BANG LANG DAM, THAILAND – 16 NOV 2019
Its been a while since I wrote something in Fishyology. Just completed my first year in PhD and things are about to get even busier, at least I’m done with the class and exam. Now I have some time to go out fishing and not to get to tied up with work. Its been a great year so far. Fishyology still runs, as usual, we had a busy month in September in Rompin. Back to the office in October get some research done and finally, Epul called me that there is a slot opening to Bang Lang National Park. Didn’ hesitate a bit lol, called Badrul to get him on board and set to join the trip. I’ve been to Bang Lang National Park last year, we just didn’t get the most out of the place last time. Hopefully, this time around we can get a better result.
We set off from Astro Broadcast HQ around 10.30 pm and reached Pengkalan Hulu Border Checkpoint 6.00 am the next morning. That is after 2 stop for some late supper and breakfast. It’s a long drive along the dark twisty road from Gerik to Pengkalan Hulu. Once we reach the gate, it took us about an hour to get the whole cross-border process done. From the checkpoint, we drove for another 1.5 hours until finally reach Sri Bang Lang houseboat embark point. This time around, we didn’t stop for breakfast as the houseboat has already prepared it. Nothing better than Nasi Kerabu, ala local haha. Rice with thinly sliced vege and a mixture of coconut fish condiments. Even to write about makes me wanna go find Nasi Kerabu tomorrow :P. After a quick breakfast and set up all the fishing gear, we set off to start our first day!
As quoted from Electicity of Generating Authority of Thailand, “According to the Pattani River Basin Development Plan, the construction of Bang Lang Dam would be the first water resource development for the lower South. Bang Lang Dam was built across Pattani River at the area of Ban Bang Lang, Bang Lang Dam Sub-district, Ban Nang Sta District, Yala Province. The construction of Bang Lang Dam in Yala Province approved by the Cabinet on April 3, 1973, commenced in July 1976 and was completed in June 1981. During the construction, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej visited the construction site three times. On 27 September 1981, His Majesty accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn performed the opening ceremony of Bang Lang Dam.”
The first day didn’t go too well, clearly, we were tired from the long drive and we end up fishing for a short session in both morning and evening. I think I was the only one who caught a fish on the first day. It turned out fishing was a bit tougher than usual. We always turned out on the wrong timing haha. Still, it was a great way to spend time with friends “the usual go-to excuse”. The houseboat travelled deeper into Bang Lang lake, hoping to get a better catch result in a different part of the lake. I couldn’t care less about the catch result, as long as I’m out here, I’m gonna be just fine.
Day 2, Lets get it going boys!
Feel refreshed for the second day and we just straight head back fishing after our breakfast. We travelled deeper towards Hala-Bala but after several stops at some fishing point, we just not getting any bite. Unusual for a hot spot and throughout the morning session we have been asking several other boats and they are not getting any bite too. Started to feel we are F!@# for this trip but we just keep on trying from one area to another. We did stop by a small creek that flows down the main lake. It was my first cast on Ima Skimmer, and suddenly as it passed the grassed BOOM! Got my first hit! It was such a great relief finally we get a better size fish but not the usual trophy size.
We stayed the same spot and clearly we can see Sebarau chasing bait fish, I wanna get Bard to catch one. On another occasion, continue scouting the edges of the lake that are covered with grass, something smashes Bard’s lure but missed and but something followed up the attack and Bard caught his first fish and I thought it was a Sebarau. As it gets closer it was Common-Snakehead haha. I told him, you travelled a long way to get your Haruan.
Cast the same spot again BOOM, another Sebarau. The boatman was so relief that finally, he is not gonna end up today with a low score. When we are used to good catch rate every day, and all the sudden nature throw curve ball at ya it makes you think that how can ensure that this place is going to sustain. Fishing and the lake now has become the main source of income for the locals as more Malaysian anglers travelled here to catch Sebarau. If they are not careful, might end up with the collapse of a possible good fishing industry. Conservation aside, we keep our head down and finished the morning session with a great result nonetheless. Once back at the houseboat, one of the guys caught a fairly better size 1kg++ Sebarau. So it depends on luck basically, if the time comes than surely we will catch one.
On the afternoon session we were stalled by heavy rain. Some of them made it out quite early but we sit out and wait for the rain to stop. Epul and Kecik were telling us to follow them to a spot and it was probably one the best spot throughout the 3 days. The fish were chasing baitfish and we had to intercept them with our lure. I had my best moment here, and clearly experience paid off. Fishing in this condition, you need to be ultra-quick with your cast and accuracy plays a vital role. This Sebarau is fast and you need to intercept them. That best moment was, clearly, I have a fish on my sight. It was swimming so slow, that I knew it was locked on to target. This happens in split second, I placed the lure about a foot away from the head, just two gentle jerk to get that Ima Skimmer to started walked its usual charm. It just went for it, full force. I can feel within 1-2 second the line is moving and as soon as tried to set the hook the lure just slip away from its jaw. It was an amazing take, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I’ve seen good topwater strike over the past few years this could be one the opportunity but yeah it got away.
3rd Day – Time to go home..
The final day, we still have some time left to go fishing. We travelled back to the towards the jetty and fished along the way. We had some good opportunity in the morning, both of us did. We blew it haha. They are not aggressive this time around. You only one chance and the probability seems quite slow to on our last day. We just revisited some spot and luckily Bard finally hooked one Sebarau close to a waterfall. Decent size but not the monsters we are looking for. The day was outrageously hot too, we just decided to take it easy and explore a bit. Ayoub as a person, he is doing quite well living here in Southern Thailand. Apparently, for his day-to-day job, we collect rubber from local rubber tapper.
I’m not gonna lie, coming here in Bang Lang National Park. Deep down I do feel a bit unsafe. I think everybody knows that this part of Thailand is enraged with guerilla war and the people wanting autonomy for the south. This has created unrest and negative perception of tourism here. My experience being here was nothing but good things. The food, fishing, experience, culture, nature, it’s all great for tourist to come and experience themselves. It would be better if people forget the conflict and focus on the good stuff. Make life better for themselves and family. I really hope thing will get better, for the sake of the community there. Being out here makes me wanna go out further fishing in a different part of the world. To able to experience new fishing ground does make you a better angler and a complete one.
The houseboat pushed further down close the jetty as we are about to end our 3-day trip here. We still had a couple more change and spot to visit and hopefully score some decent fish. I’m gonna miss this place and the guys a lot. It’s like a year I haven’t gone out for my own fishing trip. To able to do this is just awesome. During the afternoon session. We fished closer to the village surround Bang Lang Dam. This section tough was filled with rubbish floating around the edge of the lake. Bard made the right call using sinking flutter stick along the edge of the floating debris. He hooked on to our last fish of the day, it was a better size sebarau. Epul end up the best tally of the trip Kudos! Experience does pays off! haha.
We reach the jetty about 5 and packed our stuff for a long drive back to KL. This is the moment you will all the hard work fishing for 3 days haha. The experience has been amazing and looks forward to another Bang Lang trip in April 2020. We pushed off from the jetty around 6.00 pm and arrived back at Astro at 4 am. We slept about 2 hours in Behrang before we pushed on. Neo, Epul and Kecik and the guys thank you. Hopefully, we do this again next year haha.