http://www.goaway.sg/2017/06/27/bangkok-hooker-fishing-tips-discovery-channel/

This Bangkok “Hooker” Has Some Tips For You People of Interest

Sittipon “Oz” Chanarat shares his love for fishing, as he hooks up giant catches in Discovery Channel’s new series! 

With his daredevil demeanour and playboy charm, Oz couldn’t be further from your lazy fisherman stereotype. In fact, as we watched a series preview of him jumping into the lake and wrestling a huge fish, Steve Irwin vibes came to mind. But here, fish is his forté. Come 3 July, you’ll be able to catch him in Discovery Channel’s Bangkok Hooker.

With a YouTube channel of over 19,000 subscribers and a website for Thailand’s English-speaking fishing community under his belt, the former MTV VJ has mustered some serious angler cred over the years. Recently, he was even a contestant on National Geographic’s King Fishers. We speak to Oz on his experiences scoring up some serious catches.

Share with us how you got your start in fishing.

Fishing wasn’t love at first sight for me. Like true love, it took time to find out. I first fished at the age of three. My uncle took my family to a small fishing park but I didn’t catch anything. Since then, I harboured a desire to get even with the fish one day. As I grew up, I fished some more, but what I always wanted to catch were snakeheads. However, no one in my family knew how to catch them! Being a kid in pre-internet 90s Bangkok, I also didn’t really know how to make new fishing friends.

So at 24, I finally had the financial means to pursue this childhood dream of catching a beautiful, giant snakehead. I did my research, bought my gear, went out on many fishing trips until I caught my first trophy-sized giant snakehead in 2010. By then, I had spent almost a year chasing that fish. You could call it my rite of passage as a fisherman!

What are some misconceptions people have about fishing?

That it is easy. The stereotypical image of a fisherman is a lazy man sitting by a stream, with a rod in his hand and solely relying on luck for a bite. What you don’t see is all the preparation that goes in beforehand – it is an art in itself. For example, it’s important to check the weather forecast, barometric pressure, length of the rod, test of the line, hook, bait – and much more.

Aside from this, physical skills and reflexes determine one’s success. Unlike what people may assume, you can’t haphazardly reel in fish as your line might break from the tension. Moreover, if the fish jumps in the air as you’re reeling it in, a different approach would be needed. That’s not all – you even have to land and unhook the fish without injuring it. Fishing is not as simple as it looks.

What makes an outstanding fishing spot?

I think an outstanding fishing spot should have these four points. It should: have a good bite rate of the fish you want, have no nets or long lines that might tangle with your fishing gear, a little something else than just the fishing, and be scenic.

My favourite place to fish is Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. It’s a city with one of the biggest network of canals, and the best part is that the public can access and fish along almost every one of them. You also get to enjoy the beautiful tropical urban back drops and the awesome Jamaican food (ask for ackee saltfish at Donna’s!).

Share with us some of your favourite fishing spots in Asia. 

If you want good spots without having to go all the way to America, I recommend South Korea for its bass fishing. If you’re in Thailand, head to Pilot 111- it’s a fun and fairly-priced lure fishing pond, with multiple species including the giant snakehead, striped snakehead, barramundi, asian redtail catfish, and spotted pangasius. Also, check out Kaeng Krachan Reservoir. It’s a scenic place in the mountains with lots of giant snakehead, and a growing culture of ‘catch and release’ amongst the locals.

Why is it important to catch and release fish?

Well, to make the sport of fishing more sustainable! A single trophy-sized snakehead killed and sold at the market will only fetch you 2 to 3 USD. But if you keep fish alive by releasing them, not only do you maintain their population numbers, you also continually attract fishing tourists who support local businesses by paying for accommodation, transport, food and services.

What was your most dramatic catch? 

It would easily be the charcoal-coloured giant snakehead at Kaeng Krachan Reservoir, in 2014.

There was a freak thunderstorm that crashed earlier in the afternoon, and we found a giant snakehead nest. Curious, I cast my frog lure into it several times and finally got a bite four casts later. The fish was so strong that it started to pull our narrow, long tail boat into the water!

Eventually, I felt her pressure lighten – her burst of adrenaline had been spent. “Let’s bring her up!”, I yelled to the camera standing on the tripod in the boat. And just as I say that, my rod breaks. Oh s—. But wait – the line didn’t get cut in the process! So I kept fighting to reel her in, now with half a broken rod in my hand its other half floating near the fish’s mouth. “Ae! Pass me the landing net!”, and my boatman handed this homemade instrument – literally a squash racket with a net weaved into it. Half a rod in my hand, half by the fish’s head, net the size of a small squash racquet and the fish of a lifetime.

Yeah, it was stressful but I finally got her in. She weighed in at 7.23kg, and was completely black – a stage they stay in for about 2-3 weeks every year before laying their eggs. It’s also when they are most aggressive. I took some pictures and then let her go.

What tips would you give somebody who’s new to fishing?

  1. Protect yourself from the elements and bring the right gear.
  2. Always be humble and do your research about the species you wish to catch.
  3. Make friends who also like fishing.
  4. Be adventurous.
  5. And always remember to have fun!

Bangkok Hooker premiers digitally on Discovery Channel SEA’s FB page on 27 June, 10pm. The series also premieres on television, 3 July, 9pm on Discovery Channel.

This e-mail interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


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