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GONE FISHING !!

line up and you can do no wrong, the next day you cannot buy a fish. However the clue was in the clear sky, whether it’s the high pressure giving the fish the hump or the fact that the sun sillotes the fish making them easy prey for  eagles / barracuda it does not matter which. The result is the same. Got a good catch of bottom fish ( Pla Si Dang, Pla Kee Nok) the last week of march, south of Nual beach on Koh Larn however a week later back to normal. There have been reports in the Thai press of the water temperature in the Gulf being 2 degrees higher in the last year. Giving El Nino the blame, hopefully this is the case as that would mean a return to bigger catches of bottom fish when temperature drops back. Something you guys that go bottom fishing on boats from Bali Hai must be missing right now. 
 
The fish markets still have Pla Si Dang at 80 bht a kilo so they are still round in big
As usual I picked Frank off the 7.30 ferry at Koh Larn, I had started Pla Thoo (horse mackerel) fishing 20 minutes before this and had found a good bite at one of our spots in the shallows at Koh Larn. 
 
I got 3 x 12oz fish about 10/11 inches from head to backbone. So we were ‘right at it’ and by 10.30 the bite was over and we had 20 Thoo’s in the live well. This was unusual as the day was overcast and the tide perfect, normally the bite ends at 8.30 when the sun reaches a certain height. 
 
After that we went to Koh Krok and got another 15 Thoo’s of various sizes 4oz to 1lb. Being a fishing pig, I went out the at the same time, same place, with the tide being 40 minutes later the next day, I thought I was in for a treat. Well the sky was clear and as if on cue the fish just did not show up. Fishing is like that, one day all the planets 
numbers. To try and relocate the bottom fish in bigger numbers Frank and I went close to a deeper spot off the coast of Koh Larn. We did ok, not a great catch of fish, however the trouble with the deeper water is holding bottom. So the slack part of the tide, no wind and the right tackle is required. As soon as the tide starts to run or the wind picks up, it’s game over. You have to pick your moments, otherwise you are wasting your time.
  
 My favorite fishing is trolling for Pla Thoo (a horse mackerel) with a 2-6lb rod a small reel with 4lb braided line (Americans call super line) a 6 lb fluorocarbon terminal line to a small hook and a small strip of squid. I do this in shallow water of about 4-12ft deep. During sept to feb when the big shoals are in, I fish anywhere where the sea is boiling with feeding fish.  This action on the surface lasts for along time, I think I only see 10 percent of the shoal feeding. The Thoo is a smash and grab fish, when he is full he goes to the back of the queue and digests his meal. Others take his place and the feeding frenzy goes on. Later in the year I when see action on the surface and it’s over before I can get near. No fish waiting in line. 
 
All types of fishing is better between October and February after that things quieten down. The average size is 12ozs 10/11 inches long from head to end of the backbone. They go from 2ozs all the way to 3lbs, every year we get a few over 2 lbs 16 inches head to end of backbone. Catching Pla Thoo up to a max of 3 lb (those ones are very rare) on light line can be great fun. The trick is to not rely on your drag, but to put the anti reverse off and let the handle spin round. The reason for this is simple, these guys run hard and fast if your drag is set too tight the line will break. If you set your drag to let the fish run it’s not tight enough to put line back on your reel. As a Canadian put once it’s a “knuckle buster” you have to slow down the reel with your finger. Sounds easy, but the pain can be intense, unless you land the fish, then it’s all been worthwhile. Try this when you float fish for snipe, it gives you greater control over the fish. 
 
As a back up have your drag set as light as possible, but hard enough to reel in. This is important as when one of those 2 lb + monsters hits you will need all your skills and a bit of luck to land him. You can use heavier line but the Thoo’s like a lot of fish here are line shy. My fishing buddy was using 8 lb line one day and I kicked his ass, until he changed to 6 lb. Like all things it is up to you. Pla Thoo have 3 get out jail cards. 1 a soft mouth, the side of the mouth are very thin, the hole the hook makes just gets bigger. The longer you have the fish hooked the bigger the hole and the bigger chance of the fish slipping free. Of all the the hundreds of Pla Thoo Frank and I have caught only 4/5 have swallowed the hook. 2 A hard run, unless you are ready it will break your line, any slack line when the fish turns and he’s off. 3 the bigger ones over a lb will dive into the coral (remember we fish in the shallows) given the chance. 
 
It is possible with a small boat to go back over the coral and try to back the fish out the way he went in. I have done it, but we do lose fish to the sharp coral. Pla Thoo are a good eating fish, most Thais will pick them out of the bucket first. For some reason big Thoo’s are called Pla Seecon I do know why. Fishing this style will also get you snipe (we catch 3 different types of snipe) Dap Tow (short beak on the fishing chart)  dusky jack ( in 3 yrs we have caught 30+ but 15 of those were in one day) and the occasional small grouper.
 
 
Well my first attempt at writing an informative fishing article I forgot my email and phone no. Good at this stuff uh! So it’s plamafia5@aol.com and 0810036785. The phone no is my 2nd phone so text me. 
 
Fishing is a learning curve, any information I have got wrong do tell me likewise anything you want to share with fellow fishermen, catches, grouses, tips send them in and I will pop them in next issue. I will be putting together a fact email, addresses of fishing shops. Past issues on how to fish in the gulf. So if you want any of that guff email me and I will forward them to you. A major item I am trying to get my head around is the tides in the gulf. 
 
The more I learn the more I need to know. One answer leads to two more questions, just as I get some sort of handle on it, something else pops out of the woodwork. So anybody, yes that includes yachtsmen, who can shed some light on the subject, get in touch. It is not just a help on the fishing front but a help with all things related to boating. Shortly I will be doing an article on tides, based on what I have learned so far.