Thursday, 31 October 2013

Giant Siamese Carp. I am most pleased!

Teak Tree Fishing Day 3 was a very mixed bag which started promisingly, middled dismally and ended spectacularly.

A most promising start... the LAKE RECORD for the Black Shark Minnow! This was the 5th caught in 3 days, another LAKE RECORD. But, I don't want to make a big deal about it so let's drop it right now.

Here's another photo of my LAKE RECORD Black Shark Minnow. No big deal, it means nothing to me, nothing to see here, move along please. I won't mention it again.

Our bungalow at Teak Tree Lake.

Hey, how did that get here? It's that LAKE RECORD Black Shark Minnow again. God help us all if I ever catch an actual world record fish! The owner of Teak Tree Lake, Bruce Dale, has caught at least TWO world record fish that I know of and perhaps as many as FIVE. I'm not sure he really knows how many but he has shown me two of the IGFA Certificates to prove it. I am truly not worthy.

 Very cool...specimen Small Scaled Mud Carp.

Now, I know the name "Mud Carp" might not be the most glamorous but this is one hard fighting and handsome fish. It also "cries" when it's out of the water, something I hope we can show on video at a later date.

And now to the exhilarating end to Day 3 at Teak Tree Lake....this Giant Siamese Carp which gave me back ache when I was playing it and a hernia trying to lift it out of the water. (A fish like this on light tackle is enough to make me forget about my LAKE RECORD Black Shark Minnow).

Giant Siamese Carp winning the battle of "Can I Lift Him Out of the Water for a photo?" 

Bruce Dale, owner of Teak Tree Lake, fruitlessly trying to teach me how to lift a monster fish out of the water and look cool about it. As you can see from the first photo of this sequence I did not succeed.
So, Day 3 at Teak Tree ended up being brilliant fun. I have to say that between the hours of 11:00am and 2:00pm the heat was brutal....I had to take a cold shower and a long siesta to freshen was almost impossible to fish in that heat. Chiang Mai sits in a valley in a part of the world where there are no real trade winds to speak of. Teak Tree Lake and all of the other venues we've visited so far are typically mirror-calm which is great for fishing but not so wonderful for keeping cool.

I'll end this post by saying     "lake record"       very quietly.....

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Day 2 at Teak Tree Lake, Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

I will get a little video up on this blog and on our Facebook page but not just yet. At Teak Tree there is no high speed Internet and I have to depend on a 3G phone connection with a wireless hotspot. Download speed is OK, upload speed, especially to get a YouTube video uploaded is dismal.

 So, back to Day 2.

 Giant Gourami. These are the same fish you would keep in your freshwater aquarium, assuming your freshwater aquarium is SeaWorld in Florida.
Another Catla Carp...I really wish I didn't have to get into the water to have pictures taken but Bruce the Owner of Teak Tree Lake (named after "Teak Tree") made me do it at the point of a shotgun. He REALLY loves his fish!  The lake bed is slippery and slopes sharply down to 10 feet but I only need 5 feet to drown in.

 Another Black Minnow Shark,....they're getting bigger. I'm writing this post on Day 3 during a break from the sun which is brutally hot today. I've already caught a bigger one than this today and my head has come out much bigger in those photos than what you see here. 

 Red Tailed Catfish....they make a greatly amusing grunting/farting noise through their gills which we'll illustrate on video later this week. In the meantime do some underarm farting stuff or eat lots of beans to get an idea of how they sound.

 Another view of the Red Tailed Catfish.

 Biggest Red Tailed Catfish of the trip so far but still far from being a big specimen. In fact this is the opposite (a small specimen).

 Naughty end of Red Tailed Catfish.

 About 8lbs of fighting Red Tailed Catfish. A tiddler, really.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fishing at Teak Tree Lake - successfully!

So Bruce the Owner of Teak Tree Lake sets me up with two rigs. One is designed to catch non-predatory fish, including the Siamese Carp which can get stonkingly large. The other rig is baited  up with a Java barb deadbait...on that I'm after the elusive Arapaima, a fish which can grow to 10,000,000,000 lbs or so it seems like if you go to the photos on Teak Tree's Facebook page. I will catch one of these monsters but would appreciate it if only specimens of under 100lbs would oblige because I already have an inferiority complex with people who are bigger than I am, I do not need the fish getting into the act.

Anyhoo, while waiting for a bite on the two heavier rigs I asked about float fishing and Bruce obliged by supplying a rod and reel with a nice float fishing setup already rigged.

It was quite a good day as you can see from the photos:

Jau Catfish. These fish are caught very rarely and you have to be a highly talented angler to catch one. Or you just have to be a lucky one. You decide.

Marbled Catfish...another fish Bruce assures me is only caught very rarely at Teak Tree Lake. He said he had never seen such a skillful fisherman as me but why was he shrieking with mirth when he said it?

Red Tailed Catfish...showing the way in.

 Jau Catfish (also known as the Zungaro, which means "Only ever caught by idiots")

 Catla Carp, biggest fish of the in the water wondering what monster is coming up behind me. Note, this lake contains the Pacu, and lots of them too, which is the notorious testicle-eating species of the Amazon Basin. Bruce would not let me get into the net with the carp which was preferable to being in the lake with the Pacus.

Another look at the marbled catfish with proof that it was me holding it in the photo.

 The Worlds Biggest Minnow... The Black Shark Minnow. The use of the word "Shark" is very cool when naming any fish caught by yours truly but it is largely offset by the word "Minnow."

Showing the Black Shark Minnow....I caught 3 of these today. Note the wet fish was used to unhook the fish and to transport it back to the water. The owner of Teak Tree takes very good care of his fish and knows every one by name. ("Roger", "Bob", "Big Nancy" etc.)

 Well done you donk, you're kneeling on the fish mat which is for the fish.

Red Tailed Catfish....we're going to try and catch a MONSTER one of these in the next few days. Day 2 tomorrow....I cannot wait!!!

Teak Tree Lake, Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, Day 1

We got to Teak Tree Lake at around 11:15am. The owner, Bruce, picked us up from our apartment at 10:00am sharp, the anointed and correct agreed upon time, for our 30 minute drive to the lake. Naturally I had to stop at a tackle shop on the way there plus we needed to pick up essentials such as beer (one shop) and other less essential groceries (another shop). But, we got there eventually and are very glad we did! It is gorgeous here.

 Teak Tree Lake

View towards Bruce and Noon's house at Teak Tree.

Unfortunately the photos can't show you the constant fish activity on the lake so you'll just have to imagine it. Take it from me, there was some BIG STUFF rolling. Question was, would or could I catch one? Stay tuned!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Doi Suthep Buddhist Stuff

Nice little trip to the Monastery on top of the Hill. Cool place.

We did also venture into the Jade Factory there while waiting for our ride back. I didn't take any photos or video of that particular spot because I'm assuming they'd charge for them...the prices for jade there were outrageous. How about a jade ornament, maybe 14 inches high, for about $90,000US? Even tiny pieces, perhaps 3 inches long, were tabbing in at $1000US a pop.

We were in and out in 30 seconds.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Walking Catish, a quick visit to a Thai tackle shop and the Worlds Most Disgusting Smell

One more word about the camera used for this includes a very important feature which is the addition of a really efficient wind noise filter. How many times have you taken outdoor video only to have the soundtrack almost obliterated even by the slightest breeze? In light winds the wind noise filter on our camera really works well and we haven't encountered sound track wind noise at all.

If only our camera had a Smell Filter....honestly, the stench from that catfish stink bait has somehow taken root in my brain like a really bad tune. But the fishing was AWESOME and is, on balance, very pleased. Now, who farted?

African Walking Catfish plus We Forget an Important Fishing Item but we don't forget to take the world's smelliest substance.

What a great afternoon's fishing at Pylon Lake, Northern Thailand. This semi-private lake gets fished just 4 times a month.....but it's by 200 Thai anglers standing just a few feet apart from one and other trying to win the big competitions which are occasionally held there.

My friend Gaz Cooper lives just a few hundred feet from the lake and secure permission for us to fish it today for a very reasonable price. The main species therein (and the only species we caught) is the African Walking Catfish. It's a hard fighting catfish which can attain weights of over 100lb although in this particular lake 30lbs would be a spectacular fish.

 First thing that happened....Gaz Cooper flattens a stool just by sitting on it. Luckily he didn't hurt himself  and is in great shape to break other furniture items he decides to use at a later date.


 The second thing was...we lost our first catfish of the day because we'd omitted to bring a landing net. In Thailand the fishing parks always provide landing nets except your humble and stupid correspondent forgot that this venue was a private lake with no fishing park services. So, off to the tackle shop to buy a landing net. The net you see above cost us a whopping $6US. Crazy cheap.

 Well stocked shop, really reasonable prices, friendly owner.

You can buy a respectable rod and reel combo for under $20US at Thai tackle shops. Yes, they do have some higher priced name brand stuff too.

 Nasty, evil stuff. What IS this rancid shit? 

My wife (in background) reacting to the disgusting smell of catfish bait I purchased from the local tackle shop. 

If any of our Thai friends can tell us what this stuff is we'd be grateful. I do not recommend you use it unless you plan to be alone for many weeks afterwards. The sad thing is....we caught our first 2 fish of the day on it, this stuff WORKS, but we had to stop using it and re-sealed the jar... we were upsetting nearby villages.

 Gaz Cooper's youngest daughter looks on in surprise as I outwit a prehistoric fish with the brains of a brick.

African Walking Catfish, we caught 8 in all, lost 4 others, they're great fun and although they make good eating we released every one unharmed.

 Eating Machine.

 I know what I'm doing!

As you can see these fish were a tight squeeze for our landing net.

 Easy to see how he broke the chair!

Much better, suck it in!

All photos and video taken on our Panasonic Lumix FZ70 Super Zoom Camera. Some of the photos above are video screen grabs and as a result are not at our usual higher resolutions. Still, the results are acceptable and we continue to enjoy this versatile camera!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo, Northern Thailand.....things get so much better!!!

So, as I may have mentioned I took a day off fishing today. (Wife: "We're not going fishing again today are we?" which pretty much sealed the deal.)

So, off we went to Chiang Mai's famed zoo. We paid a little extra to watch pandas and as you can see from our last post it didn't start out too promising. As it turned out things got MUCH better at the Chiang Mai Zoo Panda House. For 20 minutes my wife and I had watched two unconscious black and white bears barely visible at the back of their enclosures. I had read what seemed like dozens of "Do Not" signs telling all tourists and potential panda-watchers that we were all scum and need to learn to behave better in front of sleeping pandas.

Then, like magic, two doors opened, the pandas awoke instantly and disappeared through their respective doors. Along came the zoo keepers laden with bamboo shoots and fresh fruit.

The zoo keepers left, the pandas returned and I can now officially tell your that their names are Munch-Munch and Chew-Chew.

 A word about the camera used for the photos and video you see here. It's the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 60x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD.

 My take on it after days of continuous use is that it takes pretty good (but not great) photos and is much, much better when used as a video camera. I've been having a little trouble with over-exposed photographs which have exhibited washed out highlights. Some fixing with Photoshop Elements has helped a LOT...this really is a great budget photo editing program with amazing photo recovery properties. The photos below have all needed editing to some degree or another but Photoshop Elements has done a good job of recovering what were rather soft and bland photos.



 The video near the top of the page was not edited in any way except to add title and credits text. On the other hand the photos here have been cropped, corrected, shrunk and sharpened. They're pretty decent but still a little short of the quality I need from a good bridge camera. On the other hand the video quality is amazing (even if the cameraman is bloody usless at holding the camera still).

Yes, I'd recommend the Panasonic FZ70 (or FZ72 in some countries) for good but not great photos and Great (not merely good) video. We will continue to use it for much of our video and outdoor photography needs during our extended Thailand trip.