Thanks to everyone following the fishing in Thailand at Gillhams Fishing Resorts monthly newsletter. Those of you reading this month’s newsletter will have noticed we no longer spam you with emails. You have to register on our website to be informed that the latest fishing in Krabi news is online. As an incentive for people to register to our notifications, every person is entered into a draw for a weeks holiday with flights. Every name registered with us via our website link which is hosted through Aweber is randomly drawn in April of each year for the chance for one person to win a holiday with flights. April 2014 has already been drawn, with the winner being Mr. J Hedger from the UK. The next draw will be April 2015. By accepting the invitation to subscribe you will be in the yearly draw. All you have to do is click on the link Win a Free Week’s Holiday at Gillhams, then just confirm the return email you will be sent.
The Gillhams Fishing Resorts newsletter below has been compiled by Stuart and Sean plus some parts by Geoff before he returned to the UK. We try to add as many of you to this newsletter, but space or lack of pictures sent in means some people unfortunately get left out. This is nothing personal; it is purely that we do not have room to include you all. If you are not featured in this month’s newsletter please accept our apologies.
The heatwave continues here in Krabi, apparently we can blame it on this being an El-Nino year (sounds like a Spanish footballer to me!). We have had five months without rain, however in the last two weeks we have had our first splattering of rain; not enough, but a start, and with our usual rain expected to arrive a month late the fishing should start to improve. The weather caused the fishing to slow down; whenever we have prolonged hot and dry spells the Mekong fishing picks up. So at least the Mekongs have saved the day for our guests.
Usually a poor day here is one or two fish, an average day is three or four with plenty of eight to ten-fish days. Every day fish over 100lb are landed, and many of these are the biggest of their species. When the fishing is slow you need to work at your fishing; we can’t emphasise enough the importance of finding the feeding areas and depths. Gillhams was designed and built with the importance placed on big fish; it’s not a bowl packed with small, undernourished fish and no features. Here you catch your fish, and the sense of achievement when doing so is why 80% of our customers return. The guys who put the effort into their fishing this month still caught good fish while the ‘chuck it and chance it’ brigade struggled. Everyone is welcome here, and we want you all to catch fish. If you listen to our advice and give it your best shot novices and experts alike will catch the fish of their dreams. The reason Gillhams is always booked in advance is simple: we have created paradise with big fish and great accommodation and restaurant. Thanks to our many customers – you have all helped us achieve the angler’s dream location. Here you will catch big fish in stunning surroundings in a lake, not an overstocked bowl.
Once again Gillhams has been chosen by a well-known film maker for a show on fishing. As Gillhams holds some of the biggest river monsters on the planet, it’s no wonder that all the top shows choose Gillhams as the number one destination of choice. A top angling celebrity joined the crew on his second visit to Gillhams. We are not allowed under contract to mention names, species or what he caught until the film has aired on world TV. All we can say is JW caught the monsters he targeted from our lake rather than a river.
Phil Wakeford, an old pike fishing buddy of mine, made his first visit to Gillhams. Phil who recently retired after working for 35 years as water quality manager at Thames Water plus working as a consultant in aquatic science in countries such as Puerto Rico, Malaysia and Indonesia. Phil is being pressured out of retirement to be Gillhams’ part time consultant. Actually this is not true; Phil has offered his assistance to keep the water quality here at Gillhams to the best standard possible.
Phil mixed his fishing with day trips such as elephant trekking, sea kayak and island hopping, plus trips to town with his lovely wife Margaret. Phil’s main target species were arapaima, of which he landed eight up to 300lbs, plus Amazon red tail catfish, and he landed 23 of these stunning looking fish. His final tally of fish was 53 fish of five species.
Phil is also a well-respected angling author, his two recent books being Pike Here and There and Chew Valley Giants. Stuart’s review of these books is as follows:
Phil presented me with a signed copy of his book, Pike Here and There. Knowing Phil as a stickler for facts and figures, plus being one of the best pike anglers of his generation, I must admit I was looking forward to reading this book and adding it to my collection. The book certainly did not disappoint me; in fact it exceeded my expectations. The book is set out perfectly, starting with Phil’s pike fishing career as a young lad; it follows his progress and highs and lows of a long and successful pursuit of his beloved pike. The book is packed with pictures of some colossal pike and stories of some exceptional captures in the UK and Ireland. The book’s climax is the landing of Phil’s dream fish when he joined the elite group of anglers who have caught 40lb-plus UK pike. The book also has some very informative reading, well written by Phil so as not to be boring but informative enough to be beneficial to experienced and novice pike anglers alike. I can honestly say this is the best pike fishing book I have read; even if you are not a pike angler you will find this book a good read. From rivers, reservoirs, Irish lochs and gravel pits to the mighty Baltic, this book covers it all. Phil’s dedication to detail and single-minded approach to pike puts him in the forefront of modern day pike anglers. To purchase this book visit http://www.pikehereandthere.co.uk/index.html
Chew Valley Giants… This book is more of a specialist book covering the best ever pike water in UK’s pike fishing history. It is an account of all the pike Chew has produced over 35lb. Each fish has been researched and logged by Phil and another old friend of mine, Carl Garret. The capture of each fish has written his own brief account of the day their pike fishing equivalent of a lottery win became reality. If you are interested in pike fishing and big pike then this book is worth a read. If you are like me and like reading about historic pike captures then this is a must for your collection. This book is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
April is the month when Thailand celebrates the New Year in the form of Songkran, which is a festival to welcome the end of the dry season. The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water upon others. Thais and tourists roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. In addition, many Thais will have small bowls of talcum powder sold cheaply and mixed with water, which is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random passersby as a blessing for the New Year.
The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this “blessed” water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
All sounds good doesn’t it? Well let me tell you how the staff at Gillhams celebrates the festival. The official start of the festival is midnight on 12th April. This year we all hit the bars with a number of new customers who had never experienced the celebrations with the warning to wear old clothes that dry easily – you may get more than a little damp!
As we entered the street where all the bars are, there wasn’t a bucket or water pistol in sight and it all seemed a bit tame so we congregated in ‘Climax’ bar. It seemed everybody in the other bars were waiting until the clock struck midnight.
Enter Sean Gillham, heir to throne of the Gillham Empire. You could see it in Sean’s mind – a night where I can drink a lot and throw water on whoever I like and get away with it – that’s my kind of night. He went straight into the rest room and a bucket of water was thrown into one of the guide’s face who immediately retaliated with a bucket over Sean, who ducked, and the water went all over the pool table. The manager was looking none too pleased, getting her staff to cover the pool table with a plastic sheet and then all hell was let loose. No one was spared – women, children and elderly people like… well… like me!
By midnight the whole bar had about two inches of water on the floor and everybody was soaked to the skin – all except one person… Note to all new customers: if you don’t like getting wet, strike up a conversation with Stuart and amazingly people will refrain from throwing water at you. We did try and goad Jordan our work experience lad from Sparsholt College but even he wasn’t gullible enough to fall for that.
After an absence of eight weeks I left the writing of our newsletter in the capable hands of Geoff. I think you will agree he made a damned good job of it without lowering himself to a gripe section. Sean and I had a break from writing, instead embarking on the grueling task of trade shows through Europe. This year’s shows were an outstanding success, as were the various talks I gave about Gillhams to various fishing clubs around Europe. Five shows and eight talks in the UK, Holland and France in eight weeks is a lot of work and driving, and we would like to thank everyone who attended and came to see us. Record numbers of bookings were achieved this year; all the shows recorded record-breaking attendances. At the UK shows we hold the famous Gillhams raffle – a week’s fishing and accommodation are up for grabs, and at the end of each show two winners are randomly drawn. This year’s raffle ticket sales far exceeded past raffles in numbers of tickets sold, so thanks to each and every one of you who purchased tickets.
The Zwolle Carp Show in Holland is by far the biggest and best show in Europe. This year was the shows 20th anniversary and show organizer Mick Payne pulled out all the stops to make it the best Carp Zwolle ever. As Mick is an old and very dear friend, and we presented him a prize of one week’s fishing with bait and accommodation with all meals for two people including return flights. The prize was drawn by Mick and was won by Dutch anglers Mark Heppe and Demitris Roelf. They have taken their prize for the 9th May 2014, so read next month’s newsletter to see how they get on.
One of the 2013 Brentwood show’s raffle winners, Steve Bowser accompanied by his wife and daughter took their week’s holiday this month. Essex carp angler Steve was keen to get started after waiting just over a year to finally get over and claim his prize. Unfortunately for Steve his first day was somewhat of a write-off due to partying hard the night before down the town with his family and the rest of the guests celebrating the New Year water festival. One of Steve’s main target species was an arapaima, of which he landed seven in total with three over 200lb and the biggest at 250lb. Steve caught a total of 12 fish of four different species. Apart from the fishing, Steve’s wife and daughter enjoyed their stay relaxing around the pool and even managed to drag Steve off the lake for a couple of trips out including elephant trekking. The whole family enjoyed their trip and now they are even looking at a return, but are waiting to hit the raffle at next year’s show before booking their next trip.
It wasn’t all work and no play for Sean and me… Sean left after the Zwolle show to fly back to the UK, meeting up with some old mates for a lads’ week in Tenerife. Sod that! I would rather have six-inch nails driven into my eyes! I stayed on in Holland for some pike fishing, but fishing a water with a Dutch friend that holds some huge fish resulted in a blank. Oh dear… I should have listened to the experts and found the features, but instead I sat there suffering from man flu. I cut the trip short and missed out on some spectacular sport, instead going back to the UK to spend the week feeling sorry for myself curled up on the sofa.
My next blank trip… sorry, fishing trip… was two days at the famous Chew Reservoir near Bristol. This lake is the best big pike water the UK has ever seen – a credit to the management, as the place is run very professionally. My old mate Brian Ingram kindly gave me two bank fishing days, and one very small pike to Brian was the end result of our two days. At the end of the last day Brian had a take on a whole herring, and as line was peeling of the spool, Brian, being the true gent he is, offered me the rod. I declined this kind offer and thank goodness I did, as Brian’s strike met with thin air. I would rather blank than miss run on a water with a pedigree like Chew.
So as is often the case on big fish waters, I blanked, but all this has done is fired me up for more. I am returning in November for another shot at Chew, so thanks to Phil Wakeford who has invited me for two days. Other mates are trying to find places for me this year, and I am also trying to get some places on next year’s pike fishing at Chew. I am fortunate to know some of the guys who fish there. I hear there are a few golden ticket holders, and I have the golden carrot to any who fancy a swap. Anyone who would like to invite me, my number is +66 861644554.
Due to the length of this month’s intro to the catch report, you will all be relieved to see that the gripe section never made an appearance. Next month I will write about backbiting, lies, bullshit and rude, arrogant and jealous people… STOP! Let’s get onto the catch reports.
The anglers who visited us for the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer found the going a bit tough due to the exceptionally hot weather, but some had good fishing once they found the preferred spots the fish were shoaled up in. The tally for fishing in Krabi this month was a total of 540 fish caught of 24 species, made up as follows: 66 arapaima to 360lb, three arawana to 11lb, three alligator gar to 50lb, 146 Amazon redtail catfish to 90lb, one Amazon stingray of 6lb, 77 Asian redtail catfish to 38lb, 20 black pacu to 35lb, four big head carp to 22lb, four Chao Phraya catfish to 90lb, one firewood catfish of 10lb, two giant gourami to 8lb, two giant featherback to 5lb, two giant snakehead to 9lb, twelve Julian’s golden carp to 30lb, 85 Mekong catfish to 215lb, three mrigal to 8lb, two Nile perch to 5lb, three rohu to 30lb, two spotted sorubim to 28lb, 96 Siamese carp to 115lb, one shovel nosed tiger catfish of 14lb, two tambaqui to 58lb, two wallago attu to 18lb and one wallago leeri of 23lb.
Paul Quenet and his 13-year-old son Jake met Gary and Jodie Barnett on a fishing holiday to the Christmas Islands and they have remained firm friends since. It was then that Paul said that if they wanted to sample some proper freshwater fishing then Gillhams was the place to be. Paul and Jake have been here many times, and Paul is recovering from a minor stroke that wasn’t helped when he went arse over tit on a visit to the Crispy Pork restaurant in Krabi town. Jake didn’t seem that bothered because it meant he got all the runs on the fish! Jake is a fine young angler and even kept us amused with his self-taught magic trick with a pack of cards in the restaurant in the evening, and like any good magician he never told us the secrets behind the magic. Young Jake managed personal bests on three fish, all of which were new species for him – a black Pacu of 35lb, an Asian redtail of 27lb and the one he really wanted, a Mekong of 130lb. Our Mekongs can beat up the strongest of anglers, but young Jake gave it his all before handing the fish to his dad for a short while and then to our Danish regular, Brain Nilsson, before Jake took over at the end to land a fish heavier than his own body weight!
Gary, a chemist involved in the testing of drugs for human consumption, and Jodie, a crime scene examiner from Slough, enjoyed their trip and will be coming back. Jodie had the biggest fish of the trip with a magnificent 70lb Amazon redtail. As you would expect from someone with an analytical mind, trying to explain to Gary where to fish is a conversation that normally takes five minutes, but with Gary it was everything in minute detail… “How far do you want me to fish?” “About twenty yards…” “That looks more like 18 yards to me.” “Fish in a straight line right out in front of you.” “Is that straight line all the way to the end or does it stop in the middle?” Jodie and I were killing ourselves at what seemed like a simple instruction turning into a lesson on trigonometry! A lovely couple these two, and it will be great to see them back here next year.
Steve Sands came over for the second time, and this time he was kept company by his wife Helen and daughter Zara. Steve, the angling equivalent to Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street deals as a trader on the stock market and also a doubles up as fishery owner himself running the Churchwood fishery in Essex. Steve was desperate to catch a big carp, and one over 100lb would have been his dream. Joel on his recent trip back to the UK was treated to three days on Steve’s fishery and now it was his turn to do Steve a favour and get him into the carp. He fished Swim Two for all of his holiday and made me smile when he came kitted out in his new camouflage shorts that still had the creases in! He didn’t get his dream, but did get himself a personal best Siamese carp of 80lb-plus along with a beautiful Asian redtail worthy of weighing, which tipped the scales at 39lbs.
When new customers arrive like Wade and Steve from Canada you always ask them where in the country they live, and they told me they lived in Saskatchewan. Now if you are like me you would be straight onto Google to find out where the bloody hell that is! Well I can tell you it’s right in the middle of Canada. And a bit of a fact for you: the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Canada happened in Saskatchewan. The temperature rose to 45 degrees Celsius in Midale and Yellow Grass. The coldest ever recorded in the province was −56.7 degrees Celsius in Prince Albert, which is north of Saskatoon… a bit of a change in temperature, isn’t it?
Anyway, the temperature that week was particularly hot, and when all the other customers were taking a midday break, these two lads just fished on, smoking and drinking Singha and loving every minute of it… and they didn’t do too badly, both catching Siamese carp to 50lbs. But perhaps the fish of the trip was a huge tambaqui of 56lbs.
Darren (Daz) Hunt and his girlfriend Lisa came for their first trip over here and Darren was tremendously excited. Darren was like a cat on a hot tin roof, but the best bit of advice I could give him was to look after Lisa, because if she was happy there was every chance he could come again. The first action he saw was when an arapaima was trapped under one of the aerators and one of the guides swam out to free what turned out to be a 200lb fish. In Lisa’s words it was the first time she had ever seen Daz speechless, and as the days went by we realised what she meant, because Daz would talk to anyone and everyone and would also bait up for other customers if they wanted him to.
His first day he was staring at a blank, then at 7.55pm he hooked into a 320lb arapaima and once again Daz was speechless! Every day Lisa was by his side watching him fish and getting a lot of enjoyment out of Daz’s fish. He went on to catch everything he wanted. Daz came from Derby, and don’t know what they wear for eating dinner, but Daz wore absolutely sod all, preferring to eat his dinner in just shorts. I wouldn’t mind if he had the body of a Greek Adonis, but it was more akin to Mr Bean until we showed him the error of his ways and he covered up… Thanks for that, Daz!
Daz’s total for the week was 21 fish of eight species with four fish over 100lb, one over 200lb and the 320lb arapaima. Daz was so taken aback by the fishery and resort that he was going to sell all the gear he uses to go to France every year fishing and put it towards his next trip here, and with or without Lisa’s blessing he will be back, we are sure of that!
While in Thailand for the New Year water festivals and to celebrate his 110th birthday, Richard Devitt came for a ten-day stint with his wife and daughter. Being a very keen carp angler back in the UK Richard obviously wanted to target the Siamese carp along with some of the other big fish species such as Mekong catfish and arapaima. As soon as Richard arrived everybody thought a celebrity had turned up due to Richard’s striking resemblance to Father Jack from the British TV comedy series, Father Ted with catchphrases such as “DRINK” and “FECK” echoing out around the lake (or was that just Chris?). Richard caught all his target species with Mekong catfish to 170lb, arapaima to 140lb and Siamese carp to 40lb with a total of 13 fish of seven species including both Amazon and Asian redtail to 65lb, Julian’s golden carp to 20lb and Chao Phraya catfish to 60lb.
Tim Watson made another trip with long-time friend Terry Rose. It was an unexpected bonus trip for Tim; Terry made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. All Tim had to do was pay his food and drink in return for bringing him to Gillhams.
Obviously Tim jumped at the chance so they booked a week’s holiday. Terry, if you want to make another trip I am sure we have a list of customers who would accompany you! Tim being the gentleman he is wanted Terry to catch the most fish, plus I think he secretly wanted to see Terry put through the pain barrier with a Mekong catfish. Unfortunately the fishing was difficult, but Tim and Terry fished hard every day and it paid off in the end. Terry caught a total of 12 fish of three species with Amazon redtail catfish to 55lb, Mekong to 180lb and two arapaima of 220lb and 270lb. Tim also went on to catch some nice fish with Siamese carp to 70lb, arapaima to 120lb and Amazon redtail catfish to 40lb with a total of 11 fish.
Danish regular Jan Kestrup made his third trip to Gillhams this month but unfortunately the lake was fishing harder than usual, which left Jan struggling, even though Jan’s two previous trips had landed him a total of 100-plus fish with Siamese over 100lb, Mekong over 200lb and arapaima over 300lb just to name a few. Jan was struggling to accept the fact that sometimes fishing can be hard. On the other hand Jan’s friend Christian, who has never been here before, had a good trip and landed a total of 28 fish of six species with nine of them over 100lb and his biggest an arapaima of 220lb with nearly every one from the swim next to Jan. Luckily it wasn’t a total disaster for Jan, as his main target species for the trip was a Julian’s golden carp, which he achieved, plus he caught Amazon redtail catfish and 20 or more pacu. Most people catch a few pacu during their stay, and as mentioned in previous newsletters they were from an accidental stocking. We are removing them as they get caught, and the numbers are dwindling. So how Jan managed to catch 20 just shows how unlucky he was.
Next up were Mark and Sue, soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Crofts, as their trip was planned as a wedding and honeymoon in one. As they were both fishing fanatics, what better place to get married than here at Gillhams? They had been together for ten years and were finally ready to take the plunge; all they wanted was a simple wedding – no big party, fancy dress or hundreds of friends just looking for an excuse to get plastered and eat all the free food. The wedding was simple with just Sue’s son and his fiancé, and of course Stuart, due to being a serial bridegroom, had all the advice with dos and don’ts to make sure their life together would stay complete for many years to come.
Now then, nothing in Thailand runs smoothly, so they opted for an English owned and run wedding planner company… What could possibly go wrong? Well first up the local mayor who was to witness the wedding and make it legal was never even booked; the cameraman was nearly an hour late, and the lady who owns the company was nowhere to be seen, as she was off on holiday spending Mark and Sue’s money and hadn’t even arranged times or places with her other incompetent staff. Obviously the business was a way of staying in paradise with their local fire-dancing husbands living a simple life like that on the Beach movie. Once everybody had turned up the service was very nice and even had a couple of newly arrived anglers’ wives looking on in tears remembering their big day. In the end it was down to us to go to the relevant offices as the main man had not been booked, but two visits and a few hours of our time put everything right. We had some very good help from a Thai owned company, so if you are planning your wedding here we now know the right company to organise everything for you.
As for the fishing, Mark and Sue caught all the species they had hoped for, and as usual guess who caught the biggest fish? You guessed it, Sue, with a stunning 260lb arapaima. Other species included Siamese carp, Mekong catfish, Amazon redtails and Chao Phraya catfish with a total of 18 fish. Mr. and Mrs. Crofts are now back home planning their return trip for next year, which also includes two-night accommodation and two days’ fishing as a wedding present from Gillhams.
Jimmy Griffin came out this month with mates John Davies and Andy Percival for ten days’ fishing. As Jimmy had been here before he was the official tour guide for the group and wanted to make sure his mates caught by helping them out as much as possible. Typically the first few fish came to Jimmy with pacu and an Amazon redtail of 50lb. It wasn’t long before the boys started catching a few and even took it in turns if one particular swim was fishing better. With a few nights out thrown in, the boys had booked to have a couple of days without fishing so they could relax around the pool feeling sorry for themselves with hangovers suffering in the pre-rainy season’s blistering heat. All three caught big fish with a total of 37 fish of eight species between them. John caught the biggest of the trip when he landed an arapaima of 280lb with Andy close behind with one of 260lb and Jimmy with an arapaima of 250lb. Other species included Siamese carp, redtail catfish, Mekong catfish, Nile perch and rohu to name a few. Before this newsletter was finished Jimmy has already taken an exclusive lake booking having the resort to himself and a few close mates in September 2015.
Les and Paul Young, two fishing mad brothers from Australia, managed to talk their wives into spending six nights at a lake during their holiday to Thailand. Obviously this meant some shopping trips with promises of romantic beach holidays to follow. Jon and his wife Pam also made a nice gesture to Stuart, bringing him two bottles of his favourite Australian wine. On arrival the lads were keen to get started, and what with only having five days’ fishing they were certainly going to make the most of it. This worked out well for the ladies as they finally got some peace and quiet. The holiday was booked 18 months in advance and all the girls had heard was talk of arapaima, big Siamese carp and Mekong catfish etc! As with all the wives who accompany their husbands here, they enjoyed their days relaxing around the pool along with a few trips out. Les and Paul ended their trip catching some nice fish, with species including Amazon redtails, Asian redtails, Siamese carp and Mekong catfish. The arapaima eluded them so they will just have to make a return visit. Was this a plan by Stuart to guarantee some more wine coming his way?
As I sit here putting the finishing touches to the newsletter, rain clouds are forming. Over the last few days it has been a pleasure to look out of my office window and see anglers’ rods bending over. The temperatures are getting back to normal and the fishing is improving by the day.
Dates for 2014/15 are filling up fast, so to avoid disappointment we strongly advise you to book ASAP. Contact Stuart by email or phone +66 (0) 861644554.
Best wishes from all at Gillhams. We hope to see you here in paradise soon.