English ex pat Steve living in Thailand's upcountry has been enjoying the fruits of retirement for two years already. With visiting brother-in-law Rob, a wonderfully comical fishing duo were set for a wild jungle safari set amongst the beautiful scenery of Khao Laem Dam.
With four days at their disposal including travel, the obvious game plan was two half day's lure fishing on the first & last days coupled with two full days jungle carp fishing in between.
Taking to the water aboard Fish Thailand's 16ft Avenger Bass Boat on the first afternoon, spirits were high. Despite the gallant lure casting efforts from both Rob & Steve, no snakehead were landed in this first short session. Pleasingly however both were excited to 'crack' the snakehead on their next half day round - although this would have to wait until the morning of the final day as the next two days were to target the Indian carp (rohu.)
A one week baited swim hidden in a remote weedy bay of Khao Laem Dam awaited. An early start was to witness the crashing and rolling of their prey - rohu, sending an air of confidence through all; although nobody said a word as to not 'jinx' the morning.
As though by expectation but feeling surprisingly relieved the first bite was indicated in the form of one of the six rods hooping into a full bend as a lovely low double rohu graced the comfort of the dampened unhooking mat. Followed by several black carp and a couple more similar sized rohu, the day was most enjoyable and even converted Rob from being a 'non-carpy' angler into an enthusiast. Day two on the carp raft was equally productive in terms of bites but resulted in just black carp and a fair share of weeded fish, which with the aid of a boat caused no real dramas.
The final morning was met by the returning of the snakehead mission. Steve especially took these last five hours as a personal challenge to hook and land a snakehead, taking up arms in the form of a Rapala skitter pop lure. A couple of hours into the session with plenty of follows, strikes and near misses from snakehead - the ambition to get one of those 'buggers' was increasing. Around the next bay, looking similar to the past several saw the boat cruise into a open water shoal of rising snakehead; a hunting pack. With his technique now refined, Steve stood waiting on the bow of the casting deck; everybody silent waiting for the next rise to cast a lure at. Angler's only get one shot at a rising snakehead, the distance, timing and accuracy affords no room for error making it the most frustratingly exciting form of lure casting. 'Ay' points out a rise, Steve spots the rise and quick as you like he punches a cast off. It looks great in the air, perfect distance landing just past the rise married to the fish's swim path. Immediately 'popping' his lure, quick paced and timed to resonate the associated hollow 'whopping' sound. No more than six 'pops' later the greatest feeling & reason of angling swallowed the anxiety as Steve's popper was replaced by an explosion of water in turn replaced with a screaming reel and a smile from ear to ear on Steve's face - infact everybody's face. This is fishing.
Embraced with confidence and adrenaline, not more than half an hour had past when a snakehead was spotted taking air beside a marginal sunken tree. Again an accurate cast and a few 'pops' later a repeat of the previous action was in progress, a similar size snakehead 4lb-5lb was ready for the net when in the same moment it rather decently unhooked itself - it still counts!