They cruise in loose groups of two to three fish and by now Ive figured how to take them. You cast what theyre eating (in this case a snakehead imitation) about 20cm in front of the fishes eyes (5cm more and you wont get it, 10cm less and you’ll miss it. They musnt be rolling, they must be suspended in the meter closest to the surface. Retrieve doesnt matter, what does is the height of the fly in the water column, it needs to be about 50cm below the surface so that fish can see the silhouette in front of its eyes. Thats how you catch a visible fish at least.
It sounds a difficult situation to replicate, but you will have chances. you need to just be constantly ready and deadly accurate. More accurate than on a cape trout stream and with a 550 grain floating line, 12# rod, 5/0 fly and 80lb leader.
Oh, and you need to be quick be able to make those presentations a full line length away. Not easy but with practice you’ll surprise yourself.
I notice two fish 20ft out and to my 10 o clock 20 ft away suspended in the water. I cast in between and the larger of the two engulfs the fly and heads left at pace. I scream, blow my whistle and get ready to either swim or be towed after the fish. It heads straight in the body of the lake, then it turns to the submerged fence area, then back. I put massive pressure on the fish, bending my 12 at the butt and gain some line. Just as I think Ive won the battle the fish takes off left towards the submerged fence and away from me. The drag on my Tibor Riptide isnt enough even at full with my palm on it (at this setting holding my rod in my legs I cant pull line off, and this fish is TEARING line off) I put massive pressure on, take a page out of Lefty Krehs book and wrap the fly line around the reel seet. the fish pulls me off my feet twice, and just before I swim I gain some slack and unrap it. It takes off even quicker this time and gets to the fence. The hook pulls.
A fish takes right in front of me, brief fight and the hook pulls again.
Blind casting I get another take right in front of me, and the fish is immediately in the weed beds. Its in there green and full of fight, Im angered as the hook is straightened. This is impossible. Im trying to pull dinosaurs out with a toothpick.
Things are quiet now and Im beginning to think that my fly line constantly landing on the surface is disturbing fish. i notice a few rolling but not close to the previous numbers.
Im on the third made up scrap fly using 50lb green braid as fly line and salvaged eyes and knot sense and epoxy. First cast on my new fly and Im concerned with the scent. 6 strips in and something takes it hard I strip strike extremely hard 3 times.
This time im not willing to give line, and holding it in my left hand I dont release any pressure. Rod buckled in two I stand my ground. 20 minutes later i have burns through my gloves and whatever it is is massive and wanting to take line. I cant hold any more and it gets me onto the reel. im relieved when it heads for the body of the lake and not the structure.
Its well into the backing and I have the one Thai guide cheering me along and watching over my left shoulder with the net. And then something changes. the fish takes off faster than anything yet and as quick as a GT, but bigger than anything ive felt. It takes the path of lease resistance and heads right like straight towards the weed banks. I pull it out and gain some line and then it turns and runs again. This time straight under the lilies. It tracks the banks of the lake and runs under the lilies, actually knocking some off to the bank.
This is violent and there is white water everywhere. you can hear the pencil thick fly line ripping through the water like a hot knife and then on the opposite bank it breaks the surface. It a MASSIVE redtail. Bigger than ive seen in any picture here. Id estimate upwards of 70lbs based on the pictures Ive seen. Again the hook pulls and with the most spectacular tantrum and eloquent series of expletives my head drops into my hands and my fly rod on the ground.
Sean was kind enough to let me fish from 7am to 11am on the morning on my departure. At about 9am I got a good Sorubim Catfish. No Arapaima strikes this morning. Maybe im onto something with the line spooking the fish… Or maybe its the scrap fly not quite doing the trick.
Good result for the final morning either way. The fish’s tail is on the ground in the top picture and way out to the right on the second. Beautiful fish.