Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A few of Adrian's exotic fish!!

This is not a 'feature' on Mike Bailey's Exotic Fishing Thailand lake complex as I have not had the opportunity to drive up there yet since arriving back in Phuket mid November. I've been a bit busy to say the least!

Nope...this is simply a few photo's of some of the many fish Adrian Green from Cheltenham caught at EFT over a 3 day session in mid- November.

Adrian has been a very good Offshore Rebel customer for getting on 30 years nd he loves all types of fishing. He is certainly 'hooked' on fishing here in Phuket.

So....above....is an Albino Pacu, a species part of the Piranha family.....and an insane fighter. It is a fish that never gives up and will trash your gear and even bite through a heavy gauge hook if it has to as it is brought to the net.

Here (L) is the famous Arapaima which is a beautifully marked fish and one which anglers from all over the world are enticed to the  lakes of Thailand to catch.
Ha Ha....I'll have to ask Adrian about this one...haven't got a clue!
Well...it's a catfish...Adrian..help! My ambition this trip, now that I am no longer a skipper with a head full of sea fish..is to try and learn all these different freshwater fish. Of course they all have different and extremely difficult sounding names in Thai!
Here's the fabulous Ripsaw Catfish....and you can see why it is so named!
A massive Mekong catfish well over 100kg. Who would ever imagine being able to catch freshwater fish like these...amazing. And when you do catch one, the power of these beast is unforgettable...as is the 90 minute struggle many anglers will experience before they can coax such a fish to the landing cage.
And another Arapaima.....and Adrian has realised the importance of a good hat whilst fishing under this savage Thai sun....take care, fellow anglers, the sun here takes no prisoners!



This little 'Blog' will be amended as I am updated with the correct names etc of the species....I am enjoying undergoing the 'learning curve'.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Chalong Fishing Park

Wow.....what a difference to Jez's Chalong Fishing Park since I last visited in March this year (2017). Everything is that much more established with the abundant vegetation for which the Tropics is known bursting into life along with a variety of colourful water flowers on the lake itself.

With the water level at its highest the lake looks much bigger and, with a number of back-up pumps and water accessory points, Jez is aiming to keep the levels much higher than last season when he was battling the inevitable teething problems with any business along with water loss.
The shaded area near the restaurant offers a large covered fishing section for those who prefer a bit of comfort!


The lake looks so much bigger with the high water levels. Spaced around the lake bank are landing mats with help protect the fish prior to the photos being taken.

And nice to see the banks grassing up nicely and giving way to the gravel walkway...it's all coming along very nicely.
 Since last March the natural vegetation has exploded into life giving a feeling of being 'out in the wilds' yet immediately alongside a good road affording easy access to the lake car park.

You can even see the fishing rising for the photo!
 Floating water flowers in the lake's corners give it a dash of colour as well as offering some sheltered areas for the fish to hide under. Note the standing pipe in the bottom left foreground  used to fire a steady stream of oxygenated water into the lake when needed and the water bubbling away centre right of the picture.

Jez tells me he's on a steep learning curve in trying to understand the complexities of water and to keep it in the required condition for the fish!
The bar is well stocked with a good variety of beers and there's a range of spirits. The menu offers both Thai and English food...and the full English breakfast is just great!!

Jez is offering fishing from 0800 to 2000. A full day (anything OVER six hours and up to 12 hours) is about £45.

Up to 6 hours (half day) is £36.

(These prices are given with the Thai Baht currently exchanging at 42 Baht to the Pound. The exchange rates very according to the ever fluctuating value of our Pound)

This price includes the use of two rods, bait, guides, use of swimming pool and showers and, of course, the restaurant and bar facilities. On Wednesdays there is a free BBQ for anglers fishing over 6 hours from 2000 to 2200 plus an extra two hours of fishing for free. (The BBQ is also available for a small charge for anglers fishing the shorter periods).

Jez can be found on Facebook. Please look up Jez Chalong and up should come Chalong Fishing Park. Jez can be contacted on 081 155 4336

Enjoy.



And....would you believe it...the old Phuket Fishing Park IS undergoing a revamp and has already reopened! It is now called........... BUALUANG FISHING PARK

Thais like boardwalks round their fishing lakes and sure enough part of the refurbishment includes the. A lot of the dense vegetation has been removed which will make casting easier. There is a smart new fence enclosing the lake and it has all had a major clean-up.

This is the view looking westwards. It is certainly all looking very neat.

There is no restaurant as yet but the toilet facilities are up and running.

I am told it will cost 1,750 Baht and this will allow the use of one rod. Opening hours will be 0800 to 1700.

There was nobody fishing when I visited so I shall return on another occasion to see if I can discover any more information.

There is a contact number of 089-474-1279 on display....and, if you Google 'Bualuang Fishing Park Phuket', a Facebook page will show itself. The photogrpahs shown are very old. There is even one of an arapaima.....so that must be at least 8 years ago..and it's in Thai so not easy to understand what's going on.

The 1,750 Baht price is clearly aimed at Tourists as no Thai would pay that so I will endeavour to find out more....watch this space as they say.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Update on the Phuket Fishing lakes.

NEW LAKE ANNOUNCED!!
AC's PHUKET FISHING PARK

The old Phuket Fishing Park was the lake often featured on my Blog over the past 6 years but things have changed. Aussie Chris who used to run the old lake decided to create his own lake and  be able to run things the way he wants.

And so has begun the daunting task of making that ambition a reality....and this is whilst Chris is still recovering from a very serious leg injury after a car on the wrong side a blind bend  hit him head on earlier in the year destroying his lovingly restored HarleyDavison in the process.

In writing about Stuart Gillham's in Krabi to the east of Phuket, Mike Bailey's Exotic Fishing Thailand in the Phang Gnaa region to the North of Phuket and Jez's Chalong Fishing Park (5 minutes away from us here in Chalong), it has been important to stress that there is a need to be a special sort of person to undertake such projects. If there was one word to sum up the human quality needed then  it would be Courage......along with the knowledge that one's patience will be very sorely tested indeed.

 In Thailand things get done according to a whole myriad of factors...many of which we 'foreigners' will never even know about let alone understand. I know that I would have no chance of seeing such an undertaking through to a successful conclusion....I would soon be committing Harakiri in frustration!

I have nothing but profound admiration for these men and now I will follow Chris's efforts to bring about his own Fishing Lake dream as well as bringing updates on the other lakes as we visit them.
It helps if you are handy with your hands and you are a grafter.

Aussie Chris, as can be seen here, has plenty of buiding work to get on with and, if you relied on the local builders turning up (unlike in our wonderful Weymouth where builders are reliable and keep to their timetable) then the project would go on for ever.

Chris is a plaster by trade and can wield a trowel with the best of them. The new 'Toilet Block' is very nearly finished and already operational and what will be the office and restaurant is well underway.

There are a few Salas already dotted around the lake and, even in the short time I was there, the phone was busy with anglers asking if they could turn up.

This is not as easy lake to find (it soon will be as Chris is displaying and  mounting plenty of  signs to assist anglers find the lake whatever direction they come from) but anglers will always find a way to track a lake down and I met a South African family who did just that as I was chatting with Chris.
 Chris' new lake is set in what is one of the few remaining 'Natural'  parts of Phuket. Whilst you are there expect to see a water buffalo or two wandering around along with a variety of bird life including a pair of visiting sea eagles showing up. It is a peaceful setting...perfect for a day's fishing.

There's plenty of work to do but by bringing stock from the previous lake, there's already decent sized fish to be caught and I witnessed the all too familiar sight of an angler rushing to prevent his rod from being dragged from its rest and into the lake by a powerful fish...which of course bit him off!

There will be more to follow over the next few months but the website has started: info@phuketfishingpark.com and Chris can be contacted on 08241 90030 (Thai number) or +66 8241 90030 if phoning from UK.


 BANGLA FISHING

The Welcome sign says it all......this is very much a Thai experience with eating a major part of the day!
The Bangla Fishing Park offers a completely different experience. This a much smaller and very well established lake and has been around for years. Thai owned and run, the staff are lovely. They are very friendly and very helpful with reasonable English...and they have an excellent and very cheap restaurant on scene.

The Salas are really more for sitting in and enjoying a drink and a meal. There's not much room for a cast! There are more open areas dotted around the lake for the actual fishing but this is more of an 'all round' experience with the fishing as part of a pleasant day out with friends.

Of course an angler can turn up with the express intention of concentrating on the fishing. I do not know the size of the fish in this lake...I do know that a fish under 1kg can be kept and the restaurant will cook it up for you if you like. I have never fished this lake but I do intend to try it out. I have watched Thai families having a wonderful day out together at the weekends with plenty of socializing and merriment taking place....I think this would be a lake to fish during the week rather than at weekends!

The menu (this is just one page of it) offers a great selection of Thai foods and with many of the main courses costing a maximum of 120 Baht then dining out is costing a little under £3 (we are currently getting 42 Baht to the £1...ah, I remember the days of over 70 Baht to the £1....we are well and truly buggered now, chaps).



Next time there will be two more lakes featured. We now have four that I know of in Phuket itself to choose from...along with the 'Big Ones' to the north and east of Phuket Island.

Friday, 24 November 2017

First Timers!

Everything is easy when you are young and invincible but here is a tale of true courage.

Mark Burton's training as a BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) diver soon returned after a couple of sessions in the  house pool and an hour's dive in the sea.

Mark's wife, Debbie and her sister Elaine are here for a couple for weeks and were keen to have a try...which I think is pretty great when you have never done any diving before.


 We started off in the pool for several sessions along with some theory and then we headed for the reef of nearby Kata, one of the beaches on the west side of Phuket.

The coral reef at Kata is ideal for a first Open Water dive with a rope running right around it. This rope is supposed to keep jet skiers and longtail boats away...but as can be imagined they often ignore this safety measure and cross the rope. Thus, as is so often the case, the most dangerous thing in the sea is man.


And here are our three lady guests with learner divers Elaine and Debbie on the left and middle and snorkeler extraordinaire, Jane on the right. These ladies are tons of fun and the days are whizzing by in jollity and merriment.
And so...the first sea session started by hanging from this reef-encircling rope with Mark taking part to give the ladies some initial support. The idea is just to hang there and become comfortable with breathing underwater in the sea and to check out the ear equalizing techniques.  It's about 3 metres depth here so with the weight of the divers on the rope and the length of their fins they are already nearly touching the bottom.

And then comes the big moment when we all 'let go' and descend to the bottom for the very first time.....
 The Great Descent begins with a sprinkling of curious fish following us down.....

There must be quite a mixture of feelings during these few seconds of descent!
The first thing to get used to is balance. Many new divers try to stand up under water on their very first go...and that of course stirs up the very fine sand of Kata and people disappear in a sandstorm of their own making.
 The hair styles develop and each diver becomes easily identifiable. Here Debbie displays the 'horned' look to great effect.
 But now, with husband Mark giving a steadying hand, the first tentative half-walking/half-finning approach begins...and we edge forwards.
I buddied up with Elaine and we were soon gaining our confidence with our buoyancy control and starting to look at our surroundings.

This first dive lasted a good hour in the very shallow warm sea which is absolutely teaming with fish life.

For me, seeing people (and these ladies are in their 50's) who would never normally have the opportunity to try scuba diving have a go and enjoy it immensely is a great buzz. I hope we will have another go at diving in amongst what is a very busy holiday schedule because the ladies handled this very well indeed.

All credit to them for overcoming the understandable apprehensions at trying something so different!!




Monday, 20 November 2017

Diving Again...Hurrah

 One of the main reasons for coming to Phuket, Thailand, is that the sea is warm....as in 30 degrees! The visibility is usually pretty good and sometimes amazing and there is stacks to see.

We started off our check-out dives in the house pool....seeing if all the gear still works etc etc. One of our guests is Mark Burton from Bath, Somerset, who trained years ago with B.S.A.C. (British Sub Aqua Club). B.S.A.C's training was noted for its thoroughness and rigour! Successful BSAC divers could go on to earn fortunes in James Bond films as underwater stunt men.


Mark hadn't dived for over 20 years but the BSAC training soon came back and he was clearly a very able diver.

Mark has brought along three charming ladies to carry his bags and admire his underwater prowess. L to R we have Elaine, Debbie and Jane. Elaine and Debbie were keen to have a try so we have started our in-pool training and I will try to get the ladies in to the sea before their holiday concludes. Jane advocates the Panoramic View and prefers to snorkel.
We were diving with 'All4Diving' and were aboard their excellent dive vessel called 'Mermaid'. Our Guide  was Steve Antcliffe who is  vastly experienced and a very fine chap whomore importantly  knows where all the best places to eat and drink in Phuket are.

After an hour's steam to the south east we came to our first stop known at Anemone Point which is full of corals and masses of diverse fish life. Everywhere you look there's something colourful happening....and there are so many species of fish that after all the years I have been coming here I still do not know the names of many of them. But who cares.....just being down there with them is more than enough.

And..look at this for a very first dive bonus....a bright yellow seahorse. I spent some time with this little critter...it seemed to quite enjoy having its photo taken. And for those of you that burst into tears over everything....no, I didn't hurt its little eyes by using flash. Although we were down at about 20 metres, the natural light is amazing. So, no filters...no strobes...nothing. Just my little 'Point and Shoot' camera protected by an underwater housing.
Clown fish...always friendly...come to meet you. There were no eggs for them  to protect in amongst their anemone residence....so their proximity to my mask was not aggressive in any way...just an expression of sheer joy that their old mate had returned to see them.
I don't know what these things are called. No doubt the divers out there will. I just know that they are very nice colourful things to photograph. My photo does not capture the striking blue colour of this.....and nearby there was a bright white one and then a green one. It is all very visual 'down there' and having a camera makes one stop and admire when trying to get a reasonable photo without head banging into a rock.

 It is also surprising how much less air is used when trying to take photos than when diving without a camera. The emphasis is on slow, gentle movements....or trying your best not to move at all....breathing makes you move....so breaths are very shallow and all the concentration is on trying to get a reasonable picture...it is easy to forget you are actually underwater.
After Anemone Point we moved further out to sea towards the famous Phi Phi Islands to see if we could find turtles and black to reef sharks....and we were lucky with some great close up encounters with the turtles.

The viz was shutting down and it was difficult to spot any sharks and many of our dive group were not lucky enough to see one. I was very fortunate to catch a glimpse of two sharks but they were travelling so fast I had no chance of a photo...but at least I saw them,  albeit very briefly.


I like Nudibranchs. Apparently there are 2,500 diferent species of Nudibranches in Asian waters.....and some keen observers know the names of all of them. I do not. I know only that I saw this charming little creature...probably a centimetre in length, that's all.

And, set against the pink of the coral, it shows up very well.
These starfish are abundant and possess a vivid electric blue colouring. They make great subjects for photographs.
This is the above water scene that greets us as we surface at Phi Phi. These mountains or whatever you like to call them are sheer faced remnants of what was, according to the experts and as highlighted in many of the brochures you can read, the longest coral reef ever to exist stretching for over 3,000 miles through Thailand and way up into China.

You can imagine that this sheer face continues under water.
And here are have the delighted diver...Russell Shaw from Bournemouth in this case...throwing up his arms at the conclusion of a wonderful three dive day packed full of unforgettable sights.


Diving ain't a cheap day out for us poor impoverished Brits suffering as our Pound crashes in exchange value. This day works out at a tad over a £100 (and that's with providing your own dive gear) but what price an experience like this, eh? And the customer is seriously well looked after on these dive boats. Great boat crew carried all your gear on board and checked it out, fantastic food throughout the day and a great atmosphere....Well Done the 'All4Diving' team.

I read on Facebook how many people are grizzling about not being able to sleep at night. Well, who wants to waste yet more of one's life by sleeping...much better to look over the photos of an amazing day and write a Blog that you hope might convey some of what scuba diving in this part of our world is all about.

Look..it's less than £500 return from Heathrow to get here...that's cheaper than it was back in 2004 when I started this adventure. Come on, forget about boring sleep...get on over here and get diving.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Starting November 17th 2017...the Offshore Rebel Adventures in Thailand Continues


Our Hostess and Diving Instructor, Kannika, is waiting for us to arrive.....