FL09June - Page 211



From Horton to Paradise
A view of the bungalows from top end
of the lake.
fridge. Once unpacked and showered
it was off to the bar for a few nightcaps, and to plan for my long awaited
first day’s angling at Gillhams.
Whilst chatting to Stuart, Sean,
Steve and Noi I was astonished as a
tremendous crash came from the
other side of the balcony. With open
mouth I just looked at Stu and Sean,
and muttered the words, “What was
that?” They both replied, “Oh, that will
be just one of the Mekong catfish or
an arapaima having a play around. I
thought if I hooked something like
that the next day, it would probably
pull me into the lake with it. Anyway,
after a nice few beers and numerous
fishy stories it was time to hit the
sack. Sean had suggested that I
should start to fish directly in front of
my bungalow, and that he and Gollock would have me all set up and
ready to rock and roll by 7am. I had a
great night’s sleep and was up just
before 7am, showered and ready to
try my luck at the nine-acre venue.
Sean had kindly let me use his box
of tricks, and I had bought some of
Uncle Bob’s old time favorites with
me, the one and only Tutti Frutti popups. Stu had already told me that they
were very partial to a Tutti – well,
what isn’t? I cast out the marker rod
to an area that Sean had directed me
to locate, the plateau, around two
thirds across the lake 50 or 60yds, and
once found, I put a double Tutti popup on the hair, and out the rig went
using a Richworth in-line method
feeder with a ball of groundbait as big
as a tennis ball that Gollock had
knocked up for me that morning. The
second rod was baited with two of
Sean’s white mystery pop-ups that he
assured me worked very well.
So I was fishing, and the buzz was
something I’d never experienced
before, just knowing what sort of fish
Stuart had stocked into this dream
lake. To say that I was on cloud nine
would have been nothing short of the
truth. Just as I was settling down,
Sean said, “Come on, get one of those
deadbaits on your other rod, as there
were a few arapaima rising to the surface, taking in a gulp of air then slowly
disappearing back into the depths of
the lake. Being the very new kid on
the block so to speak, I asked Sean to
bait the rod for me so as not to make
mistakes later on into the trip. It was
very similar to deadbaiting for pike in
this country.
All three rods were now fishing,
and I could just sit back, open a cold
beer, and take in the unbelievable
atmosphere that surrounds the place.
All of a sudden the deadbait float disappeared, so I struck, and have honestly never before in my life felt power
like it. Sean was there in a flash, and
informed me that I had hooked an
arapaima. The fish went on a long,
steady run, and Sean told me to
watch out for the main line lifting up,
because when this happens the fish is
getting ready to clear the water, and
you have to keep the rod very low at
an angle to the water to try and prevent the fish from smashing you up.
This I managed to do on a couple of
occasions, and had the fish on for
approx three or four minutes, but
could feel it viciously shaking its head
under the surface. All of a sudden the
fish shed the hook and was gone. The
adrenalin rush had been unbelievable,
and I’d got my first taste of how these
awesome fish can fight.
With a new hooklink and hook tied
on, a fresh deadbait was attached,
and out went the rig once more. By
this time I’d had no action on the two
rods fishing the plateau, and was
starting to get hungry, so I gave it
another 15 or so minutes and headed
off to the restaurant for some much
needed breakfast. Steve cooked me a
full English brekkie with toast and a
lovely cup of rosy lee. After that little
lot I had to sit there for an hour or so
to let it settle. Believe me when I say
Steve fills you right up – quality food.
It must have been fast approaching
midday by this time, and I was eager
to get back to the swim for another go
at banking my first fish from Gillhams.
So after rebating the three rods, all
were sent out to their spots again,
although the deadbait rod was being
fished on a roving method.
The plateau spot needed some
groundbait balls ‘pulted out to the
general area, and Sean soon showed
me the way to do this. Nothing ever
seems to be too much trouble for
Sean, Gollock, Stuart and all the team
there at Gillhams. You are made to
feel like one of the family, and they
really do look after you whilst you’re
there. After firing out around 30 balls
of groundbait to the area, it was time
for another cold beer from the cool
box. It must have got to 2.30pm when
I had a very fast take from the plateau
spot. The fish I’d hooked moved very
rapidly up the lake, and was staying
quite deep in the water. It must have
stripped 30 or more yards of line from
the spool by the time I could get it
under control. After a spirited fight I
managed, with the help of Sean and
Gollock, to land my first fish from Stuart’s lake. It was a pacu, which Sean
put at around the 20lb-mark, and I
was made up. This fish is from the
piranha family, but a vegetarian
strain.
I was very happy at landing my first
fish from the venue, and was hoping
for my good fortune to continue that
d a y, b u t a l a s I h o o k e d a n d l o s t
another arapaima late into the afternoon. However, I was on the scorecard, so to speak. I went back to the
bungalow a very happy fisherman to
get washed and changed, and then it
was off to the restaurant for some
much needed refreshments, and
Steve cooked lamb chops with
mashed potatoes and veg for me. I
was very tired after that first full day
there, and as it would be my birthday
Tuck in at the restaurant
FREE LINE 211

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