|Arapaima Fishing Park located at the Kamphaeng Saen District|
While i was in Bangkok for the Thailand Fishing Expo (TFE2018), I was able to squeeze in a day to check out the new Arapaima Pond that had recently caught the interest of many on Facebook. My trip arrangements were made by BadBoy and he kept me updated on the catch report and the lures that were working through Whatsapp regularly before i flew over. Based on his information, i was able to narrow down my lure selection and go shopping.
Now it's well known that ponds in Thailand feed Tilapia (both live and dead) to their livestock. So i decided to try and match the hatch with the Jackall Giron swimbaits. I usually use a treble hook in the middle and crank as slow as i can go. I thought that the Barramundi or the Red Tail Catfish in the pond might take a fancy to these guys. These were the only hard body lures that i decided to bring as BadBoy told me in one of our text exchanges that soft plastics were getting more hits than hard body lures.
As with all catch and release ponds, the fish become smarter after being caught a couple of times and become wary if the presentation of the lure isn't right. Although this pond is relatively new, the number of anglers visiting it has been high. To keep the bite rate going, the operator has a feeding routine mid day, when he throws out a mixture of live and dead tilapia. The Imakatsu Javagill has the unique ability to fall on it's side as it sinks slowly making it the perfect imitation to the dead tilapia. Thanks to the guys at Lure Haven for alerting me to it's availability and showing me how to rig it.
|Kaigyo Garage Gummy Jr|
I also had the privilege of taking the Gummy Jr from Kaigyo Garage for a spin before it launches officially here in Singapore. The swim action on this slow sinking soft plastic even on the slowest crank and slightest twitch is absolutely life like. These were rigged with Decoy KG wide Magnum offset hooks. I'll cover more about this lure in my next post.
To round off my selection, i picked up a pack of the 6" Swimmerz from the ever reliable Zman. These i paired with a 7g 6/0 TT jighead. I was hoping that the oversized paddle tails would trigger some bites if all the others failed to provoke or entice the fish.
|The entrance to the expo at Bangna Mall|
The Thai Fishing Expo wasn't big but it was a very well organised consumer show. It was held at the Bangna Mall and i found this rather clever as this would allow the Fathers, Brothers, Husbands and Boyfriends to bring their loved ones along and have a nice lunch before some tackle shopping and possibly catch a movie after! For more photos on the booths and products showcased, please visit the TFE2018 Facebook Page. I had loads of fun hanging out at the Adventure Tad booth!
|Adventuretad Booth and Ladies.|
BadBoy stopped by for a chat and introduced me to some local lure makers who had some really nice stuff. For those of you who are too lazy to go check out the pictures on Facebook and want a brief summary of the highlights at the expo. I got you. You are welcome. Leave a comment for me to show your appreciation. :P
|Well i suppose Thailand has a HUGE market for artificial bait enhancements.|
|I had no idea what she was saying but she looked like she knew her way around rods.|
|She reeled them in with her microphone skills. ;)|
|Bustbaits anyone? Oops I meant Buzzbaits from the legandary Owen-Z|
Ok let's not digress too much. :P The next morning BadBoy picked us up at 5am and we travelled for about two hours with a stop in between for some breakfast at McDonald's. BadBoy was telling us that the Ironman Group from Malaysia were fishing the day before and ended up with 4 Arapaima caught on lures between 7 anglers and that fishing was tough due to the rainy weather.
|The sun was rising as we arrived|
It was not exactly what i wanted to hear but hey at least he was honest. The sun was shinning brightly when we arrived and i thought that the break in the rainy weather might give us a better chance. The pond's infrastructure is still in it's infant stages and i would advise using flip flops when you go there and change into these awesome non-stick ninja shoes that the pond provides. Else you are going to get stuck in soft sticky mud. I am a US size 12 and i didn't have any problems fitting into the neoprene slip ons.
|Barramundi on the Imakatsu Javagill before the storm|
We set up our gear and commenced fishing. The fish were super wary. They had absolutely no interest in hardbody lures. The pond was pretty shallow except in the middle where it was about 6-7 meters deep. It was mud based and there was hardly any structure. I caught a Barramundi on the Imakatsu Javagill about an hour into fishing. I let the lure sink to the bottom and lifted my rod tip gently about 30cm and let the lure fall back down. The lure was taken on the drop and i had my first photo for the day. This was followed by a severe downpour and fishing became both uncomfortable and unproductive.
|Big Paima on Zman SwimmerZ|
After a couple of hours of relentless rain we had a respite. The break in the weather saw Herman hook up on the Zman SwimmerZ, while i dropped a fish on the Kaigyo Garage Gummy Jr. Both Arapaimas were hooked using a lift and drop method. Soft Vibes would have worked well with the same method i feel.
The fish are are handled with extreme care and released quickly after a photo. Arapaima suck in their prey much like Barramundi and this means the lures are lodged deep in the fish's throat should it commit to eating the lure. The pond allows the use of a single treble hook as it provides better hook up but it must be de-barbed.
|Cutie Pie got fooled by the Imakatsu Javagill|
The fish were spooked after Herman's catch so the owner decided to increase their activity by feeding them. Now i have seen my fair share of feeding/chumming when the action heats up and the fish go into a frenzy, hitting everything that falls into the water. But this was different. The fish did not come to feed at all. In fact they avoided the area altogether. It was only after about half an hour that they started to feed cautiously. We could tell by the bubbles coming up. Derek threw in the Imakatsu Javagill after noticing a series of bubbles and was hooked up to a little guy who took the lure as it sank.
|Smile for the camera!|
The fish switched off again after that. Only emerging occasionally to breathe. It wasn't until 3pm that they started becoming more active. BadBoy told us to begin sight casting for them, much like how we target snakehead. This was more productive and we hooked up and dropped two bigger fish on the Kaigyo Garage Gummy Jr. Accuracy was key as you had to place the lure within the fish's plane of decent as it went back down. While i love my Stella, Baitcasters are more suited for this approach.
|Hooked Up Finally!|
Finally hooked onto one barely 3 meters out. It was hooked up on a Kaigyo Garage Gummy Jr that was modified with a treble hook. The fish wasn't as big as the one that i had caught at Amazon BKK a few years back but it put up a good fight. The Feed Jungle and Stella 3000 Combo with the Pe1.5 Crimson Nine-X line held up well and the fish was landed without any complications.
|Looks small on me as usual.|
I had a feeling that this fish was going to be our swan song and so i called my fishing buddies Herman and Derek to get into the water with me for a group photo for which they sportingly obliged. It was a tough fishing trip that was made better with their company. Though i am not particularly fond of freshwater fishing, i learnt a lot from BadBoy about Arapaimas and how they behave.
|Alright boys let's all get our underwear wet again.|
This pond is still a work in progress and i believe the fishing will improve as the number of livestocks increase and the water stabilises after the rainy season. Slow sinking soft plastics and vibes are the way to go currently. It will be best to check with BadBoy closer to your trip and make a decision on what to bring. My top two performers on this trip are definitely the Imakatsu Java Gill and the Kaigyo Garage Gummy Jr.
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