Fishing For Piranha In Thailand
If you were expecting a bar and BG story please move on as this really is a fishy story.
It all started last week. The past few weeks have been very hectic as a friend was here from Afghanistan, where he is now working as one the many "Military Contractors", and was expecting to "Blow off some steam" after a year there. Needless to say it was one long session of going out and partying and Mrs. Claymore took it in stride. Until another friend from the States showed up and now I was stuck playing "tour guard" (one who keeps his tourist friends out of jail) for two guys.
Things got back to normal when they left and I was trying to catch up on my sleep and giving my liver a much needed break. Then Mrs. Claymore sprung "The bomb" on me. She unloaded her opinion that "We are always doing things that YOU want to do" and I had to admit that I was falling behind in my collection of "Doing good deeds for the wife so I can get my way points" so I made the mistake of asking "where would you like to go my little darling?"
She said "I would like to go to the movies" and my heart dropped as the thing I hate to do the most in Thailand is go to the movies. You have to have gone to a Thai theater to understand my dread. You see first they play the sound track SOOO LOUD it makes my ears bleed so after the first trip I always bring ear plugs that people wear when they shoot guns and for a farang it is still TOO LOUD with the earplugs in. Then there are the Thais that continually talk on their cell phones during the movie. All in all it is not a pleasant day. So thinking quickly I suggested that we go fishing as she liked that very much the first time we went and to my relief she thought that was a splendid idea.
So there we were walking down our Mooban with our trusty 350 baht ($7.00) fishing rigs heading for the fishing hole near our house. After a 10 minute walk we were there, the local "Pay by the hour/pound fishing hole. It had been a rice paddy on the outskirts of Bangkok that someone had dammed up and flooded so it was about the size of 1/2 an American Football (NOT SOCCER) field. In most spots it is about 3 or 4 feet deep and filled with green muddy water.
The owners of this fishing pond had built a bunch of benches and put up small 10'x10' thatch roofs to provide the anglers with some shade. The little cutie checking us in took our baht for the hourly fee and offered us bait of worms, crickets, or stale bread. She had Singha beer and cokes in the reefer and said if we wanted anything just shoot her the high sign and she would drive down to our area on her motorcy to see what we needed.
As we walked down to the end to our favorite bench we passed several Thai families already fishing. They had their plastic weave mats on the ground and were busy eating the ever present "Som Tum" and BBQ chicken. Something was wrong and I couldn't put my finger on it. Then when we reached our spot I realized it was QUIET. Normally when two or more Thais get together for anything there is a cacophony of sound that drives us farang nuts, with them laughing, boomboxes playing, babies crying, and general loud sounds that emanate from any group of Thais but with these guys fishing it was blissfully QUIET.
I had noticed that the front of our thatch roof was all chewed up looking and wondered what had happened? The shelters are nicely spaced about 10' apart just far enough that one can avoid contact with your neighbors without causing offence or talk them up if you are in the mood.
We spread out all our cheap plastic fishing accessories and felt like a greenhorn that had walked into a professional fishing contest as the Thai fisherman on either side of us had equipment that must have cost them 2 months pay to buy. These guys come loaded for bear with poles large enough to look like surf casting poles we use in America when fishing in the ocean for great white sharks and line that looked thick enough to tow a Samlor. I was about to find out why they used all this heavy duty equipment.
When Thais are growing up back in the boonies and they have no money they just go into the jungle and cut a 10 or 15 foot length of bamboo and tie some string and a hook on it and use it like a fishing pole. When they get a bite they just yank the whole bamboo pole backwards and upwards yanking the line and fish right out of the water and flip it back behind them. Well when they are all nice and grown up they can't forget their lessons learned in their youth so when they are using all this nice new, shiny, and expensive equipment and they get a bite what do they do…… yep they yank on the new stuff like it was a bamboo pole forgetting the nice new reel hanging under the surf casting pole and fling the fish right out of the water and then they reel in the line.
Now when I was a boy back in the states we used the lightest fishing tackle we could find. It was a point of pride to brag to all your buddies that "I caught this 5 lbs. trout on this 2 lbs. line". It was like a contest to see who could use the lightest line and equipment. The "Holly Grail" of all red blooded American boys was the Garcia Mitchell 300 reel. In our tiny minds that baby could work wonders and if we could get one it would magically move us to the top of the pile of youthful fishermen. Coming from a family with 4 kids the price of that magical reel was out of my reach, even though I saved all my paper route money and every cent I could scrape together trying to pay for one. Slowly the end of season was upon us and I had to settle for the dreaded Garcia 310.
It was from the same company but it was the dreaded "Discounted model". It worked perfectly well allowing me to cast just as far as the "Rich Bastards" using the proper 300 but it never had the "magic" and "Special double name" of the best models. Using light tackle was a demonstration of your skill even though it took an extraordinary amount of time reeling slowly to avoid breaking your line.
And who could ever forget the "Popeels Pocket fisherman" a plastic rig that was rod and reel that collapsed into a small package so you could "Fish Anytime" they had so many commercials on TV that you thought about it in your sleep. So going back to my childhood days I thought the 6 lbs. line that came with our cheap poles would be plenty strong enough for the 2 lbs. fish around here. WRONG.
So there we were all set for an enjoyable day of fishing in Thailand. Since Mrs. Claymore refuses to put a cricket and or worm onto her own hook we use fresh store bought shrimp for bait. Ain't this a great country where the food is cheap enough that one can use shrimp for bait. She got all ready and made a good cast and got down to the business of fishing. It only took about 2 minutes and she got her first bite and I found out why the front of the shelter looked all chewed up.
She had not forgotten her lessons and she jerked that cheap plastic pole for all it was worth to set the hook and that was the a big mistake as she was standing under the overhang of the shelter that slopes down toward the ground leaving the roof about 5 feet from the ground.
The nice new plastic pole slammed into the front of the roof embedding itself about 3 inches in and then ….. in the process of jerking the pole up she also put about 20 feet of line and one dazed Bullhead fish into motion. Well the backward and upward motion of her jerking the pole left that poor fish coming out of the water at high velocity and to me flashing into slow motion it looked like a D-5 nuclear missile being launched from a Polaris Ballistic missile submarine.
That fish flew past my face upwards OVER the roof and landed dangling down the back side of the shelter. After a stunned silence of a couple seconds everyone, except Mrs. Claymore, broke out in hysterical laughter and a poor Thai guy at the next shelter over had just took a slug of beer Singha from his bottle and he started to laugh and beer flew out his nose leaving a "Beer Booger" about 6 inches long hanging out his nose. After I wiped the tears from my eyes I found myself face to face with a highly embarrassed Mrs. Claymore so I tried unsuccessfully to control my laughter while she "instructed' me to get the damned fish off the roof.
The fish turned out to be what us people from The New England section of the USA call a "Bullhead" and in other regions are also known as "Catfish" or Mudfish". She kept fishing and hooked a few fish but when she jerked the pole so hard that light line would part with a noise like a small caliber pistol going off and she kept me busy putting on a couple sets of hooks and bobbers.
Now comes the Piranha part. She got back to her fishing and I finally got set up and made my first cast. While we had been fishing I noticed a guy several shelters down pulling in a fish and there was a lot of screaming and jumping around and then he started bashing the fish in the head with a length of wood so I asked Mrs. Claymore what the hell was going on and she said "Pla Jelimit" or something to that effect and I said "so what" and she said "Bite you, hurt you". The hairs on the back of my neck stood up remembering the last time she said that. (See my submission "Creepy critter capers" on this site).
So I went back to my fishing hoping that I wouldn't hook one of them creepy bastdards. Yep you guessed it within 10 seconds of her saying that I got a bite and started reeling it in. It was a good fighting fish and I was enjoying myself reeling it in when it broke water and I saw it and thought "holy shit I got a Piranha on my line".
Now I knew why all those people were running around yelling when they caught one of them. So I started yelling for her to find me something to bash this Piranha with. I got it onto land by reeling it in NOT by flying out of the water and that fish was flopping around gnashing the air with it's large teeth and everyone gathered around to watch the crazy, screaming farang jump out of the way every time that fish flopped my way. I finally put it out of MY misery by whacking it on the head until it stopped flopping around.
As you can see from the photos I thought at first it was an escaped Piranha from a zoo or something but Mrs. Claymore informed me "is Thai fish long time" and told me about catching them when she was a kid. You can see from the photos that it has an orange belly and lots and lots of sharp teeth and looks just like any Piranha I've seen on Discovery channel.
So great now I have another creepy crawler to worry about here in Thailand. But the Mrs. assures me "taste very good deep fried".
So that is the Piranha of Thailand story needless to say when I went back to fishing I played it safe and tried my hand at using some of the lures I brought from the USA. Some of the names you fellow USA fishermen may know. I tried an "Al's goldfish", a "Gold Phoebe", and a red and white "Daredevil" all without a single strike.
If you need a break just cast your line in with NO BAIT. It works for a while until your Thai partner of the moment discovers that you haven't had a bite in a while and checks your line for you and re-baits you hook for you.
So there you are, it really is a good day to spring on your wife fishing here is a nice lazy day, the Thais are QUIET (unless they are catching a Thai Piranha), there is usually a nice breeze coming over the water keeping the mosquitoes away and making it seem cooler than off the water. Cold beer is available with Som Tum for your wife. There are no license rules or game wardens in Thailand so all you guys can try out any nefarious super duper, top secret, usually illegal fishing methods to your hearts content but please no dynamite fishing as this place is too close to my house.
But always remember to watch out for those Thai Piranha!!
And the best part is you are providing some much needed spousal "Brownie Points" by doing what she wants to do, but you DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THE MOVIES.