Once again hello to everyone following this fishing in Thailand newsletter from Gillhams Fishing Resorts. Yet another month has flown by, and shame on us for bringing you this newsletter late again, but we are just always so busy here at Gillhams. We are nearing the end of August as I finally get around to writing the intro for our newsletter. Sean and the guides have had their part written for a few weeks, but my part is late, what with getting the lake ready to extend, repairing a leak on the new addition plus removing the top end filter. This was a task on its own as the filter was constructed with 0.600 thick walls of solid concrete at 15m long by 5m wide and 1.5m high. Removing the structure by hand and clearing the concrete took two weeks with a further two weeks filling up with soil, planting trees and turfing the complete area.
At last I finally got round to completing the 2012 yearly review. I always find it interesting to compare the catch figures to previous years. I keep hearing stupid rumours that the fishing at Gillhams is slowing down, but this year’s figures prove once again that the opposition (if you can call them that) are just spreading crap about us again. Total fish caught for the year was 9,391 fish, up over 2,000 on our previous best year. Of our big six species, arapaima were up in numbers and size, Chao Phraya catfish were up on last year and the biggest fish to date, giant freshwater stingray were up in numbers with 30 more than last year and up in size, Mekong catfish were up by 800 fish and with the best at 250lb, which is only 10lb below our IGFA record, Siamese carp were up on last year, with more anglers landing a fish over 100lb than ever before, wallago leeri numbers are up but the elusive 100lb-plus fish failed to show. Many other species are up in numbers and size than previous years, which proves beyond doubt that once again Gillhams is the number one fishing destination.
We have never claimed that the fishing here at Gillhams is fast and furious; Thailand has many venues where you can catch numerous fish with some of fair sizes. We have never wanted to join the fisheries where it’s like shooting rats in a barrel; our fishery is aimed at the serious anglers who want to pit their wits against big fish in stunning surroundings. If an angler comes here and takes time to work out the lake’s topography, applies bait to the right areas and listens to our guides, then the rewards are here for the taking, and most anglers finish their holiday with a fish of a lifetime in pristine condition. My advice to everyone is please do not come here if you want to catch a fish a cast – Gillhams is not that kind of venue. If you enjoy the challenge of catching bigger than average fish in a stunning location, with the chance of some real, not exaggerated, big fish in top condition then Gillhams is for you.
The fishing for the last few weeks has been slow, due to constantly changing temperatures. One day we have blazing sunshine and the next torrential rain, with the temperature going up and down like the proverbial yoyo! Also the new owner of our adjoining property decided to clear the silt and muck from the stream. Unfortunately he did not tell us he was carrying out the works, which coincided with us letting water into the lake. By the time we noticed, the damage had been done, and within days we suffered a massive green algae bloom. We had to treat the algae with a harmless organic mixture, but during the ten days it took to clear, the fishing suffered. The one good thing to come from this was the treatment we used triggered the arapaima to spawn. They actually spawned like never before and without the usual fighting amongst the males. We even had two of the freshly stocked arapaima breed in the new lake extension, so good came from bad as we have many new baby arapaimas growing on in both parts of the lake.
I have skipped this month’s gripe section, as most of it would be covering old ground. The little gutless girls from other venues are still sniping at us, but will never come here and stand toe to toe with me and tell their lies. So sod it – why should I waste my time writing about them? The only response they get is on our website as I will not be drawn into pathetic public slanging matches on media sites! Oops that’s close to a gripe section, so let’s move on…
The anglers who visited us for the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer had some good fishing in Krabi this month with a total of 454 fish caught of 26 species, made up as follows: 64 arapaima to 320lb, five arawana to 12lb, five alligator gar to 38lb, 56 Amazon redtail catfish to 83lb, two Amazon stingray to 28lb, 79 Asian redtail catfish to 44lb, 21 black pacu to 30lb, 12 big head carp to 25lb, three Chao Phraya catfish to 120lb, two firewood catfish to 26lb, four gourami to 8lb, four giant featherback to 9lb, 12 Julian’s golden carp to 42lb, 69 Mekong catfish to 190lb, five mrigal to 8lb, six Nile perch to 8lbs, three ripsaw catfish to 24lb, four rohu to 18lb, seven spotted featherback to 8lb, 78 Siamese carp to 102lb, three shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 19lb, five shovel nosed tiger catfish to 22lb, two tambaqui to 32lbs, three wallago attu to 20lb, and four wallago leeri to 28lb.
National Geographic’s Zeb Hogan from the National Geographic series Megafish once again visited us and stayed for ten nights with cameraman Brant, shooting more underwater film and photographs to get ready for the 12-month Megafish exhibition around America that starts next year. After last year’s trip came to an end, Stuart and Zeb designed the National Geographic underwater filming tank, which was built and made ready for their return trip this month. The tank is 11m square and 2.5m deep with half being underground. The tank has been lined with black rubber to protect any fish spooked by the cameraman. Due to Zeb needing clear water for filming, we had to order in thousands of litres of crystal clear spring water. The water came from a natural spring used for drinking water, and was delivered by big water tankers.
During Zeb’s stay he was joined by Night Line, a freelance filming production doing a piece for one of America’s biggest news channels, ABC NEWS. Night Line only had two days’ filming, wanting two of the biggest species in the lake, the arapaima and Mekong catfish, of which both were caught by our clients, plus a couple of other species. The link to see this report by timeline please go to the link below.
Once Night Line had left it was back to the filming tank. We had been netting stock ponds and placing anglers’ catches in the tank for Zeb and Brant to film. Zeb also had fish tanks set up on his balcony so he could photo some of our baby mega fish. Some came from our stock ponds while others were sent up from Bangkok. Our fish supplier also delivered four goonch catfish for Zeb to film; the biggest was around 60lbs. After filming, these fish were stocked into the new lake addition, along with some other monster fish surprises.
Once all the filming was over, it was time to drain the filming tank and remove some of the bigger fish that had been impossible to net in the deep water. Most the wildlife programs on Nat Geo consist of lions, panthers, bears etc. Now we can all see the dangers filming so close to wild animals, but fish? Well, Brant found out the hard way that fish can be just as dangerous!
While Stuart and Sean were in the tank netting a 150lb-plus arapaima, Brant was trying to get some last minute filming completed. Unfortunately Brant was in the firing line of the arapaima. These fish are so powerful and fast, going from docile to 60mph in a blink of an eye. Poor old Brant didn’t stand a chance when the arapaima leaped clear of the water. The fish was still inside the net, and the full force of the 150lb arapaima shaking his head in mid air came crashing down into Brant’s chest, taking him off his feet and under the water before slipping out of the net and going over to the far corner to sulk. Everybody rushed over and pulled Brant up and out of the water, but apart from being winded and sustaining some severe bruising to his chest, Brant was OK apart from some damaged pride! Unfortunately this amazing action was never even caught on camera but will always be in the back of our minds and the customers who witnessed it. The angry arapaima was released none the worse for wear along with nine of his friends in the new lake extension.
Straight after Zeb Hogan and the National Geographic filming finished, Korda Guru Ali Hamidi visited for two weeks’ filming mixed with a holiday with his better half Emma. After contacting us a year ago, Ali finally managed to get some dates together, and although Tom Dove couldn’t make it, luckily Ali’s girlfriend could, and everyone apart from Jonathan was pleased to see her walking around the resort rather than Tom. On arrival Ali wasn’t feeling too good after picking up a bug before leaving England. Feeling rough after the long flight, he had a quick chat with Stuart and headed for his room for a few hours’ sleep. Waking up in the afternoon feeling slightly better, Ali got his rods ready before heading into town with Emma for a romantic meal.
The next morning Ali was keen to get started and even though fishing starts at 7am, Ali was up and out at the crack of 1pm to get started. Already missing half a day, Ali got going as quickly as he could, and within his first five minutes he hooked into one of our Mekongs. Not only was it a personal best of the species, this fish was also the biggest fish Ali had ever caught. His main target species were Amazon redtail catfish and arapaima, and even though he has caught both species before, he had never caught them of any size. Over the next few days Ali took a very laidback approach to his fishing by just doing the afternoon sessions. The arapaima seemed to be Ali’s nemesis, as every one he hooked he lost. The total of arapaima hooked in his trip was 24 with the total number landed standing at six. Ali now holds the lake record of most arapaima lost in a single holiday!
Ali tried many different tactics and methods, but this just caused him to lose more fish. Korda tackle is perfect for the job it’s designed for, but it just isn’t man enough to land the big fish we have here. You could probably liken this to using our gear for marlin – our tackle is perfectly balanced for the fish we have, just as Korda gear is perfect for carp fishing in Europe. In a desperate bid to get a new species, he even turned to the bird life when he started casting into trees. Ali claimed the wind must have got under the 4oz lead travelling at 200mph! Ali had many battles with Mekong catfish, and even though he has caught them before he wanted to sample a big one, which he certainly did after landing five up to 160lb. Ali also caught another target fish with Amazon redtail catfish, amongst other species, including bighead carp and Asian redtail catfish, and of course the arapaima, of which he landed six in total with three over 100lb and two over 200lb with his biggest being 240lb. During the trip Ali and Emma also had two nights away staying in one of Krabi’s luxury hotel and spas. Ali unselfishly treated Emma for letting him fish for all the other days of their holiday. There is now even talk of the whole resort being booked by Korda so all Ali’s mates can be dragged around the lake and abused by the fish.
Regular angler Stretton Honour made another appearance for a week’s fishing. Stretton is always targeting the Mekong catfish and Siamese carp, and even though the Siamese were keeping a low profile, Stretton did manage a bighead carp of 25lb and seven Mekongs with five over the 100lb mark, with his biggest being just shy of 160lb. Due to the lake fishing harder than previous visits Stretton moved around a couple of different swims and managed to land 12 fish of four species.
The Kilshaw family also made a return trip, with five days’ fishing before leaving us and spending seven nights at newly built Eden Villas, just a short five-minute drive from our resort. While Neil fished with his son Jake, his wife and daughter enjoyed the days relaxing around the pool. During his stay, Neil landed nine fish of six species, including Julian’s golden carp, spotted featherback, Asian and Amazon redtail catfish, with his two biggest fish being a Mekong catfish of 180lb and a new personal best arapaima of 300lb. Unfortunately Jake was outfished by his father and only managed to land a few fish but still caught one of our home bred arapaima of 65lb, plus his biggest fish of the trip, a Mekong catfish of 120lb.
Michael Harding also made a return visit this month, accompanied by his fiancée Kay Warne. Due to heavy nights on the town and keeping Kay entertained, Michael didn’t get as much fishing in as we thought he would. Coupled with the poor conditions, he still managed some nice fish though. He also added a new species to his list, and nearly a world record with a Chao Phraya catfish weighing in at 115lb, just 6lb off the existing world record also held here at Gillhams. Some other catches also included black pacu to 20lb and Mekong catfish to 140lb. With Michael enjoying the fishing here at Gillhams, and Kay enjoying crazy nights on the town, the wheels are already in motion for their return trip early next year.
Australian angler Mick Smith joined us once again this month while on tour around Asia with his better half, Merridee. Mick and Merridee are good friends and call Stuart the “Fat Pommie Basted”. In true Stuart fashion, he responds with the “Roo Shagger” for Mick, and a breeding female kangaroo is known as a “big red” so this has to be Merridee! Mick has joined us on other fishing trips and is also joining us on next year’s Panama adventure. During his stay with us he started giving the long suffering Merridee plenty of verbal after learning that Benz has paid in full for Stuart’s trip as part of his 60th birthday present. Even though the Roo Shagger is from Oz, he still managed to land a few fish, including two arapaima over 200lb with his biggest and new personal best going 260lb.
Another Australian angler, Warren Rickard made a couple of day trips here while staying in Ao-Nang. Being an Aussie angler, Warren was also keen on trying his luck on the lure lake, and although he dropped a few different species he managed to land nine pacu up to a couple of kilos. One may have been slightly bigger had it not been attacked by another fish and coming in missing half its body. Fishing the main lake Warren landed three different species, including an arapaima of 240lb.
Regular visitor to Gillhams, Mike Ward, returned this month. Mike being a schoolteacher can only take his holidays during school holidays and due to this, he pays premium rate for flights. This always seems wrong to us that the airlines up their prices when teachers and parents get striped up for flights. Plus the extortionate prices on flights play havoc with our bookings, but we will get off this subject, as it’s sounding like a gripe!
I know some of Mike’s students read our newsletters when Sir is over, as apparently several of the sixth form girls like to see if they can get any gossip on him. Sorry to disappoint you girls, but Sir is very well behaved – no gossip or ladyboy stories here. In all the years Mike has been visiting us he has always behaved impeccably. But if you want to rib him, read on… One night we all went out to a restaurant; the bill came to 500 baht each and Mick handed over a 50 baht note. When we pulled him up he asked what the difference was. Well, Sir certainly is not a maths teacher, as we had to point out that 500 has one extra zero than 50!
Mick normally brings his better half Tess with him; unfortunately she couldn’t make this trip or apparently the next. Tess is an actress, and has landed the leading role in one of England’s biggest theater shows. She will be travelling all over the UK for the next twelve months, so all of us here at Gillhams would like to wish Tess the best of luck.
Mike’s target for this trip was simple – a new PB and to do better than his last trip earlier in the year. Luckily for Mick he arrived as we had a big group check out, which gave him the pick of most the swims before the next wave of anglers arrived the following morning. Mike picked his swim with great care and achieved both his targets. He certainly improved on his last trip in terms of bigger fish, and also added a PB arapaima of 320lb. In total Mick landed 15 fish of four species, including five arapaima with three over 200lb to 320lb. Also in Mick’s catch were Siamese carp, Asian and Amazon red tail catfish.
Mark Weaver returned after visiting us last year with his brother-in-law Wil Lee. We loved that name so much last year we just had to give him a mention even though he could not join Mark this trip! Marks spent his first day sinking a few beers and getting over the long flight from the UK. On booking the holiday, Mark made sure he had a couple of non-fishing days in order to recover from hangovers and do some shopping for the wife as a reward for letting him have another fishing holiday. Mark landed some nice fish including Siamese carp to 50lb, Mekong catfish to 140lb and a big arapaima of 210lb. In total Mark went on to land 12 fish of five species, and he is already making plans for his third trip next year.
Stephan Gustafson arrived for a few days’ fishing, and even with the lake fishing hard he still managed to land a few good fish. He landed a total of eight fish of four species. With one of his target species being an arapaima, Stephan certainly didn’t go home disappointed after landing one of 250lb, which gave him a real battle all the way to the cage.
There was another return visit for regular Gillhams angler Ray, but we can’t use his surname, as he wasn’t really here! Ray was on a work trip that finished early, so he sneaked into Gillhams without the company knowing (we hope you explained the suntan, Ray!). To give Ray his due, he was working on his laptop while fishing. Fishing outside his room meant he could dive back to his room for the important conference calls. With WiFi around the lake it’s possible to have the best of both worlds, especially if you’re not able to escape work completely for your stay. Ray is involved in the financial and managerial restructuring of very large scale business across SE Asia, which goes to show even the busiest of people can still get out for a bit of fishing related enjoyment! During his short stay he landed nine fish of five different species, including two Mekong over the 100lb, arapaima to 60lbs, arawana, Asian and Amazon red tail catfish.
Graeme Tooth came from the usually chilled realms of Scotland, to experience a bit of really warm weather with some fishing thrown in. Graeme and his partner had left in a heat wave of almost unheard of proportions, with temperatures soaring into the low twenties! We could barely sustain those kinds of temperatures, even with the air conditioning running full tilt! Leaving his favored pike fishing and lochs behind, Graeme came to spend a week with us plus a week on the beach at Ao Nang. This made a little bit of a change from the icy waters of home, and offshore tope and ray fishing.
With sunblock and umbrellas the order of the day, Graeme really wanted to catch Mekong catfish, arapaima and Siamese carp, plus as many other species as he could. We’re pretty sure he left impressed, having landing all his target fish plus Julian’s golden prize carp and a ripsaw catfish to boot. Graeme landed arapaima over 200lb, Mekong catfish over 100lb and Siamese carp over 60lbs during his stay. As well as planning a return trip, he was kind enough to offer to guide us at a bit of loch pike fishing, and should we be visiting his beautiful part of the world any time soon. Although promising us 20lb pike all round, this might yet prove to be a challenge he lives to regret!
Good friend of Jut’s and ex wrestling demon, Barry ‘The Hammer’ Blowie, had his first and hopefully not last visit to our angling paradise. Barry would describe himself as a non-angler that likes to occasionally dabble at a bit of angling. Jut was looking forward to getting Barry attached to one of our larger specimens. Barry had a pretty relaxed approach and managed to push himself to fish for a good couple of hours every day, usually at completely the wrong times! This however didn’t stop him from catching some good fish. It was during the release of Barry’s first and largest arapaima, a beast of some 100kg-plus, that we were to witness the legendary ‘Hammer’. As many of you know we splash the water at the point we release our arapaima, which ensures they are shocked into moving off quickly, and it helps to ensure they take a quick breath again shortly after their release. After the final breath in the cage we maneuvered the man mountain into position to splash the water for us. We normally use both hands, but that’s not really necessary when you’ve got deadly weapons attached to both shoulders. With one almighty right hand slap Barry unleashed his hammer. The gathered crowd of spectators couldn’t avoid the tidal wave that erupted, and everyone got showered with water. Joel and Jut in the lake got the full force of the face, nose and ear assault from the blast Barry dealt out. He then went on to catch a further good sized arapaima of around 180lbs as well as Siamese carp to over 70lb, but sadly for them, not even a 70lb fish looks as big as it really should when its being cuddled by the mighty Blowie. Thanks for joining us mate, and we hope to see you again soon for a bit more wrestling related banter.
We are still getting lots of late holiday requests, and this results in some very disappointed anglers. Gillhams is now so popular you do need to book well in advance, so please do not leave it too late to book, as we hate turning people away. Prior to booking flights please check availability to avoid disappointment, you can either email us email@example.com or phone Stuart on +66 (0) 861644554.
Once again thank you all for your support and for reading our monthly newsletters. Without you and of course our huge fish, Gillhams would not be one of the best fishing resorts in the world.
Best wishes from all the team here at Gillhams.