24 hours at Bungsamran Fishing Park in Bangkok

A really impressive day at Bungsamran Fishing Park in Bangkok, which will leave lasting memories for me!

Originally I had planned to spend only the night at Bung Samran fishing. The day would be spent travelling and visiting friends in Bangkok, but fortunately, my wife, family, and I arrived a little earlier than expected in Bangkok, and I could send her off with her relatives and friends sightseeing, and thus the entire day fishing was possible.

So I arrived at the lake at about 10:30. With me I had two strong fishing rods, one equipped with a Shimano Cardiff 401 A, on the other an old spinning reel, which was big enough and strong enough to catch Mekong catfish on a previous visit to Shadow Lake. Also in my tackle box I had several large cage-feeders, several strong pre-tied hook rigs, a good book and my camera. At reception I picked up the keys to my bungalow and the TV remote control, then I bought a bag of bread, chips, a bucket of lam (these are the ground shells of rice grains) and a few drinks in the small supermarket in the complex . Heavily loaded, I made my way to the hut where I'd be fishing for the next 10 hours.

What I found there was fine, there was everything I needed to spend an exciting and wonderful day. There was a sigh inside the hut offering a massage, you could call the masseuse round to the hut. 'Who needs such a thing?' I thought; the answer came later.

In the neighbouring lodges were some Thais on one side, and on the other Frenchman. I greeted my friendly neighbours and watched for a while as they caught a couple of fish.

Nachbarn am Bung Samran

Nachbar am Bung Samran

The lads were obviously experienced and well-prepared. The method of fishing was a large float set six feet above a large cage-feeder, with a very short hook-link. The groundbait on the feeder seemed to be the usual ball of dough and this was cast out about 40 metres into the lake. I prepared to do likewise - I started to mix my dough in a bucket along with a small bottle of coconut extract

which I'd brought with me. I then believed I was well-set, but for a few hours I hadn't had any bites at all, while to the left and right of me the anglers were catching regularly!

kapitaler Mekongwels   Keschern eines Mekong Welses

I decided to ask Thai people what they were doing that they could get bites and I couldn't. Using my best Thai, I asked if it was the coconut extract that was the problem, or something else. The Thais were very helpful and soon I was back round to the shop at reception to buy another bucket of lam, the previously mentioned rice husk powder, and a small bottle of an ominous looking bait-additive.

Wunderlockstoff vom Bung Samran

When I returned to my lodge, one of the Thais came over showed me how to properly mix the miracle bait; water, additive and Lam. The result was a completely different texture than the mixture I'd previously mixed. Substantially dry, just moist enough to form a ball that would hold together on the cage-feeder. I was very pleasantly impressed by the friendliness of my neighbours.

They then told me that my cage-feeder was too small, and before I knew it, a new feeder was handed over from the neighbouring lodge and threaded onto my line. Now the friendly Thai informed me that I could now catch fish, so I launched the whole bomb into the lake and settled back to await results.

Meanwhile the French guy on the other side had a lot going on: for some time he had been battling with a fish that was under the hut, and tangled up in the stilts. Before I could go round to help him myself, one of my new Thai friends was there and before long the fish was landed.

What a chunk! I honestly was happy for for the French - lucky b******d! I'd just put my camera down when I heard a sound from my rod - it was the small bottle that I was using for a bite indicator falling over!

Suddenly there seemed to be a devil on my hook as line disappeared off the spool at a frightening rate! I picked the rod up and struck hard, the fish took off like a moped! My clutch was set tight but still the fish took line. My very stiff rod bent as I would never have expected from such a stiff rod. After an initial run of 40 or fifty metres and I begin to pump him toward shore. This was just the start of a serious heave-ho between myself and the monster.

A little later I saw the fellow for the first time after another escape attempt. He was finally near the bank, and then came in what I feared was the worst case scenario as he dived under the hut and tried to tangle the line around the stilts. With brute force I managed to stop the beast and ultimately forced him to surrender. Quickly a Thai from neighbouring hut appeared and the fish was netted - a huge (for me) Mekong catfish!

Although it wasn't one of the really big fellows, at 23 kilogrammes it was a personal record for me. The fish was released back into the depths after a few photos.

My French neighbour had given up exhausted but gave me his cage-feeder before we said our farewells. The fishing shop would close soon and he thought I'd better have a spare one.

In the next couple of hours I caught two more Mekongs, in the same weight class as the first, and the last was actually already quite physically draining. I could feel my muscles aching in areas of my body where I did not even know that they existed. After a 20 minute breather, I decided then to try again. It was also about an hour before the appointed meeting with my wife and our friends who wanted to visit me in the hut. So I cast the bait ball into the water again and set the rod back down, attaching the bottle as a bite indicator.

Another bite came quickly, and as I struck the rod I noticed how frayed my line had become. I had about 150 metres on the spool, with about 35 metres gone on the cast and the fish about to take the rest. As the line fizzed through the rod-rings, I began to support the clutch with my fingers. What a pointless exercise - the rod bent over to the extreme. Far away the fish came at last to a halt, and I started to force him to return. I was completely soaked with sweat! My heart was pounding like crazy, I gasped for air and suddenly in the middle of the pumping action, the fish again almost pulled the rod from my tired hands. Again and again went the fish - the hard-fought metres of line surrendered , regained, and surrendered again.

Madness seized me - it went through my head. After so much pain and effort I had him at the edge of the platform - I couldn't just give in now and leave him under the platform. The fish was at full throttle: with all his might, he moved under the hut and my rod was bent over so much that a third of it was underwater.

So there I was, my back twisted and aching, in a position that would give any orthopedic surgeon palpitations. In the meantime once again one of the friendly Thai people beside me came over and began to jump on the deck of my cabin. The noise was supposed to drive the fish out to open water, but it did not move at all for a few agonizing minutes in which I am sure that 4 or 5 of my discs gave out.

He gave up! I had won, but was defeated at the same time. After we had landed and unhooked the Mekong I went for a pose for the photos, and I finally realized how much I was at the end. I could not manage to lift brute completely, but instead lifted the head and middle part of the fish with my right arm as the photos were taken. The fish was completely covered with mud from the bottom, where he had tried to escape for the last time under the cabin. Oh well, this pose would have to do!

We weighed the monster and I was surprised that he was "only" 31 kg on the spring balance. How could one cope with a Mekong which weighs around 60 kg or more?

Completely exhausted, I made my battered and aching body as comfortable as possible in the cabin. Now I also knew what the advertised massage had meant. In my case a chiropractor would have been more appropriate than a masseuse.

A little later my wife, friends and relatives arrived, and they noticed right away that there wasn't much of me left. I had not eaten all day, had been shot in the back by the 4 Mekongs, and obviously was in a terrible state.

A visit to the restaurant at Bung Samran should revive me, and so a little later we were seated at big table. The menu promised everything that is generally available from a Thai kitchen. Various courses were ordered: fish, soups, curries, laab (minced meat or fish, spicy), fried rice, fried shrimp and a few bottles of beer later, I felt a bit better.

It was now 9 pm and time to retire to our hut booked for the night. Our friends said goodbye and we took my utensils and some luggage to our abode for the night.

The cabin was great: the lower part was open, the same as my 'day hut' had been, but there was additionally a large sofa, refrigerator, multiple seating, a bench and - on the first floor - an air-conditioned rooms with shower.

After we had inspected everything and I had loaded the fridge with a few bottles of beer, I went fishing again, but with little motivation. I really was fished out. If there was a really big bite, I didn't really know if I could have coped.

In the next 2 hours my bottle bite-alarm fell over twice, but I left it both times. After 2 hours I decided then to give up. I limited myself to trying to get some night shots - without a tripod, so no great results were to be expected. The luminous trail of light cast by the angler next to me then still produced a few nice pictures.

It was really time for me to turn in. I decided to stretch out on the bed; my wife, anticipating my arrival, had prepared the bed very cosily. Before my eyes closed I pictured Bung Samran, with the impressions and feelings of a unique day in my head. I enjoyed the last moments of this night very intensively.

posted on: 07.09.2012 - last update on: 15.09.2014

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