Hi to all of you who follow this fishing in Thailand Krabi newsletter. I would like to thank our brown-fingered gardener Matt for compiling the last two newsletters in my absence; I personally thought he did a grand job apart from his gripe column, which was just too tame! As Gillhams is closed through May I thought I would update you on news from the trade shows and our fishing trips to Spain and Australia, plus touching on the guests who arrived here in May ready for the opening on the 1st of June.
As most of you are aware I attend various fishing trade shows through Europe in March and April each year. This year Sean accompanied me as I am getting old and grumpy and I want him to take over from me! The first show on the calendar this year was the Five Lakes show in darkest Essex held as normal on the first weekend in March. This is my favourite show as many of my old mates attend this show so it’s more of a social gathering in the evenings, which gives me the chance to meet old friends and catch up on the year’s gossip, plus as time marches on to see which one of my ancient mates has passed away to that big pond down below! In terms of business, this year was the worst Five Lakes show ever for us – the recession in the UK is really hitting home and many people are just not earning enough money for a holiday. But in terms of a great social and piss-up this year’s show was the best, so not only did we earn less, we spent more!
As usual the Friday was spent setting up our stand and taking the piss out of old friends, then Friday night arrived and the serious task of getting wrecked takes place! Speaking with various friends and acquaintances throughout the evening resulted in the same old diehards still standing after midnight with the fish getting bigger and the bullshit flowing through to the wee hours. Last men standing this year where Keith Jenkins, Lee Jackson and yours truly, plus top female drinker Linda Jenkins. Now my old buddy Lee can’t handle his drink and when he gets on the red wine he resembles a giraffe on ice! Sometime at silly o’clock Jacko decided to wobble off to his room, and being a lazy old git upon spying a golf trolley he decided to hotwire it and drive to his room. Imagine a pissed-up Jacko tearing round the Five Lakes gardens trying to locate the accommodation block he was staying in. Apparently in his addled brain he thought the harder you pushed the accelerator the easier the thing was to steer. The end result was one golf buggy upside down in a rose bed and one spindly-legged wobbly giraffe last seen tottering off towards his pit!
At least Jacko made it to his bed, which is more than can be said for Linda Jenkins who wandered off in a drunken stupor and was found in the small hours totally lost and asleep on the hotel corridor floor! Keith, Sean and I carried on until 6am only to be up an hour later for the show. When the show doors opened at 9am all any of us wanted to do was sleep. If you were one of those unfortunate souls who came to see us on the Saturday morning only to get one word answers, sorry, but it was all Jacko and Linda’s fault, as they should have insisted we stopped when they did. This year we ran a raffle for a free holiday. Sean and I reckoned if we worked hard we could sell a couple of grand’s worth of tickets. Ha! What a joke that was, as in our unsociable state we sold a fiver’s worth (well Sean did as I was too grumpy for anyone to dare to ask to buy some!). Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, I believe, fared no better, just being pestered the once to sell a book!
The next show was the Big One at Farnborough. This show was well attended, and although we only had a small stand business was good, probably helped because my old buddy Rob Maylin had the adjoining stand. On Rob’s stand was our dear friend Shaky Ritchie McDonald who was signing the latest in the series of carp fishing legends books featuring the man himself. If you haven’t got these books in your collection I suggest you get them now, as they are the nuts – purchase through Rob Maylin at Bountyhunter Publications. Now Ritchie, Rob and I go back a long way to when Noah floated his ark. Ritchie gave up carp fishing around the same time as I did and lost his way a bit, but the man is now back bigger and bolder than ever. Richie visited Gillhams for Christmas 2009 and is returning this Christmas for a month. He soon abandoned the book promotion for Rob and got stuck into convincing people to visit Gillhams. Ritchie’s enthusiasm for our resort rubbed off and sales increased, leaving me owing Ritchie a beer or ten.
Then on Saturday night it was off to the ECHO evening held close by. This event is one I like to attend, as all the members are dedicated to preserving our sport, plus it’s always a good booze-up with friends from years back. After the AGM and talks the evening got underway with a live wurzel band made up of members of Echo, including Ruth from Yateley Angling Centre on the violin and Keith Arthur of TV fame singing. Ritchie was back to his old self and a laugh a minute to be with. He was breakdancing to any music the band played, and then all hell broke loose in the interval. Ritchie convinced everyone he used to be an accomplished musician and they let him loose on the drums. Well I was impressed – Ginger Baker eat your heart out, as Ritchie was the man (or was it the drink kicking in?). After his drum solo Ritchie got hold of Ruth’s violin, but if he was the man on the drums, he certainly was not on the violin. The only way to describe the wailing coming from the violin would be to drag a sack of cats down a pane of glass. Ritchie, in his drunken stupor, thought he had the capability to play in the London Symphony Orchestra. In full swing of a protesting scream from the tortured instrument, Ritchie turned to us with a big grin on his face, only to forget he has a nose bigger than mine and proceeded to stick the violin bow straight up his hooter! The night was rounded off with more bullshit and lies up the local Indian, only to wake up again with the compulsory hangover.
During a two-week break between shows Sean and I went over the Mequinenza in Spain to fish the river Ebro for Wels catfish. We fished as a guest of Colin Bunn, owner of the most professional outfit in Spain, Catmaster Tours (www.catmastertours.com). Colin had warned us that we were a bit early, as the river could still be running cold, but as it was the only date we could make we took the chance. Well he wasn’t wrong; it rained with sleet and was bloody freezing! A dam controls the river in Mequinenza, and as more cold water flowed into town the dam was opened leaving a low, cold river running through like a train and requiring a pound of lead to hold bottom. All the Catmaster guides were very professional and none more so than the guide we were allocated – Jason Ingley. Jason tried his hardest for us in gruelling conditions. The first night we fished was Sean’s birthday so he had the first fish, and he was well chuffed with his first pussy at 124lb, so I let him have the next two fish.
As it turned out, the temperatures dropped further and the fishing got harder, and throughout the week Sean managed one more fish and I caught two, upstaging Sean by 2lb with one at 126lb plus a kitten of 80lb. Orange John, who guides for us sometimes, fared worse as he had carp anglers to look after, and the carp were just not feeding. Ashley Scott, Catmasters’ head guide, showed why he is the head man with his group catching around 15 fish up to 180lb. All the guides are very competitive and take the fishing seriously, wanting to be the top guide all the time. Well Jason was on a loser with us, as it was also a holiday for us with late starts and early beer breaks to sample the nightlife in town. To sum up the trip the apartments were nice and clean, the food in town leaves a bit to be desired, and the local bars are fun. Catmasters is a professional company with the best guides on the river, and all I can say is, shame about the weather. Just one word of warning – when fishing with Jason, do take care as he is a bigger pervert than Orange John, but he cooks a mean curry!
Last show before home was the Visma held in Rotterdam, Holland. This show is gruelling as it’s four days and finishes at 10pm the first two nights. We shared a stand with our good friend Ronald of RTV Henglesport, and we also stayed with him and his long-suffering wife Bianca, who along with their daughter and Fang the dog made us most welcome. Once again our dear friends Wil and Betty helped us, and without them we would be lost, plus Betty could sell sand to an Arab. This show was also slower than last year, but we did take some bookings, met up with some old friends, plus made new ones. We also learnt a new Dutch word for wanker, and the company made the show for us, as each day our sides were splitting. Thanks a million, Ronald, Bianca, Wil and Betty for all your help.
On our return home we had two weeks sorting the lake and resort out, netting a stock pond and stocking ten arapaima and 30 red tails into the main lake. The netting is an amazing sight as 100lb-plus arapaima leap over your head to escape. After we finished netting we decided to remove two floating nets that we had been growing snakehead in for the last year. One net had 100 cobra snakehead and the other was home to 200 giant snakehead. We had been feeding them daily for a year, and as every time we fed them the water shook and moved we presumed all was OK in snakehead land. Imagine our surprise when pulling the nets to find a big fat arapaima in each net, which had scoffed all the snakehead and then had a private feed every day! Although only 4ft long these fish were 5ft round and weighed in at 150lb apiece. It just shows what you can keep and grow an arapaima in, as these nets are 10ft square by 3ft deep!
Then it was the trip we look forward to each year, fishing in Australia at Jarbu Lodge, Croker Island near Darwin owned and ran by our good friend Rob Hunt and his lovely partner Martina. Check out this amazing place at www.jarbulodge.com. Accompanying us this year were two regular friends and visitors to Gillhams, Mike Bailey and John Duffy. For us it is a short 1½-hour flight to Singapore then 4½ hours to Darwin, and we all met up in Darwin the day before. Sean and I arrived at 4.30am only to find our rooms had not been reserved, as the hotel thought we were arriving at 4.30pm. No problem… We found John’s room, woke him up and crashed in his bed with him. He got pissed off with my snoring and farting and went out with Sean, leaving me the bed to myself. Around lunchtime we went to the poshest hotel in town to find Lord Bailey. We called his room and while he kept us waiting, proceeded to load our drinks on his bill! The next day we took the one-hour flight to Croker Island by ten-seater plane, where Rob met us, and within two hours we were out fishing the reef with poppers and lures for Giant trevally and queen fish. During the afternoon session we landed several fish between 15 and 30lb. Each day on Croker is something different, fishing creeks, gulleys, reefs and blue water. I like to fly fish, but the rest of the lads fished lures. For two years we have been trying to get to some unfished islands about 60 miles offshore, but although April and May should be good weather, once again the weather beat us. We pounded into heavy seas for two hours before giving up and returning to Croker where you can always find a lee shore to escape the wind.
We trolled an inshore reef for a good catch of trevally, queen fish and Spanish mackerel. Next year we are returning in October to try and reach these remote islands. Anyone who wishes to join us please contact us via the details below. Throughout the week we amassed around 300 fish between us of aprox 30 species. One day up one of the numerous creeks John was bringing in a nice mangrove jack when wham, a bloody great bull shark exploded in an eruption of spray right at the edge of the boat and snatched it from his hook! After John got off the boat’s roof and changed his keks we all tried setting up for shark – not easy when you have no equipment or wire traces for sharks. Scouring the boat for suitable traces it became a contest to see who could land a shark, as there were herds of them around the boat. After numerous experiments and bite-offs Sean seemed to have the winning solution by fitting a chain of cable ties to his hook, and he landed an unidentified shark species of around 40lb.
As Sean was playing his fish I hooked a beast on my stripped down section of anchor rope, and what looked like 200lb-plus bull shark ploughed through the mangroves and smashed me up. The rope trace was spooking the smaller sharks, so it was back to hunting around the boat for a thinner material. I found what I was looking for on the emergency distress beacon but was not allowed to destroy the safety equipment! We landed several sharks on modified rigs before heading back to the lodge for yet another feast. The food at Jarbu Lodge is good home cooking and the portions are even too much for portly pigs like John and me. Talking of portly, John spent the whole week telling me how to eat healthily, which was good advice coming from a guy six inches shorter than me and weighing 100lb more! All too soon the adventure came to an end. Mike had already left a few days early due to being called away on business, or was it because we were all outfishing him? John headed home to Indonesia while Sean and I went for a week’s beach holiday to a secret destination.
Returning home it was a quick check that all was ok, and to repack the bags to head off to Hong Kong for a family holiday. The main excuse was to take Jack to Disney for his birthday, although Sean was more excited than Jack at the prospect of meeting all his favourite characters. Talking of Disney characters Jack and I even met up with Adam, oops, sorry, Pinocchio! Hong Kong was a great trip, and somewhere I have always wanted to visit, but be warned it’s bloody expensive, and also the people are the rudest you will encounter anywhere in the world. They push, shove, jump queues, and even knock little Jack out of the way to get in front. When it rains be warned you need eye protectors. Everyone carries umbrellas, and as most are shorter than westerners the umbrellas are eye height. When the brollies are in play it is lethal; the natives just walk straight at you and screw their brollies into your boat race, and it was all I could do not to clump them! Great experience, but would I return? Definitely not!
Hong Kong is I suppose pretty close to a Gillhams gripe, so while I have my grumpy head on I will touch on a subject I have been threatening to mention for a few months, namely liars, or in this case LIAR! As you are aware, a few months back we had the unfortunate experience of employing the world’s biggest bullshitter as a cook. From the off his tales and bullshit earned him the name Pinocchio! Stories such as catching every fish in the UK’s famous carp fishing lakes, Yateley, where he claimed to be a bailiff, being a champion kick boxer, cage fighter, male model, world famous chef with Michelin awards to his name – the list of stories is endless. I should have sacked him during his first month when I caught him drug dealing instead of accepting his excuse that he didn’t know drug dealing was illegal in Thailand! The classic though was when he fell in love with a local lady of the night, only to tell everyone he pulled a barmaid who only did the job for fun as she came from a wealthy family and owned a big house with swimming pool and drove a Porsche!
Funny, we all knew her as a girl from a peasant family up north who lived in a tin hut, worked as a bar girl and drove a five-year-old Honda moped. Her own words were that Pinocchio was a saddo who paid over the odds for her services (hence he was always skint and borrowing money to pay her to love him long time!). The final lowlife lie came when we entered the restaurant one morning to find Pinocchio in floods of tears with snot running out of his nose. Thinking that maybe his prostitute had been unfaithful to him we asked what was wrong. Between heart-wrenching sobs he informed us that his father was dying of cancer and had less than two years to live. Being such a loyal and dedicated world-renowned chef he didn’t feel it was right to leave and disappoint all the people who travel to Gillhams just for his culinary delights! Most people have been affected by this vile disease, losing family members, loved ones and dear friends, and in the last few years I have lost my precious sister and two dear friends. My kids went to hell and back last year when I was diagnosed with cancer, which was fortunately caught in time and hopefully cured!
It was without hesitation that we told him to go home and spend every precious moment with his father, and between sobs he said he had no money to pay off his debts and change his ticket to fly home. Not believing anyone would stoop so low as to make up a story like this, I promptly paid for his ticket to fly home and cleared the lowlife’s debts. He promised to pay me back the minute he got home and spent the last 48 hours here walking around the lake and sitting crying and telling customers about his poor father. This gained him lots of sympathy and some generous customers even gave him some money. The day he left we waved goodbye, wished him well and sent messages to his father and family wishing them all the best for the forthcoming trauma they would go through. This is when the filthy lying lowlife sick bastard’s bullshit started to unfold, and his father rejected all the messages sent by well-wishers.
It turned out his father was not dying and did not have cancer; it was just a story concocted for the sewer rat to bugger off home and leave his debts behind. I just hope that the lies turn into reality for him, as some things in life should never be used in lies. I feel very strongly about this arse-wipe’s lies as my kids and family have been to hell and back, as have many of you. Yes Pinocchio, one day our paths will cross – that is destiny, just as it will be one day when your life is affected by cancer, and in both cases your health will suffer! I know you and your father read these newsletters, so if you have any decency and conscience you will pay back the money you owe me. You don’t have to pay it directly to me or the clients you conned, just pay the money to Stoney and Friends. They are a caring charity that help people and raise funds for the dreaded disease you used in your lies and deceit.
I make no apologies for the above comments – most of you know his name or if you read back in newsletters will work out who he is. If anyone lets me know where to find him I would appreciate it. He is well known in the Yateley area where he has run up considerable debts with his lies and deceit, and all in all the prick is a very sick con merchant.
So we move onto the last week in May when some of our clients started to arrive in anticipation of opening day on the 1st June. Many of the lads had arrived by the 27th May, so it was party time. Drinking trips and hangovers were followed by a fishing match for our mini species, the winner to be decided on the most fish landed with lesser prizes for the most species and the biggest fish landed inside 20 minutes. Rules were simple – match rods with maize and bread baits only. Anyone caught cheating got a two-hour time out and all previous points removed. I am pleased to announce that no one was caught cheating, although if Matt had landed a fish he would have been! The winner with most fish was Mark Ennew with 21. In his haul Mark had some cracking Java barbs to 3lb. I was pleased he won the match as prior to the start he was convinced that the match was a stitch up by us to take our punters’ money. The biggest fish looked as if it was going to Scott with a 13lb tambaqui, when in the final minutes Sean landed another tambaqui of 15lb. The most species was surprisingly only two and was shared amongst Paul, Sean and Scott. My tally was just two fish caught in the first 20 minutes before I was called away to deal with some problems digging the new stock pond – oh, the joys of being the boss! I even had to miss the next two days’ events as the work on the new ponds and lake was at a critical stage.
The next trip was by boat to some of the local islands for snorkeling, sightseeing and a picnic. Everyone enjoyed the day except for the rain and strong seas, which shows my wishes for them to enjoy a day out while I worked had been answered… The next day a golf tournament was planned, but due to a very late night partying, plus two of the lads visiting the toilet on a regular basis, the golf was a non-starter with only Paul managing to lift his head off the pillow. Sean and Matt had stayed at home the night before to be in line to win the prize. Scott somehow managed to appear in time, which was a miracle, as normally when he goes drinking he has memory loss and disappears, as was the case a few nights earlier when he disappeared in the wee hours only to wake up in a strange house sleeping in a strange bed. The house was in fact empty, its owners being away, and how Scott found it or gained entry is a mystery. On waking up he legged it, locking the door behind him but failing to make the bed!
Well folks, that was not really a newsletter, more of a report into our month’s break. Next year we are staying open in May, as the weather and seasons seem to be all over the place. This May has had heavy rain all month and the lake temperatures have been perfect for fishing, hence the explosive action here on opening day, but that’s for next month. Thank you all for reading our fishing in Krabi reports, and if you are planning a trip, please book early to avoid disappointment, because as Gillhams gains its reputation places are filling up fast. To book contact Stuart by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0066861644554. We hope to see you all in the near future, and good luck with your fishing wherever you are from Stuart and all the team here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts.