Sweaty March Fishing
Welcome to sweaty March me hearties.
I see Chalong circle is now getting a bit more “free flow” and the Pier repairs are moving forwards at a rate of knots. Could this be the “Power of the Press” or something more probable, like the importance of losing considerable amounts of money on a daily basis? It’s well seen that Phuket’s road system has not got a similar “toll” or earning capacity structure.
So me faltering fisheroos where are all the fishing reports, as I have heard nothing but “It’s too bloody hot and the fish are going deep or out to the ocean.” Well me cockleshell heroes, that don’t fill the cooking pot or the column inches!
Now that we are coming up to Songkran and the “cooling off” season, hopefully things will improve as it did about this time last year when I remember sitting at my keyboard, as now, hot, sticky and also being hit over the head by a big lump of writers block, but I soon came out of the doldrums when checking my records from March – April last year which chronicled my 4th Marlin in my 16 years’ experience fishing out of Phuket.
Once again, where do these supposedly experienced fishermen get the idea they can arrive here and land a Marlin on a day trip, “guaranteed” is well beyond me, you don’t go to a golf course and demand a hole in one.
BUT me hearties historically speaking this is the time to catch the big ones, for while checking my historical anals, J I reported last year that:- “Dorado, Mena 1, Fish Eagle and Mena 1 again all catching a Marlin within a few days of each other”. (April was even better) And now the Phuket Sport-fishing Club posted this picture of a 72.5K fish which originally I thought was one of the big Tuna but now I believe it to be a Chinese Mackerel (Scientific name:- S Sinensis – Seerfish being a term for numerous large Mackerel) caught in their 7th annual “March” competition so although things might be “slow” in general there are trophy fish out there and this beastie is definitely “up there”, only a kick in the behind off a world record.
For those who don’t speak the language, I have been assured that there is a Thai word for logic but I am still trying to find evidence of this in practice: – Let’s have a water festival when there is a water shortage – Logic!
To allow sewage to flow freely into the sea, yet you can’t feed the fish for conservation reasons.
Let’s build the Chalong terminus for the new light railway – where??? Over the underpass. (for April 1 edition) Although this would not surprise those of us who have stayed any length of time in The Land of Smiles.
Any further contributions delving into the topic of “Thai logic” should be sent to The Comedy dept. Phuket News.
As usual, tight lines to all.
July Phuket Fishing News
Ahoy once again Shipmates
Prior to the big mid-month storm, excellent fishing reports came in from Neill C. on Fish Eagle with a good sized Sailfish, Fish Eagle also released a young Black Marlin, while Ali a pal from Qatar landed a nice King and Queen with Mena 1. and all the boats seemed to be impressed with the variety of species caught, Barras, big Long Toms, Rainbows, Dorado and of course lots of Tuna which all came in at around 2kgs. In fact the only thing not here at present seems to be Wahoo.
Following last month’s article about Jez at Chalong Fishing Park, I was reminded by Mike of EFT (Exotic Fishing Thailand) that I have not mentioned him since he added first class, lakeside, mountain-view, bungalows to his already magnificent and most scenic facilities, even if he did neglect to mention his latest Thai Cooking lessons for the wife / GF that doesn’t fish.
Although both venues are considered “fresh water fishing parks”, that’s where the similarity ends, with neither being at all comparable; it’s a bit like comparing the Cutty Sark to a canal barge (Sorry Jez – “quality” Thames barge.) While EFT should be on every keen, fresh water angler’s bucket list, for every conceivable reason including potential records, Jez’s place (Chalong Fishing Park) is “an affordable”, chill out, drop in and get your rod wet sort of watering hole with 20 / 40kg sized fish, relatively easy and plentiful sporting fish, nothing compared to EFT’s monster cats and Arapaima, but: – “O’ Arrr, but ye gets what ye pays for”. Details on Fresh Water Fishing.
Between bells, speaking to an old Greek shipmate, he posed me the question.” Do you know we are all idiots?” “You mean, judging by the people we vote for and allow govern us?” I retorted. “Yea, your half right”. He replied. “It’s from an old Greek word, which basically means, everyone who is NOT a politician.” I looked it up – IT’S TRUE – and you wonder why there are pirates who like to run a finger up the mast from time to time.
September 19th – “Talk like a pirate day” – Admit it, it slipped your mind. — TRUE – newsflash from America
Since the demise of the Phuket Fishing Club and its associated “Phuket Classic” fishing competition, I was even more saddened to read Uwe was winding up our only other major competition P.I.S.T. after 12 years at the wheel, but fear not me hearties I have been advised by Walter, the latest captain and CEO, a new and simplified P.I.S.T with a new name P.S.T. (Phuket Sports-fishing Tournament) is now on the stocks and ready to launch. There will be a few cosmetic changes such as “all bill-fish to be released” – “increased points for all other species, except Tuna” and junior anglers can enter free and in unlimited numbers, (when accompanied by an adult I would presume,) are among the few rule changes. Registration will be from 3 -7pm on the 22nd November with fishing commencing on the 23rd for this 3 day event. The venue will be the same as before and further information, such as “early bird” etc. can be found at Phuket Sportsfishing Tournament on Facebook or e-mail Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying with competitions, the “Islander – Rawai” and the “Walkabout – Karron” are having the second of their monthly “mini-comps” at Chalong Fishing Park later this month and any PB&FA (Phuket Fishing & Boating Assn.) Members wishing to join the fun can register at the park or either of the bars but please be quick, as there is a limited number of seats available at the lake.
This month’s side splitter:-
One day while driving home from his fishing trip with the Monsoon rains coming in horizontally, a local fisherman (Fred – name change to protect the innocent) got a flat on his bike just outside of a monastery. A sympathetic monk seeing his predicament came out and invited Old Fred inside to have dinner and to spend the night. Fred stranded and knackered after a day’s fishing gladly accepted the monk’s kind offer.
That evening overwhelmed by the most magnificent dinner of fish and chips he had ever tasted, he decided to compliment the chef. Entering the kitchen, he asked the cook, “Are you the “fish friar?” “No,” the chef replied, “I’m only the chip monk.”O Arr!”
The wife’s not here, so I’m off to box the compass. (how many “old salts” remember that?)
May Fishing in Phuket
Once again shipmates, welcome aboard.
The scuttlebutt this month has been few and far between possibly due to the weather and the lack of “fishing” tourists, although that jammy dodger Mateus who pulled last month’s Marlin and the only one who reported in, informed me of a large Sail Fish this month, with some 30+ medium to small Tuna to help fill, once again, Mena 1’s fish box, Good old solid, dependable timber, I think “If God had wanted us to have fibreglass boats; he would have given us fibreglass trees”.
A few months ago I wrote about the “Kraken” a fictitious sea monster, which drew a considerable amount of attention, so this month, I decided to write about another monster of the deep. A beastie so cleaver it needs brains all over its body, how do you fancy a brain in all your appendages including your reproductive organ. A beastie with a cloak of invisibility that even Harry Potter would be jealous of and an escapologist who could give lessons to Houdini. Guessed the name yet???
OK. How about a shape shifter that can mimic other species who learns by observation and is totally self-educated, as the female always dies subsequently to looking after her eggs until hatching. This exceptionally clever animal has its brains distributed throughout its body – try to imagine your arms and legs being able to “independently” touch, feel and taste – your toes in a trifle, a beer in one hand while doing a jigsaw with the other. This would be child’s play for this odyssey of the all the world’s oceans. Guessed yet, me seafairin, swashbuckling, maties?
More clues:- And for those of you who have been at sea too long, our hatchling even grows up to be featured in “Shunga” early 19th century Japanese erotic art. They have three hearts and there are about 300 different species, all venomous, but only one dangerous, to humans.
Now I’ll make it easy for the landlubbers.
Our beastie is related to the oyster and squirts ink as part of its defensive strategy. He/she can fit through very narrow gaps or holes as long as it’s wider than the space between its eyes, hence they are never caught in traps unless they are taken by surprise when stealing bait. This seagoing cephalopod mollusc can swim, walk and is jet propelled, it has a powerful beak and eight arms and is a cousin to the squid and cuttlefish. Yes me hearties it’s the Octopus.
Well that’s it for this month shipmates, that’s me off for a bit of exercise. Where you may ask do pirates go to keep fit? O Arrr. It’s got to be – off to the Jim Lad!
Once again, tight lines to all.
A Trip to the Burma Banks
A vast and belay me hearties, lend me a lug.
This month’s tale goes a bit further afield than usual, to the world renowned fishing-ground “The Burma Banks” where “Thai 2 On” spent the earlier part of the month, with Laust Bendiksen, Steve Dickson our own marauding mariner, Ian Tubby and his crew who ventured north into Myanmartian waters, if that’s what the sea off Myanmar (Burma) is called.
Firstly this trip means a call into Victoria, Myanmar to pick up the obligatory “guide” before our motley crew were allowed to continue our journey to the “Burma Banks” which has some of the best bill-fish fishing on the planet and is within the comfortable range of most of our “overnight” boats.
The Burma Banks themselves are a series of flat topped underwater mountains covering a huge area of around 1,500 square kilometers. The waters around the “banks” are 300/350 meters deep and gradually rise to 15 meters from the surface, making this vast area inaccessible to commercial trawlers who in the past few years have decimated much of the Andaman Sea and the Similan Islands where we used to have our sadly lamented fishing “club” competitions.
Situated 180Km North West of the Similan Islands and 90 to 180 Km due west of Ranong (Thailand) and Kawthaung, Myanmar (Burma) Nearly half way to the Andaman Islands (India) the “Banks” are in international waters although economic rights are claimed by the Myanmar Government.
Because of strong currents and no place to “run” for protection from foul weather the “banks” can only be visited, for safety reasons, during our “high” season mid- February to mid-April.
Obviously there is nothing to see, but if you’re here for the fishing this is one of the best “bill” fishing areas anywhere, with Marlin and Sailfish in abundance.
Thai 2 On’s log confirmed hooking into 12 Marlin with 3 Black’s and 1 Blue brought to the boat all estimated at 300lb plus a few (6) broken lines. To this tally they added 1 Sail around 60lb and lots of Sea Bass and Red Snapper all about 20lb.
Later in the month I manager to damaged my right foot and all I needed was an eye patch and a parrot and I could have been “Long John Jimmy”, which brings me to :- Did you hear about the pirate who took up boxing, as he had a killer left hook? Lastly, I’m thinking of a new car, do you think I should go for an Arrrgh-V?
Tight lines to all.
March Fishing Report
Right! You Orrible lot,
After your comments on my last contribution, all I can say is:- “The beatings will continue, until moral is restored.” Nice to be a pirate, sometimes!
Well, now back to fishing, March started off with what could only be described as mediocre fishing, but fishing being fishing both “Dorado” “Mena 1” “Fish Eagle” and Mena 1 again all caught a “Marlin” within a few days of each other, which just goes to prove what a fickle sport big game fishing can be as there can’t be more than 20 people, in the last donkey’s years, who can claim a Marlin in local waters – and there’s four in a couple of weeks. Well done Andy B, Matthias, Andrew Inman with, I think, Russian Alex? Jay and his American mates.
After a very slow start the PF&BA can now boast a membership of 35 with 2 boats out early in the month and the new Chalong Fishing Park being their latest sponsors. So watch out for special offers from them, as I was talking to Jez who intimated he will be looking into “Junior Angler” days when Mum / Dad can teach junior the joys of fishing with the help of his excellent pond staff, as required, while the restaurant / bar staff look after your more mundane needs.
For ex-pats or regular visitors wishing a free “non-profit” membership or more information on joining the Phuket Fishing & Boating Association (PF&BA) contact: – Jimmy at Jimmy’s Drift Inn, Sai Yuan, Rawai or Jez at Chalong Fishing Park. Come and swap some whoppers!
Now – how about that ludicrous case of the Russian woman who spent two days in jail for feeding fish, does that mean we fishermen can’t use bait? Sounds crazy, but most baited hooks don’t catch a damn thing, as it gets eaten by smaller fish, around the size of what this Orrible “Russian” criminal was feeding. I can see it now, STOP PRESS:- “Mass arrests at Rawai Pier and all around the Phuket coastline, as 1000s get carted off to the brig.”
Or is it when you want to feed fish you must be holding a rod and reel? Is it FFT or TIT?
O Arrr! – sometimes when the water is quiet, you can almost hear the fish laughing.
Best advice – always be extra careful on a Friday, for then a weekend in the “monkey house” awaits the unwary (court etc.) who don’t have the cash or inclination to pay into this universally abused spot fine system.
FFT – Food For Thought and if you don’t know what TIT is, the Phuket News is far too advanced for you. O Arrr!
Now – have I missed anybody?
Tight lines all.
September Fishing Banter
This month’s yarn starts with a trip back in time, back to 1606 when Williem Janszoon (Australia’s Columbus) was the first European to discover Australia on a little “privateer” called DUYFKEN, “Dutch for Little Dove” making this cute little ship the Aussie equivalent of the Mayflower, Santa Maria or Mary Rose.
Now you may ask, “What’s Jimmy prattling on about Australian history for, especially in a fishing column based out of Phuket?
Well me Jolly Jack Tars, for any of you who know Brian “Mad” Mohally, you were actually witnessing history, through his experiences of another famous boat of the same name “Duyfken”, a boat that if it wasn’t for her famous predecessor, would be up there with Hemmingway’s Pilar and Joan’s Ark. Why? Because this boat has caught more IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) world records and Ghanaian (Africa) records than any other sports fisher.
As I write and having sold Duyfken, Brian is on his way to the Philippines to oversee a 280,000 USD refit of this custom built sports fisher. Designed by F. W. Woodnutt, this 40” Riviera has a plane-ing hull similar to that of the torpedo boats of WW2 and can turn on a piece of eight using her two powerful engines for steerage. Brian can’t remember how many records he has as many have been subsequently broken but between Brian and the many professionals who have owned and chartered the boat over the years, including the IGFA “Hall of Fame” angler Peter B Wright, Duyfken has more records than any craft afloat.
Image - Duyfken sports fishing boat
A visit to Mad Mohally’s Bar (Irish Bar) in Rawai, Phuket is a must for all Big Game afishinados as the walls are covered in photographs, and trophies of record catches and fishing experiences that most devotees can only aspire to in their wildest dreams, many of which were taken from Duyfken.
After her refit it is planned Duyfken will spend 4 months on the Australian Great Barrier Reef, 4 in Sai Pan, (Marianas Trench) and 2 in the Philippines with Brian retaining a few weeks every year to work on this already considerable reputation as a fisherman AND storyteller, the latter being an occupational hazard for us old salties.
Image - Brian's wall of fame
And this week’s humor since I am writing about boat’s names, here’s a few crackers:-
Campbell’s Sloop, Sea-Nile, Titan Uranus, Ship-for-Brains, Wasted Seamen, A-Salt Weapon, Settlement & In Solvent Sea.
Image - Duyfken with her mother ship weighing in a 1000lb + Marlin (picture Australian Fishing Museum)
Club News :- The Thailand Sports Fishing Club, (TSFC) the “new” club that now runs the Thailand’s premier “Classic” Fishing Competition, (1st /3rd March) sponsored by the Phuket News has now confirmed it has a five man “tournament committee” team and a growing 50 plus membership all raring to go. Enquiries for the competition should be directed to Warren Crowe at thailandsportsfishingclub.com.
Finally it’s nice to see the Phuket Game Fishing Club (PGFC) has not lost its sense of humor either. After rescinding my life membership (for services rendered) because of my recent article (Kraken – July 16) that amusingly high-lighted the gross mismanagement of the club, which at the time of my resignation from the committee had resulted in a paid-up membership you could count on your fingers, “no thumbs” the PGFC committee now wants me to pay 2,000 Baht to renew my membership. Hysterical!!!
As usual, tight lines to all,
RBFC “Classic” Fishing Competition
Hi Me Hearties
Having being given time off for good behavior from hospital in BKK, I returned to Phuket just in time to attend the prize giving of our annual competition to the Similan Islands, where we regularly fish the waters outside the national park limits. And here’s a real classic, there’s not many competitions which get a weather warning, “Watch out for falling space debris.” As bits off an Indian space shot fell to earth.
The prize giving as usual was held at the excellent Kan Eang @ Pier, Chalong, with the inimitable Warren Crowe as mine host followed by the RBFC President Mr. Dave “Flob” Roberts advised everyone that, now that the competition was over the two main Phuket fishing clubs The RBFC and The PGFC would amalgamate with the club name being the more appropriate Phuket Game Fishing Club with their club HQ at Mad Mohally’s in Rawai who donated some magnificent trophies.
Initially the statistics seemed quite good with 3 Marlin and 1 good sized Sailfish being among the prizewinning contenders, but considering there were 16 boats on a 3 day 2 night competition with many of the boats catching little or nothing, the general consensus of opinion was the poor fishing was due to being continually surrounded by commercial “trawlers” (not to be confused with our sports “trollers”). Over the years I have witnessed the slow and unremitting demise of the Andaman Sea’s fish stocks while the commercial trawlers seem to be breeding at an unprecedented rate of knots, chasing what little is left to catch. To the powers that be:- “Is it not time you learned from other fishing nations, that in the long run, conservancy measures are in the interests of everyone, including the commercial fishing industry, their sons and daughters.”
Hi once again my fellow Ofishinadoes
With the continuing inclement weather our trips to sea have been spasmodic to say the least, so in this month’s article I thought I would write about our favorite sports fish, “the wolf of the sea”, the Sailfish.
Apart from the occasional visit by a marauding cousin the Marlin, the Sailfish is the most sought after prize patrolling our local waters and needs all the concentration a fisherman and his crew can muster to catch, as this speedster of the deep can reach 60MPH and turn on a sixpence. Their color is dark to silver gray but watch closely when you land one, as they change color possibly 3 or 4 times as we hold up our prize, before releasing back to the depths. Growing very quickly, birth to nearly full size in only a year, these potentially 3M X 100Kg fish give the angler the best photo opportunity he or she will ever get as the Sailfish when hooked, is a notoriously powerful and acrobatic fighter.
Locally, feeding mostly on our ever diminishing stocks of squid, to view them in action against a “bait ball” of small fish is something to behold. The “Sails” circle the bait ball, compressing it and forcing it to the surface at which time they take it in turn to attack the swarm with their bills, stunning the little fish then turning 180 degrees, in their own length, at high speed, to pick up the injured remnants of the ball. The water is boiling with jumping Sails, shoals of the bait jumping for their lives and all the time Frigate birds are streaking past you, often at arm’s length, to picking off the jumping fry. It’s like watching orchestrated mayhem and a site to behold. On days like this I realize what fishing’s all about, yes catching is the basic principal but when it comes down to it, seeing sites as I have witnessed, a 500+ strong pods of Dolphins, a Killer Whale and many other magical moments – That’s why we call it fishing and “not” catching.
This month’s pirate joke, and they’re getting worse.
What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
You’d think it’d be the RRR… But they love the C.
And finally, Exotic Fishing Thailand is holding the charity event I told you about last month on November the 25th 8am till 6pm. The entry fee for the event will be 5500 Baht (5000 Baht to charity). Anyone entering the event is invited to fish at EFT the day before at a reduced price of 4000 Baht fishing 8am to 7pm. This will give competitors a good opportunity to work on some strategies for the event or just enjoy EFT at a reduced rate.
Trophies and prizes will be awarded.
There will be a pre-competition meeting at 7.30am before the main event “Nov 25th” and a free BBQ after the competition with prizes awarded at this time.
The tournament will be in support of the Make-A- Wish Foundation and EFT will donate 5000 Baht off the main event entry fee to this worthy cause and guarantee a minimum donation of 60,000 Baht.
If any of our readers are interested in participating in this worthwhile venture please contact Mike at Exotic Fishing Thailand.
Fish we catch in the waters around Phuket
Hi once again my ofishinado friends.
This month I thought I would start off with some advice, nothing to do with fishing. ”Don’t ever buy an android “smart” phone, they make you realize how “stupid” you are”.
As the weather has been very unseasonal, with a cool eastern wind persisting all month, the only truly happy folks on the water were the wind surfers, who had a whale of a time. So, with not much news, I had the notion to write about little known facts relating to the fish we catch in local waters, for example:-
Did you know a Marlin can travel around 500 miles in a day? The females can spawn 4 times in a season and drop as many as 4 million eggs at a time. Also known as the fisherman’s elusive “hole-in-one”, it is possibly the most hunted of the “big game” fish, sought after by such famous names as Ernest Hemmingway, Lee Marvin and Myself. J These monsters of the deep follow the warm water currents and regularly appear thousands of miles from their last sighting “tagging” in just a few months.
How about our local Sailfish, the “fastest fish” in the sea, this speedster of the oceans can travel in excess of 100 KPH and it uses its sail to herd bait fish into a “bait ball” prior to attacking with its bill, stunning the fish and eating them as they drop dazed out of the confusion of the ball. Very few people also know sails can change colour in the blink of an eye
The Dorado, Is a short lived but also the “fastest growing” fish in the sea, which can develop from a 1.1/2 lb juvenile to a 40lb adult in just 18 months as part of their 4 year life span. Dorado, Mahi-hahi or Dolphin Fish as they are also known, are magnificent fighters, and as they make great eating are one of the few predators that you don’t mind trolling around garbage at sea for, as these clever chappies shelter under flotsam from the sun’s rays and in so doing stay unseen from their unwitting prey below.
The Queen Fish, which to novice fisher-folks look a bit like a small, thinner tuna is often handled like tuna. This results in extremely sore hands, for on its dorsal there are a series of vey sharp retractable spines. Queenies are also a really good eating fish.
In conclusion, the sad saga of the Chalong Pier continues with yet another boat sunk. Anyway guys and gals on a brighter note, send in your stories, jokes and anecdotes plus any great snaps as we should now be moving into another top fishing month with fingers crossed for the fisheroos on the RBFC Classic Fishing Comp. at the end of Feb. This month’s photo is from Geoff Williams an RBFC member from Durban, reminding us what fishing here used to be like, before commercial over-fishing.
Tight lines to all.
From Greenpeace to “G” spots
Hi again my fellow Fisheroos,
The end of June was definitely not for the fair-weather fishermen among us, with 3 meter seas, rain and high winds making our sporting adventures uncomfortable if not downright dangerous.
The high winds and waves also took their toll on the “new” Chalong Marina where bad design and poor workmanship has left the walkways in an extremely treacherous condition, with large holes and loose flooring being the latest hazard to be negotiated when going to sea from this jinxed project.
Following closely on the “buoys” fiasco which led to the sinking of the Russian “Booze Cruise” boat, it seems to me the powers that be seem only too happy to spend money without supervising the efforts of their landlubbing contractors, who should not be trusted to build Lego blocks. The sea, any sea, deserves “respect”; a word many Thai people, especially after the Tsunami, don’t seem to realize is earned and not demanded. This is possibly the crux of the problem, where deference to a clueless superior often overrides good old common sense.
It may be just me, but at this time of year everything seems to drift into a negative vein, which has now been “topped off” with the latest Greenpeace report on Thai fishing stocks, and I quote directly :-
“Thailand’s seas are rapidly approaching a danger zone” – Hundreds of commercial vessels were operating daily in the Gulf and destroying all marine life in their wake. “If this continues, Thai oceans will become barren and lifeless,” – “In the next five or ten years if we do not try to fix the situation and protect resources, fish stocks or fish populations will reach below numbers that will no longer be productive,”
Sad to say I can only concur, for as any sports fisherman who has been in these waters for a number of years will tell you. “Every year the fish are getting fewer and smaller” Some of us can remember when a Sailfish or even a Marlin was a weekly if not daily occurrence. Now I wonder why we bother working a catch and release policy for billfish, as we just seem to be leaving more for the commercial boats who don’t give a toss for our conservation efforts. OK you can say we Europeans did the same to the North Sea, but “two wrongs don’t make a right”. So everyone PLEASE, PLEASE support the Greenpeace initiative, try to back their sustainable fishing policy in the waters many of us have grown to know and love. IT’S IN EVERYBODY’S INTEREST, as the war between conservationists and commercial boats cannot be won. The capitalists may get a short term financial gain but in the long term, as in most wars, everyone loses. You would hope that Thai culture would see the necessity for a bit of Yin and Yang
To end on a lighter note, I have often stated that fishing always improves after a good “stir-up” and on one of the few days we could get out our boat landed 2 x 4k Rainbow Runners the largest I have seen locally. The next day 14 year old Anthony from New Zealand on MV Hooker out with the PGFC caught “and released” his first sailfish, from all accounts he handled himself like a real pro. Well done Anthony.
Photograph courtesy of “PGFC” Phuket Game Fishing Club
This month’s fishy humor – For those ladies who don’t know how to keep a fisherman satisfied. The “G” spot is located at the end of the word fishing.