torstai 1. toukokuuta 2014

Thailand part 1: Khao Laem Dam

At the middle of the March me and my species hunting buddy Jarno left to a couple of weeks fishing holiday to Thailand. During our trip we visited three completely different fishing spots with variable target species.

After a couple of days shopping and relaxing at Bangkok we headed to the province of Kanchanaburi. There our destination was a huge reservoir of Khao Laem Dam.
We did some street fishing at the Bangkok canals also. All we caught was dozens of plastic bags.
Our floating village at the Khao Laem Dam.

We were supposed to fish three full days but cause we arrived to our floating accommodation well before dark I couldn’t help myself to pick up my short whip rod and go after the fish swimming right next to us. Quite soon I caught my first fish of the trip. It was a juvenile Giant gourami.
Giant gourami (Osphronemus goramy).

After sunset it was time to continue the fish hunt with the head lamps. About half an hour later I noticed some movement between the bamboo trunks our accommodation was built on. With a little bit of teasing I managed to get the fish bite and I swung my second species up to my hands.
Marbled goby (Oxyeleotris marmorata). Cool looking fish!

Next morning it was time to go after our main target Giant snakehead. On the forenoon trip I didn’t have a single bite but luckily Jarno caught two smallish snakeheads so his mission was already accomplished. We fished a little bit at the lunch break too but all I caught was another Giant gourami. There was some Tilapias living under our “village” but they were very wary. Bread, crab and Power Bait worms were all rejected by them.
Jarno with his first ever Giant snakehead.

On the night trip I failed four bites (probably all snakeheads) before I finally managed to hook a fish. After a nice fight our guide Nui netted my fish. It was not a snakehead but nice sized Hampala barb. A bit later Jarno caught his Hampala barb too.
...and Jarno's Hampala barb.

After dinner I caught couple of more Marbled gobies and we both lost a small Cobra snakeheads which is one of the most rare snakehead species on the area. Jarno instead caught a nice little catfish.
Asian redtail catfish.

On the second morning I saw a school of Bonylip barbs swimming nearby and it didn’t take long to catch one. This little fish had the honor to be the species number 150 on my life list. When we were boat fishing I once again failed few bites while Jarno caught two more snakeheads. My time came when we got back to a lunch break. I saw a small school of tiny little fish I thought were some kind of sticklebacks. I dropped a size 26 hook with a tiny bit of crab between them and one of them nailed my bait immediately. Well, it was not a stickleback but a nice little gourami. I also caught a small Hampala barb and after I found a small snail to use as a bait I managed to lure up one of the Tilapias hanging around our village.

Bonylip barb (Osteochilus vittatus).
Croaking gourami (Trichopsis vittata).
Juvenile Hampala barb.
Nile tilapia, I think?

Then it was time to hit the “road” again. On our afternoon trip we put some efforts after Striped snakehead but Jarno failed to catch’em though he caught two more Giant snakeheads with Vibrax spinners and I caught one small Hampala with a frog popper. For the last couple of hours we got back to the “real” Giant snakehead waters and when there was about half an hour fishing time left I finally caught my snakehead too. It was a small specimen but I was still really happy to catch one.
You don't see me smile this widely very often.....

Night fishing in the village did not give me a single fish. I saw the whiskers of the catfish between the bamboo poles but the fish totally ignored my baits.

Because we both had already caught a Giant snakehead on the third and our last day at Khao Laem Dam we wanted to put all our efforts after Striped snakehead. Well, Jarno caught two snakeheads but again they were both Giants. He also caught two small Hampala barbs and surprisingly (yeah right) I caught nothing. To prove we were fishing at the right area our guide Nui caught two small Striped snakeheads from the spots we had already casted over.
Releasing of snakehead
Our guide Nui and a Striped snakehead (Channa striata).

On the break I once again grabbed  my little whip rod and got after the mini species. But I didn’t catch any more new species but two more Croaking gouramis. The Khao Laem Dam gave me seven new species (well the tilapia is still unidentified) which was a satisfying result. Now it was time to move on……Part 2 coming soon.