Frenetic Burma Banks

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Here is Mario in Malaysia on his recent fishing trip Burma Banks, Myanmar.

The Burma Banks is a fantastic fishing ground and the dream of many anglers in South East Asia. When the tackle shop I go to invited me to join them on a trip, I didn’t have to think twice. Plans were made and we booked our trip 18 months ago! It is almost impossible for me to describe the feeling when I stepped on board the Namjai 9 docked in Ranong, Thailand – angling heaven!

We spent 5 days and 4 nights aboard our vessel and managed to try out different techniques in several different spots. In general, the captain would take us to deeper waters during the day for some deep dropping with the use of electric reels. I know a lot of people have reservations about using these reels, but trust me – trying to haul up a 3kg sinker from a thousand feet of water is no fun at all. We sometimes stopped at shallower grounds of around 100-150m and we managed to jig with some success.

Night fishing proved to be the most frenetic or even chaotic at some points! We typically fished in about 80-150m of water and ran into schooling yellowfin tuna almost every night and it was just madness – very common to have 6-7 of us hooked up at the same time. The tuna were relentless and often, I couldn’t even get my jigs to the seafloor to target bottom species. There was no particular strategy involved: drop a jig and something will have a go! My wife is very slight in stature and doesn’t have the energy to handle vertical jigging. She doesn’t have a slow-pitch setup yet and all she had to do was drop her jig, count to 20, start reeling and she would hook up to a yellowfin tuna or a big-eye trevally!

When I managed to get away from the tuna, I tried different techniques including changing my speed from time to time, making use of some long deliberate falls, and so on. Favorable current and light line meant that it was quite easy for me to stay vertical most of the time. When my line started to drift, I just reeled in the jig to try again and that’s when a tuna would slam into the jig! Haha!

If you ever have the chance to fish these grounds, don’t pass it up! The grounds are protected: no commercial fishing vessels are allowed in and the season typically runs from October to April. You’ll need to plan at least a year ahead. Hope you enjoy the photos!

My setup (I only had 1 slow-pitch set with me):

Rod: Poseidon Slow Jerker 603-4
Reel: Shimano Ocea Jigger 2001HG
Mainline: Shimano Ocea EX8 PE2
Leader: 40Lb Flouro
Jigs: Variety of slow pitch jigs including Rector, Cranky, and some from Xesta (ranging from 150g to 400g)

Totos, thanks for all the advice and information about slow-pitch jigging. Couldn’t have done it without your help and input!

  1. Ron A.
    Ron A.03-09-2016

    Funny comment: “When I managed to get away from the tuna…” Heck, I want to stay where the tuna are. Maybe you had caught your limit?

    Nice report. Thanks.

    • Mario
      Mario03-09-2016

      Hi Ron!

      There are no bag limits in the Burma Banks.

      The area has such a huge diversity of bottom-dwelling fishes and we were desperately trying to bang into some large mangrove jacks, coral trout and groupers. We were also hoping to land amberjacks and dogtooth tuna, but just couldn’t get away from the yellowfin!

      No complaints of course! It’s not very often where we get to go on a trip where the fish are aggressively hitting jigs from dusk till dawn…regardless of where we anchored! Truly an incredible place to fish!

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