Though I have never read Moby Dick, I find that as a fisherman, I can very much relate to the Captain Ahab. Unlike the captain, I do not have a hell bent need to exact revenge on a certain white whale for amputating one of my limbs but I do understand the aggravation of an undying obsession to catch something. To have the image of a particular target burned into the back of my eyelids every time I try to sleep, that electrifying feeling in my fingertips that can only be satiated by the forceful bend of the fishing rod. To have the smell of the reservoir drifting through my imagination as I wander the streets of my once beloved Bangkok while disgusted by the lack of greenery and water of this concrete jungle. It was a strange feeling. One that made every waking minute in the city feel strangely uncomfortable. The feeling of unfinished business similar to that of an unconfessed love from high school kept me going back to the reservoirs over and over again in hopes of catching the beginning of the season.
I was waiting for the giant snakehead season, the season when the biggest of the chados guard their newly hatched fry with the kind of aggression of a roid rage muscle head. Or so you would think. I’ve caught several of these defensive parents before and it gets my heart pumping every single time. The difficulty involved in getting one of these parents to bite can be quite high. Naturally, even the biggest and most ferocious of all predators would instinctively avoid a fight unless necessary. As giant snakehead fishermen who wish to participate in the delicate art of “fry stalking”, it is our task to walk that fine line between harmless and threatening. Work the lure too gently and the parents will not attack. Work the lure too aggressively and the parents will flee with their young and will be almost impossible to locate. The trick is to work the lure in a way that is aggravating enough while looking like an easy threat to defeat.
It has taken me a lot of practice and a lot of failed attempts to fine-tune my abilities to get these freshwater giants to bite. I feel the greatest bit of empathy to the tourist who books an expensive fishing tour to Thailand to face these monsters and realise first hand just how difficult the art of fry stalking can be and then fail. It’s never as easy as it looks in the videos because they usually leave out all the hard parts. Pinpoint casting accuracy, eagle eye vision and quick reflexes are some of the prerequisites to success. Then, there’s luck. I don’t usually believe in luck but when it comes to trying to search for a small circle of fry that occasionally surface for a second at a time in the vast expanse of the reservoir while the wind and the waves reduce visibility, Lady Luck is very real and very welcomed.
On this past 31st of July 2012, it just so happened that the good lady was my companion on a perfectly windless hour where the water’s surface was a mirror’s edge and we had recently spotted some very visible fry. I’d like to mention that not all parents are equal. Some may have been fished before and have grown wise enough to be vary of lures but this time round we were lucky. After less than 20 minutes of accurate casting the fight was on and it was good fucking fight. I can write about how fierce the mother giant snakehead was but I believe that nothing will better capture the fight than this video below. Enjoy the video and happy fishing.