The TFG Tournament
Thailand Fishing Gears is an association comprised of big fishing gear companies with the aim of promoting sports fishing in Thailand. On the 3rd and 4th of February 2012, I had the honour of participating and covering the final leg of their fourth ever TFG Tournament. Due to the floods, the final leg of the 2011 tournament had to be delayed until February this year and it took place in Pra Prong Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำพระปรง) in Sa Kaeo (จังหวัดสระแก้ว). Due to Pra Prong being not as popular a destination of the previous locations, accommodation was limited to the judges and the organisers while the rest of us had to rely on sleeping in tents. Participants had to pay only B450 per head while their followers had to pay B250. This payment comes with a full-course dinner as well as porridge for breakfast. Participants can either bring their own boats or rent one along with hire a boatman from one of the locals at the reservoir. Boat rental was at about B1,100 or more depending on the boat size. The competition was divided into two categories: professionals and amateurs. The pros had the obligation of attending all four legs of the competition in order to collect their points for the final grand cup, very much like the Grand Prix. Amateurs could rock up to any of the competitions. Also, another difference is that all pros must fish alone with no fishing companion. There were over 100 participants and every single fishing magazine as well as siamfishing.com were invited to cover the event.
Basic competition rules
- All fish are to caught with artificial lures.
- Giant snakeheads and striped snakeheads are bulked into the same category.
- Due to cheating in the previous year, snakeheads must be brought in alive. Failure to keep them alive until the weighing results in point deduction.
- Pros must fish alone but they are allowed a boatman.
- The heaviest fish in any category would get a full 20 points for that category. Any subsequent placing would receive one less point until the 20th place, who will be left with 1 point.
- Pros must attend all four events. Amateurs can come and go as they please.
Interesting things from the event
- The banquet the night before the event was quite the feast: a five-course dinner of different types of Thai fish cooked into local delicacies. All this took place outdoors under the stars, which were especially pretty being so far from the city.
- All competitors must wear life-jackets.
- All competitors must make a name card to be used for score-keeping.
- Getting drunk with the event organisers and the Thai fishing magazine people like Friend Fishing Magazine was a blast.
- The pros and their bass boats look pretty damn cool.
- A lot of the pros and their team manufacture their own lures for personal competitive use.
- The pros are armed with walky-talkies to communicate with one another since phone reception is impossible.
- Prah Prong reservoir is known for being a very difficult fishing location, the best that the pros could come up with that day was a 2.25kg jungle perch.
Jungle Perch Category
1st Nattawut Tonbooncharoen, Team Yamaha-T-Surf at 2.25kg.
2nd Booncherd Therasarn, Sukho Team (สุขโขทีม) at 1.30kg
3rd Viroj Dunklang, Team Rapala at 1.24kg.
1st Sakda Kherdplangthong, Team Killer Monster at 19.5kg.
2nd Pongthep Maneenawa, X-Ray Team at 1.78kg.
3rd Anurak Darnpan, Yamaha-T-Surf Team at 1.71kg.
1st Surasith Sithisrisangawongs, Butterfly Fishing Team, 1.35kg.
2nd Polpongs Parnprateep, Kapong Sport Fishing Team, 1.06kg.
3rd Dechatorn Sungkam, Team Travel Fishing (ท่องเทียวตกปลา) Magazine, 0.91kg.
1st Kattiya Chompoowongs, Korat Boat Club Team, 1.94kg.
2nd Sakda Satarntriphob, Butterfly Fishing Team, 0.98kg.
3rd Pasithpol Monkah, Butterfly Fishing Team, 0.85kg.
As a Thai sports fisherman, it makes me proud to know that there are organisations like the TFG who are pushing Thailand to an international standard. Seeing all the money that goes into this gives me hope that someday we’d have sports fishing as a mainstream event.
How did we do?
One word, SHITE. Haha. The lottery resulted in us getting a boatman who never showed up. We ended up waiting an entire two hours before we could fish and we had to share a big clunky metal vessel with a crappy engine with three other fishermen from Team Big Fish. Plus, our boatman was replaced by a forest ranger with little knowledge of how to control a fishing boat for lure fishing purposes. Alex caught a little giant snakehead while I got a bit from some seriously tiny fish.
But it’s all good man, we had a hell of a time hanging with the pros and being part of it all and we look forward to covering more of these events in the future!
But after the tournament things got really shitty… (to be continued).
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