Published Feb 8th 2014
The jungle rivers in southern Thailand can offer some amazing Mahseer fly fishing adventures
By Meik Lykke
These protected rivers in Khao Sok National Park are home to both Thai Mahseer (Tor tambroides) and the Blue Mahseer (Neolissochilus stracheyi). Mahseer is the common name used for the genera Tor, Neolissochilus, and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae (Carp).
The nutrient rich environment and unspoiled habitat provides the perfect setting to host the largest population of Mahseer in Thailand, it is a designated trophy Mahseer area. Here the rivers flow crystal clear from the mountains through the Cheow Lan Lake - the mahseer like nothing better than grabbing a well-placed dry fly that floats by.
This fly fishing adventure in the Thai jungle offers you the opportunity to test your fishing skills on shy fish that are incredibly crafty, cunning and strong. The first time you hook one, you'll know that you have caught one of the fiercest fighting freshwater game fish in existence - pound for pound they have unparalleled strength and endurance.
The most commonly used fly fishing equipment here is 9 feet fly rods in class 6-7 with floating lines. The rivers are great for floating line fishing, in pursuit of the Mahseer. Nymph fishing is often used, but it is the excellent dry fly fishing, which makes these jungle rivers so special. The success with a floating line and a dry fly is the ultimate in fly fishing. Because of the jungle background there is at times no room for a back cast, so roll casting and single-hand Spey casting are good techniques to master, when you fish the jungle rivers.
The dry season (October - March) provides the optimal fly fishing conditions. The rivers' stock of 5-6 kg Thai Mahseer offers excellent action. April and May are the hottest months in Thailand, and the water level in the rivers is so low that you have to go far up the rivers to find pools that hold fish. The fish will have lost much of their strength, because of the low oxygen levels and high water temperature.
The monsoon rain starts again around June. When the rain starts with an average rain fall of 3,500 millimeters per year, it can result in the rivers being impossible to fish, because of the likelihood of colored water and flooding due to the monsoon rains. There are periods when you can do some river fishing but it is difficult to plan a fishing trip far in advance. Besides the rivers' fantastic Mahseer fly fishing, it is also an opportunity to fly fish in the lake and river mouth. The flooded reservoir "Cheow Lan Lake" has created a perfect habitat for large populations of many different species of fish - with a size of 165 square kilometers and places with depths over a hundred meters, the lake has the capacity to produce trophy fish and this is where you have the best chance if you want only the biggest Mahseer.