Sunday, February 12, 2017

          My Burma border Mahseer trip Feb 7 - 2017.

It's not every anglers cup of tea to hike into the wilderness of the Thai-Burma border region and to sleep rough in a hammock in a jungle teeming with wild Tigers, Leopards, bears and Elephants and fly fish for extremely easily spooked big Mahseer (probably the most technical fly fishing in the world) and survive on camping food and to walk up and down 1000 meter high mountains with a heavy backpack just to get to this very remote area. You could ask yourself is it worth it? Of course it is, it's the greatest fly fishing show in Asia for wild and hard fighting big fish. In a country with millions of anglers the funny thing is that I have never seen any other anglers at this river during the many years I have fished here, it's like having your own private Mahseer river stocked with huge fish in a fantastic beautiful area.

After a 6 hours drive from my home and a 2 hour tuff walk in with a heavy backpack, Spotted a big male Elephant on the way to the river and many other animals including Gibbons and Langurs. I set up the camp on a small island in the middle of the river, a place where I have camped over 40 nights before, a place where no big animals walk night time and where I can have a big fire going all night long that I use as detergent against Elephants, Tigers, Leopards, Gaur, Bears and other species you don't want to be woken up by, most animals don't like smoke they think its a forest fire coming so a big fire all night long is essential if you camp in an area with Elephants and Tigers. My Lawson hammock is placed between two trees just two meters from the river and is my home during the trip, you sleep much better in a Lawson hammock compared to in a tent on the ground and you want get any insect problems as you could get with a tent. Rigged two class 5 rods with 15 lb. leaders, one with a big Chartreuse Wullf style dry fly tied on a Mustad Low water Salmon size 8 hook and one with my Pink Machine rubber leg nymph, tied on a size 10 extra strong Kamasan nymph hook.
First nice size Mahseer I spotted was stationed between 3 big boulders in the middle of a pool, a favorite place for the big Mahseer to feed as most of the insects pass the boulders. tip-toed very slowly to casting distance and hooked the fish on my nymph in the first cast, the fish went between the left and middle boulder and took of full speed down streams so I had to first run up to the left boulder too free the line and than run after it down streams. The pool down streams was luckily free of obstacles so I could release it after a while, a beautiful golden colored 2,5 kg fish. Walked a couple of pools up streams and caught two 1,5 - 2 kg size Mahseers on the nymph.

In an area of the river where I know that there are many big fish feeding I walked along the left bank very slowly, almost in slow motion not too spook any big fish and after a couple of hundred meters I spotted an estimated 6 kg size fish feeding aggressively under a overhanging bush, almost impossible to cast too. I waited for a while too observe its feeding pattern and noticed that the fish made turns out in to the open area of the pool and I timed my cast when it came out into the open. My nymph landed perfectly one meter up streams the fish, but the same time the fly landed on the surface the fish took of in full speed down streams. Maybe the fish had spotted my moving right arm during the cast, the big Mahseer are the most easily spooked fish I have ever targeted so just bite together and walk further up streams.

After lunch I came to a pool where I know a huge fish use to be feeding, I call this fish Big Bertha, a 7-8 kg female Mahseer. I spotted her in the middle of the pool behind a big rock in the shade under a tree. I collected my nerves and made many air cast so I was sure about getting the landing spot correct for my fly. Hooked up the fish almost after the fly landed and she took off down streams pass me and than strangely turned 180 degrees to full speed up streams, probably lost 100 meter of backing before the fish slowed down, I had problems to run after her in the fast water as the bottom was full of big round rocks with algae on the them and made a very slippery run for the fish, but after a while I got close to the fish and started to put some pressure on it. The fish took of again and went under a big boulder and I had to run upstream it to free the line, cleared the line and the fish was free and I slowly started to believe that Big Bertha would finally be mine, but to my dismay left of the big boulder were 3 underwater roots from a huge tree on the right bank and Big Bertha made a fast run for them and broke of the leader. I had to sit down for a while just too think about what I could have done different, but Mahseer fly fishing is like this, you may think that the big fish is tired and ready for a release and for a photo session just to be hart broken in a last fast run and to lose the fish. I walked back to my camp and had dinner and started a huge fire that burned until the next morning. Could not sleep very well that night, was thinking too much about Big Bertha.

Next day I started the fishing early so I could explore an area far up streams that I never fished before, walked pass the area that I fished the day before to get far up in the river. It payed off and I came to an area I would classify as the best area I ever seen for big fish per kilometer. It was an area with fast water and huge boulders in the center of the river with deeper pools . First big Mahseer I saw was an estimated 6 kg fish, hooked it in the second cast with my Yellow Machine rubber leg nymph, the fish went full speed down stream and passed just one meter from my legs, lost it around a boulder 60 meters down streams. Walked to next pool and spotted an even bigger fish, when I put my bamboo walking stick against the rock next to me I spooked the fish, and I was 20 meters down streams of the fish!!! Walked up streams for another 2 pools and saw a 3 kg fish and hooked it on my nymph, it took of downstream but I run after it with a high rod and landed it 100 meters down streams. Got 3 smaller 1-2 kg size Mahseers in the next pools and than I walked back to my camp. I will be back here in 10 days and looking forward to it as much when waiting for opening the Christmas gifts as a young kid, so Big Bertha don't feel safe, I shall return.