Flood update: The floods have reached Bangkok. The old airport has shut down its operations and Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) is also not spared. I live in downtown Bangkok and so far the waters haven’t reached here yet but according to the flood maps my area is expected to reach 21-50cm levels in the next few days. Oh well, I’ve stocked up on lots of food, water, beer and bacon to ride it out should I find myself stuck inside. With all this panic going around I’ve been a little preoccupied and distracted to post stuff onto Bangkokhooker-fishing.com so it’s time to do some catching up.
Anyway let’s get to the story.
A meeting of fists
You meet the most interesting people inside boxing gyms. Like fishing ponds, you have people from all over congregating in the same place united by one shared activity. I have been boxing for about 7 years now. It all started in an old place in Toronto called the Cabbagetown Boxing Gym. (Cabbagetown was the name given to a part of Toronto that had a significant settlement of Irish people who for some reason liked planting cabbages as a means of feeding themselves or something like that). It was one of those old gritty kind of places filled with everything a boxer needs from a boxing ring to speed bags. Just like in the movies.
Here in Bangkok, I try to keep in shape by going to a boxing gym at least once a week. As you would expect from the capital city of Thailand, it is almost impossible to find a boxing-only gym downtown as most of the gyms here are catered towards the tourists who have come here to practice muay Thai. We even have student visas for foreign muay Thai practitioners. Unfortunately for me, muay Thai just isn’t something I really do. Yes, I do realise the irony of being a Thai person who practices Western boxing in Thailand but it goes to show just how interesting and diverse the variety of the inhabitants of this planet can be, doesn’t it?
In Bangkok, I get my boxing fix from a place on Sukhumvit 22 called Chakrit Muay Thai gym. It’s alright in terms of facilities and equipment but it is a little pricey for foreigners. For me, it had everything I needed to keep in shape: a boxing ring, some heavy bags, gloves, plenty of room to jump rope and the occasional sparring partner.
One particular partner that I have gotten quite close to is Cameron Conaway of www.cameronconaway.com and writer for sherdog.com. As a fellow fighter and writer, we found that we had a lot in common and he soon wrote about his experience boxing with me (story here). We talked about fighting techniques, life and all sorts of things. Soon enough, I brought up fishing and the prospect of inviting him and his fiance, Maggie, to come along one of these days to go break our backs at Bungsamran.
And so we went to break our backs
It took a while but eventually the three of us finally were all free at the same time. On Saturday the 22nd of October 2011 we made our way to Bungsamran. For some insane reason Cameron was wearing a t-shirt on top of a hooded sweater and Maggie was wearing a t-shirt on top of a long sleeve shirt, something only crazy people do in a tropical country in Thailand. Although I have to give props to Maggie for rockin’ a cowboy hat for the occasion, respect Maggie.
Flood prep at Bungsamran
With the flood coming closer to the central parts of the city, many people in Bangkok have spent the past few weeks surrounding their homes with big barricades of sand and concrete to prepare for the worst flood in Thai history. It’s not surprise considering just how much damage this flood has done to the provinces in the north.
Fishing ponds like Bungsamran have also made their move to protect their fish. Bamboo barricades have been erected around the pond in the event of rising water in hope that the fish won’t swim out.
Fishing improves your choking and other fighting skills
I set up the rod with my usual Mekong rig, made the bait ball for a simple mixture of rice husk and pond water and cast that sucker into the water. Within the first few casts, my Shimano Baitrunner 6500 started to sing that familiar song of the reel clicker indicating a fish bite. I set the barbless hook and began my fight, demonstrating to my American friends how to bring in the the hefty catfish without getting it to swim under the dock, something that could get really difficult to fix.
After showing them how it is done I cast the bait ball into the exact spot and gave it a few minutes. Soon enough the young American couple got to some fishing of their own. Having written many articles on health and exercise I asked Cameron as he reeled in a foul-hooked Mekong, what kind of benefits can a mix martial artist get from this form of fishing. He replied semi-jokingly as he pulled in the big fish that “there is nothing better for isometric bicep strength which, would be great for holding on to a rear-naked choke and finishing an arm bar”. As he said that he reeled in some line and, with the rod, pulled the fish in a foot closer using mostly his biceps.
“Ah,” I said, “your form is incorrect!” I advised the professional MMA fighter to transfer the pressure evenly to other parts of his body to lighten the load. He did so by using a combination of his legs, thighs, back and his shoulders on top of his arms. Suddenly, it became a whole lot easier.
Once again, I asked him again how this would benefit an MMA fighter to which he responded, “now it’s a full body movement,” before getting back to puling in the Mekong giant catfish.
Ever since I started going regularly to Bungsamran I’ve noticed one thing: I no longer have any need to visit the gym. The anaerobic exercise from pulling a few fish in at Bungsamran was enough to generate healthy muscle growth. Bitches love muscle growth.
After about four minutes of fighting, the fish was as tired as a Bangkok hooker who had to service an entire Australian rugby team. I squatted down with the landing net brought in the big fish. Cameron had just landed the biggest fish in his life.
It was Maggie’s turn to pull one in. My first thought was that this small 45-50kg Pennsylvanian woman is going to have a hard time fighting a fish that could quite possibly be her weight or heavier.
I made the bait ball and lobbed it into the water making sure that it landed as close as possible to the previous spot. It made a loud splash as it hit the water. This was done to ensure that the area’s bait concentration increased. It didn’t take too long for another Mekong giant catfish to take the bait.
As the reel spun out line taken from the fish I grabbed the rod, turned of the free spool and gave the reel hard solid yank before handing it over to the Yank standing beside me (hur… hur..).
Now what happened next was pretty damn cool: Maggie had been watching us fish and immediately got into the correct positioning. Her stance was balanced as she used her entire body to pull in the fish. Her reeling was a bit off at first but she quickly got the hang of it. Respect again Maggie, respect again.
She kept it up. With her legs, arms and back she’d pull the fish in. When it got too close she’d squat down to utilise her legs better for more efficient power lifting. I didn’t teach her that yet. She was instinctively pulling the fish in and it after a few more minutes of fighting, the fish was in. What was more amazing was her stamina through out the fight. She wasn’t breathing heavily or anything. At the end, she landed her first Mekong giant all by herself and after the photo she was already ready for a few more fish. Triple respekt with a ‘k”. I guess this was to be expected from the girlfriend of a professional MMA fighter.
After pulling a few more Mekongs in we decided to call it a day at around 3:30pm (we got there at 9am). The couple was working on one hour of sleep as Cameron had to stay up all night to conduct a Skype interview. Their sleepiness was clearly evident after they had each pulled in more than three Mekongs each. When their adrenaline rush had subsided they were ready to go home and catch up on some sleep. Thanks for the day guys, I had a lot of fun. Oh, I also learnt that Mekong fishing helps you improve your
Here’s the video: