Hi everyone and welcome to 2009. Let’s all hope this recession ends soon – it’s really crippling us, as the first thing people do in troubled times is not take an exotic holiday. Don’t forget to cheer yourselves up and come and see me at the Carpin’ On show 2009 at Five Lakes near Maldon in Essex – see the link on our website. We are on Stand 10A, and if you book and pay on the day you receive a 10% discount. If you bring a Big Carp Magazine and show me, we will give you a further 5% discount, so that’s a massive 15% off the best fishing holiday on the planet. If you buy your tickets in advance for the show you automatically go into the free draw for a week for two with flights, fishing and accommodation at Gillhams Krabi. Just click on the link above.
The first few days of January saw the end of a holiday for a few people who spent Christmas with us. It’s always a sad moment, as people who came as clients and leave as friends depart, but most rebook so we all meet again. As I write this report the heatwave continues; we are having the hottest January on record, the sun is relentless, and every day is over 100 degrees. We haven’t had a drop of rain in five weeks; the lake has dropped a foot as we water the gardens twice a day from the lake. The gardens are struggling in the heat in the jungle around us; the trees are going brown so I just hope there isn’t a fire! The intense heat and flat calm conditions are making the fishing very hard, especially for the arapaima; they are just not feeding hard at all, just taking the odd snack. The Mekong catfish have started to feed in earnest again though, and it seems the stingray like the hot weather also. Talking of stingray, I was landing one for angler Eric Keogh, and stingrays are hard to net – it takes two or three of us to manhandle them into the net. As I was shoving the fish into the net, it swished its tail, impaling its sting into my foot, and I have never in my life experienced pain like it! Within seconds my whole leg was on fire; it was like someone pushing a red-hot poker up my leg, and all my muscles started to seize up as I went into shock.
The lads on the lake bundled me into our car and drove like lunatics to the local hospital, where they had been pre-warned of our arrival. The hospital had staff waiting, and I was rushed into emergency. By now the pain was excruciating, and my shirt was soaked with sweat. Immediately two doctors appeared and started injecting my foot with anesthetics and an anti-venom type substance. Next, the doctor cut open the wound and removed the sting and a black skin that covers the sting. The wound was then packed out with antibiotics and cotton wool. I had to go to hospital every day for over a week for more injections, and to have the wound opened and cleaned. All our stingrays in the lake had their stings removed, but we did not realize that every so often a stingray has two stings. This one had been overlooked and had two; the sting folds flat to the tail and we had missed this one. The 110lb fish had its sting removed this time. We have stingray to over 200lb in the lake, and in future we will no longer net them in this way until we are sure the sting is absent. Fishing at the lake is perfectly safe as stingrays stay away from people. They are like any creature – if cornered and panicked they lash out. The only time they will sting is when you start annoying them. It was my own fault for being blasé about these beautiful fish. I will have more respect for them next time, and for our customer’s safety no angler is allowed in the lake until any fish has been contained and made safe. This ensures that our customers are 100% safe at all times. For the record freshwater stingray are believed to reach 1,000lbs with 5m wingspans, so this fish was a baby really at 110lb. Mind you, can you imagine a 110lb hornet? We have five different species of fish in Gillhams over 100lb, and landing these huge fish is dangerous. We are professionals but we still get hurt; a moment’s lapse in concentration is all it takes. I will repeat our customers are safe as long as they take our advice and do not enter the water ‘til we say it is 100% safe to do so.
We are still getting the odd person, with the emphasis on odd, who come here, get a huge fish, and feel let down because they wanted one bigger. One guy this month had a 60lb Chao Phraya catfish, which is only 4lb off the world record, but he did not want a photo because in his words he will wait for a big fish. He even admitted it was the biggest fish he had ever caught! Mind you the same guy had his biggest carp, but waited for a bigger one, then when he had an arapaima and a big red tail catfish in a day, he was also disappointed because he had to wait a whole seven hours between fish! Oh where do they come from? Luckily the real nice guys who appreciate catching fish outweigh these so-called fishermen. Some people just want a trophy shot, and do not wish to put in any effort. We even get some that are gutted they don’t get several 100lb fish a day with a couple of 300lb-plus fish thrown in. We are thinking of starting a new service for these people where people can order their fish online; we will enhance their mug behind a fish and send them the picture of their prize without them even having to take the trouble to come here, and I bet we would have some takers! The other annoying people who come here who really wind us up are the litter louts. Last week we had a prat come here who actually called his self Gayland (I kid you not) with his two boyfriends, who I presume were called Ben Dover and Phil McCavity! Now he (it) was the typical berk who only wanted a trophy shot. On arrival they commented how beautiful the place is, only to throw rubbish all around their swim! Luckily I was out all day and just missed them leaving, because their swim was an absolute tip with rubbish strewn everywhere. It took the boys ten minutes to clear the mess of food wrappers, fag ends and general crap! If I had been there I would have donned the rubber gloves and dragged them by their blouses to clear up the mess themselves! We supply rubbish bags and have sand pots in the swims for faggot ends, so please use them. I personally get really angry about cigarette ends thrown on the ground or tossed in the lake. It makes me wonder what these people’s houses are like. That’s it – monthly whinge over!
Back to a bit of humor – my manager Watt, bless him, is very gullible and Sean got him a treat this month. Watt wanted to know how he could increase the size of his manhood, so Sean informed him of a cream called 3-in-1 that triples the size of your tackle, and poor young Watt fell for it. My daughter Becca bought some Immac hair remover over at Christmas, so we put it in a plain bottle and presented it to Watt. He went off with our security man the local policeman; they smeared the cream around their parts, and sat around for an hour talking of what they were going to do with their new king size weapons! After an hour they washed the cream off, along with all their forest. They came to see me in a state of horror and shock, but were very relieved when I told them it is the first stage of growth and to repeat it next month. Oh what a horrid person I am! Roll on next month!
The top method this month looks alien to European anglers, but lots of Siamese carp are coming out to a method feeder fished 3ft below a float with a golf ball sized fishmeal boilie suspended under it. Now I just wonder, would this method work in European waters? The first of the new arrivals were our dear friends Wil and Betty from Holland, who came last year for a few days and stayed a few weeks before setting off on an epic motorcycle journey from India back to Holland. This time their trip was tame, coming straight to Thailand and back by plane. We are planning a trip together now for June when we are going into the jungle fishing for Thai mahseer, that’s if the troubles in the Congo don’t end, because the minute they do we are all planning to race to catch a Goliath tiger fish. Last year Wil and Betty came as clients, and this year, as with many of our guests, they returned as friends. They planned a five-day trip here, and once again stayed longer – as Wil got into the fishing, the trip grew to ten days. We were dreading another group that came to us, as there were 30 people. We had to arrange a speedboat to collect them from an Island 50 miles away, and minibuses to transport them from the beach to here, but they were an absolute joy to host. The whole day went smoothly, and we even managed to accommodate them for the night when they didn’t wish to leave. There was not one person in the group who was the slightest problem, but the fish kept their nuts down though, as there had never been so many lines in the lake at once. Paul and Lorraine, it was a pleasure hosting you all, and we are looking forward to you all returning this year for a holiday. As for Lorraine, she deserved a medal organizing the whole holiday for 30.
We also had a visit from two brothers who we nicknamed The Wurzels, a really nice pair of lads who lived on a farm in the country, and decided to have an adventure. They had never been out of their county, let alone the country, and they had never heard of a place called Oxford where our guide Kevin hails from. Imagine the boys’ surprise when they landed in Thailand! Apparently at home they don’t go out drinking, “We’ze don’ts goes out dranking, we’ze stays in wiz a noice cup orf tea.” We asked one brother if he saw the guy opposite land the big Mekong catfish. He replied, “Nooooooo, I warz wachin’ der arnts – oi loike arnts, they is fazinating indzects.” Yes they were proper characters, really nice lads on an adventure, and imagine their return home to the farm explaining all the things they had seen to their family, “Duz yoo nowz in that Thailand theyz eats frags snakez an bugz, and even der gals haz got willies, not likes our sis aat all, yer nowz!” I must stop, but they kept us amused and were real nice guys.
So now enough of my twaddle and onto the fishing. This month has seen 45 day tickets (30 in one group) and 38 guests on Thailand fishing holidays, fishing in Thailand from a few days to a couple of weeks. Between them they landed 465 fish of 15 species, made up as follows… 25 arapaima to 400lbs, 12 Mekong catfish to 180lbs, 255 Siamese carp to 120lbs, 72 red tail catfish to 80lbs, five alligator gar to 15lbs, four Asian red tail catfish to 30lbs, 13 black pacu to 30lbs, seven Chao Phraya catfish to 65lbs, 19 spotted sorubim to 35lbs, four Julian’s golden prize carp to 25lbs, eight spotted featherback to 10lbs, 17 rohu carp to 16lbs, 18 striped snakehead to 4lbs, five giant stingray to 120lbs, and one wallago attu of 24lb.
As mentioned earlier Wil, with his much better half Betty, from Holland were the first new guests in after Christmas. The fishing this year was slower than last, but as Wil targets big fish it suited him and his style of fishing. Wil’s target this year was to fish Siam carp. Betty once again was chief photographer, reporter, general gopher, and live bait catcher. Betty loves float fishing for our lesser species, but Wil made strict rules – no float fishing before 9am so as not to spook the fish! Wil ended his session with five arapaima to 200lb, 13 Siamese carp to 110lb, and three Mekong catfish to 130lb. That’s three species in one trip exceeding 100lb! Plus he had five red tail catfish to 45lb, and some rohu and pacu.
The next new arrivals who came to us via Siam fishing tours, were totally laid back Mark with his non-fishing wife Carol. I have never in my life met someone as chilled out as Mark, a lovely guy who just got taken in by the peace and tranquility of Gillhams. We actually had to pick up Mark and all his equipment and move him to a different spot, as for four days Mark sat gazing in awe at the beauty of our resort, failing to cast at showing fish or sometimes for that matter even failing to cast. Poor Mark ended the trip with just one fish (mind you that was one more than Siam fishing tours managed to get him). He has vowed to return with his fishing head on next time, but mind you, Mark showed that you do not need to catch fish to enjoy a trip here. Day-ticket visitor pearl necklace Terry came for a day on the busiest day of the month when we had the group of 30 in, but he saw enough to fit a four-hour session in the next morning before leaving Krabi, and his keenness paid off with a 55lb Chao Phraya catfish and three Siamese carp to 40lb. Ian Norris, an ex-pat living in Australia did the usual, a 24-hour trip, and left it ‘til the last hour to catch, but it was worth the wait when first he landed a rare wallago attu at 24lb, followed by the ever-friendly Siamese carp, Black Spot, at 70lb.
Steve Cox made a return visit for a three-day trip with his mate Colin and two Thai friends, Kuan and Jay, who are regulars at Bungsamlan Lake in Bangkok. The Thai lads gave the two Brits a proper lesson in fishing with their knowledge of Thai species, landing 25 fish to the Britt’s 11 fish! Whenever Coxie leaves Gillhams, a big Siamese carp comes out, and this trip was no exception because as he left Wil had a 110lb carp. Another 48-hour visitor was builder Steve Holberry from Manchester with his mate Mark. They landed 12 fish between them, with the icing on the cake going to Steve in the shape of a 90lb Siamese carp. The cobblers from Manchester, Ross and Slim John, made the short drive from Phuket for a 1½ day trip. Slim John only made part of the first day, and retired knackered after landing seven carp in a short flurry of action, deciding to stop while ahead, and work his way through our restaurant menu! Ross meanwhile gave his all, fishing ‘til the final whistle for a haul of six Siamese carp to 60lb, one 50lb red tail catfish, and a 150lb Mekong catfish. This fish took him all over the lake while Slim sat eating a box of pies. Judging by the amount consumed by Slim, we estimated the fight took one hour, or 10 pies, 11 cakes, a bucket of ice cream, and 20 fags!
Then came the incredible hulk brothers Ricky and Terry Clark. These two giants were spot-on sound guys who came and enjoyed every moment of their stay. They came hoping for an arapaima, but whatever they caught was a bonus – just the attitude needed to fish here. Now the first day Ricky, who is about 10ft tall with a physique that makes Arnie look a wimp, caught a nice Mekong catfish. He plucked it from the landing net as if it was a minnow, “How big,” he asked? Well judging by the ease with which he had just lifted, it I would have said 5lb, but went for 120lb instead so as not to offend him! “No,” he stated, “I reckon 180lb,” and who was I to argue? But to humour him, I went to lift it, and amidst laughter from all around, I nearly followed through, and for sure it was easily 180lb. Ricky went on to take three Mekong, 17 Siamese carp, two red tail catfish, one pacu, and his target species, a nice 200lb arapaima. Terry, who is the same size as Ricky, with arms like hams, caught ten fish including two 100lb-plus arapaima. I am very glad the brothers were here when they were, as during this time I had the mishap with the stingray, and the lads plucked me from the lake like a feather and ran with me to the waiting car. Thanks you two, I owe you one. The hot weather was certainly bringing the stingrays on the feed, as two days later Keith from Liverpool landed another one, minus a sting! This fish weighed in at 120lb, and compensated for a lost arapaima.
Another laid back Mr. Nice Guy, Ken Weeks, booked in for a week. Ken came to chill out and hopefully catch a few fish. He was great fun to be with, and thoroughly enjoyed his stay here. The first few days Ken just chilled in the wrong swim, but was not bothered. Later in the week he moved to the other end of the lake, landing 31 fish for the week. He got into a shoal of Siamese carp, and took 18 to 50lb. At the same time my dear friends Jamie and Carol Mclean arrived just for a quiet break to see us. Jamie did manage a couple of short sessions between the swimming pool and sightseeing, while Carol divulged her secret steak and kidney pudding and bacon pudding recopies to Steve. Oh mate, these are to die for, and are now on the menu here at Gillhams – I have already put on another 20lbs! Jamie’s best fish from five was a red tail of 65lb. I had an enquiry before Christmas from a guy by the name of Jerker who wished to visit for a 48-hour trip. I thought it was a wind-up from a mate, but actually it turns out to be a popular name in Scandinavian countries – apparently there are lots of Jerkers over there! I suppose when they leave they say Jerker’s off! Sorry couldn’t resist that; it’s a bit like the lad called Wayne Kerr. OK back to the story… Jerker was a fishing fanatic; he booked three rods, and was buzzing from the moment he arrived. He had his better half Ida with him, and what a pair! He said that Ida could fish, but he only wanted her to use maize or boilies so as not to catch bigger fish than him. The first day Ida was a machine, taking eight Siamese carp in a short feeding spell, but the next day she properly gave Jerker a spanking with a 150lb Mekong catfish in the morning, followed by three more Siamese carp to 120lb. While all this was happening, poor Jerker in the next swim landed just two fish. The following week Jerker returned for a day’s fishing, and to save face poor Ida was not allowed to fish! He had a better day, probably because Ida was showing him what to do, landing five fish with some small carp, by Ida’s standards, up to 55lb, along with a nice featherback around 12lb.
Reiner from Dream Lake in Chiang Mai sent his Austrian client Andreas to us. By the time he arrived we were in the middle of a heatwave and the fishing was slow, but in a week he still managed 21 fish of five species. His target featherback eluded him, but on the final day, in the last hour of fishing, Andreas landed a dream fish in the shape of a 400lb arapaima! This was the same fish that rescued Len Gurd’s trip last month, again in the last hour of the last day. This arapaima is just packing on the weight – it was stocked at 300lb and avoided capture for 18 months. We are sure if it avoids capture for the next 18 months, it will reach 500lbs! At the same time as Andreas we had German client Peter in for three days. Peter’s target were predators, and he scored with two arapaima, best 160lb-plus, an 85lb stingray, and also took three red tail catfish. Germany has been making a good appearance here this month, and our final German client for the month was catfish fanatic Michael Zellner, who came for four days, and immediately rebooked for July when the heatwave will be well and truly over, as it will be our rainy season by then. Michael only landed nine fish due to the extreme heat, as we suffered the hottest January on record, but he did land his dream fish, an arapaima of 120lb. Michael’s attitude was what we wish everyone’s would be, enjoy the holiday – one big fish makes the holiday, and he could see enough potential here if the weather is kind to re book.
A bit of a sad one is the way to describe the next visitors. Here at Gillhams we want everyone to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the lake. We designed a fishery for the specialist angler where patience is rewarded with the biggest fish of your dreams. Most people catch a dream fish in a week, and sometimes two or three. We have never claimed Gillhams as a mackerel fishing location where you catch a fish a chuck from an overcrowded stock pond where all the fish are starving and emaciated. Our fish are the biggest and best-conditioned fish in Asia due to a low stocking density and an abundance of natural food. You should expect around four fish a day with a dream fish as a bonus. Henk and Job from Holland had not done their homework because if you look through our website you will see we are not a single specie overstocked bowl, and we chose the area for its peace, quiet and beauty, not like Bungsamlan in Bangkok where you can sit with crowds of muppets crossing lines amongst skyscrapers and fumes, hauling out vast bags of starved, badly beaten catfish before heading back to your hotel through traffic jams for a night of debauchery in the girlie bars. Unfortunately Gillhams was not for Henk and Job, so after a few days of only fishing part time they landed six fish, with a stingray of 80lb and Siamese carp to 50lb, before they headed back to Bangkok for a wild time in the bars, plus sticking hooks in numerous half starved and tatty Mekong and striped catfish amongst the crowds.
By contrast to Henk and Job, the next guest had read up on us, and wanted peace, quiet and big fish in beautiful surroundings. The spritely 70-years-young Arthur Hawkins, with his delightful fishing partner and wife Angie, came for a week on their way home from visiting their daughter and grandchildren in Australia. Arthur first noticed Gillhams via the article by Gary Newman in Anglers Mail after the Anglers Mail visit here. Arthur’s target was a big fish of any species, as he wanted to win a Jonny foreigner hat. In a week of chilling out and a second honeymoon, Arthur landed 13 fish of five species, the best being two arapaima to 220lb, and four red tail catfish to 75lb. Not to be outdone, Angie showed just what the women can do; she was a very competent and experienced fisherwoman who is thoroughly enjoying retirement with Arthur, fishing around the world. Angie landed 12 fish of four species, the best being four red tail catfish to 80lb, and six Siamese carp to 45lb. If poor Angie had not lost a couple of big fish, one being an arapaima, she would have upstaged Arthur. The couple both realized that the extreme heat was slowing the fishing, but agreed that Gillhams would still be paradise without the fish – in their words the fish were a bonus. Top couple, top fishing – we will see them both later in the year.
Gillhams is starting to get noticed in Singapore, so if any of our Singaporean followers are reading this and know the dates of the Singapore fishing show, please email me so we can attend and show just what we have, only a 1½ hour flight from Singapore. One guy who made the trip this month was Nick Wheeler, an ex-pat Englishman working and living there, Nick came with his wife and one-year-old daughter for a week’s holiday with three days fishing, and landed ten fish in the three days of six species, with arapaima to 120lb, Chao Phraya catfish to 60lb, a baby Mekong catfish of 65lb, plus red tail catfish to 65lb along with Siamese carp and sorubim, all in all a fair bit of sport for a short trip.
So that’s me running out of space folks, but don’t forget the Five Lakes show on the 7/8 March. By the time you get next month’s newsletter I will be freezing in the UK, wearing shoes, long trousers and jackets for the first time in a year! If your fishing club want a talk on Thailand fishing holidays or fishing in Thailand, please contact me, as I still have some dates available. Forget the recession, and treat yourself to the fishing trip of a lifetime here at www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com Phone +66861644554. So, ‘til next month, from all of us at Gillhams, bye for now, thanks for your support, and catch a whacker.
Stuart and the team.