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The Andaman Sea, Phuket, Thailand
30th May 2001
Sandra de Souza

I am one of those really lucky fishing enthusiasts who got to try big game fishing soon after learning how to use a basic rod and reel. Gerard and I were on holiday in Phuket. A convenient extension after an International Rugby Tens Tournament hosted in Phuket itself. We decided to look for fishing charters and well it sort of found us. Phuket is famous for their touting (no offense), in this case it was to our advantage.

The next morning we were on our way. Not the typical fishing trip as we unplanned it. Very awkward because all we brought was one day pack. This was unlike our regular fishing trips where we were usually laden with all sorts of fishing equipment. Nevertheless we were excited. Foreign land, foreign sea, foreign fish! A driver met us at our hotel lobby and brought us to the jetty, at the southern end of the island, near Kata Beach. It was a beautiful jetty and alongside its berths were a fleet of fishing boats. It was obvious that the waters were much better than that of Patong Beach where we stayed.

We went on board the fishing boat with an English(UK) couple. We introduced ourselves and shook hands. The thing that inspired them to take the trip in the first place was a documentary on Marlins and Sailfish, which they had seen on Discovery. The English girl had never been on a boat.

The boat was quite impressive; with rod stands all around, a promising fighting chair, Penn boat rods, which told us that we were there to catch fish bigger than table mere table size. What was even more impressive were the photographs plastered on the walls of the inside of the boat. All huge monster Marlins, Sailfish, Tuna, etc. All the photographs had one thing in common - our boatman.

After half an hour out on the Andaman Sea, water got really choppy. The boatman did mention that it was not the best of seasons to go out to sea. The English girl was the first to go and everyone else soon followed. Sea State was bad enough with waves that looked capable of engulfing the small boat. Thanks goodness we were on a 40-ft wooden sports-fishing vessel. Then, the moment we were all waiting for. The reel alarm went off. Gerard was first on the fighting chair and he got himself a nice tuna. Pretty sizeable too, at least 3 kilos. It was my first time trolling. Hence, everything was still very new to me. The boat guy unhooked the fish then threw the line back at sea. He used squid skirts as bait. Around 4 long shank hooker skirts were attached to the leader line.

After 20 minutes the alarm rang again and this time I sat in the chair. The boatman reversed throttled and the boat stopped moving. Gerard helped me strike it and I fought my first sea creature. I'll never forget that moment. It was heavy and I knew I was in for something big. I pumped and reeled it in slowly and once the fish was close enough the boatmen brought them in - all three of them - two tunas and one dorado. And so the fishing/ trolling continued. We caught nine tails in total.

Unfortunately, the rough Sea State took the energy out of us and we ended the day early. Returning back alongside the jetty at around 5 o'clock. Nevertheless, the Thai waters (Andaman Sea) were beautiful in all it had to offer. That night, it was a feast for two. Ever tasted Tomyam Dorado?