FL09June - Page 214



From Horton to Paradise
to just relax by the bar with a few nice
cold beers, more footy to watch than
over here, and fishing on tap too?
Come the Monday morning, I was
raring to go again. I really wanted to
add one of those elusive arapaima to
my photo album, so with that in mind,
Sean suggested that I move slightly
further down the lake towards the
restaurant end, and fish from there
instead of directly outside my bungalow. I found the plateau area with the
marker rod, and Gollock did the honors by rowing out and scattering a
nice bed of groundbait left and right
of the marker float for me, as I planned
to target the Siamese carp that week
on my static rods.
The sun was shining down; it was a
glorious morning, and I managed to
catch another pacu and also an alligator gar of around 12lb. I resumed fishing after breakfast-come-brunch and
was still waiting for my first Siamese
carp to grace my net. The weather
had turned to slightly more favorable
fishing conditions with some cloud
cover, when I had a very fast take on
the left hand static rod. Jumping up
and pulling into the fish, I instantly
knew that I had hooked something a
bit special. The fish was taking line
from the clutch at an alarming rate of
knots, and the old adrenalin was
really pumping through my veins.
Sean was soon by my side, and at first
I thought that I had hooked into a
very large Siamese carp, what with all
the groundbait and freebies out there.
I eventually gained some sort of control over the fish after about ten minutes, and that’s when Sean, who had
by this time been joined by Stu and
Gollock, started to smile and said to
me, “Looks like you’ve just hooked
A silky-skinned Mekong catfish of
120lbs.
214 FREE LINE
your first Mekong, mate.”
There was not a lot I could do other
than just hold on for dear life and
watch this fish parade up and down
the lake of his own free will. Stu then
said, “Well that’s 40 minutes so far,
and he will be starting to get a tad
tired now, but I should think you’re
only half way there, boy.”
After one of the most arm-aching
experiences I have ever had whilst
fishing, I finally thought I had the fish
beaten an hour into the fight. Oh how
very wrong I was; this fish was far
from being beaten, as he stripped
another 30 or more yards of line from
the clutch – here we go again! After
another 30 minutes Sean and Stu
landed the fish for me – never before
have I felt power like it. Stuart estimated it at 55kg, and the huge fish
was then treated like all the other fish
that get caught at Gillhams – with the
utmost respect – and given the onceover by Sean and Gollock. The hook
hold was covered with a blue
coloured antiseptic dye that lasts for a
least one week when released back
into the lake.
At the time I more than welcomed
the short break to have a ciggy and to
try to stop shaking. It was going to
take all of the strength I had left in my
body to hold this fish up in the water
for a trophy shot.
Wow, that was some result for me,
but I still wanted to hook and land
one of the awesome arapaima that
had so far eluded me, from capture at
least, having already lost four. Well,
that was it for that day, and Stuart,
Sean and I all went to downtown Ao
Nang to celebrate my good fortune.
Stu took us to a lovely fish restaurant
overlooking the seafront; the food
served there was superb, and I just
loved the whopping great Madagascar king prawns served with garlic
butter or barbequed, and then it was
on to the bars for some more liquor
and a few games of 8-ball,
Well it was now the Wednesday; I
had been there for one week, and
Sean said to me, “Right Ladders, let’s
go and get your first arapaima this
morning.” I needed no more persuading than that, and we went off to the
left from my bungalow to the small
bay. Sean had told me there were
some resident fish that really like it in
the bay, but also said that if I hooked
and lost one they would do the off for
a couple of hours. We got to the bay,
baited up with a livebait, and I cast
the rod towards the far bank. This
was hit very quickly by a predator,
and I struck to set the hook. I was met
with tremendous force at the hooklink
end, and the fish went on a 40yd run
out of the bay. Sean informed me that
it was an arapaima, and to take it
easy, watching the mainline at all
times for the telltale sign that the fish
was about to go for a tail-walk. Sure
enough, I saw the line starting to rise
from the water, so keeping the rod as
low as possible, up came the fish, and
what a sight to see! My legs were
trembling, and I was wobbling like an
old jellyfish, but once the fish had
repeated this around three or four
times, I was becoming a little more
confident of actually getting my first
one in.
By this time Sean had called up
Gollock on the walkie-talkie, and they
were both in the water with the
retaining cage. To the left, then to the
right; it really is something else to
witness this when you’re actually
playing the fish. Sean really is an
expert in knowing exactly what to do,

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