Wow! One minute I am sitting on the water’s edge with a fishing rod in my hand and all the sudden a whole damn year has gone by! Thailand and fishing sure have a way of making time go by ridiculously fast. Sometime, as an angler, I spend all my free time either fishing and when I am not fishing I’m thinking about the next trip. Having just so little time left in the year I’ve been going fishing as much as possible because quite frankly, fishing in Thailand is just plain awesome. Now that all the parties and big feasts have ended I find that it is worth a minute to step back into the prior year and take a quick look at all the good fishing that I have done thus, here are The Best Bangkokhooker Catches of 2010!
5. Fly fishing for the giant snakehead
Fish species: giant snakehead
Date: Sometime in December 2010
Description: When John got me introduced to fly fishing I immediately knew that there was going to be a lot more fly fishing in the future. With my new found love for the old school art form I found myself making weekly visits to Pilot 111.
Prior to December 2010 the thought of catching a giant snakehead via fly was still something incomprehensible. It simply wasn’t something that had ever crossed my mind as possible. It was like the thought of riding a bicycle without wheels: entertaining yet not really something you’d actually do when sober.
However, I wasn’t exactly intoxicated with any chemical substances, just a whole lot of enthusiasm. After about an hour on the giant snakehead pond while using some of my homemade flies I finally hooked a giant snakehead. Fighting it with the fly line was something completely new. With all the tension of the fight in my finger tips instead of the reel every tug and every pull from the fish would burn its way into my flesh. It was an epic first time that I’d never forget.
4. My first arapaima
Fish species: Arapaima
Date: Sometime in November 2010
Description: The arapaima is just a spectacular fish. Being one of the biggest carnivorous freshwater fish in the world it has every right to be a spectacular fish. So spectacular that even Jeremy Wade had to get it featured on his show River Monsters. I’ve been wanting to catch one of these for ages. Even before watching the show. The problem is, I don’t have the money to fly to the Amazon let alone do I feel the need to drive all the way to IT Lake Monsters in Ratchaburi to pay a hefty amount of money to fish for the river monster. So when I discovered that there was an affordable arapaima pond just on the outskirts of Bangkok I called John and we both made our way to the fishing pond. That day, John caught a monster while I caught a small arapaima no bigger than my arm.
When I think about my modestly-sized fish I think about this story I was told recently about a friend’s friend who grew up in the Soviet Bloc. According to my friend, life in the Soviet was bittersweet. This woman would look forward to the Christmas period simply for one reason: the presents. Now this wasn’t a time or place where people would have an expensive video game console or an expensive dollhouse waiting underneath the Christmas tree. What made this little girl so happy was a bar of perfumed soap that was rationed out by Moscow every year during the holiday season. To that little girl, that bar of soap was the greatest thing she had ever possessed. Of course, that little arapaima was in no way as valuable to me as the soap was to that little Soviet girl but regardless, that fish did really make my day.
3. Ocean acrobatics
Fish species: Sailfish
Date: Sometime in September 2010
Description: This year I made a new friend, Chin of Sport Fishin’ Asia. After meeting him in person we exchanged a few fishing stories as well as talk a little more about a place called Kuala Rompin. According to Chin this small Malaysian fishing village had reinvented itself into a sail fish fishing paradise by enforcing strict catch and release policies as well as make itself more accommodating to tourist anglers. Soon enough I was on board and fishing with Chin and his friends in Kuala Rompin. After fishing for a few hours I hooked my sailfish. It was simply amazing, the agile fish jumped from the waters, surfed on the waves and darted through the depths as it put on the most amazing show I’ve ever seen any fish do. It was an experience that I’d never forget.
2. The biggest fish I have ever caught
Fish species: Mekong giant catfish
Date: July 2 2010
Description: Usually my trips to Bungsamran would be the same deal: head over to the pay pond with some friends, have a good laugh and pull up some Mekong giant catfish. On July 2 that wasn’t the case. With my step-dad tragically passing away just days before, this particular trip to the fishing pond was part of my therapy in a time of great pain. With me was my very good friend Dee Dee who had tagged along to keep my company. My plan that day was simple, keep fishing until I was not feeling so damn sad. Thing got exciting when I hooked onto a fish that dragged almost all my fishing line into the far corner of the pond. I had to run along with the fish just so that I could keep the line from running out. Finally after a long hard fight I landed my first “Willy”. The behemoth required two landing nets to bring up. To me this magnificent fish was like a shining beacon lighting my way in a time of mourning, it was like message from my step-dad telling me that things are going to get better.
1. The end of a lifelong search
Fish species: giant snakehead
Date: July 7 2010
Location: Bang Prah reservoir, Chonburi.
Description: When I was a kid my true interest in lure fishing came to be from reading all the local fishing magazines and drooling over the photographs of the monstrous parent-age giant snakeheads held up proudly in the arms of anglers. For the next 15 years I lived a life of envy wanting to be like one of those guys. I always thought that the fish was in some way the physical representation the unobtainable. However, on July 7 2010 my childhood dream came true: I landed myself my very own river monster weighing in at 7.5kg! It was a strange feeling, having a childhood dream come true usually is I guess, but in a way after catching this fish it gave me the optimism that anything was possible should one put in enough effort!
Anyway, happy new year everyone!