Hello once again and welcome to another fishing in Thailand Krabi newsletter. As Gillhams becomes more popular we are getting many weeks fully booked, and we continually have to turn people away as we are full. Some may say this is a nice position to be in, but for us it is not nice having to disappoint people. Ok, many make an alternative date to take their fishing holiday in Thailand, but others have fixed dates they cannot alter. Most take it in their stride, but a few get upset and abusive. We can understand this and take no offence – all we can say is sorry and please plan well in advance or try to have an alternative date. If that does not work, hey, there is always next year!
This year is seeing so much more rain than usual and July has been no exception; it has been the wettest July I have ever seen. One morning I came out to see the lake higher than usual after it had been raining all night. I commented to fishing guide Lee that the water was well up in the right hand swims, and he replied that the water on the other side of the lake was also high. Well that was a relief – the water balanced and there wasn’t a slope on the lake!
We have had to suspend the expansion works on the lake due to the site becoming a swamp. Luckily all the works are behind the fence and away from the main fishing lake and accommodation so the resort remains the same. The weather is good for the fishing; the fish benefit from the lake getting a good flush through, and the gardens are greener and lusher. The downside is that some of our anglers’ non-fishing partners have had to suffer a lack of sunshine and deluges of rain, but where there is a raincloud there is also a silver lining for us, as the drinks sales have rocketed as the ladies have drunk the clouds away!
Towards the end of July the conditions looked perfect for fishing, and as I had not fished our lake seriously for over a year, I took four days off. I have always wanted to catch a 100lb-plus Siamese carp (my best to date is 91lb), so with Siamese carp being the target I set up in a swim we call Cobley’s so named after our regular visitor Neil Cobley. In this swim at 60 yards range there is a spring that comes up next to a plateau. The spring washes sand onto an area the size of a snooker table, which attracts vast amounts of shrimps, which in turn attracts the carp. This small sand bar always seems to produce big carp, therefore making my choice of where to fish simple – out of 17 100lb-plus carp landed at Gillhams, 12 have come from this spot.
My preparations were simple – find the spot with a marker float and clip up line to the distance, then mark out the same distance on the bank and clip all three reels to the same distance so I can hit the same spot every cast. Due to the size of the area I could only get two rods on the prime area, so the third rod would be fished wild, strangely enough only two carp came from the wild rod, but many of the other species I caught fell to this rod. The day before fishing started, after marking out the spot and baiting up with 3kg of boilies, I sat down with a nice bottle of wine and watched the swim while preparing 400 PVA bags with 14 of the Gillhams hand rolled boilies with Richworth XLR8 flavour and two handfuls of 4ml halibut pellets in each bag. This would mean I could recast every 20 minutes or hopefully sooner after each fish, and having all the bags ready meant I could just sit back relax and soak up the atmosphere whilst fishing.
The way most people fish here is heavy baiting scattered over a large area continually topping up by catapult and spod – we used to call this ‘area baiting’ when I carp fished in Europe. It works well, but like all things the fish wise up to it and then spook off the scattered beds of bait. I have always believed that you should try and do something different, and that way you can stay ahead of the game. Nobody has really given PVA bags and tightly baited areas here a proper try, so my game plan was to bait up from the boat first thing in the morning keeping all my bait on the snooker table sized sand bar. I laid out 5kg of maize and 2kg of boilies, and then fished PVA bags with pellet and boilies tight on the spot.
When fish have been fished for on a regular basis they become wise to our tactics, and once this has happened I seriously believe that once the smaller fish mop up the initial onslaught of bait the bigger fish come in and clear up patches of bait the smaller fish missed. The major difference between area baiting and bags is the bags leave a tiny little pile which the fish see as a patch that was missed and they wolf it down as it’s not seen as dangerous (yet!). With area baiting you have scattered individual baits and the fish sense that this lot could not have been missed, hence those baits are dangerous, which makes them feed with caution. This was proved with the different catch rates and the high average size I caught on bags to other anglers area baiting. Many times when I fished the UK and France we proved this; first the big bait beds worked, and after this had blown then the bed of bait was cleared by the smaller and less cautious fish, and after that bags looking like missed patches worked. The bags work as when the big or cautious fish snoop around they see it as safe. After the bags blow you get other permutations to play around with, but at the moment I believe the fish in our lake are at the bag level, not area baiting.
In the first few seconds of fishing two rods roared off resulting in two black pacu around 20lb – not the target species, but at least it was action. During the first hour on the first day I landed three Amazon red tail catfish, and then the carp moved in, pushing the other species off the food. Once the carp were in residence the other fish backed off hence the wild rod catching 35 fish over four days of four different species. Over four days I landed 38 Siamese carp with four over 70lb,s the best two weighing in at 79lb and 78lb. I also had six over 60lb, nine over 50lb, 11 over 40lb, six over 30lb and only two at 20lb, proving the bigger fish were falling to this method. I also landed a stunning Julian’s golden prize carp of 28lb. These beautiful members of the carp family must surely be the prettiest carp in the world. We have them here to over 50lb, so once the target 100lb Siamese has been accomplished the big Julian’s will be next to get my attention. I have some plans for their downfall, but that will remain my advantage for now! Also in the catch were 23 Amazon red tail catfish, one Asian red tail catfish, seven black pacu and one big head carp for a total of 71 fish.
Upon sorting out the pictures of the fish I caught, it transpired that a fish I had on the first day and weighed at 78lb I recaught on the fourth day at 79lb up a pound and obviously feeding well. This fish is a known fish that goes a year without being caught then always gets caught two or three times before going missing again. The last time this fish was out was February 2010 when it weighed 65lb. We have noticed this year that as the lake is maturing the carp are piling on the weight; most of them have weight gains of between 10 and 20lb. The average size of carp here has risen from 30lb to 50lb so let’s hope they carry on at this rate. We are all waiting now to see what one of the real big girls comes out at, and with the best stocked in 2008 at 160lb it surely won’t be long before we get a 200lb fish!
I have taken up a bit too much space on my fishing report, so let’s get onto the part you love or hate, depending on whether you think it’s you – Gillham’s gripe. As all our visitors know, we have a bell hanging in the bar, which was put there for me to make lots of money. Oops, sorry, really it’s there for a bit of fun… If you catch a bigger fish of a species than your previous best, you ring the bell and buy everyone in the bar a drink. It actually works out even, with many people catching new species. You do not have to ring the bell; it’s your choice, but if you do not wish to join in, then please don’t take a drink off all the others. It never ceases to amaze me all the prats who sit there taking drink after drink and not buying one in return!
Then we have the ones that come here asking all about fish species, bait etc, when it’s all on the website, then when we run through it again, they go and do the complete opposite. This is normally the same tosser who manages to catch three fish in a day all over 50lb with a bonus 100lb fish and says it’s slow and the fish are small; they really do not have a clue what they are doing or why they caught. Then when they see another person who did their research, checked the features in the swim, baited and cast accurately and followed all the advice catch ten fish, they then complain that the angler is a lucky bastard and that we put them in the best swim!
Why do some people come here looking for faults, and complain about everything even down to the traffic jam on the motorway when they were on the way to the airport? You are on holiday – relax, take it easy and enjoy the experience. We get moaning because it’s raining – why not check with us before booking, or better still read the web site? We have even been asked why we don’t do a 400-metre covered walkway to the bungalows, and why we do not have a heated pool! Another request is could we not cover the pool as they get wet when it rains? Der – it’s a swimming pool; you do get wet even in the sunshine! We even had one guy ask why we don’t have an electronic roof to slide over the lake when it rains, and the same guy reckoned it was expensive here – imagine what we would charge if we had a sliding roof over the whole 17-acre site!
Now onto the serious side of things, the fishing in Thailand… The total catch for the month is as follows: 641 fish of 31 species, made up as follows: 28 arapaima to 350lb, three arawana to 10lb, three alligator gar to 25lb, 220 Amazon red tail catfish to 80lb, 51 Asian red tail catfish to 35lb, 15 black pacu to 30lb, one black shark carp of 7lb, three big head carp to 25lb, six Chinese seerfish to 9lb, one firewood catfish of 5lb, seven giant featherback to 10lb, one giant snakehead to 7lb, one giant stingray of 110lb, three Hoven’s carp to 7lb, seven Julian’s golden prize carp to 30lb, nine Mekong catfish to 160lb, four mrigal to 8lb, two Nile perch to 6lb, three rohu carp to 25lb, one ripsaw catfish of 12lb, 49 spotted featherback to 11lb, 155 Siamese carp to 80lb, 21 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 35lb, 13 shovel nosed tiger catfish to 21lb, one spotted stingray of 15lb, five striped snakehead to 2lb, five tambaqui to 28lb, 11 tilapia to 3lb, four wallago attu to 18lb, six wallago leeri to 25lb and one Zungaro (jau) of 7lb.
Regular client and friend John Duffy came for one week’s fishing this month between business trips, and he landed 44 fish of nine species. Every visit here John tries to break his PB carp of 65lb. Once again the big girls avoided him, although he did land one of 55lb, also taking Amazon redtail catfish to 65lb with his biggest fish of the trip being an arapaima of 100lb. John almost fished every day, apart from one day when he didn’t rise until 6pm (apart from fag breaks) due to a heavy night on the town. John is the only person I have ever met who wakes up for a smoke all through the night. Even after a night like this he kept appearing throughout the day for a cigarette only to trot straight back to bed, John is always telling me I should lead a more healthy lifestyle, but what with waking up to keep his fag intake level at 80 a day, his sweet tooth and weighing 100 kilos more than me, I think I will ignore our John’s advice!
The next guest to arrive was lofty Ray Alsop from Birmingham who after hearing about us from Erik, the manager of Gold Label Tackle, decided to tie in a visit with us with a visit to his daughter on the nearby island of Koh Lanta. The 4ft tall pensioner fished for three days either side of his visit to Koh Lanta and caught 33 fish of nine species during his two-part stay, including Siamese carp and arapaima to 70lb and redtail catfish to 55lb. Ray runs the Midlands region of the catfish conservation group and is putting together a group trip for next year, so any member interested in joining Ray in 2012 please get in contact with him directly as we are doing a special deal for the catfish group.
Scott Morley also managed some fishing this month before heading home to the UK for six weeks’ break to coincide with the Brighton gay pride weekend, plus the Mongols convention with ‘Ronald the red tail’ in Holland and a trip to Birmingham to return Tina’s knickers! He was joined by Mark Rogers whose trip was actually paid for by Scott as a wedding present. Between the two of them they landed 43 fish of 11 species, 33 of these being Mark’s even though he has never fished here before and Scott is apparently one of the top fishing guides here! Mind you, Scott was beaten to Kids’ Corner by Mark, and Scott also let Mark have all the takes on his rods one day, but this lead to tears as Mark landed two species on Scott’s rods that Scott hadn’t caught before. Mark left Gillhams to sign his life away in marriage with Scott as his best man. Now a lot of the ANPS (Ao-Nang Poofters Society) will certainly agree about Scott being the best man. We did hear that Scott had laid on a special stag weekend for Mark with a Village People revival party and fairy cake making competition, plus some surprise events such as flower arranging and a fashion parade.
Lord Bailey carried on making appearances this month, between looking for a suitable site to make his own fishery, which will be suitably called Lord’s Lakes. Mike is still as enthusiastic about his fishing here as when he first came. He doesn’t take as many pictures now, as he has caught most of the more common species, but he has vowed that should he break a world record here he will wear his double-breasted tweed sports jacket for the photo shoot! Mike had something of a disaster here this trip when he snapped two of his top of the range spod rods, plus his lordship, being a lazy sod, paid Matt the gardener to tie all his rigs for him. Now why you would get a brown-fingered gardener to tie your rigs is beyond me; you wouldn’t ask the fishing guides to plant your flowers, would you? Oh well, maybe Scott, as he could plant pansies! Mike had hooks snapping because the barbs had been crushed wrongly and knots coming undone, but despite Matt’s handiwork he still landed 70 fish of 14 species including new catches such as bighead carp, mrigal and a tambaqui. Footnote to any clients due over – we do not allow Matt to tie any of our rigs!
Bill Bishop arrived with wife Linda on his second trip to Gillhams. While Bill fished, Linda relaxed around the pool, but after three days she decided to fish, and as is always the way, one hour into the fishing Linda hooked into a Mekong catfish. When Bill realized that Linda’s fish would beat anything he has ever caught he snatched the rod from her grasp and took over the fight. He subsequently went on to land a 70lb Mekong catfish, and after much ribbing he claimed that Linda insisted he took the rod to help her out! That evening in the bar after fishing he changed his mind about who caught the fish so as to get out of a bell ring. Bill went on to catch 30 fish of nine species and eventually managed to upstage Linda by landing a 340lb arapaima.
Another old friend and regular client Keith Frankzak popped in for a few days’ fishing while on his tour of Asia, wanting to try his luck with one of the giant stingrays. One evening we had all planned to go out to Krabi town to the crispy pork restaurant, with
everyone packing up early, but just as Keith was going to wind in his last rod he hooked a stingray. The end result was everybody waiting to go out while Keith battled with the giant ray for nearly an hour. Eventually the ray was landed at around 110lb, leaving Keith a very tired but happy guy before heading out for a night of celebrating his capture. Keith left Gillhams to continue his tour of Asia having landed 11 fish of five species.
American angler Roland Grubb was on leave from his Afghan waste recycling job and decided fishing was what he needed. After booking six nights, he ended up staying longer before having to head back to dusty deserts and raging ragheads. While here he caught thirty-five fish of eight species with the biggest being an Amazon redtail catfish of 50lb. Roland also became one of only a few people, if not the only angler in the world, to land a Nile perch on a boilie.
Mick and Merridee from Adelaide Australia came to Gillhams before heading into Ao-Nang to the last week of their holiday. Like most Australians, they were a laid back, easygoing couple who both love to fish. They were in holiday mode but caught some good fish while chilling out around the lake having a few cold beers and heading out on some day trips. When it was time to head off to Ao-Nang for part two of their holiday, both Mick and Merridee were thinking of ways to get out of their hotel booking and stay on here with us. After checking with their hotel that Merridee renamed Colditz, they were told no way could they change their booking, so they decided to stay there for the week and return for day trips with us. But after just three days they chose to take a loss on their hotel and return for four more nights with us. By the end of their stay they caught 14 fish of six species, plus two of the biggest fish of their lives with arapaima of 70lb and 130lb. Every so often in our job someone comes as a client and leaves as a friend and with Mick and Merridee we made two friends. Next year we are going to visit them in Adelaide and Mick is coming on our yearly Croker Island fishing trip.
Three years ago Mike Woodley visited us for a day’s fishing; this was when we only had two bungalows built and no restaurant. This year Mike returned with his better half for a four-night stay. Mike stood with his jaw agape when he arrived to see the transformation in Gillhams. In four days of fishing Mike landed 22 fish of seven species including Mekong catfish to 110lb and Siamese carp to 50lb.
Michael Ong, Malaysia’s Elvis Presley lookalike, came for his yearly visit to Gillhams along with his wife, landing new species including wallago attu, spotted featherbacks and the biggest fish of the trip an arapaima of 80lb, plus Siamese carp to 50lb.
We now come to Bamford tours, but first we would like to apologise to any people who were here during this time. Les Bamford and Dave Goddard first went to Pattaya to visit their longtime mate John Allan, and the daily updates from John of mayhem and madness came with stories of the two wetting the bed due to too much alcohol, and also the Swiss army tool came out, which is one of Bamford’s favourite party tricks.
As they touched down in Krabi the pair did actually calm down, and even managed to get some fishing done – not much, but Les did manage more than 15 minutes fishing this trip. Between them they somehow caught 15 fish of five species with the biggest going to Dave with an arapaima of 150lb. Due to Les being such an old sod he still uses a Box Brownie film camera. Now Les did promise to send us a disc with his pictures on, but unfortunately they have failed to arrive in time for this newsletter.
That just about sums up another report on the fishing in Thailand. If you are planning a trip I would suggest you book early to avoid disappointment, as many dates are filling up fast. Contact me directly by email at email@example.com or by phone on +66861644554. Next year’s shows are now scheduled in, and Stuart will be at the following shows: Southend on the 28/29-1-12, then Zwolle in Holland on the 4/5-2-12, Birmingham 18/19-2-12, followed by Five lakes on the 3/5-3-12 with the final show being The Big One in Farnborough on the weekend of 10/11-3-12. As usual all holidays booked with a deposit paid at these shows will carry a 20% discount off the prices shown on our website at www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com. Once again we will be raffling a fishing holiday at the shows, and you can also win a one-week fishing holiday with flights and accommodation for one person if you break the existing IGFA world record Siamese carp here at Gillhams. We have at least six fish that will break the current record lurking in the depths here.
Best wishes from all of us here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts, and we hope to see you all in the near future.