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Blazing Saddles: Tackling angling and cycling

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PHUKET: My passion for cycling evolved at about the same time as my passion for fishing, when I was a slip of a lad of around ten summers. I was lucky enough to find myself in a family of keen anglers and spent many happy boyhood hours with my grandfather, father and sundry Scottish uncles trying to entice trout onto the end of a line, and subsequently into a frying pan.

I quickly realized that the most efficient way to get from one pool to the next on rivers and streams was on a bicycle with a sturdy frame and big, fat tires. This harmonious alchemy, combining cycling and fishing, has remained one of my most enduring passions.

There is something primal about being outdoors all day in beautiful riverine surroundings, hunting an elusive quarry and expending abundant energy in the clean, fresh air. So, when I moved to live in
Phuket 10 years ago, I looked for a place where I could follow this passion, and discovered the pleasures of Khao Sok National Park.

Here, the fishing in the eponymous Khao Sok River and quarry includes the legendary Mahseer, the Floyd Mayweather of piscine denizens, being the strongest kilo-for-kilo fishy fighter in the world.

It was to Khao Sok that I recently took my trusty mountain bike for a bit of riverside cycling and fishing, in pursuit of this elusive quarry.

We stayed at the wonderful Our Jungle Guest House (khaosokaccomodation.com), who are able to help with all sorts of jungle trips including cycling and fishing adventures.

I had packed a telescopic fiber-glass spinning rod and a short section fly rod, both of which fitted easily into my backpack. Replete with shorts, an old pair of sneakers in which to both cycle and wade the river, copious lashings of mosquito repellent and my somewhat bewildered dog ‘Polar,’ I was set to go.

We left Our Jungle House after a sensational breakfast, and then pedaled and paddled past the visitor center and across the bridge over the Sok River, following the left-hand fork of the track as it climbed steeply into the body of rainforest.

This is most definitely mountain biking territory, and the trail abounds in steep, often rocky climbs and descents. The local fauna includes elephant, tiger, leopard, gibbons, barking deer, Malay sun bears and scaly ant-eaters, some of which can be seen along this trail.

I rode along the four kilometers of trail, as sweat poured and gibbons hooted, until we reached a deep pool below overhanging trees.

I waded out into the current of the cooling river and flipped both fly and spinner with dedication, but they were in uncooperative mood, quite possibly due to the low water levels.

Despite drawing a fishing blank on this particular occasion, we still had a fabulous day of invigorating exercise in immaculately clean, fresh air.

And just to show this method of cycling with an angle really does produce results, above is a photo of a rainbow trout I caught by exactly this method on New Zealand’s Tongararo River last November. Tight lines.

— Baz Daniel

 

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