I arrived at Bungsamran Lake at 6am on the dot, just as the daylight was beginning to appear. It was a beautiful morning with very little breeze, the surface of the Lake was like a mirror only being disturbed by the appearance of some of the huge fish that lurk in this world class fishing water.
Khun Boonsong mixed the bait while he waited for me to set my rods up, the apprehension of the first cast still makes my heart beat that much faster here. Khun Boomsong is one of the leading carp specialist guides working here and what he does not know about Siamese Carp is not worth knowing.
The bait that he had mixed was a combination of baby milk powder, custard cream flavour, sweet corn with a few other secret ingredients (he calls it his mega mix carp bait); all this was added into the base mix of rice bran. This blend is a much wetter combination than the one we use to catch the Mekong Catfish.
Nothing had happened for the first half hour, so Boonsong had gone to buy breakfast; he had not been gone thirty seconds, when bingo, I had a bite, the fish ran and the line was screaming off the reel, then it just stopped (probably sensing the hook). I wound the reel to take up the slack line, I thought, maybe it had shed the hook, suddenly the line tightened as the fish moved, I immediately struck and set the hook firmly in its mouth; the fight was on!
After the initial excitement of hooking into the fish, I had started to look for hints as to what kind of fish it was. From my previous experiences, the Striped Catfish and the Mekong Catfish are similar; they tend to run with the bait stripping line off the reel at a fantastic rate. The Mekong and the smaller striped Catfish give long hard runs, which slowly curve in a “C” or a wide “S” shaped course.
The Siamese Giant Carp tend to run deep and turn suddenly in an almost zig zag path. It is hard to believe that these fish when in the water are completely weightless and you are just fighting its sheer power.
My line carved a classic letter “Z” and I was fairly certain that I had a carp on the end of the line. I knew I had to take my time and play the fish, unlike the Giant Mekong Catfish the Carp has a very soft mouth and too much drag will pull the hook out. I decided to back off the drag slightly; I used an Accurate Boss Magnum 870 with Lever Drag, very fine consistent adjustments to the drag are easily achieved without moving your hands from the rod and reel. They are much easier to use than a fixed spool reel especially when fishing for the larger specimens.
My aim at this point was to tire the fish as quickly as possible and keep it out as far as I could; the Siamese Giant Carp are renowned for appearing to give up and roll over, then at the last minute making a dash for freedom (there are many bungalows surrounding the lake and a pier splitting it in half, many fish have been lost in between the supports and stanchions).
The fight was ten minutes in and I had made progress, the fish was tiring -it was not the only one, my arms were beginning to ache. After another five minutes of struggle, it made a determined sharp turn, which actually brought its side out of the water, it was a Siamese Carp.
The Carp made several more sharp turns and then typical to these creatures, it feigned submission, which I had been ready for. I shifted to one side and instead of letting the fish run underneath the bungalow we were in, I moved it towards the left, increasing the drag slightly and with some fancy footwork (I new those ballet lessons would come in handy one day) the last ditched run for the snags was foiled.
The carp made its last attempt to go deep, kicking up the silt -causing lots of bubbles of natural gas, which is trapped in the bottom of the lake- but by this time it was exhausted so was I, but the fish did not know that, Boomsong appeared, with the landing net in hand I was never more pleased to see him, he quickly prepared the deck to receive the fish.
We unhooked the line from its mouth and we also removed another snapped line from a previous battle which it had obviously won.
The Siamese Giant Carp weighed in at 25.3Kg 56lbs which was quickly returned to the lake after a couple of photographs for the album.
Guided by Khun (Mr.) Boonsong
Jason Butler is a free lance writer. He is currently residing in Thailand and enjoying life. Writing articles on Fishing and Steam engine models is a passion of his. He is also a scuba Diving Instructor with over ten years experience.