Splash and Grab
Simon Dunbar rediscovers his angling mojo via a brief affair with a rather unusual species.
Now I don’t know if all anglers experience it but early in 2010 I lost the drive to go fishing.
The previous year had been a stinker for me and by the start of 2010 I had been living in a new house for six months and had not touched my fishing gear since moving. Some of my reels and bits were even sat in my spare room in the taped up cardboard boxes that I had packed them into some months before . I hadn’t renewed my membership to the local angling club I had been a member of for a few years and was struggling to get up the enthusiasm to get back into fishing.
Then, out of the blue, I got a call from a friend I had met on an overseas fishing trip a couple of years previously. He told me he was organising a trip to Gillham’s Resort in Southern Thailand for later that year, there was a spare place available and would I be interested in going. He told me the resort was stunning and that the lake there held over forty species of fish. Well I love catching new species of fish and have experienced some great fishing abroad, so I checked out the resort website and decided this could be the perfect way to get myself back into fishing.
So it was on a sunny, hot June morning later that year that I found myself sat on a bamboo seat looking out over a lake that was situated in a lush valley surrounded by huge limestone mountains known as karsts. These huge formations of limestone burst out of the dense Thai forests around me like scenery from some fantasy movie.
The lake itself was well set out, it had lots of swims, but they were well-spaced and the lake’s surroundings made it a beautiful place to fish. I was on the fourth day of my trip and was really enjoying the fishing having already caught a few different species including some stunning Red Tail Catfish, a few lively Arawana and a fine looking Shovel-Nosed Tiger Catfish. In fact on my first day here I had caught two Red Tails over twenty pounds in the first half an hour!
As I sat there one of the guides came cycling along the path that circled the lake, a large bag of homemade boilies swinging from the handlebars of his bike. Most of my fish so far had been caught on fish deadbaits, which I had been using with the hope of catching one of the elusive Arapaima that were resident here but today, however, I wanted to try some of the boilies they made on site here in order to maybe tempt a Siamese Carp from the lake, thereby adding another new species to the collection.
The boilies were huge, more like small golf balls, so large in fact that I couldn’t get more than one in my catapult! I left the shade of my bamboo shelter and crouching by the lake in the hot sunshine, began firing boilies out into the middle of the lake. I catapulted the boilies one at a time, each one making a loud plop as it hit the wate. I concentrated them in one area and fired maybe about twenty out to the same spot.
Casting out my hook bait I hit the target first time, the boilie making a loud splash as it hit the water, and I watched the line waiting for the bait to hit the bottom of the lake - but it never did! Instead the line began tearing of my reel; I flipped the bale arm over and the rod arced over – fish on! The fish tore out across the lake, taking line, then suddenly the line went slack, the fish had thrown the bait. Whatever it was, it had taken that boilie as it hit the water, I didn’t have a clue what fish it could be but decided to try exactly the same tactic again.
I fired out another ten of the monster boilies, each one made a loud plop as it hit the water, then I quickly cast to the same spot. ‘Plop’ went the bait as it hit the surface and within seconds my line was flying off the reel again...I was amazed at the speed with which the bait had been grabbed!
I struck into the fish and the rod bent as the fish bombed along out in the lake and I shouted for a guide, who came running a few moments later, climbing into the water with a large net as I battled with the fish. When I steered the tiring fish through the water towards him and into his waiting net he said “Pacu” and I knew I had caught another new species.
In the net the fish looked just like a big Pirhana but without the sharp teeth and when the guide removed the hook, whilst the fish was still in the water, he showed me inside the Pacu’s mouth and it had a set of the most human like teeth I have ever seen in a fish!!
I had seen Pacu on a television programme sometime before and I remembered them being fruit eaters, feeding on fruit as it dropped from trees lining the South American rivers where they originate. It was obvious to me, that although being bred in Thailand, the Pacu here in this lake were doing what came naturally and responding to the sound of the boilies hitting the water as I fired them out, just as they would to fruit dropping into the water. I proved this again a few days later when I caught more hard fighting Pacu using the same method. It was an exciting way of fishing, firing out a handful of baits in succession then casting to the spot and seeing the line zip across the lake as the fish took the bait as it splashed down.
I went on to catch a few more species on my trip to Thailand including Siamese Carp, Snakehead - and I even got an Arapaima - but I think the Pacu and the method by which I caught them, made them the most memorable catch of the trip.
Catching all of those new species on different methods really got me buzzing about fishing again, my enthusiasm for angling had returned thanks to my trip to Thailand and the capture of those amazing Pacu!!