Jurassic Mountain, Thailand – August 2023

I haven’t been to Thailand (or had a holiday) since 2018 due to the pandemic and losing my dad so a break was well overdue and much needed. Since my love affair with the Land Of Smiles began in 2010 I’ve visited several fisheries all over this beautiful country but one I hadn’t been to yet was Jurassic Mountain near Cha Am. I’d spoken to Martin and Jo Bowler about it at The Big One in Farnborough and on the website it looked amazing so I booked two weeks with six days fishing. Leading up to my departure date, I watched loads of videos on YouTube and the excitement ramped up even further.

The trip out (although lengthy) went really smoothly and finally pulling into the resort, I was met at reception with a very welcome and refreshing iced fruit juice. After checking in and being shown to my accommodation, I had my first look at the lake from the restaurant and it looked stunning with imposing mountains all around (hence the name!).


Looking up the lake from the restaurant with the large bed of hyacinths in the foreground


At Jurassic there is a draw every night in the Anglers Rest to choose swims, if you pull out ball number 1, you get first choice and so on. I drew an early number for my first days fishing the following day and not really knowing the lake went for peg 16, which along with peg 1 opposite, were the closest swims to the restaurant and are good for arapaima and redtails due to the big bed of hyacinths that provide lots of cover.




There are two fish tanks in the bar/restaurant area with all sorts of weird and wonderful species including a type of albino barbel


Beautiful Amazon stingray

After some food and a few beers, it was off to bed for an early night ready for the next day. Up bright and bushy tailed I headed to the restaurant where there is a little fishing shop area where you can get bits and bobs of terminal tackle and also decide which bait you want for the day. As part of the package you get bait vouchers to use and I went for frozen mackerel, various sizes of pellets and 22mm boilies.

My rods were already at the swim, there is a sala (a little fishing hut) which has a table and bench’s plus a fan to help keep you cool, there was also a icebox packed with a variety of soft drinks and plenty of water. I wanted to give myself a chance of catching anything so went for a predator rig on one rod for deadbaits and then a carp rig on the other to hair rig boilies. Fishing starts at 7:00 so I walked a fish bait up into the corner and scattered a few free offerings around it before casting a boilie out to a bubbler in the middle of the lake and fed several pouches of 18mm pellets over the top.

Taking in my surroundings, I had a couple of visitors during the day, a rather large monitor lizard and a type of egret/heron that weren’t at all shy and both checked out my bait buckets for an easy meal. The wildlife is amazing, beautiful butterflies and birds of all shapes and sizes from humming birds to large eagles circling overhead.



Although I could hear whistles throughout the day from swims to my right signalling fish were being hooked, it wasn’t until mid afternoon when my carp rod screamed off, as I lifted into the fish, my predator rod went as well! It felt like a decent fish so I blew the whistle but then the hook pulled out so I quickly reeled in and engaged the bait runner on the other rod. By now the fish was right under the vegetation, I was gaining some ground on it only for it to come off and leave me snagged solid, not the best of starts!

I did miss another run on the carp rod before finally getting off the mark with a nice Siamese carp around 45lb. One of the guides called Ollie was talking to me with just fifteen minutes to rods out when quite a few fish began crashing around in the middle of the lake so he sprinted back to get me a float rod, after feeding a few boilies, I launched the float out and second chuck it buried and tore off before I could strike. I played it carefully knowing that pacu or tambaqui have teeth that could bite through braid like cotton before landing a nice fish of 17lb. All weights are estimated*


First fish of the trip, a 45lb Siamese carp



Day two and I went for swim 3 which had been producing some nice fish and got off to a great start landing a big Siamese of 85lb (a new pb) followed by another of 80lb and I pulled out of one as well. Then I had a couple of days off to just chill and had a lush massage, a swim in the pool and also went to see the bat cave where literally millions of bats stream out every night, a very impressive sight. I also went to nearby Cha Am beach with a lovely couple staying at Jurassic called Georgina and Albert.


Siamese carp of 85lb (new pb)


Bats, rather a lot of them!


Cha Am beach

My third day of fishing and I was in swim 6 at the top end, I lost a fish early on but then it was quite slow going and I honestly thought I was going to blank. There was a smashing young lad called Dan over on peg 9 and we’d hit it off from the very first day, he’d been catching really well and took pity on me with two hours fishing left, coming over to give me a few tips (he’s a carp angler back home). Literally before he’d even got back to his peg, my rod screamed off and I landed a carp of 50lb! We then had some biblical rain but the fish kept coming and I had a further three carp of 75lb, 80lb and 70lb plus I lost two more.

Peg 9 was my destination for day four and although Dan wasn’t fishing as he was going to an animal sanctuary, he came to see me in the morning and point out the areas he’d fished the previous day. An Amazon redtail of 50lb within seven minutes of casting out a deadbait was a great start and then I’ve had regular runs during the day with carp of 50lb, 95lb (new pb), 50lb, 50lb and 60lb. I also lost one at the net and missed a few bites, a brilliant day. My mate Larry came to see me again as well.


My first Amazon redtail of the trip


Another stunning Siamese of 95lb



A couple of nights out in Hua Hin (thirty minutes away) were great fun, I also booked a half day on the species lake catching a nice 25lb Indian carp and a 28lb Siamese. All too soon the end of my holiday was approaching and I had two days fishing left. In the bar I was really hoping for a low number in the draw so I could have another crack at those elusive arapaima in either peg 1 or 16 as Dan had landed two on his last days fishing before he headed home. The only problem was, my drawing arm in Thailand was nearly as bad as in the UK, with nine anglers on the lake the following day, I managed to pull out ball number 9, last choice!


25lb Catla catla (Indian carp) from the species lake

When Tom and Ollie came round with the map of the swims showing what had been taken, there were only three swims left and none of them really leapt out at me, in the end I went for swim 2 which I hadn’t really heard much about since I’d been here. In my mind, I just wanted to avoid a blank and hope for a decent draw on my last days fishing. I actually got off the mark fairly early with a 45lb carp which is always nice.


Larry doing a spot of sunbathing while he kept an eye on my rods


Larry after a spot of lunch

At Jurassic there’s a clever little system where you can order food, drinks or bait to your swim via Whatsapp but I like to have a break from the fishing and go to the restaurant for my breakfast. It was approaching that time when the guides came round and asked which spots I was fishing, Tom said it was worth trying an area to my left which often throws up some big carp and threw in a boilie as a reference point so before I went for my grub, I catapulted in a kilo of pellets along with a liberal helping of boilies and would try this new spot on my return.

Heading back, suitably fed and watered, I baited up with two halves a boilie (a bait Dan had been very successfully using) and it wasn’t too long before the bite alarm signalled a run, something didn’t feel right though and after a fairly long scrap, a carp was netted hooked up the bum which I didn’t count and left me feeling a bit deflated. Ollie came round a bit later and suggested we have another go with the float rod, despite him throwing boilies out and me regularly casting over the top, working hard changing depths and trying different areas, all we had to show for our efforts was one tentative dip on the float.

Then out of the blue, the carp rod screamed off and a stunning fish of 90lb doubled my tally for the day, then another of 65lb which I landed with fifteen minutes of fishing remaining. I got the rod back out and had just fed some more pellets and boilies over the top when it’s ripped off again. This fish has gone up past peg 3 and Tom went up to make sure our lines didn’t get tangled. It felt like a good fish but then the power of these fish has to be experienced to be believed. This one wasn’t tearing off but just using its weight to do whatever it wanted, the all out was shouted at 18:15 and I was still on the wrong side of this duel!

The fish tried going under an aerator to my left and with my rod under the water, I just couldn’t stop it and was just waiting for everything to go slack. Eventually it stopped and I managed to gain a few turns of braid on the reel, slowly but surely the tide was beginning to turn in my favour. The fight was far from over though and my arms were killing me, finally after around 45 mins, Tom managed to net the fish under the water so I still didn’t know how big it was although I was hoping I might have caught my first 100lb Siamese.

As Tom unhooked the fish, he said it was actually the infamous ‘Scarface’, the biggest carp in the lake at 180lb and at the moment, the emotion and tension flooded out of me and I nearly cried! As I got in for some photos, there was quite a crowd of people watching, anglers heading back to their rooms after the days fishing and people from the restaurant who’d come to have a look. With Tom at the head end, we attempted a two man lift but I was spent and had no energy left (I’m not the fittest or strongest of blokes at the best of times!). George (another guide) came to assist and with Ollie behind the camera, we got some photos.

I was blown away when Tom said I’d landed Scarface

I was blown away, I’d had an amazing holiday anyway but whatever happened now my trip was made. The following day was just spent chillaxing with another dip in the pool and lots of great food (the milkshakes were to die for!) before it was time for the evening meal and the draw for pegs which for me would be the final time before I headed home. There were only five anglers fishing the next day so I just needed my drawing hand to perform, Ollie offered me the bag and I pulled out…….. choice number five!


The swimming pool was lush


There was also a fish pond but don’t be tempted to have a dip as it’s home to a monstrous arapaima and some rather large alligator gar!

Well that was that, I was sure the two end pegs would be taken but as I said, whatever happened now would be a bonus after my previous days fishing. As Ollie headed off to let the others draw, I sat down to enjoy my Sunday roast, when he came back, I was gobsmacked to see both pegs 1 and 16 still available so jumped in the latter, was the dream holiday ending still on?

In the morning, I collected my bait for the day, mackerel, catfish chunks, boilies and pellets and I would be going all out for predators with both rods. The left hand rod was walked up into the corner and the second cast out towards the hyacinths, the first rod went off after only a few minutes and a lovely 30lb redtail opened my account for the day.

Throughout the trip I’ve had a fair few seemingly unmissable runs on fish only to strike into thin air which apparently are down to alligator gars or redtails. Frustratingly this happened several times during the morning although I did briefly hook two fish but both came off! After something to eat, I had another screaming run with nothing on the end but as I was reeling in, a fish hit the bait under my feet and I eventually landed a 50lb redtail.

Next chuck I was into another but this one snagged me solid under the hyacinths and the guide had to go in and retrieve my rig. The next fish was my biggest redtail of the trip at 55lb, a gorgeous fish. Time was running out and the arapaima was beginning to look more and more unlikely but as I said earlier, I wasn’t too upset as it had been an awesome trip and I’d have an excuse to come back!


55lb Amazon redtail

Then at 18:10 (just five minutes before the all out), the left hand rod has gone off and I was into a fish that was trying to get right under the hyacinths, a Thai guide arrived and I said it was another redtail. With my rod tip low, I was starting to gain ground and the guide asked me to lift the rod so he could see where the fish was. The line was in the middle of the lake which was unusual as all the redtails had tried to get under the near bank and then a rather large arapaima surfaced and took a breath of air and my legs went to jelly!

The guide got on the radio to summon more assistance and once again, I had a crowd behind me, several guides plus quite a few guests came to watch and the pressure was mounting as if it came off, there would be no more chances this trip. The sweat was pouring off me as the fish made several powerful runs and nearly went airborne at one point, thankfully it stayed on and as it neared the cage and the guides attempted to grab the shock leader, my anxiety levels were through the roof. When it finally went into the cage after thirty minutes or so, everybody was congratulating me and for the second time in three days I was nearly reduced to tears!

They work out the weight of the arapaima by measuring the length and girth and after the calculation, it was 194lb and I couldn’t quite believe what had just happened!

Arapaima Jamie 5 28.8.23

A 194lb arapaima and I couldn’t have written a better end to the trip

After a much needed shower it was off to the restaurant for one last meal and a few beers before packing and having an early night.

What an awesome trip, the resort was lush, the service was fantastic, lovely food and the guides Tom, Ollie and George certainly knew their stuff and do their best to make your holiday an amazing one. I met some lovely people including couples from England, New Zealand and Belgium, a nice lad from South Africa and of course Dan who also had an amazing trip and we’re thinking about going again next year.

If you fancy fishing for some monster fish in paradise check out the website, you won’t be disappointed – Jurassic Mountain


Posted by Jamie Rich

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