These days when you speak to most foreign anglers about fishing in Thailand you’ll likely think of the Bangpakong River, home to the almighty freshwater stingray. I haven’t tried for one myself but I have seen these things on TV. Check one out here:
Now whilst I have not been fishing for Stingrays (yet), I have fished what is probably the best known angling spot in Thailand, and one of the most famous fishing parks in the world, Bueng Samran.
This man made stocked lake on Navamin Soi 42 was established in March 1983. Its come a long way since then but is still nothing very pretty to look at, its rectangular surrounded by huts which are available for rent (highly recommended due to the electric fans!!) but its not its scenery that made this place famous. The fact that they serve you beer, and food to your hut / spot is great, but still doesn’t justify its fame (although the Naam Tok Moo is highly recommended!)
Its certainly not the vicinity, as its located in the heart of a nice yet decidedly fringe residential area approximately 30-45 mins to the North East of the city centre. (The map is on their website below)
No, what made this little pond famous, is what lurks beneath the surface.
In fishing circles you see, the name “Bueng Samran” has become synonymous with monsters (and arm ache). Its home to over 10 IGFA world records. Its stocked with Giant Mehkong Catfish to over 200 KGS (yes that is not a typo KGs not Lbs!), Araiparma Giga to similar weights and over 9 ft in length, and Giant Siamese carp all amongst a population of over 50 different species.
The fish density here is such that you are guaranteed to catch a fish (you quite literally get your money back if you dont!) and its entirely feasible that you’ll bring in say 4-5 Pla Sawaii in a day almost all of which will be over 15-20Kgs , although much, much, bigger is very, very possible.
So how to catch em?
If you are on a day trip here I’d suggest homing in on the catfish (Pla Sawaii). It should go without saying that you’ll need strong tackle, 30-50lb class rods, seriously dont go too much lighter than this if you like your rods..
As for line I suggest a minimum 25lb mono-filament although I throw on 65lb braided line on mine. On the subject of reels for casting I prefer fixed spool reels and have a pair of Shimano Baitrunner 6500B’s (which are superb) one loaded up with 65lb braid and one with 25lb mono. I know many prefer to use multipliers but I have never got used to distance casting with them, use whatever works for you, just so long as its got some guts.
So how about bait? I hear you cry.. well the best bait is… bread. Yup these enormous fish eat bread crusts. Put some crust on your hook and serve it up in a softball sized breadflake baitball. Be sure to add some coconut milk and groundbait mix to it and get it into a doughy malleable consistency, not too wet though otherwise it will just fall off.
These bait balls are packed on to a spring like coil which sits just below your float, fished at about 1-2m depth. You cast the whole lot out to the middle, sit back and wait. But be sure to keep your rod within arms reach and set the drag to allow the fish to run as you may not need to wait for long!
If this all sounds a bit daunting, please don’t be put off. I have personally never used a fishing guide. When I started fishing here 7+ years ago it was relatively unknown in farang circles, and there were no English language reference sources so I learned how to catch from the staff at the lake.
They are very friendly and very helpful, they will help to mix up the groundbait, bait your hook and heck some will even try and cast it for you. (but thats not fishing you have to get your hands dirty!)
There is tackle for hire at the lake which costs THB 1000 to hire, but now we get on to the sticky bit.
There is double pricing in force at this lake, yup we lucky foreigners get to pay more than the locals, for both rod and hut hire.
Personally I could care less, I’m prepared to pay what I think its worth. This place is unique. What would you pay for a shot at a world record? Plus I have seen the amount of investment that they have put back into the lake from when I first fished it some 7 plus years ago, and it really has transformed itself.
For more information on this incredible place, visit their website at http://bungsamran.com/en/
Also if the thought of doing this alone puts you off, and your pockets are deep enough check out guides such as the following:
Also feel free to ask questions below and I’ll try and answer the best I can, have fun and tight lines.
Next time: I’ll be discussing some more natural freshwater spots, where the only guarantee you’ll get from me is great scenery.