Hello everyone, and welcome to this edition of the fishing in Thailand Krabi newsletter. There is one big change to this edition, that being it has not been written by the normal authors, Stuart and Sean. No, this month it has been left in the hands of Matt, Scott, Gollock, Becca and Dave to compile and present the good, bad, and funny happenings here at the resort while Stuart and Sean are away promoting the best fishing lake in the world. This is not a biased opinion; just ask anyone who has been fishing in Thailand! So sit back, relax, and enjoy this month’s read – we have plenty to brag and bitch about as usual.
This month has been unusual weather-wise, as we are supposed to be in the hot, dry season, but tell that to the weather gods around here! Since the beginning of the month we had rain nearly every day, usually in the form of a late afternoon downpour. That was all fine and dandy, until things took a turn for the worst. The evening of the 27th it started to rain and didn’t really stop for almost four days, and not just a light rain, or even a good soaking rain. It rained HARD – harder and longer than it has here at this time of year in over 20 years!
Everything coped extremely well until a few local landslides in the hills caused a massive surge of water, flooding much of the surrounding area. Luckily the bungalows are built on high ground, but even so they still had rivers running down the stairs into the lake! The landslides caused such an increase in the water levels that one of our stock ponds temporarily increased in size and we couldn’t see the edges any more! Quick thinking and teamwork by everyone here saved any fish from being lost, and within half an hour the surge was over, leaving the staff soaked and tired and our lake a darker shade of brown. Since the rain didn’t stop, we all took shifts throughout the night monitoring the lake and surrounding floodplains to make sure we had no more problems. The only problem we had was leaving to get more supplies the next day, as the surrounding roads were completely flooded, keeping us temporarily trapped! The next few days were spent cleaning up and assessing any damage. Judging by some of the devastation around us, our resort faired extremely well. We had no major problems; just a bit of soil erosion and a few pumps to dry out. Driving through Krabi and Ao Nang was a different story. Roads had become rivers, and rivers raging torrents. We saw double-story houses with the ground floor completely below water, businesses with floating stock, and entire roads and bridges out of sight. I must say, it was an interesting experience, and one we were all glad to have witnessed and made it out of!
As you all know, Becca has been working hard in the kitchen with the departure of our previous chef, the trained cage fighter and male escort, Pinocchio… sorry, I mean Adam. What many of you don’t know is she has also become a very good interior decorator, especially in the kitchen. One afternoon, whilst preparing to use the blender to make a tasty treat, she remarked how the blenders in Thailand can be used without the lid on, unlike blenders in the UK. The demonstration that followed was said to be unintentional, but I am still unsure of how someone “accidentally” turns the switch on to blend! Needless to say, the jet of milk up the walls, over the cutlery, down the cupboards, and across the floor did freshen up the place. Gives a new meaning to “cream coloured” walls! It was a good laugh though, and now we don’t have to have the kitchen repainted.
Scott has been working very hard as usual this month, but he has also taken on managing the fishing side of things while Sean is in England. To his credit, things have been running very smoothly, and he has caught up on many of the thankless jobs the guides have been too busy to tackle over the past few months. He has been rewarded for his efforts by Eric, who was fishing here in January of this year. Being the gentleman he is, Eric sent a pair of black lacey underwear to Scott under the pretense they were Tina’s. He did mention however that they did fit quite well, and that Scott may get the same enjoyment out of them that he had. We are all just hoping that they don’t make an appearance out around the lake – after all, Stuart has banned budgie smugglers, and for good reason!
Speaking of guides, Dave Jones has had a “hair-raising” experience, or to be more exact, a hair coloring one. Dave commented on evening on the way down to the restaurant on how he noticed more white hairs when he was shaving. We all surmised it must be the “stress” of working here in paradise, and could have nothing to do with the fact that working in the sun every day might have a slight bleaching effect…
Even Gollock gets a mention this newsletter, but for slightly different reasons, namely for helping out one of our regulars, Mike. “Awesome” Mike Bailey Canada gets multiple entries this month, and not all for the fish he caught. Mike recently cleared out a tackle shop in the UK of all their gear and decided to deposit most of it here so he would have a rod and set-up for every occasion. One part of gear that did get tested quite well was the baitrunner, or should I say what happens when a baitrunner is not used… Amazingly enough, when the baitrunner is off and sitting on the pod and a fish takes, the rod launches off the pod and into the water! Mike immediately launched himself into the lake after the rod, reel, and fish, and somehow managed to grab the rod mid-water, and subsequently play the fish in and land it. Unfortunately for Mike, his form mid-air and dive entry only managed a score of 3.2 from the Olympic judges. Apparently a belly flop has a low difficulty level. It did have an effect on the level of the lake, though, as the amount of water that flooded the banks was considerable! Mike may be receiving a hefty bill from us, depending on how much it costs us to top up the lake after his dive. The only other casualty was Mike’s expensive glasses, which disappeared into the depths on impact with the water. Now unable to see if he had put on his baitrunners, Mike offered a reward of one hundred dollars to anyone who found his glasses. The next morning, Scott combed the bottom just off the swim with no luck. After realizing a comb was just too small, Scott resorted to using a garden rake, with the same results. A few hours later, Gollock took a dive and promptly found them. Pulling himself from the water with a big grin on his face, Gollock quickly handed over the eyewear. True to his word, Mike in turn handed Gollock a one hundred dollar note, and was promptly rewarded with a double run.
On the other hand, though, Mike did have a bad incident involving baitrunners. Fishing one evening, he cast out one of his five rods (yes five, having paid for his girlfriend’s son to fish, and not having reeled them in when her son went to the restaurant and while waiting for the line to settle had a run which yanked the rod right out of his hands. Scott looked late into the evening for it and for over three hours the next morning, casting and dragging the bottom repeatedly. No luck. The rod and reel are not the biggest concern here, as although expensive to replace (it was Mike’s new reel on our rod) we are more concerned about the welfare of the fish. No fish has turned up struggling because of the lost rod, so hopefully it dropped off when the line went slack with the barbless hook. Mike was not happy about losing his reel, and we were not happy about the rod and the potential damage to our fish.
Speaking of not happy, we have had more than our fair share of whingers this month. We knew it was too good to be true when most of the month was relaxed and enjoyable, with people just getting on with their fishing and appreciating every fish that was caught, and even listening to the advice that the guides were giving and reaping the rewards for it. But as is so often the case, the complainers did come! This month’s Gillhams Gripe (or in this case Matt’s Moan) has been heard before, yet it still bears repeating. Why people get all shirty about things when they are given good advice and then blatantly ignore it is beyond me. I appreciate Stuart and Sean’s position on this even more now, having experienced it firsthand this month. One shining example came when a fisherman was shown a great spot to fish by Scott. Scott had noticed a lot of fish fizzing and topping in one area on the plateau, baited it up, and put a cast right on the spot for his customer. Less than ten minutes later Scott came back to check on the angler, only to find he had reeled in the rod and moved it into No Man’s Land, even choosing to cast it with no bait on the feeder! Another so-called angler wanted to do everything himself and did so for two days with no luck. Dave then took it upon himself to help out, and plumbed and baited an area, even casting to it. Not soon after they got a run, but the so-called angler just stood watching the line peel off the spool! Dave had to strike the rod and hand it over to the fisherman himself. And to top it all off, the next day Dave did the same baiting and casting, and after returning to the so-called angler’s swim to net a fish after sorting out another fish, was told the fishing was better when he stayed away!
This even carried into the restaurant. We had two lads who stayed a couple of days and caught some good fish, even if they didn’t believe a 9lb spotted featherback was a good catch. One evening in the restaurant the pair ordered Thai food, and shortly after having it brought out summoned Becca to the table with a very rude click of the fingers. Becca went over to see what the problem was, and was told quite rudely that the food wasn’t prepared properly and was inedible. Becca explained to them that the dish they ordered came the way it was written on the menu, and just because it wasn’t to their taste didn’t mean it couldn’t be eaten, and would happily replace it for them. At this, Becca was interrupted with waving hands, food being thrown on the table, and told to go away. Had Becca not been professional about the whole incident they would have had a free serving of knuckle sandwich, and deservedly so. But enough about that… It takes all kinds to make the world go round, but I just wish the silly twats would do it somewhere else!
On to the fishing in Krabi this month, where we had 34 anglers come for fishing holidays in Thailand, staying from two to 14 days, and 13 anglers fishing on day tickets. In all, 422 fish of 23 different species were caught, made up as follows: 13 arapaima to 220lb, three arawana to 6lb, three alligator gar to 30lb, 171 Amazon redtail catfish to 65lb, 21 Asian redtail catfish to 30lb, one bighead carp of 14lb, 14 black pacu to 22lb, one giant featherback of 9lb, one Java barb of 3lb, 15 Mekong catfish to 160lb, one moo shitar of 12lb, five mrigal to 8lb, one piraaiba catfish to 10lb, two ripsaw catfish to 35lb, 88 Siamese carp to 70lb, 26 spotted featherback to 9lb, 38 spotted sorubim to 30lb, three striped snakehead to 3lb, six tiger shovelnose catfish to 11lb, two tilapia to 1lb, one wallago attu of 18lb, two wallago leeri to 13lb, and four zungaro catfish to 6lb.
One of the first anglers here this month was Glen Pile, and he enjoyed this visit so much he actually came back to fish again in the middle of the month! Glyn is no stranger to Gillhams, but had never caught one of our backbreaking Mekong catfish. After a few days of hard baiting and accurate casting, his efforts were rewarded with an 85lb’er! Having accomplished what he set out to do, Glyn moved swims to target some different species. He ended up catching 30 fish of 11 different species during his split holiday, including 11 Amazon redtail catfish, Siamese carp, arawana, arapaima, a zungaro catfish, and three mrigal.
Daniel Hakkinson and his girlfriend arrived early in the month for a few days fishing in Krabi during their holiday. After a long, hard first day, Daniel was rewarded, with less than half an hour until the finish, with a very hard-fighting Mekong, tipping the scales at 160lb. Not bad for a first fish! He ended up catching four more fish, including Amazon redtail, Siamese carp, another Mekong, and finished up with a 140lb arapaima. Daniel vowed to return again for a longer stay, hoping to catch a few more species from our lake.
Last year Nick Forward came to Gillhams as a day ticket angler and left vowing to return for a longer stint. Unfortunately for some of our customers and guides, Nick seemed to have packed very hastily and in his excitement forgot one very important item – a pair of bathers. On more than one occasion the guides looked up after Nick had landed a fish and got more than they bargained for, usually a full moon with no cloud cover! He mentioned that sitting around in wet clothing was uncomfortable, but did not explain why this meant we all got to see his version of the Full Monty. While we were all happy for Nick to be catching fish, we weren’t so keen on him getting in the water for his photos, because everyone knew what would come afterwards. We have all decided that for his next visit, we will all chip in and buy him a sheet to hang around himself if he still insists on a “change of scenery” after every fish… Nick was well rewarded for his efforts this holiday. The fishing started slow for him but his first fish was a cracker. He wanted a Mekong, and a Mekong he got! At just over 160lb, it was the biggest catfish for Nick and a great start to his trip. He ended up catching 21 fish of seven species including redtails to 60lb, Siamese carp to 55lb, a 30lb alligator gar, and a stunning shovel nose tiger catfish. Now if he will only catch hold of the idea that swimming trunks are a welcome addition to his suitcase!
Another familiar face made a return visit this month in the form of John Portman. John has been to Gillhams a few times, and wanted new species to add to his list on this visit.
Not only did he do this, but he also caught a moo shitar, which is Thai for pig catfish (scientific name Rita sacerdotum), the first ever of this species to be caught at Gillhams. This fish was stocked last year but hasn’t even made an appearance on our website yet, so John was over the moon when the fish was identified by Scott. John ended up catching a total of five species with the best being a 130lb Mekong, plus Amazon redtail catfish, black pacu, and six Siamese carp to 55lb. A great trip this time round, but we reckon it’ll be a few more visits before John can bag all 47 species in the lake!
Our old friend and born entertainer Les Bamford came down from visiting friends in Pattaya to escape the hustle and bustle and have a bit of relaxation, and, believe it or not, wet a line! We were all shocked and amazed when Les managed more than 15 minutes of fishing on his first day down, let alone the whole trip. He ended up fishing every day he was here, and made everyone else here feel much better about themselves by not catching a single fish. He was very unlucky this trip, getting runs every day but all of them avoided the net. We were all still proud of him, however, as he managed to behave himself for the entire trip – very un-Les like to be sure… Maybe he is mellowing in his old age, or maybe he is just waiting to dazzle us with a whole new repertoire of tricks upon his return. Yeah, that’s more likely.
Not to be outdone, David Austin and Terry Hyam met up and had a few days fishing here at Gillhams. They also did some good work in the restaurant, working hard at sampling many of our ice-cold beverages after a hard day’s fishing. They and their travelling companions were a good laugh in the restaurant, reveling in the relaxed atmosphere with our other guests, and they even caught some fish! David landed five fish of four species, with redtails to 50lb, Siamese carp to 70lb, 140lb arapaima, and an acrobatic arawana. Terry also got in on the action, catching seven redtails and a sorubim.
Mike and Andrea Hemple, from Germany by way of Switzerland, came for eight days’ fishing and a good laugh. Again, we had two fun-loving people just here for the experience and to take it all in. Every fish they caught was exciting and well received, no matter the size or species. If only every customer here had that attitude! We did have to calm Mike down a few times, though… Every time he got a run, he was off his chair so fast and at the rods the fish barely got a taste of the bait! If he had been born in the Old West, even Clint Eastwood would have been outdrawn by Cowboy Mike, the Fastest Hookset in the West. He was even deadly with his casting, as one of our Thai staff nearly found out. Martin, one of our groundskeepers, was walking along the far bank path when he spotted an arapaima cruising the water hyacinth beds. He quickly pointed this out to Mike, who was ready to cast. Mike unleashed his 5oz lead at the margin, but was a bit too keen with his cast. Scott, seeing the trajectory, told Mike to slow it down, and not a second to soon. Stopping the line, the lead landed literally at Martin’s feet, who for some reason seemed unfazed that he could have been knocked silly by a flying 5oz lead! He simply bent over, picked up the lead and bait, and tossed it into the water where Mike had originally been aiming. Quick draw maybe, but accurate? Maybe not!
Between the giggles and jokes, Mike and Andrea did very well, landing 34 fish between them, including 16 redtails with seven over 40lb, 11 Siamese with six over 35lb, a 75lb arapaima, and one of our most amazing fish, a 35lb ripsaw catfish. This fish is stacking on the weight, and should soon be over 50lb.
One of Rob Maylin’s mates came over from England to give our lake a go in the middle of the month. He had heard the stories and seen the pictures so decided it was time for him to sample all Gillhams has to offer. Darren Yeoman took us back 20 years with his use of a 35mm SLR camera. Yes, that’s right folks, they do still sell film for cameras! Unfortunately for us, we don’t have an on-site developing center, making it hard to take photos for the newsletter… Luckily another guest did manage a shot of Darren’s Mekong catfish, which pulled him along most of the lake. Being technologically challenged also caused Darren to miss photos of his first arapaima, which jumped out of the cage before we could wind the film in his camera. He did manage shots of his second arapaima though, and we hope they turn out well when he gets the developed shots back next year. In all, Darren caught 19 fish and had a great first trip. We have convinced him to leave the Stone Age behind and purchase a digital camera as soon as he gets back home, if his horse and carriage can make the trip into town…
Returning to Gillhams once again was Mike Zellner. He started his holiday up in the entrance to the bay, or Redtail Alley as it has been this month. He was not disappointed either, landing 11 of them to a cracking 65lb! Asian redtails, sorubim, Siamese carp and three shovel nose tiger cats also fell to Mike’s baits. Moving swims to the opposite corner of the lake, Mike wanted a few other fish before he wrapped up this trip. He ended up taking Siamese to 50lb and black pacu to 22lb before a nice 120lb arapaima took his bait on the last morning. Mike played the fish well right up to the cage, where it obligingly went in on the first attempt. Thinking the fight was over, Mike switched the baitrunner on and went to get his camera. But the fish had other ideas! It promptly jumped over the side of the cage and tore off again, stripping line from Mike’s rod. As he started reeling again, the fish tailwalked right in front of the swim and landed back in the cage, this time staying put. Just goes to show that these fish never give up, even when in the cage. It was a great way for Mike to end his trip, where he ended up catching 37 fish of seven species.
From one Mike to another… Mike Bailey also made our newsletter for the fish he caught and not just for his antics. Before we get to his fishing performance this month, we do have to mention one other thing… Mike decided to do some product testing while fishing for featherback this month. He decided to try a different brand of longshank hooks for these elusive fish, and with good results. We do question his testing methods, though. Jamming a barbed hook deep into one’s thumb does not seem like the best way to check a hook’s holding power – quite painful if you ask me! However, when Dave asked him how well they worked, he got a bloody thumbs up. We hope he doesn’t try the same thing before he goes popper fishing for GT in Australia later this year. Those hooks are massive!
As for the fish, Mike did very well as usual. He once again proves that baiting hard and fishing even harder does reap rewards. Mike’s goal this month was to catch more featherback than Siamese carp, and he easily did that. He ended up with 19 spotted featherback to a whopping 9lbs and one giant featherback of the same weight. Of his six Siamese the biggest weighed in at 52lb. Mekong Mike did manage two of his favorite fish, the biggest at 160lb. In the end, Mike ended up catching 70 fish of 14 species, including Amazon redtails, Asian redtails, pacu, alligator gar, zungaro, a ripsaw catfish, wallago attu and wallago leeri, plus a beautiful shovel nose tiger catfish.
Last but certainly not least of our staying customers was Terry Poppa Eustace. As always, Poppa got a warm welcome from all the staff on his arrival. He also informed us that things would be different this trip, as he was on a health kick. At first we all thought he was giving us another story, but true to his word, Terry ate quite healthily and swam twice a day in our pool. We were still entertained as he fished, however… After netting a nice featherback, Terry was in such a hurry to get in the water for a photo that he tripped on the stones and wiped out the rods and the pod, breaking the back rod rest on the way down. Fortunately for us all, the rods were fine. Oh, and so was Terry. He also insisted on wearing a bright yellow towel in the water on days he was wearing neutral colour clothing to “bring out his eyes”. Scott was even pulled into the antics, and nearly into the lake! While exiting the water after photos for a fish, Terry asked for a hand up. Scott obliged, and was completely thrown off balance when Terry grabbed his hand and leaned back. Scott lost his grip and Terry gracefully back-flopped into the water. Well, as graceful as a baby elephant, that is. Being the lighthearted jokester he is, Terry laughed it off and made a delicate exit on his second attempt.
During his stay, Terry fished hard every day, and caught some fantastic fish. He ended up with 22 fish of eight species including Siamese carp to 65lbs, spotted featherback to 8lb, redtails, sorubim, pacu, tilapia, zungaro, and a mrigal. Terry also just got out of Krabi before the flooding, after his flight out was delayed by an ear infection. After two solid days of rain he bid us goodbye until next time, getting the last standby seat to Bangkok.
That’s it for another Krabi newsletter. Hope you have all enjoyed this edition, written in the absence of Stuart and Sean. Stay tuned for another installment next month.
To book your dream fishing holiday in Thailand contact us on +66 861644554 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Footnote from Stuart… I think Matt made a good job of his first attempt at the newsletter, so I have left it as it was written for you. I had some catch reports from our trip to Spain plus antics from the shows, but decided to leave these till next month for you. Plus as this is Matt’s newsletter I decided to save exposing a dirty no good liar until next month. Very best wishes to you all from all of us here at Gillhams.