tiistai 17. kesäkuuta 2014

Acapulco major

Just got an confirmation for my old unidentified catch. Mr. Allen from Western Australian Museum identified my 2011 damselfish from Panama as Acapulco major (Stegastes acapulcoensis).

I also want to thank you, Remko. You made the same identification years ago at Specieshunters.com. I just wanted to have second opinion....

After this my total species amount increased to 165.

keskiviikko 11. kesäkuuta 2014

Thailand part 3: Bangkok lakes

On 26th  of March it was time to tight the lines again. We had booked two days fishing at the most famous fishing spot at Thailand. Bungsamran is a manmade lake in the middle of the city. It’s stocked full of catfish, different  kind of carp and even arapaimas. Somebody has said that there’s over 50 species of fish at the lake….
The entrance of Bungsamran.

On the first day our target was to catch two of the biggest catfish species there. The Giant Mekong catfish can reach a weight of over hundred kilos and the Striped catfish tops somewhere about 30 kilos. We had two rods out and we took turns to fight a fish.
The first fight is on...
The end tackle we used. Notice that the hook is without a bait.

After the days (about six hours) hard work Jarno had landed seven and I six catfish. First we thought that all our fish were Mekong catfishes but when I was checking my photos back home I noticed that two of my fishes were actually Striped catfishes. I caught two nice Mekongs of about 40 and 35 kilos. Jarno did not took pictures about his smallest fishes so there’s a good chance he caught some Striped ones too.
Striped catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) of about 12 kilos.
Fighting a monster.
My biggest of the day. Giant Mekong catfish (Pangasianodon gigas).

We had a slightly different tactics for the second day. Our target now was Giant Siamese carp the biggest species of carp in the world. We had two rods out again but this time the bait was laying at the bottom without a float. When nothing happened in a first couple of hours (carp are more active at the morning) our guide left the other rod for carp and we started to fish for catfish with the other one again.
Awaiting of bite. See the bait alarm on the left from the rod...

We had only two runs at the carp rod and at the both of the times it was Jarno’s fighting turn. First battle ended well when Jarno caught his first ever (for sure) Striped catfish. The second fish ran off but our guide said that it was probably a catfish too.
Jarno is playing a guitar with a Striped catfish.

We landed seven Mekongs and one Striped catfish each. The average weight of my mekongs was about 25 kilos and Jarno’s even bigger cause he caught two fish of about 40 kilos.
That's a nice fish.

So, the Bugsamran lake gave us only two new species each. With a lighter tackle it would be possible to catch much more. But hey, it was “fun” to catch several big fish in the heat of 40 degrees….
Our guide caught a Java barb while checking our baits.

That was official part of our fishing holiday at Thailand but since we had couple of days to spent before our flight back home we decided to visit one more place.

On the very next day we hopped in to taxi and headed to New Paytai pond nearby the Suvarnabhumi airport. It a small manmade pond where it’s only allowed to fish with pole rods. They actually have two different ponds from which the other one is stocked with different species of carp and tilapia and the other one is called predator lake with catfish and snakehead in it.
The New Paytai pond.

We fished only at the pole fishing pond and groundbaited it heavily. Still we had only few bites and every single time the fish outsmarted us. They even took off or broke our lines. At least we could see several fish landed by the local competition fishermen. I just think our travel whip rods were not made for this kind of fishing….
Local fisherman fights a Bighead carp. Look how flexible his rod is...
...and he caught a nice carp.

All in all our vacation was awesome and I managed to catch 18 new fish species plus two still unidentified species. Thanks Jarno for planning our trip and for the crew and guides of FishSiam!

Thailand part 2: Mae Klong River

From the Khao Laem we headed to our next destination which was a Mae Klong River situated about 100 kilometers west from Bangkok. Here our primary target species was a Freshwater whipray which can reach an impressive weight of over 500kg.  Jarno had booked three days of fishing so we had fair chances to catch at least one ray.
Picture taken from our hotel balcony. We were situated right in the middle of the famous Amphawa river market.

Before we got fishing we had one days day off which we spent sleeping of our sleep debts and checking out the shore fishing possibilities nearby.
By this promenade was going to be our shore fishing spot for couple of afternoons.

Next morning our fishing guides picked us up with a boat straight from our hotel door. We drove about five kilometers downstream where the deckhands had already set our baits out. Now it was all about waiting. Unexpectedly the first run came really soon. Jarno admitted the first turn to me and after a few minutes easy fight our crew netted my first ever whipray. It was a small specimen estimated about ten kilos.
A small specimen of Himantura chaophraya.

After we had released my ray Jarno and I set up our light rods and tried to catch some smaller species. We caught one small catfish each. Then our guide had a call that there was bigger fish on at one of our baits.
Arius nenga. I didn't find any english name for it.

A bait used for rays.

Well it was Jarno’s turn to fight a fish and what a fight it was. It took little bit less than an hour of sweating and huffing and puffing until we could see the fish first time. As you can see from the following video the landing of the ray was not easy either. It was a one massive fish!

Quite soon after Jarno’s ray had majestically glided back to her own element there came another bite. It was my turn again and the guides estimated the fish to be between 50 to 100 kilos. Sadly the super strong Owner Mutu hook snapped after a few minutes fight. Well you can’t have all, can’t you?
A bit bigger specimen. Estimated to 210kg.
This fight ended way too soon....

Since we had some fishing time left we went back to the shore to wait new bites. While awaiting we casted our light rods out again. I caught only one fish but how cool it was. It was a Spotted green goby and it looked just like a soft bait with a green glitter inside it.
Acentrogobius viridipunctatus. Look at the glitter on it!

There was no more ray bites to come and we headed back to our hotel. In the afternoon we headed to the promenade of Amphawa to do some fishing. Soon I spotted couple of archerfishes cruising on the surface. I dropped my hook baited with bread near to them I they vanished immediately. But then something unexpected happened. My float dived under and the result was a Smallscale archerfish, one of the coolest species I’ve ever caught.
Smallscale archerfish (Toxotes microlepis).

A bit later Jarno decided to leave back to the hotel since he haven’t caught a single fish. I stayed and it was a right decision. I found a nice little eddy by the river wall and managed to catch four fish from there. The best part was than all of them were different species. One of them was another archerfish and the three new species were Silver barb, Red tailed tinfoil and Spotted scat. I also dropped few fish on the lift cause the wall was about two meters high and I didn’t have any landing net with me. At least one of the fish I dropped would be a new species.
Red tailed tinfoil barb (Barbonymus altus).
Very rough looking Java barb (Barbonymus gonionotus).
Spotted scat (Scatophagus argus).

Day two at the river was a bit quieter. We had only one run on our ray baits and since I lost last fish day before it was my turn again. It was not a huge fish this time either but I managed to double my whipray record with a fish estimated to twenty kilos.
The release.

It was quiet with the light rods also. Jarno caught one more catfish, one Tinfoil barb (new species) and from the delta of the river he caught a small breamlike fish which later identified as a Pacific seabream. I also caught one new species (still unidentified) when I lifted up a tiny little catfish with my whip rod.
This little fellow is still unidentified.

On the afternoon shore fishing trip we focused to catch a needlefish that were cruising on the surface. There was lot of them but they were not easy to catch. Still Jarno managed to catch two of them quite quickly and I really struggled with them. The only way to have their interest was to pull the worm rapidly from the front of them and if they hit you just had to hope the hook will stay on their bony beak. It was almost time to left back to hotel when I finally caught one also.
Jarnos Spottail needlefish.
Strongylura strongylura

On day three we had plenty of time to fish with our light tackle cause we didn’t have any bites on the ray baits. We parked to the pier of the big hotel. There was also a nice looking river wall. By the wall we caught few Spotted scats. It was a new species for Jarno. We also tried to fish from the deeper water but it was apparently the kingdom of the “nenga-catfish”. Then I found out that the hotel had a small pond on their property too and there was some fish swimming on it. I think that the pond had a connection to the river too. From the pond I managed to catch two more Red tailed tinfoils and as a new species one Tinfoil barb and an Blue tilapia. So after all it was not so bad day at all.
Tinfoil barb (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii).

Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus).

When we got back to the hotel it was again time to pack our bags and head back to Bangkok where we had couple of more fishing days booked.
Some local wildlife