The dam in the distance
At three and a half hours out of Bangkok,Srinakarin dam is not a place I go to too often. With petrol prices continuously going up and a full-time job, the trip there for a guy like me is only worthwhile when accompanied by some fun friends who are willing to share the expenses and some good laughs.
How it all started
One of my fishing buddies, Doc David Green, suggested to me once after one of our usual visits to Pilot 111 about a possible trip to one of the reservoirs for an overnight trip that he saw on a tour website. “It looks like a great deal, it’s just around B11,000 per person!” said the doctor. For a lowly paid employee of a cable company, the B11,000 price tag was definitely going to put a dent in my measly allowance.
“Let me see what I can do,” I replied with a slightly shocked tone.
The more economical trip
The thing about the tour companies is that they are a fantastic option for tourists. The price tag of B11,000 per person included travel, guide, boatman, accommodation, boat rental, food and gear for a two to three day trip. At B11,000 it’s just under USD$370 a day, a reasonable price for most people but for someone living here who already has a car, fishing gear and local know-how that price tag is like a kick in the nuts from a steel-toed boot adorned with diamonds.
With some googling and phone calls I revised our travel plan. There are many local companies but the one I found was http:www.paenuntana.com. The three of us including Doc Green, Alex and I, would travel to Srinakarin dam in Alex’s car, stay on a small house boat (B1,900 a night), rent a small long tail boat from them (B800 per half-day) and fish for three sessions (Saturday afternoon and all day on Sunday).
The final breakdown was like this:
- Gas and petrol, B1,500
- One night accommodation, B1,900
- Three boat sessions, 3 x B800 = B2,400
- boat’s petrol expense, B800
- Food and other stuffs, B500
Divide that by three and we’re looking at B2,367 per person, a lot less than B11,000.
Target not acquired
As usual, the fish we wanted was the giant snakehead or the striped snakehead but the conditions were just not favourable. Even with the seasonal thundershowers the water levels were low; the dam was using more water for hydroelectricity than usual.
With water levels so low the aquatic vegetation were basically non-existent leaving very little hiding area for the snakeheads forcing them out to the open water, a very large expansive area in Srinakarin reservoir. Another factor effecting the snakeheads was the fishing pressure, being a very famous spot for both holiday makers and fishermen the snakeheads here were extremely educated.
At least we still have the krasoob
That’s right, if anyone plans to come to Srinakarin dam, be sure pack along some light tackle for some krasoob keed fishing. The krasoob keed, also known as the hampala barb or the jungle perch, is a fish high in abundance, a very good fighter and is quite easy to catch. On average they are about half a kilo but then can grow up to a few kilos. My record is 3.2kg but there have been reports of 5kg before.
With some shiny metal spoons, we caught a fair amount of them. The trick was to cast the spoons into the water, let it sink to the bottom, give it a jerk to avoid the snags before reeling it back quickly. This method, regardless of how careful you are, usually results in many snags and lost lures so bring many spoons (they’re locally made and cheap, at around B50-70 per spoon).
We caught a total of eight over the two days. Alex caught three, Doc caught two and I also landed three. Our guide, “Jeng” (เจ๋ง) , landed over 15 putting us in our places, haha.
The house boat we stayed on was very basic. A small bedroom, some floor mattresses, pillows, blankets, a gas stove, a tiny kitchen, a sit-down toilet and a bucket to get water from the reservoir to wash ourselves with. At night, a car battery kept the lights going. To make things even more comfortable they also had a food and drinks delivery service. This came in handy when we wanted them cook up our krasoobs for dinner.
Last year, I came to Srinakarin to party with my friends so we stayed in a party house boat. There were a total of about 18 of us so we rented the big boathouse that came with a power generator as well as a karaoke machine. I can’t remember how much it cost but it’s definitely a lot more than B1,900 a night. We basically spent the entire trip singing and taking breaks by floating in the water with our life jackets while drinking beer to cool off from the summer heat.
Honestly, the fishing wasn’t that great. We didn’t catch too many fish and there we no snakeheads biting. Even the guides were adamant on not going after the snakeheads saying that it was a waste of time. However, the trip was definitely not a waste of time; sleeping in the cool jungle air was something no Bangkok air-conditioner could compare to; and going on a road trip with my fishing buddies was a wonderful bonding experience more entertaining than some weekend spent going to the clubs any day. The fish we caught weren’t big but the time we had was easily more awesome than a visit to any fishing pond stocked with monsters.