Kanchanaburi hooked my soul

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Fishing places like Bueng Samran certainly offers plenty of action, but as any angler worth their salt will tell you catching fish is only half of the experience.

It’s about getting in touch with nature and for that man-made stocked lakes for me have their place, they are great fun, but they do fall a little short.

When I got back into fishing in Thailand, about 10 ish years ago, it was at stocked fishing parks, but after the bug came back and bit me hard I realised I was looking to recapture the feelings of those mist laden mornings at the lakes on the St Germans Estate near Liskeard in Cornwall or PADCAC’s private lake at Cadover Bridge on Dartmoor.

So I took it upon myself to buy and attempt to read Thai fishing magazines, to find some more natural spots, and it was in one of those magazines that I heard about the fishing to be had in Kanchanaburi, specifically on the Srinakarin Dam.

Srinakarin Dam

Srinakarin Dam is Thailand’s second largest body of freshwater spanning tens of thousands of rai. It is HUGE. Set amongst the Srinakain National Park it is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including wild elephants (roads actually have signs warning of wild elephant crossings!), and locals have told me that the National Park also forms part of the territory for some of Thailand’s wild tiger population.

A single story fishing hut on Srinakarin Dam

The reservoir’s sunken trees is home to a great many different species, but when I fish here I target two; the ferocious predator the ‘Snakehead’  (Pla Chadoh) and the Hampala Barb or Jungle Perch (Pla Chon).

Light spinning tackle is the name of the game, fishing entirely with artificial lures. The two species require a different approach, although in both cases  I have frankly had more success going after Jungle Perch who favour a silver or golden spoon fished mid-water, whereas the Snakehead is another beast altogether, and am yet to bring one of these to the bank.

Snakeheads are a highly aggressive predator, and have even been rumoured to attack swimmers who stray too close to the nest, whose tactics I will cover shortly.

Fishing Khouen Srinakarin  is an absolute pleasure for the senses. This is especially true during rainy season, when the surrounding mountains and forests are a wonderful deep, lush, emerald-green, and the rains wash bait off the steep banks and into the water.

My first trip here saw me and two friends (one of whom would later become my wife) hire a floating house… Yup, quite literally, a two-story house built on a raft, floating on the reservoir. Now, whilst the accommodation can only be described as basic, it was very comfortable, and what it lacked in luxury it more than made up for in novelty value.

On waking at the crack of dawn on our first morning, I can recall getting out the golden spoon out and started casting into the lake for a good few hours before my friends awoke.

This time in the morning , was incredible, the mist was rolling in off the surrounding mountains and was just hovering over the water in what was perhaps the most serene setting I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

As the sun rose higher and the temperature climbed (it can be quite chilly over night in Kanchanaburi)  the fish started to bite. It wasn’t long until I had hooked my first Jungle Perch of the trip, and woke everyone up! They are gorgeous creatures, a wily, fast, fish, who put up a decent scrap on light gear. Silver / gold scales with red fins they bear a close resemblance to a roach or rudd, although a fair bit bigger and a lot more predatory in nature.

But as time went on  the action died down,  we made breakfast and upped anchor towed the entire house to a different spot on the lake and  tried our luck at various locations throughout the day (the convenience of a floating house!)

Fishing at the Dam really only sees any good action for the two hours before and after dusk and dawn. So as the sun started to settle down, we left the house and opted for a small boat with a guide, who took us to various little nooks and crannies to try our luck at spinning again. Spoons saw yet more  action with Jungle Perch, but not satisfied with just Perch catches I decided to try for Snakehead.

Fishing is best two hours before and after dusk and dawn

Snakeheads give away their position with bubbles at the surface,  usually on the fringe or in a hole of a weed bed. To target them the locals use surface lures in the shape of a frog with a large propeller at the nose. They are designed to be retrieved a good speed where the prop creates lots of surface noise and disturbance which provokes an attack borne out of aggression from the fish instead of hunger.

Sadly, whilst we did get some incredible strikes we were not lucky enough to land any snakeheads, on this first trip, although one cruelly slipped the hook at the side of the boat.. but the one which got away though was not even of a size worth any more pixels or bandwidth..

I have been back and whilst I can usually get into Perch I have still not cracked the riddle of the snakehead but one day it will be mine!

I do however have a good cure for those who blank at these spots which i want to share with you all.

Heck even if you don’t blank, or don’t even fish on your trip back home from Kanchanaburi stop by at the Moo Baan Dek Village School, play with the kids, buy them some ice creams and leave a healthy donation, and walk away with your spirits lifted.

Here’s a few pics of my last trip there:-

Nothing quite as sad as a broken slide at an orphanage

The great thing about these kids is that fun is always around the corner

Find them Moo Baan Dek on Latya-Srisawat Rd., Kanchanaburi 71190 Siam (Thailand) and visit their website   http://www.ffc.or.th/mbd/ where you can also make a donation.



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