KHAO LAEM DAM 6 DAY JUNGLE FISHING SAFARI
Day 3 of Thailand Fishing Holiday
The excitement levels were high as the Fish Thailand minivan collected Shawn & Hyon from their Bangkok hotel at 8a.m. The 5 hour drive west deep into Thailand's jungle, through Kanchanaburi and way beyond the famous fishing at Srinakarin Dam to our less explored but much more prolific fishing destination - Khao Leam \ Lem Dam.
Disembarking the minivan and walking down a trail leading to Fish Thailand guide - Ay's boat by 2p.m - in time for the first half day afternoon and evening lure fishing session in search of the mighty giant snakehead. This first session was a great chance to get our casting accuracy in check and work the surface poppers.
Hyon quickly caught a beautiful jungle perch or otherwise known to many as hampala barb - Eddy Mounce soon hooked up with a cracker of a striped catfish at approximately 1.5kg.
Good Conditions \ Bad Conditions
The water levels were extremely low after the dam gates were opened feeding the province with fresh water. Snakeheads here feed more enthusiastically with slightly higher water levels which are usually seen around end of June \ July time. Even so, with the hope of calm water, overcast skies and a dribble of rain - these atmospheric conditions were indeed in our favor.
Day 4 - Full Day Lure Fishing
The first full days fishing Khao Lam Dam began with the alarm clock awakening us at 4:45a.m. From our beautiful bungalow resort to the edge of Khao Lem Dam we were bursting with enthusiasm. Today Shawn fished the whole day on his home made 'scary baits' buzz baits and proved very successful - his best fish of the day was a 4kg giant snakehead which tested every bit of the Rapala lure rod and braid setup. With several smaller snakeheads and jungle perch caught by the group it was a thrilling day. Eddy Mounce landed a wonderful jungle perch of 2kg while popping a snaggy bay - this size jungle perch is easily as powerful as a snakehead of similar proportions and a joy to catch - Khao Laem Dam offers these species to well over 4kg - now that would be something!
Strikes & Misses
It is very normal to have more hits from fish than hook ups when snakehead fishing, I believe we must have had more than 30 strikes between us today which all adds to the excitement. In fact, it is the follows, the bow waves, the 'V' lines, the slashes & strikes from these awesome top-water predators that to many is the most exciting aspect of fishing this style. Every strike and missed hit from a fish gives you a 'rush' a powerful will to keep working the lures hard and perfectly each cast. Time flys past and the heat unnoticed.
Day 5 & 6 - Indian Carp & Black Shark Fishing
Fish Thailand guides had prepared our swim with 5 days of heavy pre-baiting in order for our 2 days static fishing from our private raft. In high water levels it is normal to catch around 10 Indian carp and black shark in a day - with the water being very low we knew it would be a result to get only a few.
8 rods fished deep in the snaggy underwater jungle of Khao Laem Dam was our trap, all baited with enormous round ram balls launched out to our marker float giving away the pre-baited location. This swim is a carp anglers dream - totally private surrounded by jungle rich mountains deep in the wilderness - a picture not to be missed - bliss!
An hour into the 1st day session fishing Khao Laem Dam for Indian carp and 1 of the rods hooped over, only managing to stay with us due to our custom made rod rests. Hyon grabbed the rod but unfortunately was not quick enough to crank the carp off the bottom. Instead the fish had immediately made it to the safe heaven of the underwater forest - even getting above the fish on our support boat did not release the snagged fish.
Another run and another chance was missed to the same scenario as before, it was then decided that the guides would hit the next run, crank the fish away from the snags then hand the rod over. Only today there were no more runs, tomorrow would surely bring more chances?
Day 6 and our last day at the carp before turning back to lure fishing for snakehead and we were all hoping for some results. As it so happened late in the day one of the rods bent double in the solid rod rest and Fish Thailand guide Ay was immediately on the job - he grabbed the rod within seconds of the run, cranked the handle keeping the rod high in the air and bullied the fish clear of the snags. A beautiful example of a black shark (similar to an all black common carp but with purple diamond markings in the center of each scale) came to the net. At around 4kg it was no monster but a picture of such a beautiful creature had to be taken - only as the camera was being dug out the fish flapped out of the net and landed safely back in his home and back to the wilderness of Khao Laem Dam!
Day 7 - Full Day Lure Fishing
Back on the snakeheads and things were looking great, all of us having some fantastic sport from jungle perch and giant snakeheads. Eddy Mounce changed to one of Shawn's buzz baits with devastating results - a cracking 4kg giant snakehead 'V' lined for the bait from the cover of its' hideout hitting the buzz bait with such force that it bent the entire bait out of shape - still well hooked and fighting for its' life it was a thrilling battle ending with of course a snap shot before being returned alive.
Strength & Power of Snakehead
Occasionally one comes across tales of anglers dismissing snakheads as 'boring' or 'no sport' and 'powerless' - the standard outfit used are medium to heavy spinning rods coupled with 50lb braid. A small snakehead of under 2kg would of course be fairly trouble free but the strike the excitement and the ruthless anger would still be respected and enjoyed by any true angler. Any larger snakehead of between 4-10kg is a different story - on the same tackle this size fish would have the angler working hard and fast with great skill and endurance to keep the fish from snagging and destroying you - these fish are so unbelievably powerful that any angler who says otherwise has simply never caught a big snakehead.
Day 8 - Morning Snakehead Session
The last day fishing Khao Lem Dam and what a prefect morning! The conditions were excellent despite the low water levels. The overcast skies, the drizzle of rain and gentle breeze screamed 'big snakehead!'
The first 3 casts for Eddy produced 2 giant snakeheads of around 3kg but the best was yet to come. A magical cast landing on a rising snakehead and twitched back 3 pops resulted in a vicious strike as a snakehead plunged back to the depths with the popper lodged in it's teeth. After getting snagged but successfully freeing the fish the fight commenced and it was obvious this fish was a cracker. The fight just didn't end, the fish steamed off through every weed bed, snag and safe heaven it could find. Even when it came up nearer the surface it took one last hard suicide dive right under the boat tearing away with 15 yards of hard earned braid; finally the net swooped under it and surely enough a 6kg giant snakehead was in the boat and raised to the cameras. The total was 4 big snakeheads & 4 jungle perch in 5 hours for Eddy. Shawn & Hyon had enjoyed similar action on their buzz baits resulting in some snakehead and jungle perch and as to be expected - many more missed strikes and slashes from non-committed fish!
FOLLOW THE NEXT DAYS REPORTS
Tomorrow is the last days fishing of the Thailand fishing holiday - we will be fishing Fish Thailand's exclusive new venue Shadow Lake for catfish & carp species. Click below on the 'newer report' to see how Shawn & Hyon got on.