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Krabi newsletter January 2012

Hi all. Well, it was supposed to be a three-month break from the newsletters for me and a break for you, the readers, from me, but Sean forgot, so once again it’s down to me to write the first part of this fishing in Thailand newsletter, down to the catch report. So here I am in England freezing my nuts off while the little retard stays in the sun. Talking of ‘nuts off’, Russell the dog has had his removed due to being disobedient and too passionate with our guests (Sean, you have been warned!).

Benz, Jack and I left Thailand on the 20th January taking a nice three-day break in Malaysia before flying over to England for Benz and Jack’s first taste of a UK winter. On arrival the weather was mild for January, lulling Benz and Jack into a false sense of security. Leaving Jack in the UK with friends, Benz and I headed to Holland and the weather took a turn for the worse. Minus ten on arrival turned into six inches of snow and temperatures plummeting to minus 22! This was Benz’ first taste of snow, and apparently the last; we cut short our trip by three days due to the extreme cold. I wasn’t rubbing my hands due to the cold, but because I was chuffed I had managed to avoid buying Benz the promised diamond ring in Amsterdam, but somehow much to my horror half a day was just long enough for her to prize my wallet open and get her rock. In the meantime Jack was loving the snow and making snowmen and having snowball fights with his adopted family, our dear friends the Munns. Now I should be showing you photos here of Jack in the snow but, he managed to get the camera and delete all the pictures!

With two shows down and three to go the response has been awesome! Brentwood is going to be a hard act to follow with 18 bookings so far. I had to do my first talk in 20 years, which started badly as the organizers failed to set up my computer for the slide show. Thankfully a member of the audience managed to set it up and I got underway, but with no picture changer to press, or clock to keep time, I managed to use all 212 pictures up 15 minutes early. Resorting to questions and answers I stumbled through another ten minutes before stuttering to a halt with five minutes to go. Phew, let’s hope I get my act together in time for the planned talk in Coventry.

Benz is helping me at the shows, selling plenty of raffle tickets and talking people into holidays. She got one fella at Brentwood who asked if he booked could he take her out to dinner etc. She explained that she was in fact my partner, to which she got the reply, “No problem, we can sneak out without him seeing.” She made her excuses and hotfooted it over to my side of the stand. The next day her suitor reappeared asking if he could meet her either in Thailand or in the UK. She asked me what to do, so in true Gillham style I showed her, and politely told matey to go forth and multiply. Benz immediately got the hump with me, saying, “Why are you always horrid to people?” Women… I will never understand them. Maybe I should have just sold him a holiday and let him take her out. Hmmm… now that’s got me thinking… I bet that angle will increase bookings!

Something that makes me laugh at the shows is seeing so many guys kitted out in full camouflage uniform – what’s that all about? I thought the camo was for creeping around the bank. One guy came to our stand fully loaded from the jungle hat down to his camo boots, and when he asked what sort of fish was in one of the pictures I thought I would have some fun. Looking round I went, “Hello? What? Sorry…” while looking out of the corner of my eye. The fella repeated the question, and again I said, “Aye, hello? What?” He moved round to the front of me and repeated the question again. Trying not to laugh I suddenly acted surprised, “Oh, sorry mate, I never saw you there!” Without even cottoning on, he proudly announced that his outfit was Realtree, obviously chuffed that it was working so well that I couldn’t see him!

Zwolle in Holland was a very busy show and a credit to organizer, Mick Paine. Despite snow and freezing conditions the show still attracted some 12,000 visitors and several bookings. By the time most of you read this newsletter the Coventry show will be done and dusted, leaving Five Lakes in Essex on the 4/5 March and the Big one in Farnborough on the 11/12th March before I depart dear old Blighty on the 16th March.

Fishing guide Jason ‘Chubbs’ Ingley has now returned to England, hopefully to decide to take the head guide job we have offered him. Jason would love to take the position and live in paradise instead of slogging it out on cold, wet building sites with no future, but he has teenage children to think about and it’s going to be a tough decision to make. We hope he can work out a solution but if not he will continue as a part-time guide with us, splitting his time between the UK and Thailand. His next stint with us will be in July when he will run the show for us while Sean and I are in Panama. Jason’s eating capabilities are legendary – he couldn’t open the bait store door, but had no problem with the fridge. Magnum and chocolate sales have tumbled in Thailand since his departure and our pie supplier is having to lay off staff!

While Jason was here he was always looking for tricks to play on the people he worked with. Some of these things can’t be talked about in a family newsletter, but he did take a fancy to Joel. Now Joel’s prize possession is his picture of a mahseer he caught in India that takes pride of place on his bedside cabinet. Jason decided there were a few things missing from it so put his artistic skills to the test and added new pieces to the picture every day. Also Jason thought it would be funny to empty Joel’s sun cream and replace it with mayonnaise, leaving poor old Joel looking and smelling like a soggy old kebab house chip, but taking on a golden tan. (Joel doesn’t know about this, until he reads this newsletter!).

Sometimes though Jason would be on the receiving end of a laugh, like when he was riding his specially reinforced bike around the lake and his quadruple X shirt caught in the front wheel, propelling him over the handlebars and wrapping him up inside the shirt, which was the size of a circus tent, and half an hour later he fought his way free of the big top! Talking of the circus, Sean and Jason had some good ideas with bike tricks, with Sean sitting on his shoulders while riding round the lake. On another day Jason was riding around the lake with Sean sitting on the handlebars, and they crashed into a tree with Jason landing on top of him, leaving a squashed and dazed Sean splattered across the ground!

I went for my regular check-up the other day, and on my return Benz asked if it all went OK. “Well it did until he stuck his finger up my bum,” I replied. “That’s normal, darling,” she said. What a relief that was, as I thought I would have to change dentists!

Gillhams Gripe… Why does a uniform make people obnoxious? Starting with Benz’ visa applications for the UK and Europe – she has held 11 previous UK visas, never stayed more than ten weeks on a six-month visa, she is travelling with our son Jack who holds a British passport, she owns property and businesses in Thailand, plus has a healthier bank account than the jerk interviewing her. Yet she is treated like a leper. She is treated with rudeness and total disrespect by border control officials. Maybe she would be treated better if she wore a burkha or had a better suntan and couldn’t speak English!

I promised Benz when we got back together that I would try to control my temper, but it’s hard when I see the treatment she gets. In Malaysia she was asked to move by a snobby waiter in a restaurant, who thought that a Thai lady shouldn’t be in the same area as other guests. In England a guy walked through a door and let it go in her face, and both of these incidents gained a Gillham response, but Benz got cross with me for my rudeness. So when we visited a diamond house in Amsterdam, and after purchasing a substantial rock, a girl who worked there was rude to her, I thought, OK, I will ignore the rude bitch, only to get a rollicking from Benz for not standing up for her! Women… I wish I understood them! OK, I will get off these subjects as they have sod all to do with fishing!!

With too many shops in the UK selling chocolate and cakes, plus curry houses etc, a three-stone weight loss has now been converted to a two-stone gain, and we still have six weeks to go. The only consolation is that Benz has also gained a couple of stone!

I keep seeing pictures of dead billfish on people’s cameras when we take their pictures for the newsletters. No wonder there are very few for others to catch! What’s wrong with these pricks? Why not let them go, or does bringing them ashore give them more street cred? The same people put the pictures of their dead trophies on the Internet and get comments like, “Top angling,” etc. Bloody poor angling and zero fish care is what should be written! Then they ask us why we didn’t use their trophy shots. We will never use a dead fish picture and I wish magazines would do the same. If we didn’t have rules and keep an eye on them here I expect they would do the same, as killing the unfortunate fish keeps them still for the picture or bust brigade. It makes me wonder how many of their trophy shots of carp etc suffered abuse for the ultimate picture. Top angling, fellas – keep it up and they will soon all be gone. I am sure you all have some excuse for your total lack of respect for the fish you murder but in true anglers’ eyes that’s what you are – murdering scumbags!

Why do some people turn up on holiday moaning from the off? It’s not our fault the flight was delayed or your bag went missing. They moan, groan and complain about everything from the minute they arrive, which not only pisses off the other guests but gains zero help from us.

We had a lot of Russian guests this month and to be honest we were all dreading it, but I have to admit my faith in Russians has been restored. They were all polite, respectful and a pleasure to have as guests, so no gripes about them – just my fellow countrymen! There’s much more I could write about but I will hand over to Sean for the fishing in Krabi catch report.

The fishing in Thailand has once again been exceptional with the Mekong catfish numbers showing how these beasts are getting onto the pellet… The total catch for the month is as follows: 1,084 fish of 29 species, made up as follows: 59 arapaima to 440lb, six arawana to 9lb, six alligator gar to 40lb, 219 Amazon red tail catfish to 70lb, 168 Asian red tail catfish to 35lb, 15 black pacu to 25lb, six big head carp to 20lb, nine Chinese seerfish to 17lb, one Chao Phraya catfish of 45lb, one firewood catfish of 5lb, six giant featherback to 8lb, two giant stingray to 110lb, two giant snakehead to 7lb, 16 Julian’s golden prize carp to 24lb, 220 Mekong catfish to 210lb, three mrigal to 13lb, five Nile perch to 8lb, eight rohu carp to 15lb, seven ripsaw catfish to 10lb, 34 spotted featherback to 10lb, 239 Siamese carp to 85lb, six shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 26lb, 27 shovel nosed tiger catfish to 18lb, one spotted stingray of 12lb, one striped catfish of 30lb, five tambaqui to 40lb, seven wallago attu to 15lb, four wallago leeri to 35lb and one zungaro of 7lb.

Our good friend and proofreader of these newsletters, Phil Escott, made a return trip with partner Detta, daughter Amelia, plus grown-up son Tom. Phil came for a family holiday mixing day trips and a family holiday with some fishing. On arrival Phil looked totally different due to heavy dieting and getting his health back on track and also cutting off his 3ft long dreadlocks. Even though Phil had been flooding us with emails prior to his visit about healthy eating and spiritual healing, he didn’t hold back on orders once here by stuffing himself with Mars Bars, cheeseburgers and ice cream, proving the healthy diet was a load of bull. Phil was being extra careful not to make any mistakes, as being the proofreader for this newsletter we were on the lookout for anything we could get on him, or exaggerate about. Well, apart from not photographing all his fish, due to the fact that his first arapaima was too small, and ‘only’ weighing in at around 80lb there weren’t too many mistakes.

Tom and Amelia on the other hand managed a few little treats, with Tom being pulled into the lake head first by a fish he had hooked, and Amelia being rather confused in the land of smiles about boys and girls both having willies. Kids get things in their heads from god knows where, and for three-year-old Amelia it was asking everybody she met, “Have you got a willy?” Now to be fair this should be a fairly easy question to answer, but in Thailand due to the third gender, the poor kid was totally confused, especially after meeting shaky McDonald’s friend! But before we get onto a different kind of newsletter let’s get back to Phil and Tom’s catches. As the trip went on Phil did lower his standards and photo a couple of fish with Mekong catfish to 100lb, stingray to 110lb and a cracking arapaima of 260lb that totally blew him away. Tom also landed some good fish once he kept his feet on dry land! Tom landed 12 fish of four different species including Mekong catfish to 100lb and Siamese carp to 75lb, Tom also went off for a few days’ rock-climbing at nearby Tonsai beach during his stay, and has vowed to return to beat dad’s arapaima record.

Kitty Lang returned to Gillhams for a couple of days fishing and drinking. She was on a holiday touring Thailand before taking a job offer in Bangkok. Kitty arrived on New Year’s Eve for a night of mayhem before two days of fishing. Despite a severe hangover she fished seriously and caught 11 fish of five species including arapaima, Siamese carp and two ripsaw catfish.

Our old friend Sir Alan Atkins returned once again for a week’s fishing before visiting his niece who lives on the nearby island of Lanta. Alan used to run junior fish-ins for the Carp Society before retiring to live in France and was responsible for many kids catching the fish of their dreams. This trip was to be payback time for Alan from the fish gods, and after casting a double pellet with an inline lead to the far weedbed, Alan struck into a fish that knew every trick in the book. The fish fought for an hour going through weedbeds and round aerators but Alan’s persistence paid off when the guides caged a huge arapaima. Phoning Stuart, the guides asked him to come and verify their estimation of the 400lb-plus fish. Going on length and girth measurements the fish was estimated at 440lb, and upon examination it was identified as a fish last caught at 240lb just 21 months ago! The growth rate of fish in Gillhams is testimony to the water quality and huge amounts of natural food available to our fish. It makes you wonder just how big some of our fish are going to get and how big the 460lb arapaima caught a year ago will be next time it makes a mistake.

This month we also had a return trip from Lee Jackson’s stepson, Richard Mullin, and his mate, Dan Kemp. Both lads were keen to get started; on their first day they were into fish and certainly seemed a lot more confident than on their previous visit. While fishing, Richard hooked into some big fish but suffered hook pulls, plus his two biggest fish were both foul-hooked. It wasn’t all bad though, as Richard did land Siamese carp to 65lb, arapaima to 130lb and Mekong catfish to 100lb. Dan also caught Mekong catfish, Siamese carp plus other species, and both ended their trip with more success than their previous one. After the fishing it was off to Bangkok for a couple of nights of madness before heading back home.

Bob Marley made another trip while taking a break from Pattaya madness. After his Mekong battles last year he was interested more in other species, and top of the list was a Julian’s golden prize carp. He caught his target fish after three days, and went for another species on his list – a big Amazon redtail catfish. He didn’t catch a monster, but he was happy enough with one of 50lb. The trip ended for Bob on 22 fish of six species with an arapaima of 130lb being his biggest fish.

Lord Bailey was fishing hard as always, and managed to bump his species count up by catching an Amazon stingray plus a Nile perch. Mike also managed to break his Mekong catfish record when he landed one of 210lb and at the same time entertained any onlookers. Due to Mike’s need to be doing ten things at once and using 15 rods at any one time, he sometimes forgets things, and this time it was once again the baitrunner. As Mike turned his back on the rods a fish grabbed his bait, and as no line could be taken the rod was instead. Luckily for Mike he has lost a couple of kilos so he was able to dive through the air and land on the rod as it went under the water. When Mike reappeared with the rod in his hand and choking on water, the only thing he had lost was his $300 glasses that obviously were fake otherwise he would have seen the baitrunner wasn’t on. One and a half hours later the fish was landed, and even his glasses were found, as Mike put up $100 reward that went to Sean. This is the second time this has happened, which has made them a very expensive pair of glasses. His lordship’s fish count this month is 37 fish of nine species, four of which were over 200lb, plus another four fish over 100lb.

Stretton Honour made his first trip of 2012, once again targeting the Mekong catfish and the Siamese carp, of which he landed 12 to 85lb and six Mekong catfish to 120lb in his 33-fish haul of nine species.

Marius Iverson from Sweden came for his annual two-week trip with his family. While Marius fished most days he did find a few days to take the family out on day trips, even though each time he rushed back to make the last couple of hours on the lake. Marius had a very successful trip landing 43 fish of eight species including arapaima to 250lb, Siamese carp to 80lb, Mekongs to 120lb and even a rare Chinese seerfish.

Ken Weeks made his yearly trip to Gillhams, this time for two weeks, and even though he wanted some new species he was as always happy catching anything while relaxing and watching the world go by. While here Ken managed some new species such as Nile perch, wallago attu, Chinese seerfish and zungaro plus a PB arapaima of 200lb. The trip ended with 56 fish of 12 species, not including small fish on the match rod. Just think if he had been here as long as Ritchie – he could have had over 100 fish, unlike top angler Ritchie with 22 fish.

Angling times reporter Terry Knight made his yearly visit to Gillhams with his friend, Kevin Shore. They were accompanied by their non-fishing wives who relaxed around the pool while the lads made the most of their fishing. Although Terry has made a living out of fishing, apparently his true passion is reptiles. One evening in the restaurant Terry was telling everybody about his love for snakes and all the documentaries he watches, but was unsure about breeding patterns. As the conversation came around to pythons, Terry asked, “Can you cross an articulated python with a cobra?” The answer was of course, “No, the trailer would get in the way!” He also said he wanted to go in the bush to find a snake, so we suggested to take Ritchie as he is good at finding snakes in the bush! Kevin also got caught out on things not to say when we are around when he asked about a fish he had seen topping. When told that it would be tarpon, he then asked, “Do you have them in here?”

Now watching these two fishing was like watching an episode of Laurel and Hardy, what with the constant piss-taking between them. At one point Terry had to get in the water to follow a fish, but as he’s only around 3ft tall, Kevin the 7ft giant had to get in and carry him through the water while he was playing a Mekong. As the trip came to an end their fish numbers nearly went into the hundreds, and Terry caught nine fish over 100lb with his biggest being an arapaima of 220lb, and also landing carp to 65lb. Kevin went on to catch the most fish with redtail catfish to 65lb, arapaima to 280lb and a freshwater stingray of 110lb. The stingray was another episode altogether… When they sit on the bottom you can’t move them, but luckily it went down in only 6ft of water, so Sean swam down, wrapped its tail with a rag and then tried to pull it to the surface. As the ray was lifted it made a run, pulling him along with it. As this happened his foot appeared on the surface and Joel made a grab for him, pulling the fish and Sean to the surface. As Sean’s head broke the surface, Kevin decided to drop the rod and grab him and the fish, and with one big pull he put both Sean and the stingray on top of the swim. Oh, if only there had been a video camera rolling! Before their departure, Terry announced that he was coming for a month next January. When asked if his wife would allow this, he replied that he wears the trousers in his house and she does as she is told. He has since returned to the UK and booked a six-day trip. Ha ha – looks like he doesn’t rule the roost!

Finally we had a young lad who was over from England staying at one of Phuket’s Thai kickboxing schools. He fancied two days’ fishing and relaxing before his big fight in Patong. The relaxation went by the wayside when he ended up getting a bigger fight than he gets in the ring. On the second afternoon of fishing, Graham hooked into yet another Mekong after previously landing three to 150lb, but this was going to beat any training endured in Phuket. The fight went on for five and a half hours and Graham was feeling it with his legs, arms and back seizing up, but he still wanted the fish in the net. Then the fish went on a fast, hard run down the main lake and into the bay. All of a sudden everything went slack as the fish had broken his braid as he tried following it in the water, leaving Graham a broken man and never knowing how big the Mekong might have been.

Well, that rounds up yet another month’s fishing in Thailand. You still have time to attend the final shows and grab that 20% discount for paying your deposit with a booking. Or you could be the winner of one of three holidays at Gillhams, which are up for grabs by purchasing a raffle ticket at the following shows: 18/19 February it’s the Ricoh Centre, Coventry, 4/5 March it’s Five Lakes, Essex, and finally the Big One at Farnborough, Hants on the 11/12 March.

Bookings for 2012 are filling up fast so book early to avoid disappointment. We are not closing in May this year. To contact us email: or phone +66861644554. Stuart’s UK number until March 16th 2012 is +447816126267. Or, visit

Hopefully Sean will be bringing you the February and March Krabi newsletter and Stuart will return with April’s fishing in Krabi news.

All the very best from all of us at Gillhams.