Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Mekong!!!!!!!!

 Today, 27th Feb, is Paul, Gillian, Tony and Michelle's final day with us here in sunny Phuket before heading off to Koh Samui tomorrow for a few more precious days of sunshine in The Land of Smiles (LOS).

The team opted for a day at Jez Wilson's Chalong Fishing Park which is just a 15 minute drive from our base!

We were first to arrive and were greeted by another lovely morning with a welcome breeze from the sea which is about half a mile away.


 Jez offers a good menu with both Thai and European food on offer. After a couple of weeks of spicy food and rice, it's very nice for us 'Ferangs' (Westerners) to order up a full English breakfast.


Our charming cook and waitress is called Noiey. She is a friend of Kannika's and was brought in from Bangkok to assist Jez's wife with the catering and cooking etc  during the 'High Season'.

Noiey is an archetypal Thai lady; extremely polite, shy, always smiling, can't speak a word of English and had never, until 6 weeks ago, heard of let alone cooked a 'Full English'.......so good for her for learning!!
 Chalong Fishing Park boats a fine eating and relaxing area with a well stocked bar, plenty of seating and even a couple of full size hammocks!!

And, as are all the best eateries, it is kept immaculately clean and tidy and features an attractive array of local flora.
 There is the added attraction of several pig nose turtles in a large tank within the restaurant.

Well...I've never seen such a creature and they really do have little snouts like a pig! They stay in the water all the time.
 Anyhow...today's quest was for Mekong Catfish only.

Any other species caught was to be mocked and the captor berated for being 'useless'.

And here's Mr Tony Perkins from Sheffield hooked into the first fine fighting beastie.
 An appreciative group of onlookers gathered to admire the skills of retired detective Tony, honed after his two weeks in Thailand which has included quite a few days fishing spread between several locations.
 Tony's 'guide', Khun Egg, leapt into the water to tail the Mekong ready for Tony to enter the water and present his fish to the camera....
 Always fun trying to grab hold of the fish's tail whilst still in the water.
And here it is...the first of the day.
 Being the friendly place it is, Tony was rewarded with a big smacker from Michelle. Hurrah! That's why we go fishing.....to impress our beloveds.
Londoner Paul Pettifer soon retaliated with a good rod bender that raced off to the right hand side of the lake.

These Mekongs fight like mad but are even more fun when played on light tackle. The fish are strong enough to make many long runs and fight right to the end. It's no good trying to bully them...this is all about correct use of the Shimano and Okuma bait runners twinned with the light test curve catfish rods.


 Aaahhh...this is what fishing is all about. Friendship! May the Brotherhood of Anglers forever remain strong!!
 Khun Tedge leaps in to gather Paul's fish, release the hook and add the iodine to the hook area.
 And here's Paul with his first of the day.
 Moments later and just slightly smaller, Paul's second Mekong of the day went racing off. Frazzled by the first fight, this second battle was an endurance test in the increasing heat and was a struggle to lift.

Guide Tedge estimated this fish at 25kg with the one above more in the 30kg range.

Whatever they did actually weigh, they are massive fish compared to anything we catch from lakes and river in UK and so every fish like this is a wonderful experience.


 The Mekongs were all remarkably similar in their estimated size with Tony's second one also in the 25 kg to 30 kg range.
 Khun Boy, lead guide, tackles a Mekong.
 Khun Boy, the lead gillie, was on the other side of the lake and was tending to out third angling friend, Paul (yes, yet another Paul!) Taylor who is from Brighton but moved to Norway 10 years ago.

Amazing what a close knit group we anglers are. Paul had fished with several Brighton skippers including Terry Lee who I met at Jez's lake back in December. We knew many of the same people back in UK and all through our passion for angling.

Paul Taylor's Mekong was estimated at 35 kg!


 And back to Paul Pettifer with another fine catfish.....


Well, I left the team to carry on in my absence as I had a lot of photos of their many adventures to sort out and put on to the memory sticks my guests had provided.

The lads and lasses have just walked in...it's going dark now...full of tales of yet more fish.




We've certainly enjoyed some memorable days fishing and diving and it'll be sad to see them leave early tomorrow after one final dinner together at the wonderful Tamarin Bar in nearby Chalong town.




Sunday, 25 February 2018


 Gillian Levy, London Black Cab Cab Company boss, struts her pre-dive stuff on Kata strand for all to see. Russian ladies were seen simpering up to her to ask how she was able to do this 'brave diving stuff' and Thai boatmen stared at her equipment in awe.



 The beach at Kata is certainly a good deal quieter since the introduction of new laws over the last three years. The beach was previously covered in sunbeds and there was the feeling that the beach was owned by these operators as opposed to being a public area for all to enjoy.

There is a continuing debate about this and sunbeds etc have been allowed back on the beach in limited areas. How do you feel about such an issue? I do see many elderly holiday makers struggling to get up off their towels laid on the beach and, without the sunshades,  there are certainly a lot more sunburned people around.


 Anyhow....getting sunburned is not something that concerns us. Here's Gill getting ready to let go of the surface line for the very first time....will she do it??
 Meanwhile our retired Yorkshire Dectective, Tony Perkins is already on the bottom and directing traffic at a crime scene, awaiting out later arrival.
 And yes, we're off. Everyone has thier own unique opening style. As can be seen above, Tony is a man who likes to take control of a situation whilst Gillian, a keen keep fit gal, sets off on a power walk.

I can see the need for further explanation as to the complexities of diving!!
 But now, a nice horizontal profile as practiced in our pool has been adopted and we are off with Tony leading the way and Gill lagging behind seeing if anyone's dropped any coinage that might be of future use at a local hostelry.
 Tony soon developed an open armed underwater flying technique.....and was maneuvering skilfully around the first rocks at the start of the Kata reef.
 We were very fortunate with lovely visibility....and we were soon joined by an accompanying shoal of barracuda.

The sea was sparkling clear with wonderful colours to enjoy.
 Re- tailed butterfly fish are a feature of the Kata reef and tend to hang around one particular section of coral.
 Solitary giant puffer fish, often accompanied by a cleaner fish or a remora, are the biggest fish that we usually see although on rare occasions something larger like a golden trevelly will come belting past.
 Everywhere around the reef are these fragile white fanworms...disturb them and they retract immediately into their tube.
 When the visibility is good, the diver can see how packed with life the reef is. There is movement and colour everywhere with so many different species of fish that it is an overwhelming visual feast.
 Gillian was very good on her air consumption with her first ever dive being 61 minutes and still had half a tank of air left...excellent. The warm water with good visibility and so much to see takes the new diver's mind off their breathing and it is not long before the diver starts to relax and can enjoy all that is on offer to be experienced.

The first dive is always a  wonderful experience.
 Gill gently finning through the shoal (or is it school?) of small barracuda. Contrary to whatever one may think, these barracuda are competently harmless and will allow the careful diver to come very close to them without scattering.
 Anemones and hard corals present a vivid contrast of textures in the underwater world.
On a previous dive, Kannika found an area where these shrimps are currently living. Once again they were there and obliged by coming out of their protection to pose for photo's....the creatures on this reef are amazingly obliging!

And so, another great dive is over.

Our two couples are only here with us for a week (they had already been to Mike Bailey's Exotic Fishing Thailand in Phang Gna before venturing southwards into Phuket) and we have already run out of time for anymore diving. Today they are off on the famous John Gray sea kayaking tour and tomorrow is their final day before heading off for a further week's adventures in Koh Samui.

Gillian is hooked on the diving now and is promising to join her local dive club back home and work on her diving certification. She will leave the sea dives until she returns here next year but aims to complete all the theory and closed water (swimming pool learning dives).

And....they have already booked to return to Phuket and stay with Kannika and myself for two weeks next time.....

Paul, Paul and Tony Inc.

 Taking the house for a week are Paul and Gillian Levy, Black Cab Taxi Company owners from London and their friends Tony and Michelle Perkins from Sheffield.



With the ladies off enjoying exploring the local beaches, the gentlemen sallied forth to endure a day on the fish....and what a day.....with fish on from the very first moment of the bread bait hitting the water.



Although a bit breezy we opted for float fishing setting the baits very shallow to avoid the multitude of walking catfish that inhabit this particular water.
Here's Tony with the first of the day's pacu which more than impressed him with its amazing fighting ability. These are seriously exciting fish.
 Tony was the one to impress right from the off as after several pacu he then tempted this very nice Siamese carp. Again, the power of this species made for a number of very lengthy and powerful runs across the lake.




 Whittall of Weymouth opted for the prettier species catching a brightly coloured Indian carp. This species is nowhere near as tenacious as the pacu of Siamese carp but can provide a much more acrobatic display leaping clear of the water when first taking the bait. After this initial outburst of energy, the Indian carp tends to give a steadier 'pull' of a fight preferring to stay deep and then coming to the net fairly easily.
 But on a day when all the species were obliging, even Whittall managed a small Siamese carp.
Here's Tony Perkins again with a Mekong catfish....not big by any means in comparison to some of the ones we have seen this season but very welcome on a day of variety and plenty.
 And another (bigger!) Siamese carp for Paul Levy this time....


The two friends were certainly enjoying a day of non-stop action. It was so busy that we needed to limit ourselves to one rod each and dared not put them down for a moment for fear of them being pulled into the lake.
 We lost count of the pacu......really great fishing.
Here's Tony with another of the lake's hardest scrappers.

 Not to be outdone by Whittall's earlier flirtation with the more exotic species, Paul Levy also managed to tempt an Indian carp.
 He's clearly impressed with this species...looks like a developing love affair....
 Paul with a lively pacu. By now we had switched to chicken baits in case a redtail catfish might have been around....but the other species were feeding so hard that the less numerous redtails didn't get a look in.
 And here's another nice Siamese carp for Paul ...taken on chicken!!
 Best carp of the day fell to Paul Levy ....we estimated this fine fish to be 35lb to 40lb......it was certainly big and fat and took a looonnnggg time to coax to the net!!
This picture shows the massive mouth of these Siamese carp. They certainly are a very impressive fish.




What a great day for us......it really was 'fish on' from start to finish. Amazing Thailand indeed.

We all caught and landed well into double figures of fish with plenty of our barbless hooks thrown during lengthy fights.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Fish, Fish, Fish!!!!!

 Here's a selection of our latest catches featuring our Dorsetians,  Heidi and Marcus Balhin (Dorchester) and Mandy and Gary Chard (Weymouth) with guest star appearance from Andy Bright who is a fellow refugee here in Pulsating Phuket and our very own home grown Kannika Chokchai who hails from Nong Kai somewhere to the north-east of here.

Our friends have returned to UK now but we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Londoners Debbie and Paul tomorrow, 21st Feb, who are currently fishing at Exotic Fishing Thailand. I am hoping they will arrive laden down with photo's and a written report by Mike Bailey as to what wondrous anglers they are!!
Mandy Chard...redtail catfish

Mandy Chard...albino pacu

Gary Chard...mucking about with a Siamese carp

Gary Chard taking command of a redtail catfish

One of the many pacu that feature in the sessions

Heidi Balchin who emerged as our Rising Staress

Husband Marcus Balchin with a  Siamese carp. 

One of the great delights when fishing at Chalong Fishing Park is the B.B.Q. Here are Kannika and Mandy 'lending a hand'!

Kannika with a very good pacu. Kannika really loves fishing!!!

A great delight for us to be joined by Andy Bright.

Kannika and Mandy with a double shot of very hard fighting pacu

Our Mandy with another pacu

It's a different Siamese Carp from the one above...honest. Here's Andy Bright again, now retired and living in Phuket with his wonderful wife, Cara.

Here's Mandy, star-ess of the show as always...bending into another 'Gurt 'Un.