish showed signs of tiring, the
landing cage was put in the water ready (the big fish at Krabi are landed in a large net
cage as opposed to a conventional landing net to protect the fish). As the fish came in
close, it thrashed around at the surface in an attempt to throw the hook; the hard
boney mouths make it very easy for the fish to dispel the hook if the angler gives just
a little sack line at the wrong time. Eventually tiring, Stuart the owner of the lake
entered the water, and taking hold of the leader, led the giant fish into the waiting
cage. The hook was swiftly removed, and the fish was given plenty of time to recover
in the net cage, taking several minutes and gulps of air before it was photographed
and released to swim strongly away. You can take a look at the fantastic fish here, just
to give you an idea of the size of the fish, please note that Pierre is a really big guy, at
least 5 inches taller than me (Iím holding the tail of the fish) and Iím six feet tall!
A great fish, but the day held something much bigger for PierreÖ
About another 90 minutes or so, the same rod went again!
This time it was bigger, going on longer runs than the previous fish, and also staying
down longer before it eventually surfaced again proving to be this massive Arapaima,
20 kilos or so heavier than the previous one!
Jesper was soon into a fish, this first Giant Siamese Carp of the day, a nice fish, but
not the Arapaima he desperately wanted after seeing his best friend land 2 large ones
right next to him! The next run was for Jesper also, this time his live–bait rod paying
line to a slow swimming "one–toner". He set the hook and proceeded to fight the fish,
nervous concentration spread across his face. The fish surfaced a good distance out,
the need for the fish to take air once again letting us identify another Arapaima. The
fish dived and twisted, the hook coming free and leaving a very disappointed Jesper.
Lightning struck twice when Jesper lost another Arapaima a while later, but he still
ended the day with a great catch of another Giant Siamese Carp, this lovely Red
Tail Catfish and also this beautiful Asian Red Tail Catfish.
Back to Pierre, and he landed his first of 2 Giant Siamese Carp, the best pictured here.
Pierre was not finished yet, when mid afternoon the best fish of an incredible dayís
fishing took his dead–bait. This fish was absolutely huge, taking a massive amount of
line as it powered to our right, wiping out Jespersí lines before he had time to retrieve
them. When it surfaced for the first time I was awestruck, one of the most magnificent
freshwater fish I had ever seen. Anyone who thinks Arapaima are not great fighters
should think again, this fish had huge power, almost spooling the reel run after run.
I was supposed to leader the fish into the cage this time, but I didnít want to risk a
mistake with a fish of this caliber, so Stuart did the honors.
Please take a look at this perfect example of a massive Arapaima that can be caught in
this lake. Truly unforgettable!
Pierre was extremely pleased with his day at Krabi, as anyone would be, but being a
saltwater fisherman I donít think he quite understood what such a once in a lifetime
experience he had achieved!
People have fished for years for these fish and never caught one, and he landed three
big ones in the same day! Well done Pierre, unbelievable!
Bjorn also from Sweden, who fished with us the previous year, is one such angler
who has wanted to catch an Arapaima for a while now. He joined me and also English
couple David and Joy for a days fishing at Sawai Lake in Phuket. I set up Joy first,
baited her hook and got her fishing and chatted to Bjorn and David about the lake and
its species whilst setting up the other rods. I hadnít even managed to set up another
rod before Joy declared that she "Had one!" We couldnít believe our eyes when after
only a couple of minutes of fishing Joy was into an Arapaima! We were only using
light gear as the Pacu really go on the feed in the mornings, and these were our initial
target specie. I had only just arrived at the lake and I already had to strip down to my
underwear to net the fish! Here is a picture of me holding the fish for Joy. Not a huge
fish by any means, but an Arapaima none the less!
Bjorn and David congratulated Joy on her catch, but I think there was a touch of envy
going on as well..
The men got set up and were soon into lots of fish; nice Pacu and Red Tail Catfish
providing the best sport. The fish kept coming and after lunch Bjorn hooked into a
really good fish, the fish had surfaced quite quickly and Bjorn was into his first ever
Arapaima. After a good fight, again on light but strong tackle we landed our second
Arapaima of the day. Here is a picture of a very delighted Bjorn with the fish.
Bjorn also took a trip to Cheow Lan in search of the notorious Giant Snakehead.
Conditions were good, not too hot and lots of Giant Snakehead fry around guarded by
very protective parents. Strikes were plentiful, but hooking the fish was a different
matter, keeping them on the hook even more so, I personally lost big fish after big
fish, my biggest a fish around six kilos that I was fighting for a few minutes before it
some how spat the hook with the rod bent double and in open water. All this was
caught on video and my reaction, not to mention the bad language has been censored
to hide my embarrassment!
It was only when Bjorn landed this fine Giant Snakehead that I stopped feeling sorry
Next for Bjorn it was up to Bungsam Lan Lake in Bangkok a venue he had had good
success at before. His success continued with several large Cheow Phrya Catfish
caught on live–bait, here and here, this big Pacu and also this Giant Mekong Catfish,
his personal best. Of all the fantastic fish that Bjorn caught on his trips with us, he
regarded the capture of his Giant Snakehead the highest, due to the natural wild
habitat it was caught from.
Cheow Lan also came up with the goods on a short trip with Polish couple Thomas
and Agata. We had a crazy 20 minutes when we all had a big Giant Snakehead each.
I was first with this fish, followed by this fish for Thomas, and then not to be out done
by the boys, Agata weighed in with this fine specimen.
One of our unluckiest anglers was Lew from South Africa. He fly fished Sawai Lake
in Phuket, had taken a few Pacu on the fly, (here) when he hooked the largest
Arapaima in the Lake. The fish at first didnít seem to realize it was hooked, I had the
net ready in the water and it almost came within range once or twice before it did
eventually realize it was hooked and went ballistic! Semi jumping out of the water
thrashing its head it shed the hook. Not many people have caught an Arapaima, not to
mention on the fly, so to lose this was heartbreaking and I really felt sorry for Lew.
Here is a picture of the fish landed a few weeks later. Incidentally to demonstrate the
amazing growth rate of the Arapaima specie, here is another picture of the same fish
landed by Swedish angler Andreas only four and a half months earlier.
Andy Crain from the USA was also a bit unlucky, if that is the right word when he
had a double hook–up at Bungsam Lan? He went on to land a standard sized Giant
Mekong Catfish, while his girlfriend took the other rod and landed a 23.5 kilo Giant
Siamese Carp. Here is a pic of me holding the fish.
A similar occurrence happened when myself, and my two friends Lee and Andy were
fishing a 24 hour session at Bungsam Lan. During the night it was Leesí turn on the
rod, but when the rod screamed off he let Andy take it because he couldnít be
bothered to get out of bed thinking it was just another Striped Catfish that had been
proving a nuisance earlier. Andy was more than happy when I slipped the net under
this splendid 17 kilo Giant Siamese Carp!
Lee redeemed himself on his next 24 hour session when he guided Swedish angler ----
to a brace of Giant Siamese Carp, here is a nice 24 kilo specimen, and here is a 24
kilo one. (Awaiting photographs).
Simon Hughes from the UK is usually a fly angler which he proved to good effect
when he landed some nice Pacu from Sawai Lake on the fly pictured here and a larger
one here (click here to see a video of the fight) when he tried his luck using
conventional methods at Krabi. He was unlucky to lose 2 or 3 Arapaima during the
fight, but went on to land 7 Giant Siamese Carp, the largest pictured here, and also
this nice Suribim Catfish here and also this small Alligator Gar, all in a single session.
Also in Krabi, our friend Dutch John has landed some spectacular fish. He had gone a
few days catching some nice Carp, Cats and Pacu but had failed to land an Arapaima.
Jonas was fishing with him and had managed to land this awesome fish. I turned up,
and must have changed his luck, because soon after my arrival he landed his first
Arapaima pictured here. (Click here to see a video of the fight). John was so pleased
with his catch that he had a giant tattoo of an Arapaima around his body. Funny
though, I have never seen an Arapaima with a head that looks like a dog!
Once John had broke his duck, he has gone on to land several more Arapaima, some
of which you can see pictured here, here and here.
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