Stalking giant snakehead fry is probably one of the most exciting things for any freshwater fisherman in Thailand. Following the red swarm of juveniles as they appear and disappear from the water’s surface while standing on a narrow little boat, casting with pinpoint accuracy to get the parent to bite really gets the heart pumping and here I am to share with you some necessary equipment in getting you closer to success.
1. The right lures
Fry stalking can happen in just about any area from heavy cover, to the shallows to the deep end. Be sure to pack some of the essentials:
- Weedless frog lure of some sort for those heavy cover areas. Lucky Frogs and Ribbit Frogs have proven to be very successful;
- Shallow minnows for depths between one meter to three meters. They should be around 8-10cm in length;
- Deep divers for open water. They should be around 8-10cm in length.
- Popper 8-10cm;
- Buzzbait 8-10cm;
2. Items to reinforce your lures and terminal tackle
A giant snakehead parent can be ridiculously strong. They can easily grow over 5kg. When hooked, it is in their instinct most of the time is to dive deep into cover so lures would definitely need to be reinforced in order to keep the fight going. Replace the split rings and the hooks on lures with the tougher stuff that wouldn’t fail under pressure. Those black VMC hooks that come with the lures? Replace them. Seriously, nothing more depressing than losing a fish to a very preventable mistake. The giant snakehead mouth is a hard one and it can easily snap hooks and straighten splits rings under pressure.
I also find that with deep-diving balsa wood lures, there is a tendency for the lip to come loose during a fight resulting in a lost fish. To counter this problem, I’ve been taught to reinforce the lips of my crankbaits. To do this I first place the crankbait in a vice grip. With an electric drill, punch a hole through the head of the lure, directly through the lip. Then, I take a paper clip of the same diameter as the needle, give it a light coat of superglue, and shove it into the whole. Then I trim of the excess and file it down.
3. Polarized sunglasses and other sun protection
Stalking giant snakehead fry without proper sun protection for your eyes is like asking nature to give you an express ticket to blindness. Fry stalking can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours depending on the difficulty of the parents and the stubbornness of the fisherman. The fry stalker must be ready for the kind of UV exposure that the cast of Jersey Shore subject themselves to. Buff mask, UV clothing and/or arm sleeves and polarized sunglasses will keep your comfort level high and skin cancer level low for when stalking the fry.
Not to mention that polarized sunglasses give the fisherman a competitive edge as it allows for the fry to be visible before surfacing granting the fisherman more time to cast.
4.Decent landing net
Unless you are wearing chain mail gloves, thumbing a giant snakehead isn’t the best idea. Considering that they are armed with razor sharp teeth easily capable of tearing flesh and bone from fish as large as the striped catfish, a puny little human thumb would be quite an easy thing for it to bite off. Sure there are ways to safely pull out a giant snakehead with your bare hands but why take the risk after you have already invested over a hour of your life? Arm yourself with a decent landing net and remember to always scoop the fish from the tail AFTER it is showing signs of fatigue.
5. Reliable and strong rod, reel and line
I’ve seen too many people lose trophy fish from this common mistake. Go too cheap on a particular piece of tackle and somewhere along the line the fish is lost and ironically the defeated fisherman ends up spending even more afterwards on better gear to avoid future disappointment. Remember this: NEVER GO CHEAP ON ROD, REEL AND LINE. A stiff strong rod and a 30lb braided line from a respectable brand coupled with a decent reel will save you from many heartbreaks. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, just buy the stuff that has been tried and tested.
6. Wire leader line (optional)
This one is optional as not all lures will require strong leader line. Only rubber frogs such as the Ribbit or the Rage Tail would require it as they are usually be taken deeper into the mouth of the giant snakehead. Forget fluorocarbon, even a 60lb leader line can be torn by a parent-sized chado.