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Burma Banks – Fishing in Phuket

Big Game Fishing Tours & Liveaboard Charters in Phuket, Thailand

Tag: Burma Banks

Loneliness of a Big Game Fisherman

Splendid isle-ation

Ahoy me hearties,

Once again it’s a foul weather report:- in fact neither my friends nor I remember such an atrocious start to the ”low” season, but while most of the companies were busy returning deposits, PST’s web site advised us that Thai 2 On managed to sneaked out between storms, mid-month, and bagged 7 Sailfish, so the boys with the bills are back. That will make for a few Jolly Jack Tars - Brilliant!!!

This month the organizers of PST (Phuket Sport-fishing Tournament) also announced the dates of the next PST competition which will be the 21st to the 24th November 2018, and assuming they will be offering an “early bird” entry as usual, I will keep you advised.

And for all you lucky, rich, old pirates, at the pinnacle of our celebrated sport, both Thai 2 On and the 60ft sport-fisher Deja Blue have advised me they are now taking bookings for the coming high season. (Mid-February to Mid-April) Thai 2 On will be returning to the Burma Banks for 5 to 8 day trips while Deja Blue with her large fuel capacity and water maker will once again be visiting India’s Andaman Islands, (January to the beginning of May) Both boats can accommodate five, at a push, but like the “day” boats we recommend a maximum of four. These are undoubtedly the two best fishing areas here in the East and the nearest thing you will get to a “guarantee” while Big Game Fishing. Please e-mail me, via the web site, for further information on either of these truly amazing fishing adventures.

This month’s humor relates to a Russian boat owner who took some Ballyhoo on board his boat. (Bait fish, for the uninitiated) He asked his new Thai decky. “Do you know how to tie these?” -  And given an affirmative.  The next morning you will never guess what he had fried for his breakfast. Yum-Yum.

Considering we have had weather warnings, for small boats, more or less continuously for the past couple of months, isn’t it about time we changed our mental attitude? Isn’t it strange how everyone seems to accept the weather as being “it’s just the weather”? With half the world on fire and the other half flooded is it not about time something was done about it before the planet spins completely out of control and demand that the world’s political ostriches, remove their heads from the sand where they have been firmly buried for far too long. While plastic and all the other toxic waste we pump into our oceans should not be ignored, warming is already burning, drowning and burying us by the 1,000’s.

Am I the only voice in the wilderness shouting - ENOUGH! Sometimes I wonder, am I completely alone on this planet? While I have experienced this/that incredible feeling of isolation combined with a sort of happily womb-like security that all “sea” fishermen can relate to, this is definitely not the case when returning to dry land, where every damned thing seems to want to take a bite out of you, one way or another.

No one owns the water. No one owns the lands. No one owns the oceans. No one owns the sands. These are given by our Mother. The planet provides for free. Only by the hands of the greedy does the Earth require a fee.  Anon.

As usual, tight lines all round.

Ramblings of a fisherman

May Phuket Fishing Roundup

35kg giant trevally

Ahoy me hearties.

And with our entry into May, once again it coincided with the Tuna Bashing Season, more small tuna, around 1K, than you can shake yer boson’s mate at.

Freshwater fishermen are renowned for keeping their favorite fishing hole/spot a closely guarded secret, often becoming extremely annoyed if anyone else happens along by chance. This for obvious reasons rarely happens at sea with all the modern technology, GPS Etc. but following on from my “Burma Banks” article last month, I just was advised of an exceptional find “marked” by Thai 2 On, which for the third year running has come up a winner with one or two large billfish caught on every occasion. Skipper “Ian” has nicknamed this hot-spot “The Big Drop Off” as it goes off the scale on his depth sounder at 350 meters which means you can’t hang about overnight unless you have a sea anchor or a skyhook. Found by accident due to a foul-up at the Myanmar Immigration which changed the boat’s customary course when heading to the Banks, this “Holy Grail” of fishing is now it’s “A Must” for T2On en route to and from the Banks.

Congratulations to Daniel Johannson who has just caught the biggest Halibut ever,  “tagged and released”, a monster at 462lbs not bad with the world record standing at 515lbs. Wait till you catch it next time Danny Boy. For those “warm-water” fishermen who don’t know what a Halibut looks like, here’s one we prepared earlier. Picture courtesy of “Big” Bo Neff our longtime resident “cold-water” pro.

Not to be outdone I went out mid-month with a couple of my pals on Mena 2 and pulled in a huge, by local standards, GT (Giant Trevally) estimated at 30/35kgs, a personal best, which will feed me and most of my neighbors for the next week or so. Caught on a steel line and my mate’s Rapala, I had a 40-minute fight on a 50lb leader. Photo above for all those septics who demand photographic evidence, another one for the anals.

Overheard in a restaurant: - Customer “What’s wrong with this fish?” Waiter “Long time no sea, sir.”

Finally, if you are wondering about why I included a catch report from the other side of the world – “I only did it, for the HALIBUT.” Ouch!

As usual, keep yer rods bent yer lines tight and send in any decent catch reports, as I can’t guarantee my luck every month.

Great Fishing on the Burma Banks

Monster catch

The beginning of the month saw the return of M V Thai 2 On from her annual trip up north to the world renowned Burma Banks where once again they saw plenty of action, with our old shipmate Ian “Tubsy” Tubbs admitting with a “red face” that he just missed the Grand Slam record, (A Black Marlin, a Blue Marlin and a Sailfish in one day’s fishing.) by failing to land the “easy” one, the Sail, but the overall count was still impressive with Ian’s catch report for his two back to back trips reading as follows :-

9 Marlin raised - 5 strikes – 3 caught with the biggest being a 560lb Blue. GTs up to 50lb – Dog Tooth Tuna and snapper.

Fish Eagle also submitted a catch report stating the bottom fishing around Racha Noi, mid-month, was excellent as they pulled in some nice Grouper and Snapper.

The Burma Banks

An easy, but full day’s cruise from Phuket, fishing most of the way, Phuket boats arrive at the Thai / Myanmar border, which for the first and last bookings of the season is a “free day” to T2On’s lucky passengers. During the rest of the season normal procedure is for the crews to pick up their passengers on the Thai side of the border “Ranong” for the short trip across to Myanmar (Burma) “Victoria” to welcome aboard their compulsory Myanmar guide and pay the 100 USD entry fee which then allows her access to very possibly the best Bill Fish fishing anywhere.

For those unacquainted with the Burma Banks this is a huge plateau covering some 1,500 square kilometers. The waters surrounding the banks are 300/350 meters deep rising in an easy gradient to around 15 meters from the surface, making this vast area inaccessible to the commercial trawlers who in the past few years have severely impacted our sports trolling elsewhere in the region. (Notice the difference in spelling - the difference between net and line – sports and commercial fishing.)

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) although in international waters the economic rights are claimed by the Myanmar Government hence the entry fee and compulsory guide who so far has always acted as a useful and welcome member of the crew.

Because of strong currents and no place to “run” for protection from foul weather, the “banks” can only be visited during our “high” season, mid- February to April, for obvious safety reasons.

Understandably there is nothing to see but sea, then again - let’s face it Guys, you’re here for the fishing and this is one of the best fishing areas anywhere, with Marlin and Sailfish in abundance, great “jigging” and bottom fishing.

This month’s humor - although not fishing related - typifies the trials and tribulations of living in Thailand:

A friend who got his Thai driving license five years ago, at the same time as myself, phoned to say we needed to renew, so I got my paperwork together and went to Phuket town only to be told. “Can’t do - Ting tong Farang, you’re a year early.” On meeting my pal we find out, his expires in April 2018 and mine in 2019 even though we received our licenses only minutes apart. TIT.

Comment of the month:

A rather famous boxing pal, John “Boy” Hutchinson, a regular visitor to Phuket, came out fishing with us, his first time on a small boat. He asked me where the toilet was and on his return, much to everybody’s amusement, stated in his broad Irish accent. “Bloody Hell - it’s like trying to pee into a whiskey glass standing on a bouncy castle”. Us old pirates know better – “Never spit into the wind.”

As usual, tight lines to all.

Phuket Fishing in October

Well Maties, that’s it official this “low” season has been the worst on record, while amazingly T.I.T. the fishing, when we could get out, was up there with the best. So now we can look forward to Loy Katong and the start of the high season, which to the fishing fraternity means, the “Phuket News” sponsored “PSD Fishing Competition”. So guys this could be your last chance to register and book a boat.

Now, after last season’s very successful venture up into the “Burma Banks”  I have been advised “M.V. Thai 2 On” is once again undertaking this amazing fishing opportunity for their clients, starting around the middle of February  any parties interested in fishing this world renowned Bill Fishing area should get in contact as soon as possible in order for Ian, the owner, to work out his schedule and the logistics of once again taking the boat  from Phuket into Myanmar’s  “Burma Banks” and its world class fishing.

Any interested parties looking for information on Thai 2 On and the “Burma Banks” are welcome to contact me and I will be happy to forward previously published information on the “Banks”. Not for the lily livered, serious fishing!

Keelhaul the swab!

I must apologise to the members of the Phuket Fishing & Boating Assn. The PF&BA’s Facebook page did not allow free access which was the whole point of the exercise, so everyone could check into who wants to share, rent, buy or sell boats, the issue “I think”, has been resolved. I obviously was having one of my “senior” moments. I think? Maybe? Where was I? By way of saying sorry I have added Knottty bits – Enjoy. Keep a weather eye open, might be good news in the works.

Catfish have stingers located on their whiskers. 555 - What a load o’crab!

There is a myth among these “fresh” water fishermen that catfish “sting”, so this old “salty” will tell ya the facts. The dorsal and pectoral fins actually carry a mild venom which can feel like a sting, especially in smaller, younger fish where the leading edge of the fins are sharper and more likely to scratch/break the skin. So if you do ever get “cat nipped” try this old remedy, rub the infected area of your hand on the fish’s belly and you will be amazed how quickly the discomfort goes away.

Another old myth we regularly hear repeated is bananas are bad luck on a boat.  Although many sailors will agree with this statement the truth goes way back to sailing ship days, when they took on provisions, bananas would “spoil” contaminating any other fruits and vegies in their vicinity, as they quickly ripened. This was later compounded by steam ships refusing to carry bananas in their holds as the gasses emitted by the ripening cargoes occasionally led to them blowing their lids with a bang. Although I don’t believe in all this silly superstitious nonsense, please, please, please leave your bananas at home – On land they are great after a day’s fishing, for you rarely notice the isometric exercise you are getting on a boat and nanas are very good for stopping leg cramps which are common after exertion in hot climates such as Phuket.

This week’s photo, while not being local was so good I felt it had to be shared especially as Drones have added a whole new dimension to fishing. Brilliant! 


This week’s Phuket News :- Unregistered drones are now banned in Thailand - A tax on the sport of “Aerial Fishing Photography” - and I’m meant to be a pirate?

And finally in the “News this Month”, I see a killer whale is back of the coast. Quickly followed by:- 100,000 Baht fines for smoking on the beaches –and- 2,000B fines for polluting a klong. “Wonder where klongs go?” So it’s obvious where the big predators will be patrolling. Watch out guys. Travel P.O.S.H. and don’t feed the fish.

Tight lines

A Trip to the Burma Banks

April fishing

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.

Could be a sailfish

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.

Big fish

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.

New Thinking on Boat Sharing

Thai2on fishing boat charter

Well shipmates that’s another month of OTT weather, but on the few occasions the boats went out reports that the Sailfish were still in abundance and one boat claiming a triple hook-up with 2 released and 1 lost just off the stern. Nice going guys.

As boat owner/operators are continually asked about boat sharing, which in the past most advised against due to certain companies going well above the recommended maximum of 4/5 for serious fishing, a new idea is doing the rounds, which proposes a “non-profit” fishing and boating association dedicated to making Big Game Fishing and boating in general, more accessible and affordable especially to our ex-pat community, their friends and those who are traveling to Phuket alone, or in small groups.

There would be 3 types of associates:-

1. The Visitor / tourist – is free and the association would offer boats at a heavily discounted “boat sharing” price in association with some of our many local ofishinadoes.

2. Ex-pat – is also free although it would require an up-front 2000 Baht refundable, deposit / bond to cover any and all trips.

3. Boat owner /operator – would be a 5% finder’s fee for all trips organized by the association; this would cover set-up fees and incidental expenses.

What the Mena “budget” boats propose to offer probably best describes how the system would work and explains their subsidies toward the association’s goal of reducing everyone’s costs:-

Mena 2 & 3 propose charging 50% of their web site price to the tourist client and guarantee that if even only 1 “one” Ex-pat registers to go, the boat will still leave on the proposed date. They also confirm there would be a maximum of 3 Ex-pats on the boat, (the other 50%) as they believe any more than 4/5 fishing is too many.

Mena 1. Would be the same, except being a more expensive boat, it would be 4 Maximum for ex-pats, again when there is only 1 “one” Ex-pat available the company will subsidize the balance and the boat will still sail.

Other owner /operators would be welcome to participate with their own “specials”, which would be run through a dedicated internet site where participants could be introduced to each other via social media in advance of booking a trip.

Any helpful observations or input to this proposed idea would be greatly appreciated, so please send in your views as we continue to consolidate our thinking.


Burma Banks

Thai 2 On Fishing Charter PhuketThe Burma Banks has some of the best “bill” fishing on the planet, up there in the top 10 “must visit” for any fisherman.

Thai 2 On intends to work out of Ranong, Thailand in February and March 2017 doing weekly charters in this 400 square mile underwater plateau where trolling and jigging is often unsurpassed.

Leaving Ranong on day 1 and picking up our obligatory Myanmartian J (Burmese) “guide” at Victoria we head to West Rock and the following 5 days are spent trolling and jigging the Banks. Day 7 back to Ranong via West Rock and Victoria to drop off the guide.

So that’s it for this month.

Tight lines to all and condolences to all our Thai friends at this sad time.

Burma Banks vs. Andaman Islands

Fishing in the Andaman Sea

Hi once again my fisherooing friends,

Between storms, as usual, fishing improved dramatically for those with the sea-legs to go out in 7-8 second swells which mid- month kept the boats in port when they exceeded 2.5 meters.  So what do fishermen do when the sea is too rough to get out, polish their rods? Well in my case I spent time looking at the projections for next high season and as the local fishing stocks are becoming more and more depleted started thinking about the prospects of going further afield.

The Burma Banks as an alternative to the Andaman Islands.

With the easing of Myanmar restrictions some of our boats are now looking into the logistics of fishing “a billfish bonanza” The Burma Banks, so if anyone, out there, knows where to get all the “official” Myanmar paperwork etc. for this proposed venture, any information would be most appreciated.

Situated about half the way to the Andaman Islands this amazing series of underwater mountains covering some 1,500 square kilometers, 180KM north west of the Similan Islands is probably the only place in the Andaman Sea where the commercial trawlers have not raped and pillaged what was once our abundant sea life, as the mountain rise from around 350M to just 15M below the surface effectively prohibiting net “trawling”, not to be confused with our sports “trolling”.

While we are all aware Big Game fishing, at this level, is expensive The Burma Banks should considerably reduce costs of the only other world class, adventure fishing, venue within the range of our boats as they will use less fuel and our clients will not have the expense of flying to India and from there to Port Blair to meet our boats at the Andaman Islands. With this new proposed scheme it is envisaged that next “high” season guests will be taxied to Ranong, on the Thai /Myanmar border to “checked out” and then taken across to Kawthaung to clear Myanmar customs, and from there strait out 100/200KM to the “banks”. As there is no “cover” for safety reasons the boats will only be traveling this distance,” to the middle of nowhere”, between mid- February till mid-April when the weather is more or less guaranteed.  Again, any information on the above would be most appreciated.

This month’s joke. Now that Burma has changed its name to Myanmar, does that mean the Burmese are now to be referred to as Myanmartians?

Club News

The PGFC (Phuket Game Fishing Club) has had to temporarily restrict the opening hours of their club house, The Gaff, due to illness as that exultant Irishman Laurence Walker is now back in the UK under medical supervision. Having talked to him a few days ago he is as optimistic as ever and hopes to be back in Phuket in a couple of months. All the best M8 all your pals are rooting for you.

The R.B.F.C. (Rawai Beach Fishing Club) announced at their AGM that their annual “Classic” (Similan Islands) Fishing Competition will change its normal dates to the 18/19/20th March 2015. The committee, with full approval, decided they wished to avoid Chinese New Year to accommodate all their friends from Singapore and Hong Kong. It was also muted that they expected much better fishing at that time of year. Well for our puddle plonking “executives” anything has to be better than their previous performance Tee Hee. Better luck next year guys, need some tips?  Following the AGM at Jimmy’s Drift Inn we all departed for our “official” club house The Paradise Bar, Rawai as it was Annie’s birthday and a great time was had by all, with no seats available by 7.30 just demonstrating the popularity of this charismatic young  (by my standards) lady. Happy birthday Annie.

Tight lines