Happy New Year to all our friends, clients and potential clients following this fishing in Thailand series. The fishing in Krabi picked up towards the end of the month as the dry season sets in and the temperatures settle down. The weather actually goes from one extreme to the other; we went from lots of rain to no rain and now we need rain to flush the lake out and water the gardens. Thanks for the feedback on last month’s newsletter – 90% of you liked the jokes, but a few others asked why we put them on a fishing newsletter. For those of you who did not like them all I can say is, “Humbug!” They were to get everyone laughing and happy for Christmas. One saddo (you know who you are) even admitted to not liking Christmas, saying it’s overrated and depressing!
Christmas went well even though the numbers were down from last year. We had 30 people in for Christmas dinner, the band let us down, but with Jack having his first Christmas, dressed as Father Christmas, plus standup comedian Ritchie “I am a legend in my own dinner break” MacDonald, no one really noticed. Next year I am getting a Father Christmas suit, as Jack got so many cuddles in his! Talking of Ritchie MacDonald I have known Ritchie for more years than we care to admit to have lived, and at the last Five Lakes show a little wizened up old man looking like a cross between Alf Garnet and Gandhi appeared at our stand, flung his arms around me and asked, “How are you, geezer?” Glancing across at Rob Maylin I whispered, “Who is this?” He replied, “Ritchie.” Well, bugger me, I hadn’t seen Ritchie for 12 years, and the last time he had long hair and didn’t look 100 years old! The only giveaway was his big strawberry nose that looks like it should be pugged up in a punnet! I have always liked Ritchie, and his larger than life personality, so promptly invited him over for Christmas.
Ritchie arrived Christmas day, which in itself was quite a feat for him, as he had never been further than France in his life. Within seconds of arriving he had our guests in fits of laughter, as in his small case all he had was some after shave and toiletries and a bottle of champagne he had bought at the airport, plus a stale egg sarnie he had bought from the garage in the UK in case there was no food on the plane! Believe me the fella had come for a month’s stay in the clothes he stood up in and nothing else! Luckily Ritchie is five-foot-sod-all and built like a filleted earwig, so we have managed to clothe him from the Thai markets. It’s all a bit far removed from the days when Ritchie wore Ray Bans and tonic suits – mind you, Micky Mouse tee shirt, Spiderman shorts and flip flops seem to suit him more, especially as most of his tales start with, “Once upon a time!” I will reveal more about Ritchie next month, as he did not fish the first few days; he was more busy telling people who he was and asking who had read his book! Poor old Ritchie seemed very disillusioned that few people remembered who he was. “Google my name,” he told them, “I am the man – my name is all over the Internet,” but when we did, nothing appeared until you put carp angler UK after his name. In true Ritchie style he informed us all that if you Google his name in England he is all over the first ten pages but as we were in Thailand he was not known. Oh bless the wee sod, he obviously he thinks ‘www’ is to do with wrestling!
Two apologies this month, first to Manfred Ehmanns of Ehmanns Fishing Tackle in Germany – sorry, I spelled your name wrong last month, so my wrist is slapped. Another name I got wrong that caused tears was our gay fishing guide Scott with two T’s – sorry Bruce, it won’t happen again! Scott also got a day’s fishing in this month, landing 13 fish of five species including a rare appearance of a big head carp of 12lb. Blimey, some people are sensitive! I even get stick off my proofreader for wrong spellings – there, their, Mr. Phil, sorry, but all I am doing is keeping you on your toes! (When, oh when will you learn the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’, you great big lard? – Phil.)
Rob Maylin’s Mekong catfish world record was rocked a bit this month when day ticket angler Joe Ball caught a 191lb fish on a Richworth Tutti flavour boilie fished 3ft under a float in 25ft of water. This beast of a fish beat Rob’s world record by 6lb, but as it was so close was not claimed, plus it’s only a matter of time before we obliterate the record, as we have at least 15 Mekong catfish over 250lb in the lake. Joe also landed a 60lb Chao Phraya catfish and a 45lb Amazon red tail catfish. The day ticket anglers have done well this month – 11-year-old Karl McKellar came for a day with his dad Paul who started the ball rolling with a 50lb Siamese carp, only to be totally outdone by Karl who landed, totally unaided, a 110lb Siamese carp.
We have removed another four Chao Phraya catfish, leaving nine to go. Mind you, if Scott with two T’s had held the landing net instead of picking his nose we would have removed five. Once these pests have gone we can get on with stocking some of our rare and exotic species. In our stock ponds at the moment we have some very special fish that are going to open a few eyes. I will reveal these when we stock them in April, by which time we are hoping to have only two huge Chao Phraya left in the lake.
I touched on the subject of flat braid for hooklinks last month after noticing mouth damage to our fish, especially the carp species; I know my old mate Lez Bamford also raised the issue on his Redmire forum. We are both considering banning braided hook links due to this problem. My good friends Terry and Rob Eustace of Gold Label tackle both visited us while this debate was going on, and in true Gold Label tackle form went home and sourced a flat braid. Over the last three months we have been field testing a flat braid for Gold Label; we are trying the 60lb bs braid, which is as thin as other 35lb hooklink material, tough as you like, and very fish friendly. In fact since using it we have not noticed any damage or even redness on our fish’s mouths. We have had Siamese carp to 110lb landed on it, and that fish had never been caught before, avoiding capture since being stocked in April 2007. When we stock big carp they never get caught inside the first year, but this week saw a 90lb carp landed ten weeks after stocking. Is the reason these uncaught fish are suddenly being landed anything to do with the new braid? Time will tell.
The Mekong catfish is regarded as the hardest fighting fish in freshwater, and this new braided hooklink put one of 191lb on the bank this month. The fish fought for two hours; its mouth was as clean as a whistle, the braid was as good as new, and the fish had not been caught since being stocked in April 2007. This hooklink really is doing the business – we are even landing arapaima in excess of 300lb on it, and I can’t sing its praises enough. When Gold Label brings it out on the market I would recommend anglers to get on it and fisheries to insist on its use.
The month was going well, with lovely people and no problems, but then it happened – the client from hell – foul mouthed, arrogant and rude. Luckily he only came for two days’ fishing, which he found slow and poor – on his first day only landing four arapaima and three red tail catfish. The second day was just full of abuse and foul language, as he only landed two Siamese carp. No one escaped this old moron’s tongue, and it was a relief to see him leave. Then he shocked us by saying he wanted to return – what a shame we are fully booked for the next ten years!
This once again takes us into Gillham’s Gripe… This month, crap tackle and bad rigs are my main things this month, apart from another problem we have in Thailand – ladies who leave the toilet seat up! Why do people bring their own inferior rods, reels and end tackle when we supply the best is beyond me. But my real concern is people tying up rigs and not showing us. We get death rigs that won’t fall apart on breaking, thin braids that damage fish’s mouths, multi-hook rigs that I wouldn’t use on alligators let alone fish! Then there’s the light tackle that people have to play fish to exhaustion on, and when we pull them on all the above problems, they get shirty and want to argue. We tell everyone to read our rules, and on arrival they are shown them, and sign a book to say they agree, but then they go straight onto the lake and break them. Our fish are in pristine condition and that is the way we intend to keep them. Don’t get me wrong, if you have good tackle and wish to use it, fine, and if you have ideas with rigs and they are safe, we welcome you to use them. We only pick up new tricks by learning from our anglers, but we will not tolerate poor tackle and bad rigs, nor will we get in an argument over it – no means no! The rigs below have all been found here!
Casting into another angler’s swim is another thing we hate. This month saw one guy casting over two other people’s swims to a fish someone was playing. The result was a bloody great tangle, one lost fish, and a very pissed off angler. Then we get the guy who sits and does nothing all day while some other poor sod baits a swim, spending two hours spodding bait out, only for the fish to move in front of him, and then some berk casting onto his baited area! We even had one bloke this month that lazed back doing nothing, then wanted someone to move out of the swim they had built up, saying it was not fair that this fella was having fish when he wasn’t! How about coming to eat dinner in the restaurant while leaving the baited rods cast out? The said rod gets a take and tows tackle all round the lake into everyone’s lines. When we pulled the client about it he was most disappointed that we never called him to wind his prize in, and could not see what the problem was. It has all happened this month – another dickhead was caught fishing after midnight when everyone was in bed. When asked how he would handle a big fish on his own, he replied, “Oh, I will manage – I can drag it on the bank, or if it’s too big cut the line.” We have set fishing times, as our guides need a rest. Some people think we should be on hand 24/7, getting offended when we won’t let them fish late. The light tackle brigade will not be catered for here, as we do not allow fish to be put through undue stress so as you can pin another “I done it” medal on your chest. And as for the attitude of, “If one of your fish dies, I will pay for it even if it is the rarest, biggest fish on the planet that is irreplaceable,” what sort of person looks at fish like that? Thankfully 95% of our clients care about the fish, abide by the rules, and are great people. It’s just a shame that the 5% are the ones that stick in our minds.
OK so on to the fishing in Krabi: 43 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to ten days, with 29 anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holiday. Despite the lake being extremely busy, they managed between them all to catch 586 fish of 24 species: 75 arapaima to 350lb, eight alligator gar to 20lb, two arawana to 8lb, 69 Amazon red tail catfish to 80lb, 21 Asian red tail catfish to 28lb, 43 black pacu to 38lb, one big head carp of 12lb, five Chao Phraya catfish to 75lb, one giant gourami of 8lb, one giant featherback of 10lb, five Julian’s golden prize carp to 24lb, six Mekong catfish to 191lb, two mad carp to 4lb, three mrigal carp to 8lb, 15 rohu to 20lb, seven tambaqui to 45lb, three spotted featherback to 10lb, 255 Siamese carp to 110lb, one striped catfish of 10lb, seven striped snakehead to 4lb, 32 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 40lb, seven shovel nosed tiger catfish to 20lb, five wallago attu to 24lb and 12 wallago leeri to 28lb.
Due to the amount of people fishing this month some of you will be left out of this newsletter. This has no reflection on you or your angling ability, it is purely down to space… or whether you rang the bell! The first guests of the month actually started their fishing at the end of November, Pure Fishing sales director Stewart Downing and his lovely wife Heather. Stewart is a fella I have known for some time, and he’s a good all round angler. Being the sales director of Pure Fishing, Stewart came loaded to the gunnels with goodies – what Pure Fishing doesn’t sell is not worth selling. He actually had excess baggage with all our goodies, considering Pure Fishing own Abu, who had their dream trip winners here for free at the same time as Stew was here, who paid for his trip. Abu did not give us one item of tackle despite being given the trip for free, unlike Stew who had paid for his trip. He bought with him what I would have expected from Abu! Talking of companies in the Pure Fishing portfolio, they also own Penn, and Stew gave us the new Penn baitrunner reel. What a bit of kit this reel is! The drag is so smooth and full of power, and the big Mekong was landed on it this month, as were two arapaima over 300lb. If you are a big fish angler I highly recommend this reel. In 13 days of fishing odd hours between day trips Stewart landed 40 fish of nine species. His target species was arapaima, of which he landed four up to 300lb, and nine Amazon red tail catfish up to 60lb. Heather fished far fewer hours than Stewart preferring to chill out by the pool, but she still landed 12 fish of six species, the best being a 200lb arapaima.
We also hosted the Abu dream trip from Sweden. I was disappointed with Abu, having given them four bungalows with ten people fishing, that they didn’t even send us a goodie bag for donating around £5,000 worth of prize for them. The fact that there wasn’t even a letter of thanks from their main office in Sweden stuck in the throat a bit too, as it was peak season, and I could have sold their places two times over. To be honest our type of fishing was not really their prizewinners’ thing – they where mainly fly or sea fisherman. They made a lot of noise, which pushed the fish over to the other side of the lake, which was good for our quiet guests, as it put more fish in front of them. In between a lot of drinking they only landed eight fish between them, with two arapaima over 200lb to 280lb.
We had another return trip by ex-professional cyclist Graham Jones. He fished for 12 days, and was exceptionally unlucky, as every swim Graham left produced a big fish. He did manage 28 fish of seven species, including three of the smallest arapaima in the lake between 70 and 90lbs. Graham’s pool playing wasn’t much better, and what he didn’t lose in bell ringing he lost at killer pool.
Next in was returning client Mike Etherington, Mike comes from Burnley, and he is softly spoken with the strongest accent I have come across, making it very hard to understand him, a bit like his local soccer team I suppose! He certainly fishes better than his team play – in seven days’ fishing Mike landed 48 fish of nine species, including seven arapaima up to 200lb and 16 Amazon red tail catfish to 65lb. He never rang the bell, but I am not sure if he told us to sod off or not as I couldn’t find a translator. To be fair to Mike though, he never once took a drink off the other bell ringers. Maybe he didn’t understand our Southern slang, because our Thai guide Gollock who does not speak English was having long in-depth conversations with him!
We also had big fish hunter and pioneer Arnout Terlouw. Gillhams is not really Arnout’s thing; he is more the Indiana Jones of the fishing world, but as he was on his way for some wild giant snakehead fishing in Malaysia, he decided to look in on us to try for a big Siamese carp, as I believe this is one of the few 100lb-plus freshwater fish to have eluded him. In four days he landed 13 Siamese carp, the best only going 35lb, and he also had a Mekong catfish of 120lb.
We had a young Swedish angler, Erik Petersson, come to us for just two half days as a birthday present from his mum and dad. Erik is a young up and coming Swedish carp angler who makes a few appearances on Solar Tackle website. He is a name to watch for, and in the short time he had he fished like demon and landed nine fish of five species, the best being a 90lb arapaima.
Next guest in was Mr. Nice Guy Richard Larkin. Richard is a regular visitor to us, this being his third Christmas visit, and like last year, he was accompanied by his mother, Ann. This year they came for a month, then they had a second month travelling around Thailand, but such is Richards and Ann’s love of Gillhams they are returning later in January for a further ten days. Between day trips and chilling around the pool, Richard picked his times and swims to fish, landing 25 fish of six species, which included nine arapaima, the best being one of 200lb, which caused mayhem when I was assisting Richard with pictures. We always tell our clients to leave the water before we release the fish, as arapaima, although appearing docile, can inflict serious damage with a head butt. I forgot to remind Richard to leave the water, and on release the fish swam straight at the other guide, who promptly shoved the fish away, only for it to swim straight at me in full aggressive mode. I stepped aside, and there, straight in the arapaima’s field of vision was Richard, who had been standing behind me. In the blink of an eye it gave him a full on Glasgow kiss, missing his nuts by inches, and poor old Richard had to spend the rest of his trip nursing a bruise the size of a plate! On Christmas day Richard got to meet his childhood hero, Ritchie MacDonald. Many Christmases ago Ann bought Ritchie’s book for him, so this year he has finally got it signed by the main man in person. I don’t think he realized before just what a larger than life character Ritchie is – his myth of a sensible, straightforward fella was well and truly shattered, as Ritchie got more pissed and went into his full array of Ritchie-isms!
Next guests to arrive were John and Sue Hymes who came for week with us before heading of for some snakehead fishing and a live-aboard diving trip. This couple are mad keen fishers, who travel the globe chasing their dream fish. Sue was a true Essex girl, arriving in white stilettos and matching handbag, and with Burberry cases. She commented on wishing to fish for Nile perch on Lake “Naseem”. I presume she would like Prince Hamed as her guide!! Seriously, these two were a fun couple; the type who make our job worthwhile, and they also took their fishing seriously, with much rivalry between them. They started fishing upon arrival, and after explaining that the lake was fishing slower than normal, John proceeded to land a 340lb arapaima in the first hour! He went on to land seven fish of six species, including a 75lb Amazon red tail and a 55lb Chao Phraya catfish, plus tiger and Asian red tail catfish and a Siamese carp. Sue also had an arapaima of 150lb, plus 14 other fish of five species, and as she caught the most fish in tough conditions she was declared the winner.
Around the same time John and Becs James arrived. They were on their honeymoon, and before leaving, John had spotted Deane Macey on TV, raving about Gillhams. So he decided to come for a day, which developed into a week, then after checking out for a Christmas elsewhere they decided to cancel and return for Christmas with us. Another great couple who were fun to be with, they helped make our Christmas special, along with all our other guests – this year’s Christmas was spot-on with all good people. John was fishing while Becs was chilling around the pool, and John ended his prolonged stay with 33 fish of seven species including 11 arapaima, with the best being a brace of 300lb-plus fish. Yet another couple who wished they could stay longer, and have vowed to return.
Some good short stay anglers who managed a few included Jody, who came to us via his best mate Colin Baker of Richworth. Jody came for a day and stayed for two after landing a 340lb arapaima on his first day, along with a couple of Siamese carp. He narrowly missed the second 100lb species the next morning when he landed a 90lb Mekong catfish along with two more Siamese carp to 30lb. At the same time we had Canadian Matt Gardner on a two-day trip who also got his dream arapaima of 190lb, along with some nice Siamese carp. Wilson Chan was another two-day visitor, who came hoping to catch a fish over 20lb, which he achieved nine times in his ten-fish haul of three species. The best being a brace of Siamese carp at 55lb. Then there were a couple of Swedish lads who came for a disappointing day, only catching one small fish each in the shape of a 150lb arapaima and a 90lb Mekong! Sean got their names wrong on his catch report, so I left them off as I know they were not called Wayne or Ker!
Eddie and Lynn Grey returned to spend a week with us for Christmas, and Lynn nearly won me a free holiday with Smirnoff by giving us the highest sales of vodka in Thailand for December! Eddie once again got stuck into the arapaima, landing seven up to 340lb. Alan the Scottish ballroom designer for cruise ships was our next visitor. I kid you not, this is his job – mind you, he would be crap at designing a pool hall, judging by his pitiful performance at killer pool! He was another guest to come via Deane Macey, and after seeing his report in the Angling Times, Alan just had to come and try for a few days. He landed nine fish of five species including the target arapaima at 280lb. To say he was over the moon would be an understatement – oh let the bells ring out for Christmas!
Ashley and Jeremy De Jager from Holland came to spend Christmas with us, staying for two weeks with six days fishing between sightseeing with their mum. They did see some sights here as well, with Ritchie on form. Ashley was the fisherman, and did extremely well, landing 40 fish of nine species with six arapaima, 22 Siamese carp, plus sorubim, red tail catfish, Amazon and Thai, alligator gar, black pacu, tambaqui and wallago leeri. Jeremy did not fish as hard as Ashley, and would be the first to admit to only being a part time angler. He enjoyed himself though, and landed seven fish of five species with a new PB by 100lb with a 110lb arapaima. Mum didn’t fish, and was horrified to be called sweetheart by Ritchie, but she stuck to the task admirably of keeping Ritchie talking about himself to save the other guests from an ear bashing. Managing to listen and say, “Yes” in the right places but still keep a straight face! Upon returning home they promptly booked up next Christmas, making it them and the Larkins and Downings all booked for next Christmas. Also Ashley sneaked in another trip for August, this time with his dad, who admits to owning a copy of Ritchie’s book!
Keith and Tracie were another couple who wished they had come for longer. Mind you, in their five-day stay Keith was so chuffed with Gillhams and the fishing in Krabi that he went down on one knee and proposed to Tracie, who promptly told him to ‘F-off!’ Only joking; it had a happy ending when she said, “Yes.” Tracie was another angel who helped keep the peace by taking Ritchie shopping and being a mum to him. She should be a social worker the way she sat and smiled at Ritchie while he told her his full array of tales about his dubious past! She even fished for the first time on the last day, wishing she had tried earlier. She has vowed to beat Keith on their next visit after landing three fish, the best being a 27lb Amazon red tail catfish. Keith landed 27 fish of six species, the best being a 190lb arapaima.
That about sums up this month folks, so thank you all for your support. Just a couple of plugs here… Don’t forget to come and see us at the Five Lakes Carpin’ On Show in Essex on the 6/7th March, and the Visma at the Ahoy Center, Rotterdam, Holland on the 25/26/27/28th March. Book early for that dream holiday to avoid disappointment, as many dates in 2010 are already fully booked. One that was and now isn’t is the 16th To 29th August. We had the whole resort booked for a wedding, but that has now been cancelled. For bookings and general enquiries phone Stuart on +66861644554 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tight lines for 2010, stay lucky, and best wishes from all at www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com