CHIANG RAI – Bruce Dale no longer needs to travel the world to catch exotic species because he has set up his own fishery in Thailand and literally has specimens from all around the globe on his own doorstep.
Bruce Dale’s fascination for the water world began as a three-year-old outwitting newts in a pool on a Tyneside railway station, has become a pioneer in the land of the tigers.
Bruce’s love affair with Thailand started eight years ago when he set up a business exporting furniture, fabric, jewellery and handicrafts from Asia to sell from his then home in Belford, Northumberland.
Six years ago, the 58-year-old married Noon, a Lisu hill tribeswoman and together they put down roots.
They bought a plot of land to the north of Chaing Mai and developed what is now an exclusive fishing lake and tourist resort called Teak Tree Lake.
Bruce, a keen fisherman who has travelled the globe for his hobby, has stocked the lake with more than 60 different species from all around the world to establish a pioneering fishery. He said: “The idea was to create a place where people could come to one place and catch unusual and different fish from around the world and in comfort, avoiding what I have had to do over the years, travelling to remote regions in difficult conditions to catch my dream fish.
“The conditions here make that possible, but I’ve made mistakes as we’ve started something here that has not been done before. I see myself and a few others in the country as pioneers of something exciting and different.” Teak Tree Lake is now home to some truly monster fish, with some specimens weighing in at more than 85 kilos (187lbs), and it’s home to several of world record weights.
Bruce, a father to five-year-old Aron, recently hauled in a Chao Phraya catfish weighing more than 100kg. That’s over 15 stone, more than the average man.
It is thought to be the biggest ever caught on rod and line in Thailand.
In pursuit of his favourite fish, Bruce has previously travelled to places such as Egypt to catch Nile Perch, Russia, Astrakhan and Khazakstan to catch Wells Catfish and Oregon, in the USA, for Great White Sturgeon.
He said: “I would still like to travel to India to catch a particular kind of catfish, but really I’ve now created my own ball and chain.
“I’ve a family to look after, we’ve the business to develop and as many of the fish are predators, there are scores of very hungry and very big mouths to feed in the lake.”