Hi to everyone following our ‘Fishing in Thailand’ Krabi newsletter. January was a very hot month making the fishing difficult on some days. We seem to be following last year’s pattern of a heatwave in January/February, if the pattern continues we are expecting a deluge of rain in March/April. The arapaima fishing in Thailand always picks up when we have rain. We average around 50 arapaima per month, and although the hot month’s figures seem high, the numbers are made up by more anglers. The rain does not affect the Siamese carp fishing in Thailand; I suppose as they are a native species they are used to our unpredictable subtropical weather.
New Year’s Eve was a good night this year. We all let off Chinese lanterns at the side of the lake, which are basically paper tubes which you light a torch under, write a message to any lost loved ones, and when they heat up they go up and into the sky. Dear old Ritchie McDonald was still here, and as he can’t write decided to shout his message to his dear old mum who passed away last Christmas. Then we all headed into town for a wild drunken night, with entertainment once again provided by Ritchie who spent the whole night swinging around poles, breakdancing, and asking everyone he met if they knew who he was or had read his book! New Year’s Day arrived with some sore heads and fishing didn’t resume until the crack of 11am! Ritchie didn’t fish at all this day, preferring to sit on his balcony naked and drunk, fish spotting!
In fact Ritchie did not fish that much during his stay, just picking odd hours and casting where he spotted fish. He has lost none of his fish spotting skills and landed ten arapaima to 150lb, plus Amazon red tail catfish, spotted sorubim and pacu. The funniest one of all was when poor Ritchie was sitting on his balcony nursing a touch of the old Delhi Belly. When a humongous Harry Palmer rolled on the far weedbed Ritchie leapt into action, sprinted into position, and went for the big chuck to cover the fish. As Ritchie let go, so did his bowels. Hoping no one had noticed, Ritchie casually wound in and sneaked back to change! Watch out for the new book, Ritchie on Arapaima! The front cover will be Ritchie naked on the balcony fish spotting – a sneak preview is included below! Dear old Ritchie continued to keep our guests amused with tales of being an Olympic high diver when he was young, his two karate style black belts, plus his bank robbing days!
Then there was his spell in the Gurkha regiment. On his hike through the Nepali mountains to join up he met Ian McNab, who was hiking back after his spell in the Gurkhas. When asked, “Don’t you mean Andy McNab?” Ritchie replied, “No, that’s Ian’s brother, but I know him as well!” Ritchie should know all about wars and soldiers, but when one of our guests said they had just come in from Vietnam, Ritchie replied, “F**k me geezer, that’s dodgy – why did you go on holiday in a war zone?” Baffled, the customer asked what he was on about. Ritchie replied, “The war with the Yanks.” When told the war was over 30-odd years ago, Ritchie asked, “Oh is it? Who won?”
But the classic was when he was world kick boxing champion. He was fighting a bloke with a false leg, and the geezer kept kicking him and hurting him, so Ritchie pulled the bloke’s false leg off, hit him over the head with it and knocked him out! Ritchie, as I said before, is now bald and while he was here badly sunburned his bald head. He was asked, “Why don’t you put cream on it?” His reply was, “My nickname is Nails ‘cos I am as hard as ‘em – only poofs put cream on.” Bless him… I could write a book myself about loveable Ritchie. In fishing, if Ritchie told me he caught a 100lb minnow I would know it was true, but in the fella’s private life, I wouldn’t believe him if he said he was a milk monitor at school!
We had an interesting few days this month when fish expert Zeb Hogan visited us with National Geographic to continue his TV series, Monster Fish in Thailand. Zeb is a guy I had been looking forward to meeting for a long time. Since starting out on this project of ours I have met many knowledgeable experts in the world of fish, and Zeb is for sure at the very top. He in turn had been looking forward to coming here to see if the stories of our monster arapaima where a myth or fact, and I know he was blown away with our setup and size of fish. He now knows that stories of arapaima reaching weights in excess of 400lb are true. He was like a kid in a toy factory, and confirmed that we have the biggest arapaima in the world. We even got Zeb fishing, landing five arapaima to 200lb, plus Amazon red tails and Asian red tails. Zeb got sidetracked from his studies with fishing and found it hard to drag himself away from the fishing to do his studies, which included taking fin samples of our fish, something he has not been able to do elsewhere. His findings on Thai arapaima should be interesting, as will the film, which should go worldwide next year.
The film crew also wanted to film alligator gar, but as they had so much footage of arapaima they abandoned the idea. We had bought a 40lb alligator to put in a clear pond for filming, but he wasn’t wasted, as he now has a new nine-acre home in the main lake! The other reason for National Geographic’s and Zeb’s visit was to see our fish farming techniques; we netted one of our stock ponds for them. The pond has 100 arapaima at two years old and between 60 and 80lb, plus 150 Amazon red tail catfish between 10 and 20lb. Zeb was in his element in with the fish – as the nets closed in there were jumping arapaima everywhere, and all the netting team had to keep ducking as 60lb-plus fish were going through the air like a snow storm! Our plan was to move 14 arapaima and 30 Amazon red tails to some smaller growing-on ponds to grow them to 100lb-plus arapaima and 40lb-plus red tails to stock in the main lake in April. During the netting we had an added bonus in the shape of 11 arapaima in excess of 80lb, 16 Amazon red tail catfish between 25 and 40lb, plus eight Siamese carp over 30lb, which we transferred to the main lake.
We also added some other new fish this month; probably the most exciting fish for us are 12 Nile perch of around 10lb. We were going to wait ‘til they were 20lb-plus but as the Java barb population continues to explode with less Chao Phraya catfish (two less this month) it’s hard work continually feeding the Nile perch, so we decided to add half to the lake now and see what happens! As these fish are just a year old at 10lb, with the abundance of silver fish here for them we are expecting them to double in size each year. So in four years we should have them to 100lb-plus making yet another 100lb species to catch at Gillhams. We also stocked six Atlantic tarpon around the same size. These stunning fish had outgrown one of our fish farmer friend’s aquarium of exotic fish from around the world so he sold them to us. Being another fry feeder they should also pile on the weight, and who knows, maybe they will attain the 100lb club! The last but not least addition to our growing worldwide collection of fish was a fish I have been searching for over the last four years – Amazon ripsaw catfish, or as they are more commonly known Niger catfish. Mr. Egg found me two at around 15lb, which went in the lake; they are a scavenger that prefers maize, bread or crustaceans. They are known to grow to 60lb in the wild, so they will not become one of our giant species, but are a prehistoric-looking fish that will give our fish species hunters yet another fish to target.
No complaints this month about the newsletter, which must mean no one wanted to admit it was them I wrote about! Well actually that’s not true – Scott the gay fishing guide does not like being called gay, but what can he expect when he wanders around in pink hot pants and a hair slide! Talking of Scott he has a new fetish now… Terry Eustace’s shop manager is on holiday here at the moment, with his better half Tina, who hung her knickers out to dry on the balcony, but when she went to collect them they were missing. Scott was spotted in the bushes with Tina’s drawers, and when confronted claimed they had blown there in the wind and he was retrieving them for her! Yeah, right! Why where they on his head then? Sadly we are losing Scott at the end of February, as he wants to accompany his partner Ben Dover to the Sydney Mardi Gras, after they missed their local Gay Pride event in Brighton last year.
Gillhams Gripe! My main issues this month are the dickheads who go on fishing forums, claiming to have invented rigs and tactics that we showed them, proclaiming how with their expertise they sussed out how to fish the place, and that they have taught our guides where to fish and how to fish. They are telling people things they sussed out that they actually copied from our website! Get real lads, and remember most of the stuff you write on the forums gets pointed out to me. Or the person who says on arrival, “If I caught one big fish this week I would be happy,” but who then gets around five big fish and complains it’s slow. Or the one who is watching the angler opposite who has plumbed his swim, fed bait for two days and starts catching, only then to start moaning that the other fisherman is in a better swim. We had a classic case of this when a fella complained it wasn’t fair that the said bloke was catching while he blanked for three days, only for the one catching to swap with him and proceed to catch from the moaner’s swim while the moaner blanked in the ‘going’ swim.
If you cast where it lands and are too bone idle to bait up, then you get what you deserve. We are not here to bait, cast and strike for you; we provide the best lake with the biggest fish in the world and with the best tackle – the rest is down to you! You are welcome to come here and try new ideas, as that’s how we learn new methods, but don’t complain about poor fishing when your great idea is not shared by our fish. The old favorite is still getting used: “The line broke!” No it didn’t; you broke the line, because if you listened to us and checked drag settings our balanced tackle can’t break. Trying to stop 400lb of angry fish something has to give. Let them run, follow them, and trust us that they don’t jump out of the lake and run up the road – they really do not have anywhere to go!
We continue to get people catching our silver fish and using them as live baits. We banned live baits for the simple reason that when you cast one off, the hole left by the hook gets bacteria in the wound, which creates fungus that can spread and wipe out our fish stock. We have now had to ban freshwater fish completely, alive or dead, as some prats kept using live bait and claiming they were dead when they cast out, but must have just been unconscious and recovered. Long hooklinks or freelined fish baits do catch more arapaima; we use short hooklinks with feeders or bubble floats to hit the arapaima in the face when they inhale the bait, otherwise the hook and link go so far down the arapaima’s stomach it can kill them. Do some of these trophy hunters care? Do they hell – as long as they get their picture, who cares about the fish? Well we do, as do our proper fishermen, so if you are coming here with plans to cheat, be warned when caught you will be asked to leave with no refund! Our lake is built for specialist anglers, and we have the biggest freshwater fish in the world. Because we are not overstocked our fish are getting bigger and are in top condition, they are not easy, and do not queue up to be caught. You will average three to four fish a day here, and over a few days you should get a fish of your dreams. If you are looking for a fish a cast please do not come here, because Gillhams is not that kind of fishery. Our lake is designed for fishermen not trophy hunters who whinge when a 100lb fish doesn’t come in the first day.
So let’s get on to the fishing in Krabi: 34 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from two to ten days, with 38 anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holiday. Despite the lake being busy, they managed between them all to catch 503 fish of 22 species: The arapaima fishing is still producing well despite the conditions, with 69 arapaima to 300lb, six alligator gar to 20lb, one arawana of 7lb, 77 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, 19 Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, 27 black pacu to 30lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 60lb, one giant gourami of 10lb, two giant featherback to 9lb, six Julian’s golden prize carp to 30lb, two Mekong catfish to 150lb, three mad carp to 3lb, four mrigal carp to 10lb, eight rohu to 15lb, nine tambaqui to 30lb, five spotted featherback to 8lb, 198 Siamese carp to 105lb, three striped snakehead to 3lb, 36 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 45lb, six shovel nosed tiger catfish to 15lb, two wallago attu to 15lb and six wallago leeri to 20lb.
First guest to make the news this month is Troy Smith, who came with his girlfriend Tina and stepson Liam. This family came for fun and fishing, which is the right attitude for Gillhams. They were engaged recently; Troy got Tina an engagement ring, and she got him a new bivvy – now that’s my kind of girl! They are now making plans to hold their wedding here in 2012. When Tina stated it was a long way off, Troy risked a smack round the earhole by telling her she would be an old girl by then at 37! They are booking the whole lake for friends and family – I wish some of my lot would have a wedding like that! One of my old friends is a friend of Troy’s, Gary Lowe, aka the Milky Bar Kid, and if he does make it, the ladyboy population of Thailand had better look out, ‘cos I have heard old Milky is into that sort of thing! Back to the fishing, and in six days’ fishing Troy landed 23 fish of five species including 16 Siamese carp to 90lb, plus arapaima to 300lb. Troy’s other half, Tina, decided to try her hand one afternoon and landed a stunning 200lb arapaima, and their son Liam was not left out when he landed a 55lb Chao Phraya catfish and a Siamese carp of 25lb.
Dave Jones, from my old stomping ground, Brighton, came to Gillhams on a day ticket and promptly fell in love with our resort. Half way into the day Dave’s better half Julie came to see me to ask if they could stay the night, which turned into three nights with a daily run to their hotel to get more clean clothes. God knows what the hotel staff thought when Julie had left with Dave and kept returning to the hotel with me. I reckon they thought we had bumped old Dave off. We also took them for a night out to watch Ritchie’s pole dancing, and I am sure they were both impressed with the old fella’s moves and tales of the unexpected! I will be very surprised if they don’t rebook for Christmas, especially if Ritchie returns to teach them pole dancing! Dave landed ten fish topped by a 230lb arapaima and a 60lb Siamese carp.
We also had the return of Wayne Cooper, who fished with us for three days before Christmas, before heading off for a beach holiday with a planned return for the last three days of his trip. He was accompanied by his wife Siobhan, but I was stumped as to what to call her, as her name reads very differently from the spelling (a bit like how I write, eh Phil?). Wayne had literally just got back from a trip to Rainbow Lake the day before, so obviously, Simon, the missus is very understanding! In three days he landed five arapaima to 150lb, plus five other fish of five species including a 75lb Amazon red tail catfish.
Next to arrive was Steve Holberry from Stockport, hoping to improve on his best Siamese carp caught here last year of 90lb. Steve came with his wife Ellie and their best friend Mike. Steve and Mike always have some banter and friendly rivalry between them. Although Mike is the far superior angler, Steve is an exceptionally jammy git! They had been winding me up for six months about a secret weapon they were bringing, and I was a bit disappointed to find out the said weapon was nothing more than a pooper scooper they thought would work for launching groundbait balls into outer space. Normal people would have checked if it worked before starting a wind-up, but then they do come form Stockport, so we should make allowances! Mind you, for anyone who wishes to bait the margins they are very good, as using them takes ten times longer than throwing the bait! Steve managed to add another 15lbs to his PB with a 105lb Siamese carp, and over four days he landed 11 more Siamese carp plus Amazon red tail catfish and arapaima. Mike felt sorry for Steve so let him win the trophy they fish for each year fourteen to nine. Mike had to spend more time in the pool as if he’d fished any longer the score would have embarrassed Steve.
My old mate Len Gurd and his better half Fran came for six nights on their way to New Zealand to be present at the birth of Fran’s first grandchild, who entered the world as Alfie on the 27th January, weighing in at 5lb 13oz. Len also bought with him the Gillhams Monsters DVD presented by Lee Jackson and featuring Dave Woods. This DVD was filmed by Len and will surely become a collector’s item, as Len came out of retirement to film it. You can buy this great DVD by mail order from The Tackle Box, Dartford, Kent – see the link on our website. They fished between sightseeing with Len landing eight fish of four species, including a 30lb Julian’s golden prize carp and a 65lb Amazon red tail catfish. Len was hoping to beat his PB arapaima set in 2008 with a 400lb fish, but only managed one of that fish’s babies at 110lb. Fran whooped the old git by ten fish to eight with five species, including her first arapaima of 70lb.
Regulars Gary and Eddie Bunn came down from Phuket for the weekend catching 15 fish between them. They had no monsters this time, but Gary sure put his dad Eddie in his place by nine to six. Neil the Gob left his girlfriend with his mum and dad in Bangkok and popped in for a few days, catching nine fish of five species during his short visit. Steve Cox and his mate Colin came for four days on their yearly tour of Thailand, Steve landing seven fish of four species including two arapaima, while Colin landed ten fish of seven species topped by a 180lb arapaima. My old mate Joe Taylor sent a mate and his son here, Karl and Connor from Liverpool. They where on holiday in Koh Samui with their friends and decided to escape the drinking and chill out here for a couple of days landing nine fish between them, with Connor winning the prize with a 260lb arapaima.
Ken Weeks from Dorset returned again for another week between his tour of Asia. Ken had some good days and poor days, but ended his week with 16 fish including seven arapaima to 150lb, five Amazon red tail catfish to 70lb plus three sorubim to 25lb. Oliver Hollis came for a few days, mainly sightseeing with a few hours fishing thrown in, and that wasn’t all that was thrown in! Poor old Sean was casting out for Oliver and somehow hooked Oliver’s camera strap and launched the camera into the inky depths! That took care of Sean’s wages this month when he had to replace the bloody camera! Oliver sure wasn’t lucky with pictures as he caught his dream arapaima at 240lbs, and it ripped a hole in the landing cage and swam off. The lads passed the rod through the hole and the fight continued while a brand new cage was bought into play. The fish was duly landed, unhooked, and was ready to christen the new camera, when it burst through the new cage, stuck its fins up at Oliver and disappeared in the same direction as his camera!
Our gardening contractor, Matt, with his mate Liam were invited as our guests in anticipation of the stunning gardens Matt is going to create for us over the next year. They landed 13 fish over three days with the best fish to Liam an arapaima of 160lb. The list goes on, but space is short, so sorry if I missed you out of this newsletter, but at least you never made Gillhams Gripe! Don’t forget to visit us at the Carpin’ On show at Five Lakes Essex on the 6/7 March, stand 17/18. Book and pay your deposit at the show, and receive a 10% discount.
I have added a selection of pictures from guests who we could not fit in the news letter, sorry if you are one who was not mentioned but space was short with the amount of guest visiting Thailand for fishing holidays.
Best wishes from all the team here at Gillhams, and to contact us for the holiday of a lifetime visit www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com or phone us on +66861644554