Welcome to another report on the fishing in Thailand here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts in Krab. The dry hot spell here has slowed the fishing down, but for those who persevere the rewards have been OK with some big fish visiting the bank. Sean and I have been in the UK since the 20th January attending fishing shows through the UK and Holland, and what can I say? It’s bloody cold and depressing here, and roll on the 5th March when we can sod off home!
We have gone from rain to drought in a matter of weeks, which is typical when we need rain to fill the new lake extension. As I am writing this report the natural springs have filled the new part by a third, the water quality is very good and it’s looking like we can join the new and old together on the 19th September 2013. I have kept three weeks clear of bookings so the works will not disturb anyone. The fishing will be very good while the works are taking place, as the fish will revel in the bottom disturbance. In our experience fishing is always good when works like this are in progress, so one side of the lake will be open for fishing and places for these dates will be sold at 50% discount. Couple this with Thai airways having special prices out for September, and you could get yourselves a very cheap deal for some exotic fishing in Thailand if you look under the flight section on our website. Thai are also doing special deals from Heathrow to Bangkok including internal flights to Krabi in May/June and the first week of July, plus EVA have a deal on for Christmas 2013. Contact Aaron Hyde at Kenwood travel on 02077 499223.
Although it’s cold and depressing here in the UK it’s been nice catching up with family and friends. The highlight of my trip has been meeting up with my oldest son Jamie and his wonderful partner Hayley. Meeting my grandson little Josh for the first time has been fantastic; I was not around to be a father to Jamie and thank him with all my heart for allowing me into his world. Jamie is a cracking bloke and a credit to his mum and her parents. Jamie’s grandad Sid was Jamie’s father figure and all credit to the man for guiding him to be the man he is.
As usual there has not been time to visit everyone; family commitments and a hectic show schedule took all our spare time. It has been good to catch up with all our friends at the fishing shows, plus some good nights with old friends. Thanks to everyone who attended the shows and my talks at fishing clubs. We had a very short trip to Birmingham and managed a curry with Poppa Terry Eustace, plus an expensive night at the dogs with some good mates when Sean and I failed to pick one winner. Special thanks go to our old buddy Richard Foster for sharing his home with us. We also had a blast in Holland meeting with old friends, and special thanks go to Ronald Bianca and Georgina Vd Toorn Vrijthoff of RTV Henglesports for a great night out and some lovely meals. Also thanks go to Ardy Veltkamp, who we had a special night out with in the company of Frank Warwick. To all our Dutch clients, Ronald at RTV will soon be handling all our bookings in Holland and Belgium – details to follow soon.
We have picked up a couple of new sponsorship deals that are still in talking stages. These will be revealed soon when the final pieces have been put together and agreed. Special thanks also go to all our existing sponsors – all your help is much appreciated by us and the anglers your equipment helps to put in front of the camera.
We are getting a break from the newsletter for February when Geoff will be putting his fingers on the keyboard, so our next report will be March. I am sure Geoff will make an excellent job, and if he does he could find himself with a new role at Gillhams. Geoff is an easygoing polite chap, so whether he will make a gripe section remains to be seen! He did give us some bullet points for this month, and the closest he came to a gripe was when mentioning one guest who wound him up by saying, “My mother always told me if you can’t say something nice it’s better to say nothing… So I’ve got nothing to say!”
As for me this month, I am giving the old blood pressure a chance to stabilise and I’m missing out the gripe section. I could have ranted on about the politics in what was once called Great Britain, or Thai fishery owners with only lies and bullshit to contribute to what is rapidly becoming the number one fishing destination. Thailand has a lot to offer to the world’s fishing scene and all these dickheads are doing is holding it back. Oops, I have nearly started so will stop now… People don’t need telling about the bad or good operators here; they can judge for themselves by other anglers’ experiences and comments.
So onto the fishing in Thailand here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts: The total catches for people fishing in Krabi this month are as follows: 617 fish of 22 species, made up as follows: 36 arapaima to 360lb, six arawana to 11lb, three alligator gar to 26lb, 158 Amazon redtail catfish to 80lb, 98 Asian redtail catfish to 30lb, nine black pacu to 40lb, three big head carp to 18lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 60lb, three firewood catfish to 13lb, two gourami to 5lb, one giant snakehead of 6lb, two giant featherbacks to 8lb, three Julian’s carp to 22lb, 74 Mekong catfish to 200lb, two mrigal to 10lb, three rohu to 13lb, six spotted featherback to 8lb, 186 Siamese carp to 110lb, three shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 25lb, seven shovel nosed tiger catfish to 13lb, eight wallago attu to 30lb and two wallago leeri to 40lb.
First up this month are Rob Olive and his girlfriend Mandy Hulse who came in on Christmas Day until New Year’s Day, and they had a few days away before returning for more fishing. The first part of their trip was more of a blur due to Christmas Day, Rebecca’s birthday and then a crazy New Year’s Eve. Having a couple of days fishing in between partying, both Rob and Mandy caught some good fish with Siamese carp, Asian and Amazon redtail catfish. On their return from a few days chilling on the islands, they both had a couple more days fishing and even a suspected punch-up! Rob and Mandy had a double take, with Rob having a heavy nosebleed as the guide arrived in the swim. Apparently Rob says he gets them all the time, but we think he went for Mandy’s rod and she retaliated with a swift right hook. All too soon the holiday ended and it was time to head home, and Rob and Mandy caught 17 fish.
Alex Murray arrived just before New Year’s Eve and stayed a week into January with his wife Kate and children Nick and Naomi. While Kate and Naomi relaxed around the resort and checked out some of Krabi’s attractions with a car rental, Nick and Alex had booked five days’ fishing. Nick wanted to catch a fish over 100lb, a Mekong catfish of 170lb and an arapaima, and day one took care of two of those targets. The next couple of days were tough for Nick and he found it hard to even get a bite. Things changed when he hooked into his first arapaima of 70lb, and two other arapaima were landed by Nick at 200lb and his biggest of the trip at 300lb. Nick caught a total of ten fish of five species including Siamese carp to 60lb and redtail catfish to 55lb. Alex was more interested in fly fishing with his main target species also being an arapaima, which he landed on the evening of his first day. Before hooking into the arapaima, Alex didn’t know what he was letting himself in for, and it took him just over two hours to land his dream fish. Alex landed four arapaima on the fly and probably lost around 15 with his biggest being 280lb. With a total catch of ten fish also of five species, Alex caught Mekong catfish to 190lb, Amazon redtail catfish, shovel nose tiger catfish and an arawana.
We also had a young Danish couple from Copenhagen make their first trip to Gillhams, with five nights and four days fishing for Rasmus while his girlfriend relaxed around the pool sunbathing. Rasmus couldn’t have asked for a better trip with a total of 19 fish of six species including Amazon redtail catfish to 80lb, Siamese carp 70lb, Mekong catfish of 180lb and arapaima to 190lb.
Joe Morgan from Carp TV came for some fishing while on holiday with his girlfriend but could only fish a day and half as we were fully booked on other dates. Joe caught Siamese carp to 60lb, Mekong catfish to 170lb and a couple of Asian redtail. He unfortunately lost an arapaima, and possibly a giant freshwater stingray after the fish went to ground and ended up breaking him off.
Dave and Sarah Woods came for ten nights with seven days’ fishing for both of them after booking at the Five Lakes show earlier in the year. While here, apart from fishing, they spent the time relaxing and catching up on some much needed rest after starting up their own company seven months prior to their visit. Between them they landed a total of nine fish of five species and unfortunately lost a few good fish including a stingray that had been dragged right to the net before one too many whips of the tail parted the line. They did manage some big fish though with Siamese carp to 55lb, Mekong catfish to 170lb and arapaima to 270lb.
Andy Garwood came for two days’ fishing with his mates Lee and Jack Osborne (no relation to Ozzy). Andy became the first angler in over five years to lose a fish due to smoking a cigarette and burning through the line during mid-fight with a Mekong. Andy did make up for his embarrassing loss by later landing Siamese carp to 95lb, redtail catfish to 45lb and four Mekong to 160lb, landing a total of 11 fish. Andy’s mates Lee and Jack only caught a couple of fish, but they were the biggest fish they have ever landed – a 180lb Mekong catfish and a Siamese carp of 70lb.
Mick Murray senior was over again for a few days’ fishing while his son Mick junior was over digging the new lake extension. During his stay, Mick caught a total of 15 fish and a new personal best Siamese carp of 85lb. Towards the end of his stay, Mick was forced to stop fishing with pains down his side brought on by some heavy coughing, fighting all the fish and a previous operation a few years earlier.
Jody Spreadbury made his third visit with his mate Elliot Harmsworth for three days and nights while taking a break from sleepless, drink-fuelled nights of madness. Picking them up from their guesthouse in Krabi town, they had to wait a few hundred yards up the road as many guests and the owners weren’t happy with the amount of noise and messing around from the nights they had stayed there. Luckily they were on good behaviour here as they had come to chill out and get some fishing done. Between them they caught seven fish of six species including arapaima, Siamese carp, redtail catfish and nice wallago of 40lb.
We also had husband and wife team Gavin and Roseanne Winder who fish together at many different venues for carp, wels catfish and sturgeon. Booking ten nights with seven days fishing, both ended up fishing every day of their stay, with their first day being spent on the lure lake as the main lake was fully booked. The rest of the stay was spent on the main lake trying to catch as many different species as possible. Of course the arapaima was at the top of their list, and Roseanne was the only one to land one. In total they caught 32 fish between them with seven different species including Mekong to 190lb, Siamese carp to 80lb, a shovel nose tiger and even two firewood catfish.
Another husband and wife team this month were Mark and Annette Whitley, English expats now living in Hawaii and running the Four Seasons hotel. With seven nights and five days’ fishing booked, the couple had planned to have a day or two chilling out and maybe a day trip thrown in, but as is usual at Gillhams this soon changed, and they fished every day. They shared a swim and took it in turns to hit the rods, but it just so happened that every time it was Annette’s turn they were the bigger fish. Between them they caught a total of 13 fish of three species, with Annette getting the two biggest of the trip with Mekong to 190lb and Siamese carp to 80lb.
Paul and Jill Levy who own a fleet of 60 taxis and a garage in London came after a break on Ko Samui, for five nights and four days’ fishing. Paul’s dream is to increase his fleet to 100 cabs; Jill is the brains behind the operation and will help him achieve the dream for sure. They have booked a return in September, and Paul is determined to lose two stone before returning, which will be hard because he joined the gym last year and to date he has been there twice! Maybe it’s because his favourite machine in the gym is the one with the Mars Bars and Snickers in it. The fishing gods were certainly not on Paul’s side while people around him were catching. He hooked just two fish and lost them both, which was mainly due to the fact that he had a full bucket of pellets in the morning and at the end of the day still had a full bucket… tight bastard!! As it came to the end of their stay, Paul still hadn’t landed anything, so he booked an extra couple of days, as he was determined to catch. Feeling sorry for him, we gave the fishing for free, and over the next two days things turned around. He ended on 12 fish of two species with Amazon redtail catfish to 50lb and an arapaima of 200lb. Paul and Jill went on to tell us that staying here was the best part of their three-week trip to Thailand. It goes to show that if you stick with it and keep on trying, you can catch the fish of your dreams. Even when it was slow Paul enjoyed himself, and everything paid off in the end.
Day ticket angler Anton Ignatenko who owns a fishing shop in Russia managed to sneak a day’s fishing in while on a family holiday to Krabi. Being interested in carp fishing Anton couldn’t have asked for a better day. After arriving for his day’s fishing, Anton was quick to get started, and his first fish of the day was a Siamese carp at 62lb. Later on that day, he landed more Siamese carp, including a new personal best at 108lb. In total Anton caught five fish, all being Siamese carp, with three others weighing in at 45lb, 50lb and a 70lb carp to top his day off.
We also had Derek Garland and Tony Whittick make their first trip over this month, and on arrival they looked like the cast of Cocoon with and combined age of 156 years. These two gentlemen had many fishing tales to tell the guides, with most of them being on the river Ebro 40 years ago – long before all the organised fishing tours took over the rivers along with the wels catfish. Age really doesn’t mean a thing in fishing, as Derek and Tony went on to land some good fish with a total of 23 fish of seven species including Siamese carp to 80lb, Mekong catfish to 120lb and Amazon redtail catfish to 60lb.
Lee Spatcher made his return trip while on a break from work in Australia. He went on to extend his six-night stay into two weeks. Due to a few messy nights out, Lee very rarely managed to make it onto the lake much before 11am but still managed to land plenty of fish. Lee’s main target was, like all the trips before, to land a big arapaima, and this was the trip when three were landed, with the two biggest being 320lb and 360lb. Lee also hooked into one of our giant freshwater stingrays, but unfortunately was unable to land it, mainly due to having no stamina after too many nights on the piss, and even ended up fighting the fish from a chair. Lee went onto catch 20 fish of seven species including Siamese carp to 80lb, Amazon redtail catfish to 65lb and Mekong to 190lb.
Another regular to Gillhams this month was Ken Weeks, who also extended his stay after turning up three days early. Due to us already being full, he was lucky that Lee let him share his bungalow until the day of his arranged check-in date. Ken caught a total of eight fish of six species, including a new personal best Chao Phraya catfish of 60lb. Other fish included Asian redtail catfish, Amazon redtail catfish, arawana, Siamese carp and Mekong to 120lb.
It was a welcome sight to see Dave and Julie Jones return this month, as many people will remember Dave was a guide here who unfortunately had to leave due to his mother passing away. This trip Dave could just relax and get some fishing done instead of helping everybody else, and we are all hoping Dave will return in the near future to help with the guiding, as guides of Dave’s calibre are hard to replace. Hurry up and make some plans Dave; we would love to have you back soon! With hot, calm conditions, the fishing was tough, and Dave took a lot of stick from the other guides when he blanked for the first two days! In the end he managed nine fish of three species including Siamese carp to 85lb and arapaima to 210lb.
Paul and Michelle Phillips came out once again, booking their dates so that they could meet up with Dave and Julie after meeting them out here on previous trips. Before they got to us, Paul had been laid up for a few days with food poisoning, which led to both ends releasing themselves far too regularly. Paul also had to be careful when playing big powerful fish, and the guides had to be careful not to stand behind him for obvious reasons. While Michelle chilled out around the resort with the other girls, Paul fished as much as his bowels would let him. Due to feeling rough, Paul didn’t shave for his entire trip and resembled a Big Issue seller by the time he left. He came well prepared with 200 PVA bags, but much to guide Geoff’s annoyance forgot his scissors, which pissed northerner Geoff off, as it put some extra wear on his! Each time Paul landed a Mekong catfish he went for a lie down, or so he told us, but it could have been the dodgy belly or the effects of the 60 fags he smokes each day. He caught 23 fish of five species, putting super ex-guide Dave in his place. Paul also managed two new personal bests with Siamese carp to 85lb and Amazon redtail catfish to 70lb, with Paul’s biggest fish of the trip being a Mekong catfish of 130lb.
Colin Pacitti made a return trip with his partner Georgina, also planning his trip to meet up with Dave and Paul. Colin is a very keen fish and wildlife photographer who has fished all over the world including some very far-out places like the Yukon and Oman, gaining some big catches and some awesome wildlife shots that you can see by visiting his website www.colin-pacitti.com. The only thing letting Colin down is that he supports Man United, putting him in the same gang as super guide Geoff. The last trip Colin made was with Richard Foster, when we rented a big crane, and no, it wasn’t to move Richard around the lake; it was for Colin to go 200 feet up and get pictures of the resort for us in between his fishing. Unfortunately Colin’s fishing didn’t go as well as last time, and he only managed to land four fish of two species with his biggest fish being a Siamese carp of 60lb and a Mekong catfish of 120lb.
Mihai Rad and Linda Crisan from Romania made their third trip out to Gillhams, claiming that of all the places around the world they have fished, this is by far the best and most liked venue for them. Unfortunately the first few days were slow, but after a change of swims things started to pick up for them both. There was also some entertainment for the guides and other anglers around the lake when Linda hooked into a big arapaima, and due to her only weighing around 35kg, she was dragged into the lake, leaving Mihai having to dive in to save her, as she wasn’t going to drop the rod and let the fish get away even though the water was too deep for her to stand up. This turned out to be her biggest fish from Gillhams, weighing in at 280lb – more than three times her own body weight. In total Mihai and Linda caught 26 fish of four species with other catches being Siamese carp to 60lb, Amazon redtail catfish to 60lb and another arapaima for Linda at 190lb.
Terry Knight, freelance fishing writer for the Angling Times made another trip over with Kevin Shore, David Flynn and their wives. Although the fishing was hard, Terry went on to catch 15 fish of four species, which included Amazon redtail catfish to 65lb and arapaima to 180lb. Big Kev was on a mission to catch a big Siamese carp that probably would have been achieved had he not moved. Joel showed Kev which swim to fish, which area to bait and the best way to feed the spot for the Siamese carp. Kev spent two days doing exactly what he had been shown until he had his own ideas and decided to move, only to have a day ticket angler go in his swim the morning he moved out and catch five Siamese carp to 108lb, all in one day off the spot that Kev had been fishing. He did however go on to catch two Siamese carp to 70lb, with 11 fish in total, including Amazon redtail catfish to 70lb, a firewood catfish, and his biggest arapaima of 360lb, so his move did turn up a very big fish for him. David Flynn also caught Siamese carp to 70lb and his biggest fish of the trip was a Mekong catfish at 140lb, leaving him with a total of seven fish of three different species.
That brings us to the end of another report on the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer. Remember the best venues get booked well in advance, so book early to avoid disappointment. We look forward to meeting all our old and new clients in the near future. Geoff will take on the next newsletter, and Sean and I will be back behind the keyboard for the March newsletter.
Best wishes from all the team at Gillhams Fishing Resorts, the number one venue in Thailand by design.