Hello all. How fast time flies by here in paradise, as once again its time for the latest Krabi fishing news. For all of you following this ‘fishing in Thailand’ newsletter, thanks for your support and encouragement. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people follow my ramblings, but it is nice when you let me know, as it makes my sitting here for hours typing with one finger all worthwhile.
The last week of August has seen some strong winds and heavy rains, so at last our rainy season seems to be kicking in. The gardens need it and the lake gets a good flush through. Once the lake gets a water change the fish always go on a munch-up. We are still getting some beautiful sunny days, but the only problem is the humidity after heavy rain – we do suffer from some hot and humid conditions. But who cares when it’s still hot, the beers are cold, and the biggest freshwater fish in the world swim around our lake?
I know I keep mentioning moon phases, but once again this month has seen just what an effect the moon has on the fishing here. We have had a longer period in a new moon phase this month, and the very dark nights with cloudy skies has certainly put the arapaima in feeding mode. The downside is the carp have been a lot less active, and put that with the red tails shedding their skins and the fishing on some days has been a bit slow. Ha ha, now I am sounding a bit like some of our clients! Slow? Who cares when there have been five arapaima over 300lb out this month, and all different fish? One of them was a fish we haven’t seen for two years, a big male fish who last time we saw him was a mere 220lb, but is now up to 350lb, also a fish we feared was dead has made an appearance, none other than the other big male fish, Henry, at 340lb. We had a big fish die in May who was so bloated and stinking by the time we found it under the weeds we thought it was that old warrior Henry. We have six original very big fish here who all have similar markings, so many times we think it’s one fish but on close inspection it is another. These big original fish all have a very distinct red band three-quarters of the way down their back, plus a patch of scales on their flanks with no red colored outline. The only way we can tell Henry is the reason for his name – he has a wart on his head, hence Henry Waterman. Our big friendly female fish Salmon Spot, who looks like Henry’s twin sister, has identical markings except no wart, but has a red spot on her flank like a salmon. She normally comes out on a regular basis, but is up in the sanctuary of the bay packed full of spawn waiting for nookie time to begin, which is surely going to come early this year.
We now have a new moneymaking scam at Gillhams – a bell! So let me explain: the ship’s bell is mounted on the wall in our bar, and when you get a new personal best fish you have to ring the bell, which then means you have to buy all the people in the bar a drink. With so many big fish and different species it can work out costly for you, and very profitable for us! Some guys have been ringing the bell twice or more a day, but others have been caught hiding and shirking their duty! For those who do not comply be warned – starting next month you will be named and shamed!
Another new feature on the website this month is the floor plan of our bungalows. Click on ‘resort’, go to the foot of the page, and you can see our bungalow plan – now all we need are some good internal pictures of the bungalows. Anyone coming over who has a wide angle or panoramic lens and takes some internal bungalow pictures for us, I will ring the bell!
To enable me to compile this newsletter, Sean gives me his notes and daily catch reports. Oh how I wish I could write some of his notes here, as his description and graphic accounts of some of the clients are comical. He writes from the heart, but unfortunately to repeat them would probably end up with us getting a libel case against us! I will mention just one here, but I will leave the name out… The guy did nothing but whinge, insult everyone with a vocabulary of every other word being an ‘F’, plus his missus was the ugliest most miserable thing I have ever met. These two made Steptoe look clean and Alf Garnett a saint! This guy was on his second trip here, and thankfully his last, as he is not welcome back. No names, but he lives in the North of Thailand with his old Thai wife. I have reproduced Sean’s report here minus names and a few choice words…
“We had the misfortune of “W- -kstain the winger from hell”. Gollock caught him 17 fish after baiting up, casting out, striking and passing the rod for him to reel in his trophy. The fish probably avoided him because of his constant moaning, and the stink from wearing the same kit for a week! He came with his grandma who looked like something off Planet of the Apes, and who was as much of a pleasure to be around as him. He managed to p- -s off all our staff and clients with his foul mouth and insults to everyone, moaning from dawn to dusk to whoever was unfortunate enough to be near him. In the end nobody wanted to fish within whinging range. He has obviously lived in the far north too long, as he has become just like all the tinkers up there – not washing or changing his kit for a week.”
That was a broken down extract from Sean’s diary, which also contains descriptions of others such as Mullet Head, The Pygmy, Elvis, Zit, Big-nosed Twat, Scuzzer, The Swinger, Big Head, Bullshitting Nerd, and Boring Bastard… the list goes on. If I go on too much I will give the game away, but it sure does make me chuckle when I have to produce the cut version and add the true names!
Which leads me onto Gillham’s gripe – blimey, where do I start? Well I won’t mention feature finding because that’s old ground, mind you some of our clients arriving last month must have read previous newsletters because they have been asking how to do it! Groan… It was the first thing I learnt and the first thing I ever did when arriving at a new venue! No, I promised so let’s get off that one! We are still getting, “It’s a bit slow,” because they only caught four fish today, even if one was 200lb with a couple around 60lb thrown in! I am so out of touch with reality I did not realise fishing was so easy in other countries. I can’t wait to go back to Europe in March to pop out fishing, cast out, fish wherever it lands, then just wind in 100lb-plus fish one after the other! If it really is like that over there then why the hell do these dickheads come here, because our catch reports make it clear that you average around four/five fish a day, and over seven days you will catch a couple of fish over the 100lb mark, with possibly one over 200 or 300lb and for sure ten or more over 50lb? As I write this one guy has just had, in two casts, a 250lb arapaima and an 85lb carp… Still, it’s only two fish, eh?
We set our drag settings on the reels to their perfect setting, so why do some berks change them? Then we get the idiots who put their hand on the spool to try and stop some 100lb-plus fish swimming off at 30 miles an hour, with the obvious outcome of the line breaking. With fish over 100lb and up to 400lb swimming at speed, something must go. Remember fish don’t smash you up or break your line; you break the line. With a correct drag setting the line cannot snap! When the angler changes that setting whilst playing a fish, the slightest mistake and it’s bang, game over, with our poor fish left with a hook in it! When we advise you where to fish, why ignore us? We are here 24/7! When you do listen to us and move onto fish, why in the middle of catching on the best day of your holiday do you move off the fish to a new swim because it’s closer to your bungalow or the shade?
Then we have bait, at home a guy will go onto his nine-acre lake with 50 carp in it up to 40lb and think nothing of putting out 5kg of boilies with 5kg of spod mix. So why do they come here and buy a one-kilo pack of boilies and make them last all week? Plus they only recast a method ball every hour if they can be bothered, perhaps with four balls of groundbait thrown in for good measure Christ lads, come on; we have 350 carp in the lake with at least ten over 100lb, 50 between 60lb to 90lb and the rest are all 20lb to 50lb. So many people are now fishing single hook baits that our fish are shying off single baits. We also have 100-plus Mekong catfish in the lake, 70 of which are over 100lb, and put these with all the other fish, why on earth would they put their heads down over one boilie and 3oz of feed? Stroke-pulling, rule breaking; I have seen it all, heard it all, and I wrote the book, but our rules are there for our fishes’ safety. I have heard every bullshit you can come up with and more, so please do not insult my intelligence with some hastily made-up tale.
Our lake is situated in quiet countryside, and we get people here commenting on how peaceful it is, only to shout across the lake to their friends! Why do some people not respect others’ peace and quiet? Finally (promise!) if you are going to come here to be rude to us, don’t bother. I hate these pricks who talk to us like dogs and whinge because we are not with them all day to bait up, cast out and strike for them. Then they come in our bar at night speak to our staff like crap, whining and whinging about everything, even down to having too much food on their plate. Jesus, come on, just leave some – if there wasn’t enough, I could understand the gripe! …To be continued!!
To be honest 80% of our guests are lovely people and fun to be with, and many who come as guests leave as friends. This high percentage is why we created Gillhams; we love to see happy faces enjoying a well deserved holiday with big fish thrown in, and these are the people we want to return. We have 10% who are OK, i.e., they wouldn’t be on my friend list, but are nice, normal people all the same. Then we get the 5% who do nothing seriously wrong but have not read up on the fishery and expect something we never proposed it to be, but who settle in and end up enjoying the experience, and some even return. The final 5%, well, without them we would have no Gillham’s gripe! Every month we seem to have one or two! They must be the same everywhere they go, plus they can’t have very many friends, so one day if we keep banning them there won’t be any left! Yeah dream on, Gillham… Oh, how I long for the day when we have nothing but nice, normal people. But it is getting better, and with so many of you returning and others keeping in touch, we must be doing something right. Our list of friends is growing rapidly, and we must be nearing the day when every day and every angler will be a pleasure to have here as our guests. To you 90%, thank you for keeping us sane and praising our unique fishery. To the next 5%, if you enjoyed the experience, look at what you learnt, come back, and enjoy the trip. To the last 5%, please try another fishery next year – there are enough around to have a change every time!
So on to the fishing in Krabi: 22 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to ten days, with 15 anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holiday. Between them all they caught 576 fish of 21 species, made up as follows: 47 arapaima to 350lb, eight alligator gar to 15lb, two arawana to 8lb, 97 Amazon red tail catfish to 80lb, 13 Asian red tail catfish to 25lb, three barramundi to 10lb, 99 black pacu to 35lb, one black shark carp of 8lb, ten Chao Phraya catfish to 80lb, three giant snakehead to 7lb, two Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, six Mekong catfish to 130lb, seven mrigal carp to 10lb, three rohu to 10lb, four tambaqui to 30lb, seven spotted featherback to 10lb, 215 Siamese carp to 85lb, five striped snakehead to 4lb, 41 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 35lb, four shovel nosed tiger catfish to 20lb, and eight wallago leeri to 15lb.
Danish fisherman Michael Hansen came on a day ticket last month with his father, and they caught the lake on a moody day, only taking three fish between them. But Michael could see the potential of Gillhams, and as he only works in Singapore, he returned for a weekend – two nights and two days. The first day started slowly, but in the afternoon he landed 11 fish: seven Siamese carp to 50lb, two sorubim to 30lb, one wallago leeri of 15lb, and just before the dinner gong a fine 200lb arapaima rounded off a special day. His second day was never going to beat the first day, but he did land another five fish, the best being a 75lb Amazon red tail catfish.
Next guest in was Michael Ward, a schoolteacher from the UK on his summer vacation. This was Michael’s first visit to Gillhams, but he has vowed to return next year. He fished well, and enjoyed every minute of his stay, catching 36 fish of nine species over six days of fishing. Michael noticed a lot of fish showing in the corner swim by the restaurant, so he moved onto there, and was rewarded with three Mekong catfish and three Chao Phraya, his biggest fish being a brace of arapaima at 120 and 140lb.
Then our peace was shattered with the return of Paul Duggan from Hong Kong. Paul was actually much better behaved this trip, as he had Kim the boss with him. Now this couple are fishing machines, and Paul can never sit still for more than two minutes – one minute fly fishing, and the next minute rod and reel fishing in this swim, that swim – blimey, by the time he left we needed a holiday. As for Kim, put her in a good swim, top up her pint pot with wine, and away she goes. She had her first ever fish over 100lb, taking the ladies arapaima record with a fine 350lb fish! She then followed up with PB Siamese carp and sorubim. Kim’s arm was aching as much from bell ringing as from hauling monsters! Paul first visited Gillhams in 2007, so he has seen many changes, as on his first trip we only had two bungalows, and no swimming pool or restaurant, so he really noticed the changes two years on. When I first met Paul he was learning to fly fish, and now not only has he mastered the art, but he also ties damned good flies. He presented me with a wonderful selection of superbly tied flies. Proof of the quality of Paul’s fly tying skills was the fish he caught: his first 100lb fish was on one of his creations at 120lb, followed by his second at 150lb, with two arapaima, a 50lb red tail and five sorubim to 35lb all on fly. Paul was no slouch at bait fishing either, when he continued beating personal best fish with his third ever arapaima, just falling short of Kim’s by 50lb at a mere 300lb! Paul finished with 21 fish of seven species, plus the lake record of nine bell rings! His trip was topped off with his first Sunday roast for a decade, and the return is being planned as I type this article. It is rumored that if he doesn’t hurry up and book Kim is coming on her own!
Another top fella arrived at the same time, Bart Van Lohuizen, who instantly got renamed after the Thai currency (baht) so he became known as Thai Baht! Not only is Thai Baht a good fisherman and all round nice fella, he makes the most superb fish carvings I have ever seen. Check his link on our website at www.fishcarving.nl Bart is also making us a meter-long arapaima carving for our bar, so put that with the arapaima painting and Amazon red tail catfish painting Chris Turnbull has done for us, we will soon have our own art gallery. To order original limited addition prints of the arapaima and red tail paintings, visit Chris’s web site at www.christurnbullart.com That’s my commissions earned this month, so on with the fishing. Thai Baht only came for four days, as he wasn’t sure what to expect here, but after beating his best arapaima with a fish of 120lb, and catching his first Siamese carp and tiger catfish, he was more than happy to swap some trips for the arapaima carving! He also wants to return to brush up his pool playing and bell ringing! From here he left to fish with our friend Bruce Dale, who has just completed and opened a superb fishery, Teak Tree Lake, in Chiang Mai.
A top couple who came for a day ticket were Tony and Merrill from Bedfordshire. They fell in love with Gillhams, and spent four days with us, wishing they had booked their complete holiday here. Merrill wanted a carp over 20lb, and achieved that several times, but unfortunately the two arapaima she hooked came adrift! Tony lost an arapaima on his first day, and set his heart on one, finally catching one on his last day on his last cast at 150lb. Among Tony’s other fish was a rare black shark carp at 8lb, making him only the fourth person to catch one of these beautiful mini carp from Gillhams – as we only have two in the lake, they are the harder to catch than a 300lb arapaima! They are now back home saving their hard-earned for a return, mind you Merrill is after Steve’s job as she is a dinner lady back in the UK.
The second week in August was our busiest period for this low season, and at one stage we only had two bungalows free. In this period Eddie and Lynne Grey arrived, who are the sort of guests that make our job fun; they came as strangers and left, as many do, as friends. The day after they arrived back home they phoned, and booked and paid for a return visit to spend Christmas with us. In seven days fishing Eddie landed 42 fish of nine species, with eight arapaima in his haul to 340lb, plus 18 Siamese carp to 50lb and Amazon red tail catfish to 55lb, so Eddie became the new bell-ringing champion. Mind you he recouped his losses, showing what a misspent youth and killer pool can do. Lynne did not fish, but is now the lady’s vodka and diet coke drinking champion, and she blamed it all on Eddie for ringing the bell so often!
As the crowds subsided the new guests started to arrive, and among them John and Selina Mitchell from Hong Kong. John was another fly fisherman, and his main target was to catch an arapaima on the fly, which he achieved with one of 95lb caught fairly, and one of our two-year-old home-bred arapaima at 65lb and not yet two years old, which he blatantly poached from Selina’s swim. When it rose under her rods, John promptly cast a fly bang on its nose, only to cop a major rollicking off a very p—-d off Selina! He went on to catch another arapaima of 160lb on bait to further rub poor Selina’s nose in it! Although the arapaima eluded her, Selina whooped John on fish caught, taking in three days’ fishing 15 fish to John’s six. Now Selina may be a small woman, but she takes no prisoners when she hooks a fish, and they ain’t getting an inch of line without a serious row! Never in all my life have I seen anyone play fish in the style Selina does. How would I describe it? Well, here goes: strike, dig your heels in, whack the rod butt between your thighs, and spin round 90 degrees with the clutch wound up to the max, take a deep breath, spin back like a coiled spring, and repeat. All I can say is what an advert for our sponsors Free Spirit – their Cat Tamer rods can be bent double around your waist then twisted round in a full circle around your neck without breaking! How about our other sponsor Gold Label Tackle? Their Pro Tuf 36lb bs line can stop an 80lb Chao Phraya catfish in its tracks! If Selina had caught her 80lb Chao Phraya four weeks earlier she would have broken the IGFA world record for the species, but unfortunately for her Allan Boon broke the old 60lb record here four weeks before with his 91lb beast! What a shame the IGFA do not do ladies all tackle freshwater fish records – after all they do for sea fish.
Another couple to arrive at the same time as Selina and John where Michael and Siew Ying from Malaysia, Siew is not a fisherlady, but treated Michael to a three-day fishing trip for his birthday. In his three-day birthday treat Michael landed eight fish of seven species, the icing on his cake certainly was the 180lb arapaima he caught, by far the biggest fish Michael had ever landed.
We had the return of the old silver fox David Arber, who fitted in a few days between a business trip around Asia. Dave also got crowned the pacu king when a shoal of the new offspring took a shine to his Richworth tutti pop-ups, and fair play to the old fox, as he waded through 11 of them ‘til the Siamese carp arrived, after which he took several up to 65lb. Now Dave is buying some land off me to build his dream holiday home overlooking the lake, so a lot of time was taken up with visits to the lawyer and sightseeing, plus we went on a day trip to Phuket, but in short evening sessions Dave landed seven red tail catfish to 75lb, plus a few other specimens.
The third week of August Steve Kendrick and Tracy arrived. They are school teachers from the UK, well nearly the UK, except for the river Mersey making them aliens! They were actually a really nice couple who have escaped the ‘pool to live in Germany (I think I would rather be in Liverpool, mind you, both languages are hard to grasp!). Tracy was not a fisherlady; she came to chill by the pool and try to eat her way through Steve’s extensive menu. She took the “if it ain’t on the menu ask” to a whole new dimension! Steve was here for fun and to try and catch as many different species as possible. He took 30 fish of nine species, and was just as chuffed with his 7lb arawana and 9lb barramundi as he was with his two arapaima to 150lb and five Amazon red tail catfish to 60lb. The fish he wanted the most was a big pink headed giant Gourami that kept taking the piss out of him by sticking its knobbly head out of the weeds every time he had fed the last of his bread to a friendly sorubim he named Colin! Now Tracy did get in on the fishing act when she landed a four-eyed Siamese carp… Well Tracy, bless her, thought the Siamese carp she caught had four eyes when she exclaimed, “Oh look, it has four eyes,” only to be told that one set were in fact the carp’s nostrils! Put that with her admission of having a habit of nicking bog rolls, light bulbs, towels and ashtrays from hotels, and you could understand why we could have done with an extra set of eyes ourselves! By the end of their trip they were planning the return, Steve claiming he wants a pink head and Tracy telling Steve our cook she wants to try something different – the mind boggles. Yes, these two where yet another couple who left as friends, and kept us smiling throughout their stay.
Our Denmark regular Preben Riis Klausen arrived with his much better half Maria. Now to say Preben was prepared was an understatement: along with a kilo of Canadian night crawler worms and several tons of boilies, pop-ups, tiger nuts, dips and enhancers, he didn’t leave any room for poor Maria to have a change of clothes, and the poor girl had to swim all day while her clothes dried out! We had to give him four rods so as he could fish each bait for a few minutes each day before changing to the next concoction. The worms sure worked out, as on the hard days he was out-fishing everyone on them. In true Danish style he never shared one worm with his neighbors, and as it was Tracy, I am surprised she never nicked one! In eight days fishing Preben landed 38 fish of nine species, taking six personal bests and never once ringing the bell, claiming his arm ached too much to ring it! The red tails in particular loved the worms, as he landed 16 to 70lb on them. Other fish of note were two arapaima to 200lb, tambaqui to 30lb, with a nice 45lb Chao Phraya and feather back also on the old wrigglers. Preben’s dream of a big Siamese carp eluded him yet again; mind you I reckon Maria’s curse scuppered all chances of a big carp!
Towards the end of the month Mike and Beth Newiss arrived. Mike had booked with me at last year’s Carpin’ On show at Five Lakes in Essex. In between booking their holiday and arriving, Beth and Mike were delighted to discover Beth was pregnant, so their sightseeing adventures were somewhat controlled, giving Mike more fishing time. Now Mike showed what a bit of work with a plumbing rod and watching fish movement could achieve. He only fished short sessions before and after day trips and keeping Beth amused. In 68 hours of fishing he landed 60 fish of nine species, including six arapaima to 160lb, in true arapaima form, as is normal, he lost a further five. He also had 13 Amazon red tail catfish to 70lb, one Asian red tail of 22lb, 20 Siamese carp to 60lb, plus pacu, sorubim, alligator gar, mrigal, and striped snake heads. Just what he would have caught had he fished the whole two weeks, Buddha only knows! Top fishing, top couple, and see you in a couple of years when young Newiss junior is ready to travel.
Another group to arrive were father and son team John and Ed Hoskins. Along with Ed’s friend Adam they came for five days of fishing and fun; it was a boys’ holiday with fishing as a bonus. Ed was the fisherman of the group, and to watch him float fishing for the Siamese carp was a joy; with his eyes glued to the float, he was striking before I could see it move, landing 19 to 70lb. In his total he landed 29 fish of five species, including arapaima to 120lb. Adam took his drinking seriously, downing several hundred gallons of beer along with landing arapaima to 160lb. Ed’s father John was along for fun, and certainly knew how to create it; he not only treated the boys and Chris his business manager for Asia to the trip, he also very generously treated the whole resort to a cracking night out of Indian food plus booze-up in town, followed by yet another night out to our top night spot in Krabi, the Kansas saloon, for a great meal, good music and stupid amounts of falling over water. Thanks John, your company was a pleasure to be in. Oh as an afterthought John did manage two carp to 55lb, beating Chris by one! To be fair John chilled out, didn’t fish much, and made sure the boys had a ball.
Last but by no means least, Richard White and Gemma came for a day and a night, stretching their budget to the limit, as they had been travelling around Asia for nine weeks on their way to a new life in Australia. Now poor Gem’s misfortune was Rick’s gain, as the poor girl had picked up a stomach infection in Cambodia. It flared up again here, and she was bed-ridden (well, bog-ridden be honest!). So between taking care of Gem, Rick actually sneaked in a fair bit of fishing, as they had to change their flights as poor Gem was too sick to travel. Things got worse when poor Gemma took a serious turn for the worse and got rushed to hospital, where the unfortunate couple spent five days. When Gem was released she was told to recuperate, and not to travel for three days. She had loved it here, and twisted Rick’s arm to return. Struggling and protesting, Rick phoned us and asked us to rush to the hospital and collect them before Gem changed her mind! As Gem rested and recovered, poor Rick was forced to do some more fishing, and by pawning everything down to his pants he managed to scrape enough funds to fish half days. Rick landed a total of 20 fish with arapaima of 330lb and 250lb, Siamese carp to 60lb, and red tails to 50lb along with wallago leeri, featherback, sorubim, pacu and a 24lb Asian red tail. On a footnote they have contacted us from Australia where Gemma is making a rapid recovery, and Rick is looking for a job to replenish their funds. Anyone over in Oz who is looking for a sympathetic fishing fanatic who will turn his hand to anything apart from rent boy, contact me and I will pass on a message!
So that about raps up this newsletter. Anyone booking for Christmas better hurry up, as spaces are disappearing fast. I know a few of you have told me you are coming, but to ensure your place we need your deposits in now, as we will sell on a first come first served basis. For all of you planning a visit contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +66861644554 or check out our website on www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com
Watch out for the September newsletter, as the arapaima are on a feed-up as I write! Best wishes to all our friends, clients and potential clients, from Stuart and all the gang here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts.