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.
News from the Sea Gypsy Village in Rawai
The new facade
Ahoy Me Hearties
Unheard of in my history fishing out of Phuket are these February squalls which, to my mind, are just another pointer to the climatic changes which are going on around us, and for the most part, being ignored. Just another sad chapter in the annals of human obstinacy!
I remember reading that, although the government was aware of world’s rising sea levels, they would like to assure the people that this would not affect the Gulf of Thailand. - Must have been a Trump supporter!
So now to stop me prattling on about the weather, how about the guys who introduced me the Andaman Sea?
The Rawai Sea Gypsies
It seems strange to me that such a valuable asset to Phuket’s tourist industry should not be better protected or at the very least compensated for their sub-standard living conditions, especially as so many others profit from their meagre existence.
Yes my friends, the Gypsies look to have won the battle against big business, even when they brought in the muscle and the threats. But now the village is being infested by tourists arriving on road choking buses.
The improved infrastructure of the village looks modern enough as you walk in but it’s all facade and f all else, the Gypsies who had little sanitation or drainage, now find their village overrun by commercial interests and all its disgusting side effects which only compound the previous problems and highlights the inadequacies of the authorities, who historically have been as beneficial to the Gypsies as a morale officer on a pirate ship.
Are we witnessing the demise of the Gypsies as another insidious form of takeover unceremoniously digests them into a corrupt, profit-led system they neither need, want nor understand, or is the “department in charge” the same one that said “The tide will not rise in the Gulf Of Thailand”?
The logistics of taking advantage of these mostly Chinese “Greenhorns” means that there is a very sizeable population of Thais, Indians and Chinese just working on emptying the tourist wallets. All the while the Gypsy Village gets invaded on a daily basis by rubberneckers and those freeloading carpetbaggers who live off the backs of the Gypsies’ reputation.
I used to drive my car right through to the back of the village, now Non-Gypsies are telling me “NO CARS” while they are selling fish at inflated prices, as people believe they were caught by the Gypsies and therefore by buying fish “we are helping them”, while the exact opposite is the case.
Phuket Fishing March 2016
Ahoy me hearties and welcome to another month of Pirate Jimmy’s ramblings.
A couple of months ago I wrote about the El Nino affect which unfortunately for the PGFC’s (Phuket Game Fishing Club) annual competition was still causing unseasonal weather which seemed to have lured all the billfish down here to Chalong rather than their usual Similan’s habitat, for as we continued on our “Billfish Bonanza” which has now lasted since November, while this very popular annual event, although seeing the beasties caught none. The trials and tribulations of fishing, or: – “It’s better to sit in a boat and think of God, than it is to sit in church and think of fishing.”
As the competitors will have found, wind does not necessarily mean swell but it does create chop, white caps or white horses as they are known as back in my “pirate” homeland, Aarrr, Scotland, where the infamous Blackbeard came from. Ow Aarrr. White caps make trolling much more luck dependant as you need to steam right over the fish for them to see your lures amid the surface commotions caused by the “chop”. Trolling multiple lines also needs a lot of expertise, as the slightest mistake or lack of attention and lead to an abundance of “knitting” (fishing expression for tangled lines) and the inexperienced can spend most of their time untangling line and if they are really raw and using “braid” would spend their time cutting and destroying lots of this much more expensive line, which in my view was not designed for multiple trolls especially, in weather, when no one volunteers for Crow’s Nest duty.
This year’s competition was also adversely affected by the fall in the price of oil, as many of the PGFC’s members are in the industry and had been “laid-off”, which in turn led to a few cancellations. So it’s fingers crossed for next year, best of luck guys.
I am often asked about the dangers of fishing and forgetting normal boating hazards it’s knowing your fish and knowing how to land them. For example, the Queen Fish, a very innocent looking fish, but this nasty has a set of extremely sharp barbs along its dorsal which sting like the cat-o-nine tails. And there’s also a method for pulling in a bill fish which will help you avoid getting skewered like a kebab which involves handling the bill from above as opposed to, the more natural way, from underneath. As from above your elbow will break away from your body if the fish decided to kick. Best advice, leave it to the pros.
Basically it’s mostly common sense and really, there is nothing out there as dangerous as a Chinese guy riding a rented motorbike, on the wrong side of the road, taking a “selfie” at Nai Harn view-point.
And this month’s Hot News. Trish is now speaking to me again. I ask you.” What was wrong with “his & hers” spinning rods and reels for Valentine’s Day ?”
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.
Nick & Friends Phuket Fishing Trip
Well impressed Nick, great job. What a way to keep your memories. Well done and thanks a lot M8.
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.
Having read recent articles in the media regarding the Rawai Sea Gypsies, this month’s article is only vaguely fishing related, being about the plight of the people who taught me all I know about the Andaman Sea and still continue to educate and amaze me, The Rawai Sea Gypsies.
Many readers may have noticed that recently they have been receiving a very poor press for damaging coral and selling undersize fish. We are being told the damage to the coral is the Gypsies fault and the diminishing fish stocks are because they take undersize fish. NONSENSE !!!!
Firstly this is their ancestral home and they have stayed here, living off the sea, for millennia, prior to the environment problems we suffer now, and even before there was a Thai population on the island.
It does not surprise me that when their “prime” land is under threat from “money hungry” developers they are now being given a bad press in order to minimize their rights to to the valuable land which they have inhabited for over 200 possibly 2,000 years, an un-provable fact because unfortunately their language cannot be written and therefore they have no reliable records. Unlike normal Buddhists the Gypsies bury their dead and have a graveyard dating back around 250 years which I would submit is credible proof of their history in Rawai.
I personally have been offered some of the land they occupy by no less than three individuals showing 3 different Chanoots all covering the same piece of land that I was considering. Namely a large building just beyond the Rawai “Gypsy” Village which I wanted to develop into a dormitory unit for international university students who wished to study the Andaman Sea, the nursery of the India Ocean, as part of their Marine Biology course,
Having drawn a blank on purchasing the land / property which has been lying vacant for a considerable number of years I approached the Marine Biology department by letter, suggesting that they, with my assistance, take over the building and working in conjunction with the Gypsies use it as a residential block for students from all around the world to study their chosen subject. I never received a reply!!!
I thought environmentally was a excellent proposal, because, as I intimated in the letter :-
1. It would teach the Gypsies, and their many visitors, conservation and how to run a sustainable under sea environment while making them more financially secure, less vulnerable to exploitation.
2. It may also help to educate the diving population not to destroy their fish traps, which I do accept catch coral fish. But please remember the metal in the Gypsies traps lasts only approximately 5 months but the frame, made of Mangrove wood, is the basis of many of the local coral reefs. These man-made but natural hollow structures are colonized by the coral and are ideal for the protection of many juvenile corral species. The same traps, which divers destroy in the name of the environment while literary taking the food from the Gypsies mouths. The same tourists who cause more environmental damage, just by getting here.
3. If you are an impoverished section of society you make a living where you can and while I do not condone the deliberate destruction of coral, the guilty party is not the Gypsies but the company who paid them to make a meager living, while running away with a handsome profit by showing non-swimming tourists a walking tour of “one” of our many coral reefs.
4. To the Department of Marine Conservation I would say. “You cannot change the way the Gypsies operate as they have done for centuries by legislation, with similar laws and regulations that relate to the fishing fleets, which have an immeasurably greater impact on the coral and the diminishing fishing stocks.”
5. Why not educate the Gypsies to be more environmentally friendly. My proposal would keep the village as a major tourist attraction with The Gypsy Village intact as a “living” historical monument. The Gypsies could earn a living by looking after students, taking out investigational teams and finding samples, etc.
They might not be well educated but these beautiful people know the local waters and what is in it better than anyone on the planet.
6. Does anyone really believe the decline in fish over the past decade is due to the Gypsies? I think not, how about all the fishing nets the Gypsies and I have pulled onboard to save other vessels “speed boats” from damage, the same nets the diving companies clear from the coral at the beginning of every season plus all the bags and refuse deposited from the same source.
As well as being accused of destroying coral, under orders from their employers, the Gypsies they have also been accused of selling undersize and protected “reef” fish at their market. Is anyone seriously considering banning their fish traps which are the mainstay of the Gypsies financial and food source? To me all these accusations, at this particular time is an attempt to demonize the Gypsies when their land is under threat from powerful developers, to me the timing of this attack seems to be much more than mere coincidence.
Budget Fishing in Phuket Video 1
Eric and Jerry from Singapore on a day trip on Mena 3
Phuket International Sports-fishing Tournament: the secret of (El) Dorado
Hi once again my fellow Ofishinadoes.
P.I.S.T. The Phuket International Sports-fishing Tournament
Well P.I.S.T. 2012 got off with its usual bang from the starters firework although many of the boats on the first day reported fishing was a bit of a damp squib. I was even said to me by a friend who knows I write for the P.N. “It will take a cunning linguist to make this sound exciting.” And initially I was a bit worried.
For the past few weeks following the annual beach “clean-up” the waters around Phuket have had an inordinate amount of flotsam including trees, one of which I managed to hit, plastic galore and flip-flips (flip- flops for the one legged), which most boats blamed for their poor performance, but as any experienced Big Game fisheroo will tell you flotsam is good for catching Dorado as they like to assemble around what many would consider rubbish. The RBFC team, after a poor start, took advantage of this knowledge and landed 24 Dorado in 2.1/2 hours.
Bull Dorado being the most aggressive normally are the first to strike but it’s always worth hanging around as Mahi- Mahi or Dolphin Fish, as this world traveler is often called, mostly travel in pairs and the females can be almost suicidal when the male has disappeared, unlike my Missus, who would be off to the insurance people, toot sweet.
On the competition, Thai2On released 3 Sail Fish and the biggest thing landed was an impressive 15k Wahoo, a local prize winner if I ever saw one, not like the miniscule Rainbow Runner brought in by “The Rawai Pla Boyz” on the hope of no one else bringing one in. This was even smaller than our “PGFC team’s” embarrassingly small Queen Fish brought in for exactly the same reason.
Once the boats had adapted to the conditions catches improved quite dramatically and Peter Pauli and the Captain Hook Team won the biggest overall catch. Well done guys.
The trophies this year were, by far, the most impressive yet and the fishing competition with the world’s best name P.I.S.T. came to a very successful conclusion thanks to Uwe Schittek and his organizational team, and while on the subject of names, the ladies from Texas “The Deadliest Snatch” on their annual fishing pilgrimage also steamed in with a reasonable tally.
For those not in the know regarding Andaman Sea fishing, the rules are:-
- Know your “hot-spots”.
- Watch for fish jumping, which is a bit of an art, as the Andaman Sea with its weird tided loves to imitate this phenomenon.
- Look out for Frigate / Pirate Birds. These bent- winged, V tailed, toe-rags of the air, when congregating and diving are a great sign of fish. – This week’s quiz :- What do you call a flock of Frigates – a flotilla?
- Last but not least, when the water conditions are scummy, look for the biggest concentration of flotsam because under it is liable to be Dorado by the bushel, the tastiest and fastest growing fish around.
First posted in the Phuket News