FL10 (All 218 pages) - Page 74



Made In England
(Above) Hooks! From size 4 on the
right to 1/0 on the left.
(Below) There was more to do than
just fish.
(Right) Lin finished how she began –
her and Sean with a 30lb-plus cat.
spired that at the same time last year
they had lost half a dozen fish for no
apparent reason, but now Stuart
started putting the pieces together.
As strange as it sounds, both incidents coincided with the summer
equinox in Thailand, followed by the
74 FREE LINE
first full moon. Coupled with the fact
that the water was like bath water, it
was so warm, it seemed that May was
not a great time to be fishing the lake,
and I believe he will close it for a
month next year to give the fish some
respite. The problem is that they are
not difficult to hook, it’s the landing
them that causes problems, not only
for the angler but also for the fish.
When you go to a place like this,
the first thing you want to do is catch
a fish of a lifetime. Vince’s way of
doing that is to play the fish hard but,
in doing so, he suffered a number of
l o s s e s . B e n , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d,
adopted the Reg Bampton approach,
which was to ensure that the rod
never got anywhere near using its full
test curve capacity. His was the more
successful method, initially, but was
he playing the fish longer than necessary? When I hooked and landed my
first arapaima, I was like Ben; scared
to death of losing the thing. But then
Stuart told us that, because of the
way they feed, if you have a good
hookhold then it is never going to
come out, so you can play them as
hard as possible, with the clutch
wound up tighter than normal. If the
hook pulls, then it was always going
to pull, due to the nature of their
mouths and the way they fight. This is
a difficult thing to get your head
round, and if I played a fish like that at
Joe Jarman’s place, then I’d be out on
my arse in double quick time.
So, we went off to see Thailand.
Elephant trekking, kayaking around
the sea caves, snorkelling around
some of the hundreds of islands in the
nearby Andaman Sea, and an
overnight visit to Phuket, which was
interesting. For the past week we’ve
fished for an hour or so in the morning, and two or three hours in the
evening, and still caught fish regularly. And they aren’t all whackers, but
some are just stunners. The arapaima
was the highlight of the trip for me,
but second came a tiger catfish of
about 15lbs with the most incredible
markings. Stuart told us we would
probably only land 50% of the arapaima we hooked, and to date he’s
perfectly correct, as Vince lost one
this morning that stripped over
100yds of line in its first run before
shedding the hook. We reckon that’s
the 24th we’ve hooked, and we’ve
landed 12. That’s a difficult statistic to
reconcile, and you need to have that
in your head when you get here. If you
think you’ll be able to beat the odds
with this method or that hook pattern,
believe me, you won’t. Vince brought
out some size 1/0 Eagle Claw catfish
hooks, thinking that they looked the
nuts. When he saw them, Stuart told
us that they were designed for livebait fishing for catfish, not for arapaima. Vince persevered and lost his
first two fish, then switched to Owners, and lost his next two fish! Since
then he’s had three on Owners, and a
180lb fish last night on the Claw.
Stuart has a wealth of knowledge

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