Firstly, I have to admit my ignorance, when I was told that there were Barramundi in Thailand I was very surprised. Thinking they were only native to Australia, it was pointed out to me that these fish in fact populate many freshwater lakes throughout Asia. So I went along to Bor Num Lake with a friend of mine (John); who is also a keen angler and has been living in Bangkok for over thirteen years.
The lake is actually called Bor Num Barramundi fishing park, and the ticket for the day cost 100 Thai baht (approx 2 British pounds or 3 US dollars), excellent value for money. It is possible to hire spinning rods and tackle for an additional 100 baht per person. Bor Num Lake also offers the chance to try your hand at fly fishing; the price is the same which ever code of fishing is chosen. It was suggested to us that we use lures when fishing for the barramundi, we were in total agreement -lure fishing always appeals- as the action and excitement is second to none when fishing for predators using this system.
It turns out that fishing for barramundi is extremely popular amongst Thais, especially at the weekends where many come to enjoy the fishing activities. Though catching and eating your quarry is something that has never appealed to me, many anglers here, Thais and foreigners alike do. You can enjoy these fish in the restaurant for -an additional cost- if you so wish, the fish is prepared by the local chefs to your taste (the lake is frequently stocked, to counter the fish taken for the pot).You can always put the fish back if this is not your bag.
There is not much protection from the sun here, so one must stay well covered up as the sun will easily nuke the skin, even sun block struggles to keep the rays at bay. So a good hat and a long sleeved shirt are the order of the day.
The staff were very friendly giving us plenty of tips and advice, without which I feel we may have struggle to catch; when fishing here one needs to use different techniques than when at home fishing.
The Barramundi have been farmed commercially in lakes here in Thailand for over twenty years, they are extremely aggressive hunters and when hooked give one serious fight. Usually clearing the water with energetically charged leaps, which causes large splashes as they land again, bringing the angler much approved applause and cheer from the local observers.
We found that poppers with a fly attached to a 30lb leader proved to be the most successful lures (as recommended by the guide). Barramundi have a sharp gill plate and the larger fish can cut through 40lb Fluorocarbon shock leader in one swipe. We used bait casting rods 6 feet in length and bait casting reels which are used specifically for lure fishing (they look very much like multiplying reels).
The lake is not a fish farm and it is quite easy to blank here if the wrong methods are used, but if you get it right a fantastic day will be had. The fish do vary in size form 1kg (2.2lb) up to and beyond 10kg (22lbs).
Unbelievably the first cast of the day resulted in John hitting into a monster, with in seconds this Barramundi leapt clear of the water creating much excitement in the camp (the guide pointing out that when the fish breaches the water, it is best to lower the tip of the rod, so as not to give the fish too much chance of shedding the hook) John then proceeded to wrestle for a further five minutes with his quarry, again the magnificent barramundi cleared the water several more times before finally subduing to the net. A 4.8kg fish on the first cast and about twenty more in total, not bad at all for a couple of beginners.
A few tips:-
It is debatable whether to use a tour company or not. If you are confident of finding your way and have your own transport then it is not essential to pay the extra for a tour company. The staff at Born Num is very experienced and probably knows more about their water than the guides from agencies.
If live bait fishing you must buy out the fish, you can not catch and release when live baiting due to the almost guaranteed take.
A small tip is appreciated but not compulsory for the guides at Bor Num – we gave B100 tip for good service all day
The guides are kept very bust usually looking after 5 or 6 anglers at a time.
Food and drinks are ordered via the guide, so you do not have to leave the waters edge.
Toilets are not European Style, but clean.
There is a very friendly atmosphere and the local fishermen are only too willing to help, giving friendly advice and tips without being too intrusive.
So all in all a fantastic day was had by all and we became hooked ourselves and will certainly be returning to Bor Num very soon.