Written by Eddie Mounce
Over the past seven years I have only ever written a handful of catch reports based on my own personal fishing; generally I like to keep this section of the website dedicated to our client's catches and successes. I thought it appropriate however to invite Fish Thailand client's and readers to a glimpse of what I, the MD of Fish Thailand fishes for in my personal fishing time and the results.
The jungle such as Khao Laem Dam is where all of my own fishing takes place. All of the wonderful Thai fish species that I guide clients to catch at exciting well stocked fishing lakes in Thailand; I then target in their wild natural habitat found amongst Thailand's vast jungle waters. I don't necessarily target fish species that I know I can catch, on the contrary other than snakehead I fish for species that I think the likelihood is I will not catch.....at first. I say snakehead is the exception because although I know I will catch a good few every trip, I am totally obsessed with them and enjoy lure fishing from my Avenger Bass Boat to the point that I will always take at least a few hours to fish for snakehead after each session fishing for those more elusive, tricky and unusual fish species.
Take the wallago for example, also known as sheatfish - I have fished and blanked more times than I can remember in the jungle fishing for them. Plenty of nights spent curled up in my boat, or beneath the jungle canopy bitten by all sorts of creatures; just to catch one from the wild. Each time I fish for them, and fail, there is something learnt which leads to me planning another trip with even more enthusiasm.
New Year's Eve saw me driving to Khao Laem Dam to fish for wallago again with my friend and Fish Thailand guide 'Ad.' We baited up a swim in 48ft of water with mackerel intestine and fished 5 rods from the boat for them. The entire afternoon, into the night leading into the year 2011 was biteless, plus extremely cold through the night. These wallago I suspected were incredibly shy feeders hence I chose this time to free-line, myself and Ad were not even able to sleep as we had to keep an eye on the slightest movement of line from the reel which was fished with an open bait arm. As the first sun of 2011 began to thaw us out one of the lines lifted and a few inches left the reel and stopped, then another few inches and then a few more. I tightened up and struck met by a thumping resistance and line tearing off the reel; I soon woke up. It took a while to free the fish from the jungle of snags and then a 'crack' as my rod broke, luckily the line did not however. Up came the wallago with a foot of fishing rod wedged it's mouth making netting it rather tricy; finally I had caught my wallago. As with fishing generally, once you succeed following a huge learning curve of failures, success follows much more regularly. This I should imagine is the case for wallago, I know the baits, the locations, the seasons, the tackle and techniques to catch them. I will probably target a few more before moving over to another specie - the Asian redtail catfish which can grow to 200lb in the jungle; but I'm sure it will have me sleeping in my boat for plenty of biteless nights before I succeed!
Thailand's jungle waters are plentiful once worked out, fishing with rod and line for these mysterious creatures is certainly not the most effective method but definitely the most rewarding challenge in angling. Local long-liners, spear fishermen & netsmen in these wild places have far more success but they need too; their survival depends on it. There are plenty of pictures of 'anglers' holding up wallago, Asian redtail catfish and other impressive fish to found browsing the internet - some are true honest rod caught captures but many are specimens sold to them by local commercial fishermen and held up for a 'glory' picture. I have no problem with blanking on rod and line in my own time as it leads to learning which in turn leads to regular successful catches; any fish I hold up for a picture are caught fair and square on rod & line.
Three hours remaining of New Years Day and four hours of the next morning I thoroughly enjoyed some hard earned lure fishing for snakehead. Mostly fishing only at rising snakehead in open water - an incredibly rewarding technique but very unforgiving too. A rise may only occur every now and again, after waiting without casting for the fish to rise again a diving lure is to be cast at the rise. Too late, too short or simply off target all together and there will be no strike. However snakehead fishing is not rocket science - as long as the cast is perfect the fish will hit the lure and the adrenaline will rush!
I had a couple of snakehead over 10lb, a couple around 6-7lb and plenty of smaller ones in the few hours I fished for them - a style of fishing I'll never become bored of.