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Lured by the beach, Khanom.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

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With the fishing being less than stellar, it was time to make my next move. My next destination was right in the center of the hidden tourist beaches. The town itself that I was heading to was more of a stopover place where the beach resorts sprouted off from. The city itself is a few kilometers from the ocean itself but had river access where the fishing boats came in to offload their catch. Their was also a large electrical substation so the town itself was doing well for itself. The bad thing is that the hotels had piggy backed with the “resorts” and were twice the cost of other places. I found a top ten shitty little hotel and after a ride around the town and river was more than ready to take off the next day. Since I had the afternoon free, I figured that I would make a quick beach run for a few photos and to see what all the hubub was about. My usual guesswork worked out pretty well when I found out that the main tourist beaches were to the south so of course i went to the north. The northern road was a maze of jungle shrouded roads pushing through small villages hugging the mountain ranges and the ocean. I found a few actual fishing villages which were maybe ten houses and no tourists facilities. About ten kilometers out I saw the old sign for the Ferry dock where the boats to Ko Samui used to depart from before it was moved to Don Sak. When I pulled up to the pier I was pretty amazed. It was still in good condition and laid out really well on the one side of a small bay. The water was pristine, the depth looked deep, and their were a couple of guys cast netting. I quickly put the place down as a must try. I decided to take a look at a couple of resort places and also to see if a house was possibly renting a room. As I drove down the small road following the bay I found three resorts. Their was the really expensive place that was actually on the other side with its own bay, a moderate resort place with some newer buildings, and at the far end a place that had these small bungalows. I found the guy running the place and he told me 500Baht for the small bungalows. That shot that idea to hell but as I was leaving I told him that I was looking for a place for around 300B. He thought about it and said that he could do it for 300. Cool. I told him that I was already set up for the night and I would be back the next day. I had a plan.

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A shot of the bay from the pier. The far right is where my bungalow was.

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The guy cast netting was catching a bunch of good bait. He had even caught a big grouper. I was pretty excited after seeing that.

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These are some of the shots from my scouting time. A lot of secluded beaches great for camping if you want to get away from everything. There are rolling hills/mountains rolling right up to the beach so plenty of secluded little bays.

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Now this is what I like. Drive up with Amo, wet the lines and kick back. No rock climbing along a 100M of rocky jetty.

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The old pier. The only drag was the fishing boats that lined the left side. They would come and go throughout the day so I had to keep a constant eye when i had my floats far out.

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This was bait heaven. There was so much top quality bait around it was amazing. I was catching four different types of the best bait. When I rigged up I would Sabiki up around fifty to a hundred pieces of bait before I found one that was exactly like I was wanting. Not so difficult when you are pulling up six fish at a time.

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To the left of my bungalow. We were at the far end of the bay which made it rather secluded. You can see what I mean when I said the mountains came right down to the beach/water.

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To the right was more beach and the pier with more mountains.

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Quiet, calm, clear.

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The beach bar with my bungalow in the background.

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This is what I mean that it was like living in a bait ball. A couple of guys came with a set of sabiki rigs and jigged up all this bait in about an hour. Two guys jigged and one guy took them off the hook.

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They guys.

Now pictures of the fish I caught.

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That was it. Nothing. The big fat donut. Not a freaking thing.
But how can that be everything seemed so perfect. Yes, when you start putting together the different positives, but there were a couple of glaring signs that I should have figured out. The biggest factor was that where we were located was right at the Samui channel where Ko Samui was on one side and the mainland on where we were. It formed a somewhat narrow channel. All along the channel the local fisherman used drift nets to catch anything and everything that swims. Basically, they ran nets long enough to stretch roughly about one third of the way across. Multiply that by about a hundred boats staggering their net to run across the whole channel with nets followine every thirty to fifty kilometers and you get a no chance in hell for anything big. No wonder the baitfish were so plentiful. All the predators were wiped out. There were a couple of nice lady fish living under the pier and they would come out in the morning and evening, but other than that it was nothing. I fished all day and night with nothing. The only time my reel alarm went off was when my bait and line got engulfed in a big jelly fish. Beyond that nothing. I ended up staying a week there as I had to try everything and the beach life made a good decompression after a bad session of fishing. So, a great set up but lacking in productivity. Oh well, fishing not catching. Still a great find though.

Slow roll to Sichon.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

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I forgot about the risky part of driving around by bike, the rain. Since having Amo, I really hadn’t gone through the drenchings like I had with Sasha. I still carry my rain gear with the exception of the most excellent rubber boots. As I am on the fishing trail, I sniffed out a couple of fishing villages just north of Nakhon which are also some stellar off the tourist trail beaches. The ride should have only taken a couple of hours being around 80 kms. The first 70 kilometers were really quick and I was right on schedule, but then the rains came and the last ten took an extra hour and a half. Before, the rains would come and go so hiding out under one of the many convenient rest stops was not such a hassle and made the need of suiting up unnecessary. These rains were becoming more monsoonish as i headed north so I just said screw it and made a run for it during a small lull. My usual freedom of cruising around a place until i found the optimum sleeping arrangements turned into a quick dash for whatever was handy when the bucket loads started falling. I ended up shacking up in a run down but being fixed up drive-in love hotel where each bungalow featured its own drive way and semi garage. I was actually fairly happy having my own little parking pad and even spent a hour cleaning and sweeping it out of a buildup of trash. Kinds of reminds me of Roseville, California where I had a condo that had a real garage with automatic garage door. I used to make my fast food runs in my boxers only as the Tahoe I was driving was high enough where people couldn’t see inside and I could drive right back in when I got home.

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Hold your horses now, I know everybody is clammoring for the fishing report, but a little about the town first. It is a small fishing town not village as it does have a 7-11 and 1.5 main roads. The fishing port is fairly modern and set up for larger size fishing vessels. There were quite a few beach resorts targetting Thai tourists but were the usual probably pretty nice in their hey day but not quite up to modern standards and a bit tired. A good place to hide out if you want the beach without the farang bodies.

Okay, fishing. It looked promising when I found the rock jetty that I saw using Google Earth (now that has to be somewhat different, designing your route via a satellite shot). It was your standard double rock jetty protecting a river inlet used by the fishing boats. I was very optomistic when my first walk down the surprisingly long jetty brought a large baitball of some sort of white bait, a few schools of large mullet picking their way along the edge and at the far end a little eddy where a couple hundred little finger mullet were playing tag around the rocks shore.

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During my scouting time there was nobody fishing so I wasn’t able to gauge how much fishing pressure there was at this new spot. When I came back with my equipment in the afternoon there were a few groups spotted around and after sunset a few more hardcore guys came out. They were all still using the fish candy shrimp so I knew they were not targeting anything large. I picked up the requisite bag of dead shrimp as well as it seems to be the rule although I was planning on catching some bait with the sabiki rigs that I had and float fishing livies. Well, it all turned out to be a bust as that solitary bait ball I had seen before never showed up and mullet don’t bite a hook and the small ones were too fast to snag. I resorted to the old shrimp and line and caught a few new species although I would have been happier with something I could of put back on the hook.

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Nice views, a good jetty, but with a sandy bottom and no top water action, I was becoming doubtful of anything big.

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Mr. Flounder.

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These little guys I thought were pretty neat but then they became a pest when I discovered that the sea floor must be covered with them. They are some sort of parasitic sea worm. Anything dead on the sea floor gets devoured quickly. As you can see these guys not only devoured my bait they also ingested the whole hook. The hooks I am using are fairly large so they are very aggressive. The fine hairs are also like a porcupine and come off in your finger. They leave little painful slivers kind of like the Atuna (cactus fruit in Peru).I learned how bad they are at my next stop when I was throwing out full squid and getting back two fat worms in its place in about five minutes. That is when I decided to screw the dead bait bottom fishing and to concentrate solely on live bait large fish.