My first ever trip to Pilot 111 was not terribly successful. I spent the entire morning watching everyone else catch fish, getting sunburnt and more than a little frustrated.
I got terribly close to calling it a day, before lunch. However, thankfully a fellow expatriate angler (whose name I never had the chance to find out) kindly gave me a few brilliant pointers. I took his advice, implemented it together with a few other choice tips I had picked up and started catching barramundi.
So whilst I’d like to give that guy credit, I can’t, so I will do the second best thing and pay his kindness forward and share the tips that saved me from blanking on my first ever trip to Pilot 111, and my first time lure fishing for at least 10 years (if not more).
- There’s no need for massive casts, most strikes occur 2-3m out from the bank, and many right at the bank! Also try the corners of the ponds.
- Rehydrate, often. Its hot work fishing in Thailand, drink plenty of water.
- Lure colours: dark on dark / overcast days, bright colours in murky water, and realistic patterns in bright, clear conditions.
- Fish with the wind behind you. Simple one this, casting into the wind is a pain, so why fight it? Let the wind help not hinder you!
- Use a leader with high abrasion resistance, eg fluorocarbon, or even a wire trace. Barramundi have sharp scales on their cheeks that can cut through mono easily during their acrobatic fights.
- Gloves are good. They prevent hands from getting too sunburned, and they’ll prevent blisters forming on soft pudgy office worker hands from casting all day long. Think about it, if one cast and retrieve takes approx one minute, and you are fishing for a good 10-12 hours, that’s a lot of casts. Unless of course your used to manhandling your pole for that length of time… err wait..no… don’t answer that..really, please, no.
- Fish a small lure, on a slow retrieve. Less than 10cm is fine. The Rapala minnow deep diver works well at Pilot 111 and not just for barramundi either, I caught asian redtail catfish and a featherback on it at pilot 111.
- If you dont like standing all day, bring along a small, light, folding stool, your feet will thank you for it by the end of the day. (yes I am that lazy)
- Look out for a guy carrying a white bucket… he’ll likely empty its contents of young tilapia into the lake causing a feeding frenzy. As my friend Alex put it, “it’s like cheat mode”. Yes it is, but it’s also a lot of fun!
- Be friendly, there’s a great community at Pilot 111, so smile, it’s not a competition, make friends.