IFD: With many Irish anglers choosing to make fishing holidays around the World, when it comes to freshwater fishing there can be few destinations as exciting as Thailand.
Mike Bailey set up Exotic Fishing Thailand and the list of mouth watering species available would get any anglers heart pumping. With such a staggering backdrop of cliffs and stunning scenery what angler could resist this place.
Mike has done a hell of a lot of work since it’s inception and if you would like to book a trip you can contact him at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
So now we talk to Mike…
Where did you grow up and what was your introduction to fishing?
I grew up in England not too far from Sheffield. My dad used to take me fishing on local ponds as he was a member of Glossop angling club which I joined as soon as I was old enough. I was happy float fishing for perch and roach and anything I could catch.
At the age of 14 we moved to Canada for my dad’s work. I was very excited with all the new species I could catch in Canada and later became heavily involved in the Canadian bass fishing tournament scene.
How did your first trip to Thailand come about and how did you decide to set up a lake there?
My first trip to Thailand was just 5 years ago in April 2010. I was working in South Korea and commuting every 2 weeks to my home in Toronto Canada. That was a brutal 14 hour flight and 14 hour time difference. I had read about fishing in Thailand and decided to fly over for a holiday rather than fly back to Toronto. I spent a few days saltwater game fishing and realized that unfortunately the fishing was not great due to over fishing by commercial boats.
I did some online research and found a freshwater fishing lake/resort and thought I would try my luck there, not knowing what to expect. The venue was absolutely beautiful and the fishing was quite good. It was Carp style fishing using hair rigs and boilies etc.. I ended up catching a 40lb Siamese Carp and 25lb Amazon Redtail Catfish on my first one day visit. Not bad I thought for a guy who usually considered a 5lb bass a huge fish
I returned in June of 2010 for 2 weeks catching all sorts of interesting fish and Arapaima up to 200 lbs. This was the start of my addiction to Fishing in Thailand which would later lead to the birth of Exotic Fishing Thailand which I started in June 2012.
How much work has gone into it so far?
Exotic fishing Thailand is now 100 % complete as a day fishery. The lake has been open for 18 months and the Mountain View Restaurant almost one year .
We will be starting our bungalow project build later this year with completion in time for winter season 2016/2017. This will include 5 semi detached bungalows with one central swimming pool.
What species are available at the lake and what would you consider the highlights?
We have over 60 exotic fish species available including ;- Goonch Catfish , Piraiba Catfish and Yellow Cheek Carp all of which are not readily available at other Thai resorts.
We have 7 species weighing over 50 kg including Arapaima Gigas which are our biggest fish with fish up to 160kg. Our Mekong Giant Catfish are a close second reaching 135kg.
I would say that our introduction of Siamese Carp over 50kg and the incredible growth rates of all our species is the most exciting thing happening right now at EFT.
For travel, what is the nearest airport, accommodation and would the trip be suitable for families?
The nearest airport is Phuket international airport which is only 1 hour from the lake. We have many clients already visiting on multiple day holidays who use a local hotel only 15 minutes away and our shuttle service before and after fishing.
We also have a recent partnership with a beach spa resort which is 45 minutes from our lake and we are offering Fishing /Beach /Spa packages starting July 2015. I believe this will make a great family package and combining the beach and spa options will ensure the whole family will be happy.
Our Mountain Fish Park , Thai cooking classes and lakeside sports therapy massage are other onsite activities to keep non fishing guests busy.
How does the fishing vary through the year and what times would you recommend?
The fishing doesn’t vary significantly relative to the calendar . There are a few months I would say are better for certain species .For example I prefer October and November for Mekong catfish but that’s just my preference based on past personal catches throughout Thailand .
Our popular Arapaimas and most other species bite all year round with better fishing from May until October simply due to less holiday makers and fishing pressure during these wetter months .
We occasionally offer discount packages in this green season which are posted on our website at www.exoticfishingthailand.com
What guest catches have been the most memorable?
I would say a recent Mekong catfish catch of a huge 120kg+ fish was definitely one of the most memorable catches. This fish was total beast really putting the angler through his paces for 1 hour 30 minutes.
We also have had some fly fishing guests who experienced incredible catches.
For rare species such as Tiger Shovelnose Catfish
And also monster back breaking Arapaima.
What has been your own favourite catch?
I don’t really get to fish much as I am quite busy with the day to day running of the resort. Instead of fishing myself these days I get the opportunity to guide customers and friends who visit .
I would say that a huge Wallagoo Leeri caught by our friend Stretton Honor was one of my favorite catches where I was guiding. Stretton mentioned he wanted to catch a big Wallagoo so I baited up a drop off area close to where he was fishing with around 20 kg of chicken. Stretton cast almost a full chicken out onto the spot and we waited. It couldn’t have been 40 minutes before the line screamed off and we caught this monster Leeri. It was one of our biggest and I must be honest that I was more than a little nervous to put my hand in the landing cage to lift it for a photo.
What target have you yet to get from the lake?
We stocked a huge Mekong Catfish on Christmas day this year and it hasn’t been caught yet. After seeing the huge growth rates of other Mekong catfish I expect this fish to reach 150 kg in the next year. This s my number 1 target fish.
We also have some huge Chao Phraya Catfish over 50kg which I will be chasing very soon as the first run on these fish is just incredible and one of my favorite things in Freshwater fishing.
What are your hopes for the future of Exotic Fishing Thailand?
My personal goals for EFT are simply to have a successful business to provide for my family while making anglers dreams come true. I find running the fishery very rewarding. When customers tell me what a great day or week they have had and shake my hand with thanks before they leave it is such a great feeling which I have never had in any other job.
We are also going to be increasing our charity work by continuing to support children’s charities We will accomplish this through our onsite events like our annual charity tournament and also in conjunction with other local charity groups who will be bringing kids to EFT for free introduction to fishing day trips.
Well Mike it has been a pleasure to chat with you.
No problem lads anytime.