Exotic Fishing Thailand has a fine and comprehensive web site. Please take a look!!
(Exotic Fishing Thailand also has a Facebook page. Please look up eft mike bailey)
PHANG GNA.......a brief description courtesy of Wikipedia.
''Phang Nga is the modern Thai transliteration of the archaic Malay word pangan, literally 'jungle'. The phrase 'orang pangan' denotes 'heathen, pagan, primitive people', in reference to a generalised tribe or people typically inhabiting jungle areas of the Malay Peninsula and its offshore islands.
Historically, during the reign of King Rama II, nearby areas (including Thalang, now known as Phuket) were occupied by the Burmese and so many people fled to Kraphu Nga. In 1824 when Siamese troops defeated the Burmese and the challengers were expelled, King Rama III renamed the major area adjacent to the bay phang-nga. This bastardisation of Malay pangan offers vivid indication that the entire region was likely populated by Orang Asli or other aboriginal people. In 1933 the town was promoted to provincial status.
On the morning of 26 December 2004 the Andaman Sea coastline of the province was devastated by a tsunami and thousands lost their lives''. (Source:Wikipedia)
It is indeed a very pleasant drive heading northwards from Phuket and as one nears Mike Bailey's Exotic Fishing Thailand resort it does seem as if you are entering a different world of natural serenity.
The entrance to Exotic Fishing Thailand (hereafter referred to as EFT...and, Dear Reader, you do need to say this with a pronounced Canadian drawl to experience the full impact of the name) is truly magnificent! I mean...just look at it...expand the photo...let it sink in. This really is one of the most stunningly beautiful locations you could imagine.
When customers come onto our charter boats in the UK they are often treated to a Safety Briefing.
On arrival at EFT Mike Bailey (seen here on the right) plays a short video and answers questions about the lake and the fish in it. It is all very professionally done and we are seen here hanging on to every work (don't forget the accent which is an additional bonus and also comes under the heading 'Exotic'....we have entered another world).
The team line up to bombard Mike with the questions...how big? How deep? What's the best method? Are any of the fish likely to swallow you? etc.
Luckily Mr Andy Alcock was on hand to answer any questions that Mike didn't know.
What a pretty team. Back row, Mr Andy Alcock of Quayside Fuels, Weymouth, and owner of the fine 33' Charter Vessel Gillandy as well as the notorious Wakiki, one of the last remaining commercial bass boats in the port.
Next to him (back right), Mr Ryan Casey, skipper of Weymouth charter boat Meercat and owner of traditional Ron Berry vessel 'Eclipse' (formerly Gypsy).
Front row is Gill Alcock who for many years wrote the local Dorset Echo angling page until the Do-Gooders and Whiners forced the Echo to pull the page for fear of offending their delicate sensitivities in a town known for its fishing.
And then, front right, we have Katie Balem. Katie is Weymouth's newest and youngest qualified charter skipper. She is also Weymouth's first Operating Lady Skipper. She will be running Ryan Casey's 'Eclipse' and is targeting beginner anglers on half day trips. Katie, and what she is offering, is a great addition to the Weymouth angling scene.
The grounds at EFT have become ever more splendid with a whole range of lovely flowers and plants on show. One very nice feature is that Mike has left some of the big boulders found on the site during its excavation and building and kept them as an integral part of the garden displays.
Here is one of the new fishing Salas and the luxuriance of the plant life can be seen clearly as it all but masks the Sala's location.
People make the journey here just to eat at the Mountain View Restaurant. The menu is extensive and offers Western and Thai cuisine.
When customers book to stay on site, as we did, then dining here (breakfast is part of the package) becomes part of the experience. The resort is a fair way from the nearest town and it would be impossible to match the magnificence of EFT's eatery anyway, so far better to conclude the day's fishing with dinner here. It's also always getting quite late as someone usually seems to catch a big fish at 1859 and then take up to an hour to play it in. By the time you've showered after a very hot day etc, there's really no sense in wandering off in the car to fond someone 'local' to eat.
This pathway leads to the stock rearing ponds and aquarium displays where the different fish available in the lake are described.
Here's Katie into her first fish and is seen here coaxing the fish to the net set against the Karst mountain scenery running away into the distant valley.
Gill, as ever observing in her technical role of Angling Adviser, honed from those many years as Dorset's Angling Report, casts a professional eye over Katie's technique.
We are fortunate to have such an experienced couple with us to keep the young ones in order and offer appropriate advice as required.
I should mention that we had EFT's top Guide, Khun Po, with us at all times. He prefers to keep out of the spotlight but he is there as needed, checking the drags, advising on the angle of the rod, correctly determining the species before it is seen...you know, all the things we charter skippers do when you anglers hook into something.
Each angler has two rods provided as part of the daily package. An extra rod can be added for an additional monetary premium with each angler alowed a maximum of three rods.
These four rods are for Andy and Gill and, although neatly lined up as shown here, the gear was cast out at different anglers according to the target species and the bait being used.
Here the four rods are presenting fish bait, chicken bait, pellets and lam cage cloud feeder with a bare hook on a short trace beneath the lam. The lam attracts lots of little fish in order to attract a big fish in which can engulf a good mouthful along with the unbaited hook.
The rods, Mekong Tamers, are customized and paired with Shimano bait-runners loaded with 70lb braid.
The team gather as Gill fights a fish. Note the relaxed style as she casts her eye towards the camera.
None of the fish are to be lifted out of the water..the angler must get in....but is anyone brave enough to enforce this when confronted with such a formidable opponent as Gill??? No; I thought not.
So....as it happens..this was a very special fish and is a species rarely caught. It caused some degree of excitement as the other guides came racing around the lake from their customers to take photographs.
These Wallagoo Attu's are extremely slippery. Khun Po can be seen gently encouraging the fish to lay out on the water and not even attempt to lift the fish.
So, here is an outstanding fish caught by Gillian Alcock!
So, here is an outstanding fish caught by Gillian Alcock!
Some details of this fish via Wikipedia.
Wallago attu is a freshwater catfish of Siluridae family, native to South and Southeast Asia. It is commonly known as helicopter catfish or wallago catfish. Some regional designations, such as the Indian Sareng, the Bengal Boal, the Sylheti Gual or the Malaysian and Indonesian Tapah are also occasionally used in English. W. attu is found in large rivers and lakes in two geographically disconnected regions (disjunct distribution), with one population living over much of the Indian Subcontinent and the other in parts of Southeast Asia. The species can reach a total length of 1 m (3 ft 3 in).
It shares parts of its native range with the externally similar, but much larger Wallagonia leerii, and is subsequently often confused for it.
This catfish is one of the fish species that has been used as food in Southeast Asia since ancient times.
The 'swims' are very roomy. Here's Ryan working the rods. Being the dedicated shore angler he is, Ryan had worked out that each rod needed regularly attending depending on what bait it was presenting and the speed with which the bait was eaten. With four rods to care for (his and Katie's) the angler can be kept very busy.
The Thai guides will assess an angler's ability and then allow him/her to be as involved as they consider his abilities to allow him. Ryan was soon seen to be a very skilled angler and was largely left alone to fish as he wanted although there were several lam cage casting lessons given.....
Katie caught another of the lakes more 'exotic' species...this time a Ripsaw catfish. She is wearing leather gauntlets to protect her hands from the row of extremely sharp and dangerously long spikes that run down this fish's lateral line.
The ripsaw catfish (Oxydoras niger) or cuiu cuiu is a species of thorny catfish native to the Amazon, Essequibo and São Francisco basins in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela. This species grows to a length of 100 centimetres (39 in) SL and weights up to 13 kilograms (29 lb). This species is a minor component of local commercial fisheries. Has lateral thorns that can damage a potential predator or handler. It feeds by shifting through sand and detecting eatable parts with the taste receptors in the roof and floor of its mouth. (Wikipedia)
And then...as we would all expect of him, Ryan hooked into an arapaima with 30 minutes of fading light to go on the first day of our two day trip.
This fine fish was estimated at about 35-40kg and is considered, as far as this species goes, to be a small one. But, as someone's first ever arapaima, it is still a great experience and will mean that Ryan will have to visit the lake again to catch one of the monsters.
J. P. Müller, 1843
The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche are any large species of bonytongue in the genus Arapaima native to the Amazon and Essequibobasins of South America. Genus Arapaima is the type genus of the family Arapaimidae. They are among the world's largest freshwater fish, reaching as much as 3 m (9.8 ft). They are an important food fish. They have declined in the native range due to overfishing and habitat loss. In contrast, arapaima have been introduced to several tropical regions outside the native range (within South America and elsewhere) where they are sometimes considered invasive species. Its local name, pirarucu, derives from the indigenous words for "pira" meaning "fish" and "urucum" meaning "red".
The accommodation at EFT is 5 star without question. Imagine entering the air-conditioned bliss of this apartment at the end of a hot day and peering into a well stocked fridge for a welcome beverage or two!
Again...we had the unforeseen situation of not wanting to get into the lake in order to present the fish for the cmera. Well, that's everyone's choice of course so apologies for a picture full of light refraction....but please see the photo from the lake species ID card below to show what it looks like and what it i!!