Saturday, 30 December 2017

A Day at Sea...Dec 29th 2017

Mr Richard Spracklen thought he was going to a Baseball Game
Our current trusty team of seafarers, Mark Butland, Dave Lovelock, Richard Spracklen, Kannika Chokchai and Whittall of Weymouth, decided that we just had to go back to sea....even if just for a day....and sample the local inshore fishing.

We were well aware of the chances of catching anything big were minuscule and that catching anything at all would be a bonus. Thus, with our expectations set at a very realistically low level, we ventured forth.
We had chartered one of the cheapest charter boats at 12,000 Baht (about £280) for a 0900 to 1700 trip. We had been told what to expect on our day...a steam out to the south east at trolling speed with 4 lines out sporting a Rapala lure, a belly bait and two Teaser rigs with several hooks on each aimed at little tuna...or whatever....then tieing up to a buoy in the shelter of a local bay for luch and a swim...then a little go with drift fishing using hand lines and ending with another trolling ride back to port.
This would have been a pleasant enough day but not for us!! Kannika came with us and was briefed as to what we would like to do...which was as much drift fishing as we could using baits that we had bought and rods that I supplied. We were determined to 'give it a good go'. Even if we caught nothing we would at least have tried. Because she had exhausted herself trying to explain to the Thai Captain what we wanted....and sticking to the plan no matter what his protestations to the contrary.....Kannika was awarded an opportunity to enjoy her favourite hobby on the way out...this, of course, being eating.
Meanwhile Mark and Dave set to work with our gear. We were over-gunned as we really didn't know what to expect and we knew the sea bottom would be very snaggy...thus we opted for heavy braid, multipliers and stout traces.

Setting up took place as we steamed for 90 minutes out to an well known Island called Racha Yai. The trolling gear caught what we thought it would....nothing.
Kannika has three favourite hobbies....1) Eating; 2) Sleeping and 3) Sleeping when surrounded by food.


Richard Spracklen (from Wool in Dorset) was not far behind. His tales of trolling in the Ascension Islands had made those of us able to stay awake enviously aware of what could be caught in seas that had not been dynamited, cyanided, fishing trapped to death, trawled into oblivion and generally raped and pillaged into inshore desolation.
But....not be put off by such trifles as mentioned above, I quickly fell into my usual role of bait cutter (good job we were warned that there would be no bait provided on the boat...and very little chance of catching any). We had purchased several kilos of squid and mackerel for the day.
And...against all expectations...we stared catching right from the first drop. We knew there would be only small fish but we were surprised and how many different species we caught....such as this bluestriped snapper.
Here we are..on the drift...baits presented on Portland Rigs at 45 metres depth. We were on a neap tide so very little drift which was ideal to feel the bottom. We used 8oz leads to get down....and by now had lightened up our traces to 12lb mono and hooks in the size 2 range baited with squid strip and fish.
Kannika in action with another blue striped snapper...
And now...over to you gifted fish identifiers. I have several books on the fish found on Thailand's reefs......there is an unbelievable variety.......and I puzzle my way through trying to work out which fish is what!!
David.....with what?????
David with a much bigger whatever it is!
Please feel free to message me with your fishy ID's. A surgeon fish? A fusilier?
A spot-face shrimp goby???
It's looks like a red mullet....but it isn't!
A Marbled Grouper...
Mark with his splendid Marbled Grouper...
The ragged fins on this little fish show that is was attacked on the way up...Mark's rod crashed over for a second and we thought that maybe we were going to see something big...but it soon let go.
What's put a bend into Richard's Shimano carp catfish rod??
Of course! A yellow-margin triggerfish with another marbled grouper for Kannika.
Triggerfish always put up a good scrap....
EFSA International Dave Lovelock with another little grouper...
Dave with a yellow-back fusilier.
???
Knackered after a raucous day battling such a variety of species....


So, our conclusion. This was a very pleasant day out. We caught far more fish than we expected and even took a few grouper and a couple of other species home for dinner! It was a very cheap charter split between 5 of use and we fished in sheltered water, as did many other boats due to a fresh easterly force 5 to 6 blowing most of the day. I could say you 'get what you pay for' but we saw some very impressive and far more expensive charter boats in the same area as us...and I could see we were catching lots more that they were because we had our own tackle. We will do this again...but will scale the tackle right down to light spinning gear and much finer braids in order to get the best from these small reef fish.

And...although we loved being back at sea...you can see why we concentrate on the lake fishing!! There are much bigger fish to be caught and these come on the 3 day  trips which go 70 miles north-west of Phuket to fish the 250 meter drop-offs west of the Similan Islands. we have tried to book one of these trips...but they are very popular, especially with Thai anglers. we have managed three of these offshore trips in the past and returned with a lot of fish....but this was using electric reels and is like commercial fishing. Nothing survives being brought up from 250 meters.....

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Night Fishing at Chalong Fishing Park.

Dec 27th. We tried a mid-afternoon session which was to progress into the night until 2200....with a B-B-Q thrown in as part of the Chalong Fishing Park's weekly 'Wednesday Late Night Special' hosted by Jez Wilson.

Here is our magnificent team starting to set up with Ace guide, Boy, in the foreground, Mark Butland, Richard Spracklen and 2nd guide, Nim, with Dave Lovelock hiding behind a hanging basket. Me? Behind the camera of course!
 Various baits, including fish and chicken hearts for the predator fish, being prepared along with the Cage Method Feeder groundbait.
 Mark Butland from Hants was straight into a Siamese Carp.....
which was safely netted by Guide, Khun Lin.
 The carp are kept in the water for photographing as they are very powerful as well as slippery and are good at throwing themselves out of a photographic pose.....which is no problem if they crash back into water.
 A nice photograph with a well supported carp.....the European run lakes here try very hard to look after their expensive fish stock....
 Mark gently lowers his Siamese carp back into the lake. The water temperature is at least 30 degrees on the margins so there's no freezing limbs for the angler to endure.

 Khun Boy poses with a professional grip on the fish at  the water's edge for Dorset's Richard Spracklen who is currently sporting a fine leg injury which will not allow him into the water.


Richard and Boy stare longingly into each other's eyes as only anglers sharing a 'Special Fishy Moment' can.

 Dave Lovelock was busy throughout the whole session catching a variety of species including this more unusual Tiger Catfish.





 And, below, Dave again with a nice Siamese Carp.....camera reverted into 'Shake Mode' for that shot (apologies, Dave).
 Nightime is always a magical time around a lake. We were experiencing a very pleasant short trouser evenings with a temperature of 24 degrees....
Relaxing behind the home made rod rests. The reels are all Shimano Bait-Runners which are essential for these powerful fish.
 And yes.....even I caught a fish. In fact I was lucky enough to have a number of these red tail catfish and a couple of Siamese carp plus several other varieties of catfish.

The evening/night was very productive indeed with runs and hook-ups happening all the time...indeed, a very busy 'night' session.
 The Mekong catfish are rapidly increasingly in size with splendid fish like this one which Khun Boy is holding up for captor Richard Spracklen.

These fish are unbelievably powerful and require a fair time to coax them to the side of the lake for landing.

Mark also managed a Mekong which was one of three caught.


The fishing, along with a fantastic B-B-Q and the company of some great Irish lads who were also fishing made this a very memorable evening.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Crazy Carp.......an action packed session.

The Team prepare............

 Well..yesterday was an action packed day. We were aiming for Siamese Carp but lost count of the amount of maniacal Pacu we caught.....they are such amazing scrappers.

Here we see Kannika putting her best foot forward to control the first Pacu that took the float fished bait the instant it landed on the water.
 And here it is....the first one...and there WERE loads. We were trying hard NOT to catch them by casting in the opposite direction to where they seemed to be shoaling.
 Madam has perfected the 'Power Stance'! Who would have thought that the frequent sessions we subject ourselves to in the nearby Gym would be so useful for freshwater fishing??
Mark Butland from Herts...always seeming to be into a fish throughout the day...presents another Pacu.
 And EFSA England International, Mr Dave Lovelock was also in on the act...this is certainly not freshwater fishing as some might imagine. There's none of that relaxing and  sitting around nonsense!

Although we were allowed to use two rods, there is no way we could have kept up up wih the non stop action.....much better to concentrate on using just the one rod....and hanging on to it!!

 The chicken......a symbol of Thailand....they are everywhere and have no qualms about getting stuck into the bait.
 After an opening hour of utter Pacu madness, the fishing calmed down and were in with a chance of our target species, the Siamese Carp. Although they look the same ....all the fish photographed here are different ones....and I only took shots of two or three of each of the fish our intrepid team caught. Like the Pacu, there were plenty of carp now on the feed.
 Here's Mark with another hefty carp....
 And dwarfing our Kannika...this cracker which decided to try and escape in the shot below.....love that facial expression as Kannika managed to 'hold on'!

 And another for Dave. This was ceratinly a red letter day for us.....and apart from our little gorup of four, I did not see another fish come to the net around the lake. It was certainly 'our' day and we were undoubtedly  in the 'Hot Swim'.
 Kannika powers into another carp that was racing off to the far corner of the lake,
 What a great day....I really urge anyone coming to stay with us to have a go at these fish...it IS action packed fishing.
 David has now perfected the carp angler's admiring pose. Sea anglers tend to look the camera right in the eye...but a freshwater angler, especially a carp angler, gazes lovingly at his fish which is seen as the real 'star of the show'.
Everyone was well into double figures of fish by the end of the session...in fact the final hour was even crazier than the hours leading up to it!
We all know fishing can be as unproductive some days as it can be insane on others. This was one of those days to savour and remember....it is not normally THIS good but be assured that it is extremely unlikely to have a blank day and just ONE of these carp would be a dream come true for many of us.