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Krabi newsletter May 2008

Hi again to all our readers, and many thanks to all of you who have booked your holiday with us here at Gillham’s Fishing Resorts. After last month’s hot weather we caught the tail end of the cyclone that hit Myanmar – nothing drastic, just high winds and welcome torrential rain, as the unpleasant temperatures of April turned into our normal wet season temperatures around 65. The water temperature fell the same, putting the arapaima on a big munch-up. Also with all the rain we were able to complete a 30% water change in the lake, and this influx of new water always perks the fish up. Now the temperatures have lowered we have netted the small lake and moved 80 Siamese carp between 20 and 30lbs over to the big lake. We have two big red tail catfish resting in this lake, and despite attempts to net them they have avoided capture, so it looks like it will be Sean and I fishing for them – it’s a hard life, but someone has to do it! Our small pond, which has 180 red tail catfish and 80 arapaima in it is ready for the fish to be moved to the small lake to grow on, as they have grown from 2oz up to 2lb since December ’07 and need more room to continue their staggering growth rates. They will stay in the small lake until the red tail catfish reach 30lbs and the arapaima reach 60lbs. Mr. and Mrs. Peacock are the proud producers of triplet eggs, but this time we are taking no chances, and have the eggs in an incubator. New arrivals this month are two guinea fowl, now they are proper grub, so they’d better keep quiet. So onto the fishing…

Total fish caught this month was 231, made up as follows… 44 arapaima to 350lbs, seven Mekong catfish to 185lbs, 67 Siamese carp to 65lbs, 24 red tail catfish to 65lbs, ten alligator gar to 30lbs, 25 Julian’s golden prize carp to 32lbs, one common carp of 1lbs, two rahoo carp to 24lbs, five red tail Thai catfish of 31lbs, 16 black pacu to 29lbs, six Chao Phraya catfish to 64lbs, 19 spotted soribim to 41lbs, three spotted feather back to 15lbs, one black feather back of 21lbs and two emperor snake head to 7lbs. Dear old Uncle Johnny Allen arrived from his home 500 miles from us at the other end of Thailand, and the fish were having it big time. For those of you who visit our website regularly, you will have read the following account of Johnny’s catch on our newsflash. Retired superstar the one and only Johnny Allen (captor of a big Wels catfish from Cassien, at one time the biggest freshwater fish landed by a Brit) phoned his old mate the other ageing has-been Stuart Gillham. Johnny, who now lives in Pataya, Thailand, phoned Stuart to ask were he could go to beat his biggest freshwater fish, and where else but here at Gillham’s Fishing Resorts, Krabi, was the reply. So Johnny came for a five-day stay, and the first two days the two old reprobates sat around reminiscing about the old days (even though Johnny will tell everyone he was reading the lake for two days!). On the third day 67-year-old Johnny chose to fish outside his bungalow, as he had read the lake so well it was just a 12m brisk walk to his swim. The first day he caught a superb 330lb arapaima, but as we were getting ready for the pictures the arapaima had other ideas and started to rip up the net cage (another coincidence, as John had this happen twice many decades ago in the UK when the famous carp Jack the net ripper did the same to him). We all grabbed the arapaima and held him up for the photo shoot, but the arapaima fought its way to freedom, leaving a laughing John and dismayed Sean and Stuart with just a tail shot of the fish on his way to freedom. After this a delighted John retired to his balcony to watch the lake again.

The following day John was up at the crack of 11 when he caught a nice 150lb baby arapaima along with a 65lb red tail catfish plus two carp around 25lb. After celebrating the fish and his beloved Chelsea winning that night, he decided to rest his swim the following day, but he did keep watching the lake while devouring a couple of dozen tinned refreshments to stop dehydration setting in. The following day John’s skills of reading the lake paid off when he again made the arduous trek from his balcony to the same swim 12m away. John had excelled himself this day to be out fishing at the ungodly hour (for him) of 9am, but his dedication paid off when two minutes into his first cast he was once again doing battle with a huge arapaima. This fish gave him what he described as the hardest fight of his fishing career, and after nearly one hour a cracking new PB arapaima of 350lbs was safely in the cage. This fish was bigger than the first, and behaved himself impeccably for the pictures. After this superb display of watercraft John decided to chill out and retire on his laurels. In Johns own words, “If I fish any more I’ll catch the big one, and then I won’t have an excuse to return.” John put the feeling of his superb catch on par with catching the Cassien cat and Mary from Wraysbury.

The Phuket ex-pats have been visiting us on a regular basis this month – what with a good season selling timeshare, plus the building boom over on Phuket the boys have been spending their hard-earned here in Krabi. Top arapaima fell to John at 130lb, Lee was the red tail king, the best one going 55lbs, and even slim Errol got in on the act. Between the five of them, and the drinking, they landed 16 fish, with Lee the top rod taking five fish. What would these lads catch if they got out of their pits and stayed on the lake at night? The next visitor was Mark who came to us last month, and as he still had a week of his holiday to go, he decided to return for an arapaima, giving himself four days to target one. He landed two up to 150lb, plus three Siamese carp to 30lbs, and four spotted soribim to 35lbs. Then came a couple I met fishing a couple of years back, Frank and the delightful Zlata from Germany. They were staying in the seaside resort of Ao-Nang, as they were not sure what Gillham’s would be like, but on first sight of our own paradise they immediately wished they had stayed here, as again the website pictures did not do us justice. Frank fished every other day while Zlata and Benz went off doing girly things! On the other days Frank and Sean spent their days attempting to play golf and swapping insults. We also took them to Phuket for a night, where Frank sweet-talked and bribed Zlata to let him buy new golf clubs. I got offended in the golf shop when the rather pretty young shop assistant mistook me for Frank’s dad – what a bloody insult, as apart from looking 21, I don’t speak German. I did notice that on the return from Phuket Frank did not get the clubs out. I suppose Frank would not be able to take it if Sean thrashed him again. Frank fluked nine different species for a total of 14 fish, with a PB arapaima of 220lb.

Then came the dog-headed arapaima, good old John De Ruiter from Holland. John was on his third visit to us although the other two trips had been short stays between fishing in Phuket and Bangkok. John had his heart set on an arapaima, and we told him that out of everyone who had fished here more than five days, no one had failed to get one. So what does good old John do? Leave it ’til the fifth day to land one! Estimated at 150lbs, John was well chuffed, and next thing he headed over to Phuket to celebrate for two days. On his return Johnny really shocked us when he proudly displayed a bloody great arapaima tattoo the full size of his back, the only problem being that the tattooist, having never seen an arapaima before, put a lovely dog’s head on the thing! Helmet our dog took a shine to Johnny after that. It’s strange how these arapaima have such weird effects on our clients, and John is the second bloke in a month to adorn his body with an arapaima tattoo (Bob Martin last month). These fish also make grown men cry when they catch them, so lucky we opened a fishery and not an orchid farm – now that would be a cool tattoo for the boys. John went on to land four more arapaima to a similar size, plus 25 other fish for six different species, doing particularly well with Siamese carp and Julian’s golden prize.

At the same time we had the Australian duo Gary and Neville on a flying visit from angling adventures in Australia. What a pair these two are, a laugh a minute, and it’s going to be a pleasure doing business with them. Check out the great destinations they have on their fishing holiday business website In between cracking jokes, scoffing food and guzzling beer the duo actually did a bit of fishing, landing a pitiful four fish with good old Nev taking the pot with a 64lb red tail catfish. Mind you they did like the saying, “You are so handsome,” but that was a saying directed at me, so enough said. Sean’s been fitting in a few hours here and there catching Siamese carp to 40-plus, and also arapaima, and while supposedly float fishing for live bait for ‘dog’s head’ Johnny, he sneaked out a 25lb Julian’s prize carp on a match rod and 5lb line.

Also making an appearance this month was unlucky Mike Woodley from the UK. He was also staying in Ao-Nang with his family when his wife Denise allowed him a get out of jail free card. He really made us suffer, fishing for 11 hours, losing numerous fish, then at last knockings somehow managing to actually keep a hook in a 45lb red tail catfish. A few days later his missus was glad to get rid of him for another day, and Mike carried on from where he left off, doing instant self-release, making us think our hooks were blunt or cursed. Having sat there all day in two different swims, I felt sorry for him, and offered him a free trip, but no sooner had the words left my mouth than at last knockings he did it again, landing a 130lb arapaima. Well, the crafty sod had cracked it with a freebie! Well, actually his wife paid us to take him away for another day of peace and quiet, and whether it was the thought of a free trip, or time running out, but the third day he kept the hook in 50% of his fish – a vast improvement when you consider it was 1% on the previous two days. This day he caught seven fish of six species, including another arapaima of 150lbs, and then he equalled the world record Chao Phraya catfish with a stunning 64lb fish. It was not claimed, because we do not want an equal record; we will wait ’til one of our big ones appears of double that size! Another good catch to a day ticket angler was three arapaima in a day to the little Swedish guy Pierre of 150lbs, and then 200lbs, followed by a monstrous 300lb-plus fish, and putting that with two carp to 40lb, it was a catch of a lifetime. His friend Yogan had four fish of three species, the best being a 40lb red tail catfish.

Then my old sparring partner and dear friend Mr Maylin appeared with his lovely wife Flo and dear little Max, plus Rob’s older son Ashley. Ashley is a very successful kickboxer, with a very well toned and muscular body from years of rigorous training, so good old Rob announced that when he was Ashley’s age he also had a physique like his. Christ, the closest Mayhem ever got to box was a chocolate box! As for training, well I suppose Harefield Lake to the Horse and Barge pub is a stagger of at least 500yds. Dream on Rob – we have always been Billy Bunters! Well, old Rob’s fishing tactics haven’t changed much over the years, still sneaking out as many rods as he can hide, plus getting bladdered down the town and singing his way back around the lake, wading past locked gates. We had a chuckle and toasted a great man who is no longer with us, but who would have said that was a typical Maylin. Seriously though, it was great to see my old mate over here and to share his enthusiasm – blimey he is still as keen and competitive as ever! Rob just fished and fished, changing this and altering that, as always trying to find an edge, then taking full advantage of the situation, which is what makes our Rob such a great angler, and he soon got to grips with Gillham’s.

After his first cast, catching a mid-20 Julian’s golden prize carp, he grilled Ashley on how to take a picture, telling him not to mess up, and asking him if he was sure he could use a camera etc, only to drop the bloody thing straight back in the lake as soon as he picked it up himself, much to Ashley’s and my amusement. Next chuck he went and got a 60lb arapaima on maize, then he went and rested on his laurels, going off for a kip to get over the flight and be ready for the next day’s early start, when he had three more arapaima to 220lb plus a few Siamese carp. The third day was to be Rob’s red-letter day, as he had found an arapaima hotspot, and as is Rob’s style, he exploited the situation, breaking the lake record for the most arapaima in a day, landing five to 310lbs. This fish would have been a world record, only the strict IGFA rules were broken when the fish got stuck over a plateau in the gully behind, and aqua man Sean had to swim out and free the line. He also lost several arapaima due to hookpulls, which is normal for these fish due to the way they feed. Rob also got amongst the Siamese carp that day, climaxing in a new PB carp of 65lbs, which fell to maize topped with a Solar tackle plastic pop-up. Well where could the big fella go from here, as he was fishing like a demon? The next day I ambled down the lake at the crack of 10am, just in time to see Rob get a take that actually shook the rod pod and gave the alarm a one-toner. Upon striking he met a solid resistance, then a bow wave like a tsunami steamed off down the lake, and Rob just hung on in bewilderment! For sure this was a Mekong catfish, and a biggie at that. I settled in for the show because these fellas fight for hours – Mekong catfish are surely the most powerful freshwater fish on the planet. Now we would see just how fit Mr. Maylin is or isn’t as the case may be, as the old fatty used to have a body like his son! After much huffing and puffing and blaming the heat for his wheezing, an hour and a half later this huge Mekong catfish appeared at the net. Our nets are the biggest Free Spirit make, and this huge beast somehow fitted into it, much to everyone’s relief, especially Rob, who was a quivering pile of flabby sweat. Knowing the fish was a potential record, we set up the steel weighing frame and fixed the Salter 300kg scales up, which had just come back from Bangkok where they had been tested and calibrated. Rob zeroed the scales to the weigh bag, then it was my job to check that the scales were exactly on zero. The old record stood at 79kg, and when the needle settled at bang on 84kg we new it was time to celebrate Gillham’s Fishing Resorts first of many world records. The fish was not one of our known 15 fish over 100kg, as it had no distinct markings, but we believe it was one of two 70kg fish stocked last April.

Rob stopped fishing for the next day to take the family out to the beach. He did fish the last day, but unfortunately his swim had died. Still what a trip – in five and a half days Rob had landed nine arapaima, one 310lbs, one of 220lbs, six over 100lbs, and a pup of 60lbs, 12 Siamese carp to 65lb, one Julian’s golden prize carp, one Asian red tail catfish, one spotted Soribim, one black pacu, and of course the potential world record Mekong catfish. Will Rob return? Do bears poo in the woods? We hope so, as it is so good to see Rob’s better half Flo, and to see young Max getting bigger – luckily the little fella has his mum’s looks. Also he still has to catch a big red tail catfish. Finally came Bob from Oxford, recommended to us by our good friend Joe Taylor. Bob came for two days and stayed for four, landing 17 fish, with a PB Mekong catfish of 100lbs, so he’s another guy sure to return. That’s me out of space, folks. Beg steal or borrow, but get yourselves booked for a couple of weeks in paradise here at