Fishing with John Wilson October 2017
The pinnacle of my “angling adventure” thus far came last year, when after entering the Angling Direct “King of the Catch” competition I was crowned Queen 👑 having received the most votes and winning the predator category with a monstrous 38lb 2oz wels catfish caught from a local club water!!!In the early part of February 2017 myself and Dave made our way down to the AD Head office, down in Norfolk where we spent a lovely day meeting the the AD team , before being giving a guided tour of the warehouse and a behind the scenes insight into the daily workings and running of the business.
private fishing lake in Thailand!! woohoo 🙌 🎉
This was truly an unbelievable prize and quite simply I was blown Away!
Not only would this be a trip of a life time for me but also a chance for Dave to be reunited with his childhood fishing idol.
Dave met John Some 27 years ago at his then Lake house in Norfolk whilst as a child recovering from leukaemia, a trip was at the time organised by a charity for terminally ill children .
To believe that he was going to meet his idol once more was overwhelming for Dave in itself.
Months then passed as we waited in eager anticipation for the final date for departure.
On the date of Saturday 21st October we were off!! From Manchester to London Heathrow, onto Bangkok and then a short flight of a little over an hour finally landing at Surat Thani Intl airport.
It was then a two hour taxi ride across country to our residence for the week at KN Resort Chumphon .
The resort was lovely and comprised of our very own chalet and on suite , which was more than comfortable . In addition there was an authentic Thai restaurant which that evening gave us a taste of thinks to come.
After almost 22 hours of travel we retired to our bed in eager anticipation of what the morning would bring!
On the next morning with our body clocks being out of sync we awoke bright and early, too excited to sleep.
In all honestly despite a basic itinerary being provided, it was not fully understood when exactly we would actually meet Sir Wilson or in fact would it just be a fleeting visit throughout the week?.
Little did we know how very wrong we were to be……
After a light Thai breakfast, we as instructed sat Waiting for our taxi in reception .
Shortly after our taxi pulled up and out stepped the man himself, complete with a bout of trade marker laughter!
Wow! I was in Awe – the man , the myth, the legend John Wilson!!
With that we were then conveyed the short distance to Johns home and ultimately his beautiful lake at BUNG SAWAN ……
Meandering through the wilderness and along dusty roads we finally arrived at what I can only describe as fishing heaven…….
Pulling up to the gates of Johns home, nestled deep in between jungle and palm plantation , there before us was the most picturesque lake I have ever seen and with its heavily planted borders and maniquired lawns , it was more reminiscent of an estate lake back at home than a jungle hide away!
John truly had created a masterpiece and for one week only it was all ours!
As we drove up to the House Johns lovely wife Jo was there to meet us along with her beloved pack of pooches, each one a little character.
As we stood on the patio looking out onto the lake a flurry of bow waves furrowed across the mirrored surface.
The silence was then Shattered by a thunderous crack and a flash of an incandescent red tale as a huge Aripima signalled its presence!!!
I couldn’t wait to get fishing!!!!!
After a quick walk around the lake with John it was decided that our first plan of attack was to be a spot of float fishing in the margins to hopefully get a bend in the rod and may be pick up a Siamese carp or catfish!
Fishing in approximately 10ft of water and to eliminate constant plucks and tweeks from nuisance fish the float was adjusted to lay flat on the surface, and in the event of a positive take ,the float would Cock as the shot was brought into play, resulting in a sail away bite, – that was the theory anyway!!
I’ve never used this method before Dave knew this as the “flat float method” and was straight out the Wilson Bible.
It wasn’t long before my float began to bob and dip and then I watched as it slowly slipped away into the depths!
STRIKE! – and I was into my first fish and after a brief dogged tustle I was soon nursing a Silver Barb of about 3lb! Simply stunning……
With Dave yet too catch it was 1-0 to me!! Not that I’m competitive he he
Rig recast and it wasn’t Long before I was away again only this time it was slightly bigger in the form of a 4lb Tilapia ! ! 2-0…..
It was not long after that Dave was in on the action with another Silver Barb of 3lb .
With the flurry of action the float swim slowed but just as we thought everything was quiet, Dave’s “sleeper Rod” Namely a free lined deadbait , fished in conjunction with a multiplier loaded with 80lb braid and Johns very own “Monster Tamer” 5lb TC was away !!!!
With the Ratchet ticking away Dave wound down, disengaged the clutch and stuck home into something which was obviously much bigger!!
What ever it was thumped hard left and hard right and steamed across the lake before kitting hard to the right for the sanctuary of a large bamboo island …
Applying pressure Dave was able to coax the monster back towards him and under a tight clutch guided it to John with an outstretched net.
Wow what a monster!!!
There nestling in the net was a 60lb Redtail Catfish which was a Tank of a creature and made of solid muscle!!
Hoisting the fish up for a picture along with Dave I though to myself – if this is the start of things to come what would the rest of the week bring? !!In the midday sunshine what better way to celebrate than with a glass of wine and some lunch!
After a well earned respite the rods were back out and it was my “Sleeper Rod” that was away this time and as the hook went home I was soon playing a Redtail which was hell bent on reaching the jungle margins!
Under John’s expert instruction the fight was short lived and I too was soon holding a lovely Redtail up for the cameras.
For anyone that hasn’t yet been fortunate to land one of these beautiful fish they truly are like no other fish, with a helmet like bone structure to his head a gaping mouth, a powerful wrist and Redtail and above all there skin is smooth and rubbery, making them feel soft or “Squidgy” as I like to call them 👍🏻😉
They truly are wonderful creatures .
The flurry of Redtail continued throughout the day and with literally the last cast of the day Dave managed to bag another 60+ Redtail which fought like a demon!
With the day at an end we reflected on what we had caught on the patio sipping a glass of wine and watching the sun disappear on the horizon before we retired ,exhausted to our beds and in eager anticipation of what the next day would bring……..
The next morning we were again up bright and early and the run of Red-tails continued taking fish up to 60lb but with the addition of a Tiger catfish for me that beat me up on the bank, leaving me battle scared and bleeding.
Come Wednesday it was decided that a change of swim was in order but again adopting similar tactics with the pellets and dead baits .
float fishing slightly deeper margins and dead-baits into a small bay proved to be a wise move as first cast Dave was away on the float and after a brief struggle under the rod tip was holding one of the lakes true characters in the form of a 25lb + Ripsaw Catfish, which to be honest had a face only its mother could love and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a horror movie with a Series of blade like armour running down its lateral line and from which it gets its name.
Pics done and as the temperatures soared we both enjoyed a rally of red tails with Dave again landing another brute of 60lb plus!Not to be beaten the Tiger Catfish seemed to favour my rods and saw me land another two lovely specimens before dinner.
In the afternoon sunshine the heat really became intense and so a-spot of lunch in one of Johns favourite restaurants in Chumphon town saw us suitably refreshed.
A return to fishing later in afternoon saw me bag couple of Redtails up to 35lb and Dave get into another of the weird and wonderful inhabitants of the lake namely a 25lb + Alligator Gar with a set of teeth so sharp that given the chance, would shred your finger!!!! 😥
another day done and things were just getting better and better!!
Come Thursday the Siamese carp that inhabit the lake and run to over 70lb !! Were proving to be elusive and so a change of tactics was called for.
In the hope of catching one of the carp we adapted the float set up and shallowed up to just two feet deep but again fishing a 18 mm sinking pellet on the hook.
Carefully baiting various margin spots with small feed pellets saw the surface explode with a melee of activity from smaller bait fish which John advised would inturn attract the larger and inquisitive residents!,,
As the frantic feeding frenzy continued, larger tail patterns could be seen on the periphery and on instruction from John I carefully lowered my rig I to place.
As my float was flung around in all the chaos I anticipated that a bite could be I imminent and that at such close quarters the rod could quite simply be ripped from my Hand!!
Not to be disappointed, within seconds my pellet was consumed and what ever it was took off like a steam train across the lake, rod doubled over and effortlessly stripping 80lb braid from the spool.
Both myself and John were convinced that I was finally attached to one of the larger “Carpy” residents as it powered effortlessly towards a snaggy island to my right, at which time I was forced to clamp down and lower my rod.
Averting the island the fish then powered into the far right margin , again forcing me to apply side strain and slowly pump the fish back towards me.
The fish tired slowly and as I eased it towards me it finally surface at which time John erupted into a bout of ecstasy as he saw that it wasn’t a carp at all !!
It was in fact a Tambaqui! A Fish similar to that of a Pacu and with a set of human like gnashers!!!
“BLOODY HELL !!” John shouted, “it must be over 30lb I grew those on in the stock Pond!”
Gingerly I edged it to the awaiting net of Mr Wilson!!
As it’s discus like frame filled the net, John peered into the net below and advised me that this species had never before been caught from his lake and were very rare!
This obviously filled me with excitement as in John’s own words – this was quite simply “ The fish of the week! “
Wow what a catch I was was over the moon!!!
As I hauled my prize up for the cameras, it’s golden and I inky black flanks glimmered in the morning sun, this truly was a prize to be recognised 😉
Trophy shots done and the fish safely back, we celebrated the moment👍🏻
Despite the recent battle, fish were still in the swim and so back out went the rods!
Seconds later and it was Dave’s turn and as his float buried, something big took flight stripping line at a phenomenal rate .
We were all convinced that this time it really was a carp!
Moments into the fight and with Dave giving the fish some “right old teddy” to prevent it reaching the snags, the fish surfaced and John couldn’t believe his eyes as it was yet another Tambaqui!! ( smaller than mine I hasten to add hehe
John was speechless and couldn’t believe it that we’d had two in a morning and yet they’ve never been caught before!!
Estimated around the 25lb mark and trophy shots done, back she went.
With the swim now and truly scuppered, we made the executive decision to move to another swim on the other side of the lake at the foot of the house lawn.
Reflecting on our catches with a cup of tea we planned our next move as tail patterns began to show in the margins to my left.
Suitably refreshed, we baited heavily with feed pellets and waited for the smaller fish to signal their arrival.
Suddenly a massive pair or rubbery Carpy lips broke surface and proceeded to slurp down a mouth full of pellets before sinking into the abyss once more.
With an opportunity not to be missed out went my float fished pellet, with a few more handfuls of loose offerings.
Again I didn’t have to wait long before my float disappeared and my rod hooped round !!
What ever I was attached to took off at a rate of knots before kiting to my left on a tight line towards the marginal area and a mass of dead bamboo!
The fishe’s flight caused me to clamp down hard and sink my rod tip in order to avoid it becoming snagged, a tactic which seemed to work as the fish changed direction and headed out into the middle of the lake much to my relief!
The fish pondered low and deep and continued to take line but soon began to tire.
Fortunately I managed to avert the snaggy margin and after an arduous tustle in the sweltering heat my prize broke surface and there before me was my first “BUNG SAWAN” Siamese carp!
As John hoisted the net onto the mat I was over the moon with a lovely looking fish of 50 + !
I hoisted it up for the cameras as I melted in heat but what a fish and again taken on simple float tactics which made it even more special .
Exhausted and in need of a rest we retired to the patio for a spot of lunch and a few glasses of wine to celebrate 🎉
As the afternoon sun rose higher in the sky and the humidity became unbearable fishing took a back seat and the wine flowed followed by a dip in the pool to cool us all down 👍🏻
After such a hectic morning it was nice to relax and reflect on our experiences with John and his lovely wife Jo who made us feel so very welcome.
With a couple of hours of day light remaining Dave was keen to get the rods back out and it wasn’t long before he was haulin again with another two 60+ Redtail !!!
As the sun set on the second to last night we wished this holiday would never end ………..
Friday, our last day came all to quickly and again John picked us up bright and early, however our hearts sank a little knowing we would soon be heading home and this fairytale would soon be over.
Having such an epic day yesterday we weren’t expectant on bettering that but how very wrong we were!
With float fished pellets the going method , my waggler was soon bobbing and dipping in the margins and was soon roaring away like a steam train 🚂
I knew immediately that this was a little special as the power was immense and as the tackle creaked and groaned I prayed to the fishing gods my hook held fast !
Time after time the fish buried deep into the middle of the lake and after five minutes we still hadn’t seen it!
Judging by its sheer power John suggested that I was attached to one of the larger carp in the lake which currently exceed 70lb plus!!
Heart racing and my mouth dry my little body ached and trust me was better than any gym workout!
Finally I began to gain on the fish and 20 yards out it surfaced and true to johns word it was a huge carp!
John realised that this was a special fish and I think at times he was just as nervous as I was as it made a number of last gasp efforts to evade capture ,fleeing for the jungle margins.
John in readiness grabbed the net and as the fish tasted air , being the master he is slipped the net under a 70 + Siamese carp.
I was ecstatic as was he.
John erupted into a bout of his signature laughter which reverberated around the lake.
The fish was immense and Dave gave me a helping hand as we hauled it up for the cameras 📷
Wow what a fish!
With our swim spent we walked around the margins “hit and run style” but unfortunately we suffered a few hook pulls but not before I managed to bag myself another tiger catfish of 20 +
Dave however was yet to catch but as we moved into our final spot which was a little fished snaggy corner of the lake his luck was about to change..
John informed us that this swim could potentially throw up something special and we were not to be disappointed as Dave’s pellet was quickly engulfed by a monstrous Redtail.
Dave’s rod doubled over as it tried to get into the snags but the tackle held and danger was averted as John slipped the net under a fish of 70lb plus which was a new Pb for Dave !!!!
Once more we were in awe at both the Calibre of the fish but also what a lake!!!!
On the final afternoon we went all out to see if we could bag a big arapima on float fished live baits of which throughout the course of the week I’d become quite adept at catching, earning myself the title from John as “Queen of the bait catchers!”. He he …
Despite our best efforts however they just weren’t playing ball, but we did manage a number of Redtails to compliment our tally.
In the time spent on this wonderful trip myself and Dave managed to bag over 56 fish including a number of new PBS!!
However for me even if I’d fail to catch, time spent with this wonderful man who means so much to so many of us in the world of angling along with the wealth of knowledge that was gifted to me during my time spent at his lake is what I will cherish the most and for Dave , Sir John will always be held in the highest esteem, a true knight of the realm who more than once turned one little boys hopes and dreams into a realty …………..
A big thanks to Angling Direct and Sports Quest holidays , but most of all to the Legend that is John Wilson …….