Big Game Fishing Tours & Liveaboard Charters in Phuket, Thailand

Tag: sea gypsies

October Squalls & Doldrums

That's a nice sailfish!

Salutation and felicitations me fishy friends.

Once again October brought the usual thunderstorms and squalls but apparently not enough rain to sustain us through our “High & Dry” season, while Thai logic still allows water-guzzling hotels to continue to be built compounding the problem. There are stories about a contract to pipe water down to Phuket from up north, so fingers crossed everybody, let’s hope the job does not go to the same company that built the Chalong underpass.

Also as usual fishing between squalls fishing has been excellent for the exceptionally few charters that went out due to the tourist figures which continue to decline in the wake of an ever-strengthening Baht and a load of bureaucratic nonsense coming out of the immigration dept.

It also appears to have had quite an effect on Thai Airways, our national carrier, which when I arrived some 20 years ago was, without a doubt, No.1 and is now in deep in the doldrums.

Check out the flags on Fish Eagle >>

Check out the flags on Fish Eagle

On a lighter note, I thought I would relate the story of Craig, who some may remember from the Mai Pang Bar, Mr. India Soy, Chalong. Craig along with his pal “Sang Som” in his pocket, decided to join the Gypsies and myself on a fishing trip on one of their long-tail boats.

On the way out we were trolling a line which foul hooked a sea (Krate) snake, the most poisonous thing in the sea whose venom would put land snakes to shame, under normal conditions, I would have just cut the line, but Gypsies being Gypsies, Kung wanted his hook back and gingerly laid out the snake in order to retrieve it. Whereupon Grail to the horror of all who witnessed it, grabbed the snake by its head and tail and bit it near in half, stating “I’ll bite it before it bites me” . The look of horror on the Gypsies faces was unmistakable and the story does not even end there.

As we arrived in the area where we intended “bottom” fishing we were all given hand lines and being the guest Craig got his line first and a short time later as I was about to drop mine Craig decided to light a cigarette and wrapped the line around his hand. I said “ Hey man that’s not clever” to which he replied "I’m Australian, I know all about fishinnnnnnnggggg" as he  was unceremoniously ejaculated from the boat, quickly followed by two of the Thai crew who had to swim in the wake of the departing Craig.

After extricating our hapless fish fumbler from the line, which we assume had a Giant Grouper on the other end, our intrepid angler was brought back coughing and spluttering and when he finally caught his breath long enough said, “WTF are you all laughing about, I nearly drowned.” To which I replied “I know all about fishinnnnnnggggg” at which the whole boat, including Craig, burst into peals of laughter, a day never to be forgotten with Craig, The Gypsies, “Sang Som” and myself.

My last Giant Trevally

As I don’t have a picture of the Giant Grouper but here’s a pic of my last Giant Trevally and also a fantastic run of Sailfish (top) from “Fish Eagle” (above) obviously getting in some practice, in order to defend her PST Competition crown next month. Proving once again Phuket, at this time of year, is up there among the best on the planet for Sailfish.

Tight lines to all, especially to all the combatants in the PST competition (21/24 Nov.) hope to see lots of you there.

September Blues

I was advised this month that my literary talents, which I shared with the local newspaper, were no longer required, as they had found an advertiser who will “actually pay” to take over my monthly fishing column for the Phuket News. So, as of this month that’s me finished, now it’s not me you protest to when you drift in to The Drift Inn.

With the boats staying in port recently, a pirate captain of my acquaintance ordered one of his crew to “walk the plank” because poor guy couldn’t afford a dog.

Although the fishing charter business is slower than usual, which now between storms is mostly due to the lack of customers, fishing has been superb with Sailfish cuing to be caught, probably due to the bad weather which means the commercial boats have to anchor-up making the fish stocks noticeably higher, all except Wahoo which have been strangely absent for well over a year now. Anyone have a theory?

How’s about this - a great name for a speedboat, talk about “high” in the water.

Early on in the month we had a visit from five ladies from the US of A who I introduced to the local Sea Gypsies and generally took under my wing, a great time was had by all, including me. Thanks Guys for the enclosed note, most appreciated:

Finally, congratulations to Jez from Chalong Fishing Park on catching his first Marlin, fishing is always better after a good stir up. Nice to see a freshwater guy braving the briny. Well done M8.

 

So, as usual, as we wait for the hurricane season to pass.

Tight lines to all,

January Fishing in Phuket

It’s Sods Law – fishing was great right up to the start of the “High” season when the spawning tuna flooded the sea with bait-fish and easy food which makes life that much more interesting for us sports fishermen/folks. This is a great example of the exception to the rule:- “There ain’t  no such thing as a free lunch.” Tell that to our local pelagic predators, as they run the gauntlet in a bid to evade the commercial “trawlers” not to be confused with us good guys, the sports “trollers”.

With the fickle weather continuing to discumbuggerate  January, many tourists decided to visit the local fishing parks, who, unlike the boats found the start of the season better than expected with people preferring to stay ashore rather than risk a wee bit-o-weather blowing up their Khyber, while the sea stayed amazingly calm throughout. Unseasonal Mid-January thunder storms cooled the sea and left a film of fresher water on the surface of the salt, this plus the spawning were all blamed for the sudden reduction in what had been great fishing for well over a year.

While we were chasing our tails here, Ian of “M.V. Thai 2 On” reported great fishing up in the Similan Islands which is just as well as he has quite a few booking for these idyllic islands before he pulls the hook and goes one better, setting sail for the Burma Banks. (pic enc.)

What a mess at Chalong Circle with what looks like a permanent traffic jam for the foreseeable future and the pier at peak times in chaos as the buses struggle to get through the traffic in order to disgorge their zombie like  passengers who follow their flag flying tour guide with no consideration for anyone around them. What happened to etiquette and respect? The same road works have also made a huge difference to the visitors to the south of the island and its related effect on the local businesses which rely on this seasonal tourism. I even have a shipmate who visits very regularly and who now says he is not returning until the circle is finished. And while on the subject: – If it takes me an hour to get through the circle at peak times, what are the Para-medics saying about the situation as they sit in their ambulances 3 or 4 times a day sirens blazing and going nowhere?  A Gypsy friend once explained snakes to me, explaining: – “The Krait (Sea Snake) is the 2 minute snake, while on land; the Cobra is the 20 minute snake. But don’t worry the hospital is only 15 minutes away – Not any more, I wonder have there been any fatalities due to this monumental cock-up?

I see the Sea Gypsies are in bother again for allegedly fishing in a National Park, waters that their great, great, grandparents fished, long before the Thais arrived on the scene. Is it not about time the Indians got a reservation, honestly, I don’t see them building a casino.

Lastly, I see via the” Phuket News” that Albania is about to lose its national bird due to Raptors. Please, my Albanian friends don’t be too concerned F22’s are the reason America’s national bird is bald. 555.

Tight lines to all.

News from the Sea Gypsy Village in Rawai

Rawai sea gypsies

The new facade

Sea Gypsy Village - 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. 

 

Sea Gypsy Village - Typical living conditions
Sea Gypsy Village - before the invasion

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”?

Tight lines

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.

 

The Sea Gypsy Village Rawai - Inside the village

Sea Gypsy Day Fishing

Sea gypsy fishing

Fishing on Sea Gypsy Longtail Boats

Destinations
Coral Island, Koh Bon

How Much?
1,800 THB
(person / day)
How Many?
Min: 4, Max: 5 fishing
but can take 8 persons
Important! Please note

If you are not used to the sun wear a hat and bring plenty of sun-block.

These trips are not for young children or the unfit. These are Sea Gipsy working boats and have no facilities.

A day out with the Sea Gypsies on a long tail boat, watch them dive to their traps, try some line fishing and finish with a fish BBQ on some secluded beach.

Don’t expect “Big Game” when out with the Gypsies as most of their large fish are caught in their Gypsy Fish Traps. That said, fishing with the Gypsies is a privilege, not experienced by many, especially at night which is a must for someone who just loves a rod and reel, or in the Gypsy case, hand line.

For the regular fisherman this will probably be the first time you have not baited your own hook– the Gypsies are that attentive.

All Gypsy trips are weather permitting especially in the “low season” from May to November.

Day time trips should only be undertaken with a view to shading yourself from the sun, hence BBQ’s on the beach.

Please note

Booking a Gypsy Trip involves visiting the Gypsy village 1 or 2 days before your proposed trip in order to organize times (tides) and check the weather forecast. The weather in low season is particularly unreliable!

This is a good opportunity to get to know your hosts and organize exactly what you would like to do and for how long, ie. Snorkeling (bring your own gear) Trolling, Bottom fishing, watch them dive to their own traps, dive with them, day/night, BBQ on beach, etc.

It is also a good time to pay your deposit and have a look round the village or have a fresh seafood meal.

Beach Parties

Beach parties for up to 30 people can be catered for and are great for birthday beach bashes.

All the beer you can drink and all the fish you can eat plus a bonfire on the beach!

1,800 Baht Per Person

Included
Meal cooked with the catch
Included
Fishing tackle & live bait
Not Included
TIPPING - there are normally two Thai crew per boat and it is customary to leave a tip
Not included
The price does not include transportation
Please note

All our trips require a 50% payment in advance, the balance to be paid on the day

Sea Gypsy Night Fishing

Night fishing with the Phuket Sea Gypsies

Fishing on Sea Gypsy Longtail Boats

Destinations
Coral Island, Koh Bon

How Much?
1,800 THB
(person / day)
How Many?
Min: 4, Max: 5 fishing
but can take 8 persons
Important! Please note

These trips are not for young children or the unfit. These are Sea Gipsy working boats and have no facilities.

Night fishing can be done any time the weather permits although a full moon seriously adds to this magical night out.

Leaving the Gypsy Village in Rawai around 4pm we head for Coral Island and trawl or jig for squid waiting for dusk when we will drop anchor and bottom fish as we watch the magnificent sunset.

We are looking for snapper or barracuda but the catch could be just about anything.

Please note

Booking a Gypsy Trip involves visiting the Gypsy village 1 or 2 days before your proposed trip in order to organize times (tides) and check the weather forecast. The weather in low season is particularly unreliable!

This is a good opportunity to get to know your hosts and organize exactly what you would like to do and for how long, ie. Snorkeling (bring your own gear) Trolling, Bottom fishing, watch them dive to their own traps, dive with them, day/night, BBQ on beach, etc.

It is also a good time to pay your deposit and have a look round the village or have a fresh seafood meal.

Beach Parties

Beach parties for up to 30 people can be catered for and are great for birthday beach bashes.

All the beer you can drink and all the fish you can eat plus a bonfire on the beach!

1,800 Baht Per Person

Included
Meal cooked with the catch
Included
Fishing tackle & live bait
Not Included
TIPPING - there are normally two Thai crew per boat and it is customary to leave a tip
Not included
The price does not include transportation
Please note

All our trips require a 50% payment in advance, the balance to be paid on the day

No Fish

Hi again my fellow ofishinadoes.

March was a very poor fishing month, being in the hottest period of the year. Yes me hearties, fishing’s been as tough as trigonometry, with the high water temperature, (31C surface and 29C at 10 meters – normal 28C) and it was also suggested it was the spawning season for the Tuna as we could see them but rarely did they go for lures but this did not deter two members of the P.G.F.C. (Phuket Game Fishing Club). These intrepid anglers decided to go further afield in search of the “big” one and ended up at Bungsamran near Bangkok where they landed a 109 Kilo Giant Mekong Catfish only 8 Kilos short of the world record of 117 Kilos which was caught closer to home at Gillham’s Resort, Krabi.

Our pal Uwe, also looking for some sizeable beasties, took M.V.Hooker to the Andaman Islands and came back sporting a 100 Kilo Dogtooth Tuna among his other trophies, while M.V. Dorado on the same trip had to return on one engine and more than their fair share of electrical problems, hard luck guys, the Andaman Islands, while being the ultimate in fishing for our local boats, are always an extremely tough trip.

I see the Sea Gypsies are under fire again, for using their traps and catching reef and undersize fish thereby reducing the fish stocks. Who dreams up this nonsense? Obviously not someone who has been at sea, surrounded by commercial trawlers. Please- keep up to date with the plight of the Gypsies and their fight to keep their land in Rawai from falling into the hands of developers. They are part of the Island’s culture. Make your thoughts known as many now have “Save the Sea Gypsies”.

And how about yesterday, (Wed 17th) a quick glimpse as a big fish went screaming by my bar in the back of a pick-up WITH A POLICE ESCORT lights flashing, ME MAW – ME MAW. Consumed with curiosity and on further investigation we are led to believe 3 dolphins were washed up at the shore in Nai Harn. Two were released back to sea and the third had been injured on the rocks and apparently that was the poor beastie we saw screaming down Sai Yuan on the way to the Marine Biology Dept. at the Aquarium. Well done police and best of luck Flipper.

Last but not least:- Heard about the guy who put his boat in for repair? He was told the boat would be ready on Wednesday but unfortunately he was called away on business and when he arrived on the Friday, to pick it up, his boat was on the slipway, completely surrounded by wet cement. They had decided to repair the slipway, all but the part his boat was parked on, right in the middle. I have been advised there is a word in Thai for logic.

Tight lines to all.

Jimmy

Rawai Gypsies

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.