A couple of hours scenic drive away from Phuket lies Cheow lan lake which was created in 1982 by damning the Sok river and creating the most stunning of all Thailand’s reservoirs. At the time of construction lots of natural habitat was lost and thousands of animals displaced when countless square Kilometers of forest were submerged beneath the waters of the lake. This submerged forest is what now harbors a good head of Giant snakehead and other fish species.
Its magical sitting in a small long tail boat quietly paddling down a river creek in silence at 6am with gibbons singing in the surrounding trees, wild pigs clattering through the undergrowth and fish topping all around. This is the kind of fishing that real anglers with a soul for the game can truly appreciate. Everything about this place is alive in the real sense, the green of the plants is just a little more greener, the mist on the top of the water is just a bit more misty than usual, something unexplainable that can not be put into words hangs in the air but is drowned out by the constant drilling of forest insects.
The local Snakehead love the tightly spaced submerged trees and bouncing your top water lures off them seems to be a tactic that works well, in this case the braid line wrapped around the tree trunk and got momentarily snagged. A piece of tree bark broke away and the frog bait lure dropped into the water and immediately snatched up by a waiting Giant snakehead fish (above).
The wildlife in the surrounding National park forest is ever present and this kind of fishing is maybe the best way to see it close up without spending hours of trekking through mosquito ridden jungle. There are always crashes in the trees as Monkeys and Gibbons move about, If you are really lucky and with knowledgeable guides you can spot Wild bulls (above photo) which the locals never tire of talking about. If some are spotted then its really a hot subject everyone wants to know how many and if there were young ones present. The bird and animal species that can be seen really are innumerable just don’t bother trying to spot wildlife cruising round on a loud tourist boat full of people because you will be disappointed like many people before.
Rapala diving lures are the local fisherman’s choice for the Hampala barb / Jungle perch. The lake is a food source for many people who inhabit its fringes and not as you may hope an anglers paradise where catch and release is the rule of the day. Local fishermen can boat 20 or more Jungle perch in a couple of hours if they are working as a team on a shoal that are out hunting. Of course for us the fishing is the main attraction and what an attraction it is. If you are prepared to make the casts and you can hit the right spots with accuracy then you are going to get results. Fishing can be done all year but the rainy season seems to be the preferred time at this lake for Thai’s all though the water can become muddy and not so good for lure fishing.
Top water lures are the most productive method for the Giant Snakehead. If you have the better lures you will get better fish. The specimen in the photo below tore into a Rattling X Killer frog in Green/orange, with a super tuned buzz blade of our own design. The Killer frog fishing lure series are hand made in Thailand.
There are definitely some big snakehead in this lake, 4 or 5 Kilos being a fair size, 6 to 8kg a biggie and 10Kg not unheard of. Other native Thai fish species are also present which is often confirmed by loud splashing sounds of Giant mekong catfish , rohu and others as they play and jump at the surface.