Our flight was delayed for about 20 minutes and after a somewhat pleasantly smooth flight we arrived in Surat Thani airport around 1pm.
This was followed by our longest wait at the Surat Thani airport immigration. More than 1 hour to clear the immigration as it started off with only one manned counter by a dude with attitude.
The flight and delay at the airport caused a chain reaction of a slight urgency getting through a delicious Thai lunch, buying some foodstuffs and clearing the national park and wildlife sanctuary paperwork.
The 40+km boat ride from the jetty to the raft house takes about one half hour and since it was nearly 4pm by the time we set off and sunsets around 6pm local time, we had just about enough time to reach our accommodation before it gets dark. The plus point to this is the boat ride will be less hot and we’ll get to experience sunset across the spectacular scenery of the lake.
A stupendous dinner we had on the first evening consisting of a fried pla rep (giant guorami), a pla krasoob (hampala barb) soup amongst other dishes.
DAY 1 FISHING
The water level in the lake is at a record high. Apparently for some reason the Rachapraba dam authority has not been releasing much water.
So high is the water level nearly the entire car park area at the public jetty is underwater.
So when we arrive at the rivers where we usually park our boat and begin our trek upriver to fish, we can hardly recognise the river. Our initial “spots” are all submerged.
With the rain that’s been falling of late the water is also pretty cold and murky which would have some affect on the bite rate.
The fishing is good but not great as it can be. Due to the other rivers being “unfishable”, all five in our group have to fish the same river.
So what we did was basically break into three parties to work different sections of the river to enable everyone a good chance of catching fish.
Some of us trekked a good distance in. The fish are around but not aggressively biting.
It rained in the afternoon causing the water to turn cloudy and rising even higher.
There was more rain later that evening dashing our hope of fishing certain good rivers.
DAY 2 FISHING
It rained the night before and I did not want to think about what to expect in the morning.
It turns out the park rangers says we could split and fish three of the rivers. So it’s already better than day 1.
Still no one knows exactly what to expect of the day and how it’ll be out on the rivers.
We certainly caught more fish today although not many big ones except one of about 2kg.
It rained again in the afternoon and we are glad to get out of the river just in time although it really poured halfway on the boat.
If you ever fish here, or in similar environments, it is always a good idea to pack extra sets of fast drying fishing wear. You can then alternate between them everyday while you hang the previous day’s to dry. Sometimes there is also no sunlight to help dry the wet clothes faster, just some breeze. It can be miserable putting on wet clothes in the cool morning and getting into the boat in them.
DAY 3 – EXPLORING UPPER REACHES OF RIVER
Went up stream from the get go in the same day one river due to the limited rivers we could fish in caused by the high rainfall. I wish I could say exploring the headwater but the truth is, this is a very long river and the only way to get to the headwater is by spending a night camping in the river.
It is a brutal trek as I’ve already become somewhat spent from the past two days plus not sleeping well every night did not help. I blame the leeches!
The setback to this plan is there will be less fishing and more walking. The good thing about this, is better chances of catching bigger fish.
The trek back out was a solid two hours mostly through the jungle. Leeches galore with the wet weather of late.
The fishing spots are unfamiliar to me as I’ve never gone this far up the river.
There is a lot of wide fishable stretches and the water is extremely clear making the fish easily spooked. Extra stealth needs to be employed. Light long tippet will also help here although the risk of fighting a big fish on light tippet can be challenging.
According to the ranger, there is also a stark difference between bite rates compared to the river which we just fished yesterday is due to the higher fishing pressure in today’s river. Interesting to note.
There is however lots of big fish spotted all along the upper parts. Not letting them see us first and making that crucial first cast count is another matter altogether.
Big deep pools are aplenty and casting into the fast water nearly always produce takes.
We ended up with some smaller catches on cicadas and a decent kilo plus fish taken along the edges leading to a rapid.
Many big fish are seen swimming away from us before we can do anything meaning they have seen us before we spotted them.
There is however one big moment carved into my memory. Right after lunch we spotted this huge log sized mahseer in a pool. I squatted down and literally duck-walked to get into casting range. Made a nice backhand delivery with the fly landing where I wanted it, saw the log move towards the fly and the was a soft take on the surface.
I mentally prepped myself for the line to come tight but nothing happened. The bloody fish missed!
I was drenched in sweat when coming back out. Note to self: get fitter!
DAY 4 – FINAL DAY AND MORE WALKING ON THE SAME RIVER
Like clockwork the very loud hornbill from across the lake can be heard from my hut at between 0500-0530. Beats hearing cocks crowing for a refreshing change!
Another now familiar sound are the splashes just outside the bungalow as tinfoil barbs, guorami and other fish picks off tiny morsels floating on the surface. Some splashes are gentle while some are vicious.
The initial plan was to fish a different river, one of my favourite but an early downpour and looming dark sky put paid to our plans.
In the end it is back to the same river, third time in three days.
We took things easy although we did venture far upstream. There is already another party fly fishing the river ahead of us.
So we trekked in the jungle past them to the upper reaches without disturbing the stretches ahead of them. Caught some decent fish but nothing spectacular.