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In November 2005 we found the site we had been searching for here in Krabi; it was then a case of putting in our bid to purchase the 17 acres of land. The land was farmed for palm oil and rubber. At one end and one side there were two small hills complete with a valley which had a stream running through to a swamp on one side.
The first job was to make sure we could build our dream, and once planning permission had been granted we set about clearing the land and marking out where the lake, stock ponds, bungalows and restaurant would fit in.
On November the 2nd 2006 we began digging the swamp out, and we dug back to rock. Then we cut out half of the far hill for the red clay it held, using this clay to refill the swamp, compacting as we went. We then fitted special liners to the back edge of our boundary, to hold the natural springs at bay and to stop water seepage.
Once the outline of the nine-acre lake was dug, the bottom structures could be added. We wanted to create a lake that had features in every swim, as this would make fair angling with no one swim being better than any other. Also it would ensure that the angler who spent time with a plumbing rod finding his chosen spot, then feeding and casting accurately, would reap the rewards above the "chuck it and chance it" brigade.
We were constantly pumping water from the lake as the seven natural springs constantly worked against us, whilst we carved out the lake bed structures. At the same time we were building a concrete stream around the lake, plus fitting twin 1.5m pipes to divert the stream.
We constructed sluice systems so as we could be in total control of water levels and most importantly water quality. The only time we wanted to allow water in the lake via the stream was when we knew the water was 100% free from any danger to our fishes' environment.
We also fitted four bottom drains to clean the lake water through our two large filter systems. All the soil inside the lake had a coating of lime powder, which was then left and later washed and the water pumped dry. Once the lime had been cleared we coated the lake bed with elephant dung to establish nutrients and plankton growth.
Once this stage was completed at the end of December 2006, we allowed the water levels to remain at around two meters and stocked 50 kilo of a specially transported freshwater shrimp from Bangkok.
Being surrounded by lime karsts, our water has very high calcium levels. The shrimps we stocked thrive on calcium, thus keeping the levels down, plus the shrimp make a good filter system and most importantly provide a highly nutritional diet for our fish.
Once the lake was dug all the made up banks were lined with a one-meter thick lining of blue clay. We also dug out a one-acre growing on pond for maintaining a level of new stock fish coming through for future stockings.
We completed the lake on the 15th March 2007, two weeks ahead of schedule. One week after completion the rainy season started, we had 24 hours of heavy rain, and the lake was half full. Within the next week the lake had filled, and whilst the lake was filling we constructed the fishing positions around the lake.
We also put large pens of water hyacinth in the lake, which constantly needed replacing. These water plants filter water and clean the suspended dirt particles from the water. With all the new banks creating so much suspended particle it was a case of changing plants every two weeks.
Following the lake being dug, we started the construction of the resort bungalows, along with landscaping the gardens. With the lake now full, and the water cleaned of particles, we set to the task of netting our fish farm and stocking the lake's first residents. This was the second week of April 2007.
Mr. Egg, our agent who buys fish from all over Thailand, started to deliver the fish he had found for us. The third week in April Mr. Toe, Thailand’s most respected fish farmer, visited our lake to check all was well for the consignment of Amazon redtail catfish, Mekong catfish and Chao Phraya catfish he had been growing on for us at his fish farm outside Bangkok. He had hand picked the cream of his stock for our project, which is now reaping the rewards, and to date July 2009 two of these fish have broken world records.
With the bungalows nearing completion in the last week of August 2007, we allowed the first anglers to fish the lake. My old friend Terry Eustace of Gold Label Tackle along with Joe Taylor of J&K Tackle were the first two fishermen other than Sean and I to fish the lake.
By September 2009 the gardens were taking shape, the lake was starting to look like it had always been there, and the bungalows were getting finished. The swimming pool was completed in time for Christmas 2007 and the restaurant was underway. By August 2008 the whole resort was complete; the restaurant being the final phase.
Take a look around the rest of this website. The yearly review will continue the story of the progress of Gillhams, the newsletters will keep you updated on captures, and the photo gallery will show you the rest. We hope you enjoyed this insight into the making of our resort, and we look forward to meeting you here to show you around and assisting you to catch that fish of your dreams.