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 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.....

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