Hello again and welcome to another newsletter following the fishing in Thailand at Gillhams Fishing Resorts. By the time most of you read this, Stuart and I will be on our way to Panama with a few good friends and even Geoff. First stop on the journey will be Florida where we will be fishing for tarpon and goliath grouper, and we will of course be doing a write-up on this trip in the next newsletter. Speaking of newsletters, the June news letter will be written by staff here, as we will have missed everybody coming over due to our fishing trip. We would like to apologise in advance as you may be getting write-ups from Brummie Chris and Gollock.
As I sit here writing this intro our guide Gollock has headed back to Ubon in the North of Thailand for a week as his wife Boom has now had their first child. The baby girl was born on the 24th of May weighing 6lb 3oz. Names for Gollock’s daughter have not yet been confirmed. We do know of a couple of names Gollock had lined up, but luckily his wife has put a stop to them. One of the names Gollock was most keen on using was Wallago, maybe thinking the kid might be born with as many rows of teeth as her father – ha ha! Pictures and the baby’s name will follow in next month’s newsletter, but for now everybody here at Gillhams would like to congratulate Gollock and Boom and wish them the best of luck with the family.
May has been a very busy and hectic month here at Gillhams as we’ve netted every stock pond on the resort and moved some of the smaller fish to new ponds and also stocked over 100 fish into the main lake. We’ve have made a new arapaima stock pond as the bigger arapaima had outgrown the old pond. Smaller ones have been moved down to the old pond creating two empty ponds that have now been re-stocked with small fish to grow on again. With five stock ponds on site in Krabi we are able to grow on future stock and keep the main lake continually supplied with new fish.
As our regulars know, for the last two years we have had a fly and lure lake here at the resort, but due to many anglers wanting to only target the big fish species in the main lake it hasn’t had much interest. We have now netted that lake and moved most of the species out and into the main lake, so the main lake has now gained around 500 fish of the following species: peacock bass, giant snakehead, arawana, brycon, tarpon, golden dorado, wallago attu and many others. We even had a few surprises; the first was when all the floating hyacinths were removed. The arawana had been breeding and hundreds of baby arawana appeared from four to eight inches. They have now been removed and added to stock ponds. We also had some huge tilapia that had originally been added as food for the other fish. Some had been lucky enough to escape the jaws of the predatory fish, and they have also been moved to the main lake.
Now as a few readers might remember, two and half years a go a Siamese carp that had been weighed in the past at 114lb had fallen into a rut. Every time it was feeding it would be caught. This carp had been named the Warrior due to him being an old looking fish with battle scars. He had dropped to around 85lb at the time he was moved to the lure lake for some well-deserved rest. We were all very excited to see what he’s done over the past couple of years. We have been putting in 10kg of pellet a day every day hoping that he would get plenty of food without being pushed off by some of the other species in the lake. To say he had put weight on would be an understatement; he’s exploded in there and put his original weight to shame, but due to the stresses of netting him and moving back to the main lake we were unable weigh him accurately. He was put into a sling and quickly raised onto the scales; the scales were held by a few people who were helping with the netting, instead of being weighed on a heavy duty steel weigh frame for an accurate weight to be read. Due to this the weight was very inaccurate so we are not going to put a weight in the newsletter, but we hope it won’t be long before he makes an appearance to one of our lucky customers. All we will say is that the record will be raised considerably, as it looks like the old warrior was scoffing most of the 10kg pellet allowance!
The lure lake is now being restocked with many of the same species as the main lake. These are in smaller sizes, and we have now opened this lake as any method using lighter rods. This will be a fun lake to fish; it will give the families that stay here a chance to catch some of the species that dad catches in the main lake, but are too strong for the kids and even some of the wives. It’s going to be an easy catch water stocked with lots of species, including Amazon redtail catfish, Siamese carp, Mekong and striped catfish, redtail tiger cross, pacu, rohu, catla carp, mrigal, bighead carp, Julian’s carp, Hovens carp and many others. Unfortunately due to the work involved in netting the fragile arapaima, we will not be adding this species to the lake. Any wives or children wanting to catch an arapaima will have to suffer the brute force of the big ones in the main lake. This pond will only be accessible to staying customers, which will ensure the peace and tranquility of Gillhams, not to mention the fish’s wellbeing.
We also have some new editions to Gillhams Zoo. Many of you already know about our pet monkey. He’s a marmoset from South America; we bought him a year ago from Bangkok at three months old from a small shop that breeds a few different species of monkeys. Since then he’s become one of our star attractions especially with women and children, and is one of the coolest pets we’ve ever had. Recently he’s been getting… how should I put this… very active with everything in his cage by rolling up his bedding and doing things to his teddy bears that just shouldn’t be done. We’ve taken it on ourselves to help the little fella out, and have know bought a female monkey. At the moment they are kept in separate cages next to each other, so they can see each other, and soon they will be introduced properly and live in the large aviary we are going to build. We’re hoping they will get along well and breed together making their own little marmoset family.
We have also adopted a flying squirrel after our gardeners found him one morning on the floor due to falling out of his nest in the trees. Not knowing which tree he had fallen out of, Noi took him in. We didn’t think he would survive due to the fall, and the fact that he was only a few days old with no fur and his eyes hadn’t even opened. After a few weeks of Noi feeding him every few hours, his eyes had opened and he had grown in size sporting a full fur jacket. He even started feeding himself from a fruit bowl in his cage. He’s now about three and half months old and doing well, full of life, running all around his cage and extremely tame and friendly. He’s been named Munch, as he never stops munching, and he has also become very popular with our guests.
Finally before we get to this month’s catch report and anglers, I would like to mention like I have before how the newsletter works. (I promise this isn’t a gripe; I leave them to old Mr Grumpy). We can’t mention all the anglers we get here; the newsletters would be to long, not to mention the limited information we get from some of the guides. We randomly pick a few customers and write about them. Most of the anglers we pick are normally through a type of process of elimination of unusual catches or characters, funny stories or things they have done while here etc. Sometimes if we have a lot of people to write about we roll others over to the next month, and within a couple of hours we receive emails about not getting a mention, then we have to reply to them explaining that they will be in the next month’s write-up. Many times we have people picked for the newsletter, but they fail to send their pictures on time if at all. So please, if you’re not mentioned in our newsletters it’s nothing personal; we’ve normally just run out of space or maybe you should count yourself lucky that we didn’t think you’re strange or that you didn’t embarrass yourself while you were here. Oh no I’ve just realized I’m turning into a grump! I’ve got to stop writing this now and get out the office for some fresh air!
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 640 fish caught of 24 species, made up as follows: 52 arapaima to 480lb, five arawana to 10lb, six alligator gar to 70lb, 146 Amazon redtail catfish to 84lb, two Amazon stingray to 25lb, 94 Asian redtail catfish to 36lb, 28 black pacu to 36lb, two big head carp to 14lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 65lb, five giant gourami to 8lb, one giant featherback of 9lb, one giant snakehead of 6lb, 13 Julian’s golden carp to 38lb, 62 Mekong catfish to 210lb, one mrigal of 6lb, three rohu to 18lb, two ripsaw catfish to 20lb, three spotted sorubim to 20lb, four spotted featherback to 8lb, 196 Siamese carp to 115lb, three shovel nosed tiger catfish to 12lb, three tambaqui to 32lb, one wallago attu of 14lb and three wallago leeri to 25lb.
Regular angler here at Gillhams, Stretton Honor, made another trip, with one of his friends, first-timer Ash Cheshire. Stretton and Ash were over in Thailand on a fishing tour, staying at a couple of other venues before heading to us. Ash had already caught some nice fish from other venues before he came here. He was buzzing as he had never fished in Thailand before, so all the species were new to him. After hearing so many stories from Stretton about fishing in Thailand, it was finally time to get some for himself. Ash’s first couple of days were slow, but soon things picked up, and he started landing some good fish. One day in particular he landed 12 fish of three species. In total Ash caught 24 fish of five species with his biggest being an arapaima of 120lb.
Stretton was his usual self – very laid back, cracking jokes and just happy to have a rod in his hands (if you know Stretton he regularly has his rod in his hands!). Prior to coming here Stretton had picked up a bug or eaten some dodgy food, so he spent a lot of time running back and forth to the loo and hoping his beloved Mekong catfish would not pull too hard! As usual Stretton’s main targets were the Mekong catfish and Siamese carp, but unfortunately, or fortunately, due to his situation, the Mekong weren’t feeding that well due to some much needed rain finally falling that lowered the water temperature. Stretton only managed to land one Mekong of 145lb. The Siamese carp on the other hand were loving the change in the water temperature, and Stretton took advantage, landing a few of these plus a new Gillhams PB for him of 109lb. Stretton also managed a new species when he landed a Amazon spotted stingray, which at 6lbs shows they are also breeding in the lake. Stretton totaled 32 fish of six species including three arapaima to 250lb. He would have had more if they hadn’t beaten him on his first day with seven hooked and only three landed.
UK pike angler Nick Peat made another trip out in April on another quest for predatory fish, plus of course his beloved Mekong. It’s always funny when Nick arrives at the airport, watching all the other passengers collecting their bags from the conveyer belt. You know exactly which passengers’ bags have come in to contact with Nick’s. You watch them pull their bags off the conveyer belt, throw them on the trolley then walk off smelling their hands, with their nose and top lip turned up from the smell of fish juice that has leaked out of Nick’s bag, after thawing out on the long flight and dripping out all over the place. As he arrives at the resort he opens his bag and takes out 10kg of Norfolk herrings, along with 5kg of Canadian night crawlers. This has only left room for his one pair of shorts, two t-shirts and a change of pants, that will then have to last the whole of his four-week fishing trip around Thailand.
Nick arrived just in time to catch some Mekong before the rain showers slowed them down as the water temperature dropped. Nick loves Mekongs as they fight harder than any other fish in the lake, and even though he’s only a little over 5ft and skinny enough to hula hoop through a Polo he fights them as hard as they fight him. Nick would never be the type of angler to hand the rod over; he just keeps going. He told us a story from a trip to Panama: he hooked into something big and was playing it for so long refusing to hand the rod over, until he collapsed in the boat. Nick lost 18 Mekong in this trip but did manage to land eight, with the biggest being just shy of 200lb. In total he caught 22 fish of five species. After Nick finished here it was time to teach the giant freshwater stingray a lesson on the rivers just outside Bangkok. He had booked three days with the top guiding service in Thailand, Fish East Asia, and he landed three with the biggest over 250lb.
John Neafcy made another trip out this April. His brother was meant to be coming with him, but unfortunately he could not make it due losing his job. John being a hardcore pike angler in the UK, was more interested in predatory type species. During his stay John kept himself distant from others and preferred to be alone and do his own thing. After a couple of slow days he soon got into some good fish. Being a pike angler he was made up with it when he landed an alligator gar of 32lb, as these fish are very similar to his beloved UK species. John also hooked into some Mekong, and after losing a few he managed to land four, all of which were over 100lb with the biggest at 165lb. The fish at the top of John’s wish list was arapaima, and three were landed with the biggest being measured and estimated at a massive 480lb. Total amount of fish caught during John’s trip was 17 with seven different species.
Mike Richards from the UK came for a ten-day stay with his Dutch girlfriend Yvonne for their first visit to Gillhams. Mixing fishing with sightseeing, Mike would fish for two days then visit local sights on a rented scooter, or go on day trips like elephant trekking, sea kayaks and island hopping. Most of Mike’s trip he fished the same area of the lake, which was just outside his bungalow, even though the spot he was fishing was the other side of the lake in the margins of sala 2. Fishing the opposite side of the lake caused Mike to lose many fish; in fact he lost more than he landed, many due to being cut off on the bars he was fishing over. When he hooked into a fish on the shallow margins, they then run into deep water causing the line to cut as the fish went down behind the plateau. The guides or Stuart couldn’t make Mike understand that if he fished from sala 2, it would only be an underarm chuck down the left hand margin. Even though Mike lost many fish, he did land some good ones, and in total he caught eleven fish of six species including Mekong catfish to 130lb, arapaima to 160lb and a nice alligator gar of 60lb. Before this newsletter was written Mike had already rebooked his return trip for November this year, and is eagerly waiting for revenge on the fish that got away.
The Anderson family made another trip over in April – Jim, Sue and their son Jamie. Every time they come to Thailand they visit a few other places first, before finishing their holiday with a week’s fishing. With Jim and Jamie fishing every day it was time for Sue to relax and have a much needed break. Even though they had been on holiday for the past ten days a mother or wife’s work is never done. For most of the previous ten days poor old Sue had been running around organising the holiday, and keeping the boys in check. Armed with a bar full of gin and tonics and wine Sue’s holiday was underway as the boys fished from 7am through to 8pm every day, leaving Sue to chill out around the pool and have some much needed alone time.
Jim and Jamie were up early every morning in their swims before the 7am start, watching the water and getting everything ready for the day ahead of them. Both of them had a very different wish list: Jamie’s was to get a PB arapaima, but he knew that even though it wasn’t impossible, he was still unsure if it would happen, as his PB already stands at 380lb from a previous trip to Gillhams. Jim’s wish list was easy: he just wanted to catch smaller more manageable sized fish, as after all it was a holiday, and thoughts of battling Mekongs and other hard-fighting fish for hours at a time just wasn’t appealing. As always this wasn’t looking like it was going to happen, as the first few days he was harassed by Mekong, but unfortunately, or maybe not in Jim’s eyes, they all ended up getting off the hook either through hook pulls or the line breaking. Jim managed to land one Mekong of 120lb before moving swims and getting into some other species. When their stay was over both Jim and Jamie had caught some good fish; in total they had caught 35 fish of six species between them. Unfortunately Jamie didn’t get a new PB arapaima, but he did have one of 240lb. Jim’s also did well with Siamese carp to 80lb, Amazon redtails to 40lb and a few other species and managed to avoid any long backbreaking fights and just enjoyed his time fishing with his son.
UK angler Mick Dundon also made a return trip this month and couldn’t wait to get his rods out again following his first trip here last year when he landed a Siamese carp of 130lb – on his birthday of all days. Mick is now living in Dubai and really misses his fishing in the UK. After visiting us last year he fell in love with the place. Mick has also started a Facebook page called Gillhams Captures where everybody can post pictures from their trips here. It’s taken off pretty well with over 200 members now posting daily pictures of the fish they have caught here, and also offering advice and tips to others who have trips coming up. This second trip was also a birthday treat from his wife who stayed behind to look after their sick cat. Mick was hoping for the same luck as last year; unfortunately he didn’t beat his PB carp, but he did manage to land eight Siamese carp to 70lb. Mick was always doing something, and stayed busy recasting baiting up and watching for fish rolling. It was funny to see Mick in his swim; he looked like a cross between Eminem and an NBA player dressed in his baggy basketball shorts and hip hop edition head band. In total Mick caught 16 fish of five species, with his biggest fish of the trip being a Mekong catfish of 140lb.
We had two Dutch anglers over this month who had won an all-inclusive holiday at the Zwolle carp show in Holland. The competition was easy: simply buy an entrance ticket online, then before the show started the computer randomly picked out a winner for an all-inclusive holiday for two at Gillhams Fishing Resorts. The lucky winner was Dimitri Dijkhuizen who brought with him his fishing partner Mark Heppe. We like the Dutch anglers we get here they never moan or complain, not like us Brits – we moan about everything, it’s too hot, it’s raining, not caught much, the fish are too strong… in fact sometimes I think we would even moan about having nothing to moan about, ha ha! Mark and Dimitri were no different to any other Dutch people that we’ve had the pleasure of having before. There were never any problems and they were happy every day just loving the fact that they were in paradise with a rod in their hands. Of course being on a free trip is always a bonus. Both guys caught everything they wanted and more; they even managed to leave the lake a few times to go elephant trekking and shopping for holiday souvenirs for family and friends. In total they caught 19 fish of seven species between them, including Siamese carp to 85lb, Amazon redtail to 65lb, arapaima to 120lb, plus a nice Julian’s carp with the biggest fish of the trip going to Dimitri with a Mekong catfish of 165lb.
Kevin Hudson took a much-needed break from running his company, and made another trip over this month. Kevin arrived here in the evening, so after dozen or so ciders and some dinner he headed for his bungalow. The next morning Kevin was nowhere to be seen until lunch time. Due to a previous visit when he locked himself in the bathroom at 7am and wasn’t found till 3pm, the guides went to check on him to make sure he was ok. Luckily Kev was fine and was just catching up on sleep, due to having his own company and working almost 48 hours straight to get things sorted for his fishing trip. Kevin was very relaxed on this trip, never fishing much before 1pm and finishing by 7pm, but still caught well. Kev doesn’t view himself as a good angler, just somebody who enjoys fishing. Everybody here knows different though; Kevin always does well and likes to do his own thing. When you watch him he’s very precise with his baiting and casting and always tweaking rigs. Even when others are struggling he always gets on the fish. In total Kevin caught 11 fish, mainly all his target species Siamese carp. This trip was all about relaxing so he never fished all day, but out of all his Siamese carp only two were under 70lb, with his biggest only a few pounds off 100lb. Having a few nights out, catching up on some much needed sleep and getting on the carp Kevin stated this was his best trip yet.
Some of the lads have been getting more involved in the newsletter this month, or at least the ones that can read and write! Don’t worry you won’t have broken English write-ups from Gollock or Brummy Chris, but we are going to punish you with Joely Essex. First up though is John who is rapidly taking over Geoff’s crown as world champion power napper.
Thomas White came for three days’ fishing while visiting Thailand for the first time, and he was one of the nicest blokes I’ve met this year – a quiet and humble man with a very peaceful outlook on life. Tom works as a storeman, a job that he’s done for 25 years and says is very boring. But the shift pattern and flexi-time allows him to have good blocks of annual leave for his dream holidays. Thomas loves to travel to places where he can meet indigenous people (the bars in Thailand are full of these!). He has travelled to places like Papua New Guinea, Kenya, South America, Machu Picchu and Vanuatu in the South Pacific. He has always tried his passion for fishing wherever he’s visited, usually taking a travel rod of some sort with him.
Tom had never been to Asia and when deciding whereabouts to go (with the necessity for fishing) Thailand came up top on his list. He looked at all the options, and being an avid skate fisherman, the freshwater stingray was on his list of target species so the rivers around Bangkok were his choice for three days of his trip. Realising fishing can be what it can be at times, he wanted to try his hand at other Asian species, and when scrolling through the various other venues here in Thailand, Gillhams came up top marks for his personal requirements in every tick on his tick list! First of all, he knew of the giant freshwater stingrays that were in here should he struggle to catch on the river, and secondly the reviews, testimonials and Trip Advisor ratings blew him away.
Tom’s target species were Siamese carp and a Mekong. Tom had his Siamese and more species than he’d hoped for with Amazon Redtails, Asian redtail, pacu etc, and his chance with a Mekong catfish came on day two. He played the fish well, but after a grueling 45 minutes the hook pulled free and he lost it. He showed no frustration at all; he just smiled at me and said, “Well, even though I never saw it, that was such an amazing experience.” Tom’s tally for his visit was nine fish.
On the day Tom left he told me that he’s been fortunate to have visited some great places in the world, but never been fuelled with so much desire to come back to the same place as Gillhams, vowing to see me before May of next year, so we can have that photo of a Mekong catfish together.
Next two under my care were Ryan Neale who we nicknamed David Brent, and Matt Goodchild, or, as we nicknamed him, Neil from the Inbetweeners. They were good friends and a comedy act in themselves. Whether they realised it or not we told them and had some good fun with them both. Matt was in his own world; he thought 1,000 Baht notes were 10,000 and 500 Bahts were 5,000. Ryan would roll his eyes at situations like this as if he were Matt’s father.
They were here for eight days’ fishing. Ryan was the ‘serious’ carp angler, bringing his own Delkim alarms and a bag of goodies in his hope to invent the new Gillhams super rig, whereas Matt just walked around all day with a smile on his face, and quite possibly the theme tune to Happy Days playing in his head, as nothing seemed to phase him.
Ryan was very competitive and was on the bank first day at 6.45am, Spombing away like he had a fly rod in his hand. Matt knows only too well of Ryan’s competitive nature and loved to ‘rub it in’ when he caught, like on the first morning after he rocked up three hours late, cast out a single hookbait to ‘anywhere’ and landed a 40lb Siamese – the face said it all!
Ryan lost a Mekong that day and was raging about it for half an hour. Matt then banked another 40lb Siamese, and you could clearly see Ryan’s ears wiggling with frustration. To make things worse, the next day Ryan lost another Mekong, and four hours later Matt hooked into one. It stripped line from him and made its way around the corner. One of the guides took Matt’s rod and waded into the depths to see if he could retrieve some line. Matt was obviously so concerned about this he sat down to have his lunch in a chair while the guide did all the hard work, then nonchalantly took the rod back and banked it!
Every time Ryan took the lead on fish Matt would scoop a net into the margins, get about half a dozen fry and count them as fish so he could wind Ryan up and say he was in the lead again! After this they decided on a move to another swim and both got into some good fish.
I could write about these two wonderful clowns all day, but we need room for other customers. A great pair – I had a funny week with them both and we hope to see them again. They finished with some good fish with Matt catching three Siamese carp, black pacu, Asian redtails and a 120lb Mekong. Ryan was the winner (thank god) with three Amazon redtails to 50lb, Siamese carp to 50lb, Asian redtails to 35lb, two arapaima to 80lbs and four Mekong catfish to 125lbs. Well done Neil and David!
(Un fortunately we don’t have any pictures)
Russell Naylor, a young lad from Sheffield came for five days’ fishing while on a two-week holiday with his girlfriend Rachel. Russell is a plasterer, and Rachel works in an office on payroll for a big haulage company. Russell loves his carp fishing in the UK, but had never had a fishing holiday away. They both were so amazed at the beautiful surroundings and wildlife. Every morning (he was only late once or twice) Russell came to his swim with great enthusiasm and a huge smile of excitement. He never once complained when the fishing was slow at certain times of day, and he took on board all the information given to him and he fished well.
Russell’s target fish were Siamese carp and Amazon redtail catfish, but from the start he had the right attitude in just enjoying his fishing and was going to be happy with whatever he caught. Russell deserved every fish he caught and lost. He finished with an impressive total of two Amazon redtails to 70lb, four Asian redtails to 25lb, Black pacu, six Siamese carp to 55lb and arapaima to 260lb.
Ok, here we go… we would like to apologise to everybody now, but here he is, Joely Essex with his debut writing column. I have edited it slightly from “this geezer comes here an he got lots of whackers, catching carps and things with his buzzers singing and whangers whacking the rods!” (Phil, we did leave some of it for you – ha ha!). (Thanks mate, I am in suspense at what’s coming next… – Phil). (Note… after proofing it wasn’t too bad at all! – Phil).
Australian fishing fanatics Wayne and Theresa Baker came to Gillhams at the end of May, both fishing for six days. Wayne has just recently retired from being a public servant, first a taxman then an immigration officer (blimey – you could tell he wasn’t from Essex!). This was the start of a long vacation for the pair of them, exploring for the next year and generally enjoying life after many years of hard work. Theresa is still working, but she has taken a 15-month sabbatical, maybe extending to retirement herself. The pair were both avid fishermen, and from day one you could tell both of them loved the sport and were very competent anglers to say the least. They are both a part of the Australian National Sports fishing Association (ANSA) and have fished far and wide for both fresh and saltwater species. A previous trip of theirs was lake Nasser in Egypt after the awesome Nile perch. Wayne was fortunate enough to hit the magic 100lb barrier with a monster of 110lb – what a great achievement.
They said from the start they wanted to experience something different and would love to catch as many different species as they could. There was a competitive edge in their relationship, and you could sense that they were in competition with each other from day one. These guys were in the swim every day at 6.45am baiting the hooks, Spombing bait, and ready for the 7am start. They are the next of a long list of people who literally fall in love with the paradise we all call Gillhams.
Every day for the pair of them was great – they caught fish each day, worked hard and didn’t want the guides to assist too much. All they needed was to be shown the way and then leave them to it. They walked away at the end of their trip with eight species: Amazon and Asian redtail catfish, Siamese carp, Mekong catfish, wallago leeri, spotted featherback and black and red pacu. Wayne managed to get another freshwater species over the 100lb barrier with one of our Mekong catfish, it was taken on the float and he was a bit shocked when the fish took a 100-yard run and for the next 45 minutes stayed at this distance going left and then right.
We did warn him of previous battles lasting two and three hours, with our longest going seven hours. I don’t think he believed me when I said it, but the reality was there for him to see during this fight, and after two hours he landed a Mekong catfish of 135lb. This fish made his trip, and his words to us after were, “Thanks for that, but one of those is enough for me thank you very much.” He also did think we were joking with the length of fight we talked about, but after 30 minutes of his fight he knew we were telling the truth. They were absolutely made up with their trip, albeit a little tired at the end of it, but even on the morning they were leaving they came to see everyone and their eyes were not looking at us but looking at the water, planning their next trip back.
April saw fishing trio Brian Anders, brother Paul and their friend Dave Delooze from Wakefield in the North of England come to Gillhams for a week’s fishing holiday. For Paul and Dave it was their first trip here with Brian returning after a successful trip the year before. Now when Brian was here on his first trip he was meant to be with his brother, but Paul couldn’t make it. He said to us then that his brother was a lump and a bit of a fella. What he didn’t tell us was that he wasn’t just a lump but the size of a silverback gorilla. All the locals looked down when they saw him, and even some of the guides backed off and hid. We’ll come back to that bit later…
From the minute they turned up the banter between them and everyone on the resort was full on, and you knew it was going to be a comical week with the three of them fishing. The first night really set the tone. Brian and Paul were sitting in the restaurant with their partners awaiting the arrival of Dave, and suddenly you heard the whole restaurant in fits of laughter. It was like a scene from 1980s wrestling. It wasn’t Big Daddy, but trust me, it wasn’t far off it. Dave came marching in, full purple wrestling suit, socks down the front to make him look the part, belly hanging down to equal the bulge in his undercarriage and holding a fishing trophy. He then announced to everyone that the next day was the start of the fishing challenge for the three of them, and the winner would be the man who ended up with the biggest net weight of fish – what an entrance!
The first couple of days saw Brian take the lead while the others struggled slightly with Dave losing a Mekong after 45 minutes. Luckily Dave got another chance at the Mekong on his third day and this time managed to land it after nearly two hours. Dave was now on 130lb in weight and heading towards that trophy. The next day Paul’s swim was on fire, and the other two could only sit back and watch as Paul shot into the lead. Over the next couple of days both Dave and Brian caught a couple of arapaima. With this being Paul’s dream fish it started to get to him, as the others were giving him some grief.
Paul’s last day he got into the top bay swim that we rotate, as there are always arapaima hanging around. To say Paul was excited was an understatement. Even though Paul had loved his trip so far, catching many different fish this was the day of all days in his eyes, where he is going to catch the arapaima. The day started well with an arapaima of 80lb, but being competitive and knowing what was swimming below the surface here, he wanted bigger. The hours went by and it turned in to a waiting game. He had a couple of hook pulls and missed takes and the anticipation was rising.
Well, as I said earlier Paul is a big lad and as nice a fella as he is, you could tell if you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him.
Enter new guide Adam. At this precise time there were two Mekong being fought side by side down the lake, more fish being fought on the other side, and then a whistle came from Paul’s swim. Adam went to investigate and Paul was away with a big fish. Adam was still in his first week of guiding, so was keen, but learning daily, and when it comes to arapaima, he hadn’t been in with one before, let alone on his own. The fish was giving Paul a hell of a fight, but no one had seen it yet. Then a big arapaima popped his head up close to the bank. Paul was ecstatic… Well, Adam had seen the fish too, and before Paul knew it he had run off down the down the bank like a scene out of Chariots of Fire, flip-flops flying everywhere, to go and get help. Unfortunately Paul didn’t know this at the time. Now you can guess where this is going… help arrived but it was too late. The arapaima came close to the bank but help was not there. The fish had a burst of energy and lunged out of the water, gills flared, then full body splashed against the water and the hook pulled… Oh dear.
Now Adam hadn’t done anything wrong here; he was right to go and get help, and the hook pull could have happened with a guide in the water with the cage – that’s fishing, as we all know. But in the heat of the moment Paul’s reaction… well, he was completely gutted. For a short while Adam was under observation for his own safety and the grass swim was completely out of bounds for him for the foreseeable future. Paul, to put it politely, kindly advised Adam that he would not be on his Christmas card list, and he would be happy if he didn’t make a appearance anytime soon. The fact that Adam took it seriously was evident for all to see, as for the next four hours he walked about without flip flops on, as they were spread across the path from his initial run for help. It did take Paul a bit of time to calm down, and like we all said, Adam was right to do what he did and go get help. Adam wasn’t seen that evening in the restaurant – a takeaway dinner was sent up to his room. Sean, being the eternal joker, banged on Adam’s door really hard, and the story is Sean found him cowering in the wardrobe.
Well the competition finished, Paul was the outright winner and the race for second place was close, but Bryan took that. Now I’m not saying there was any dodgy under-the-table tactics for him to get the second place, but a steward’s enquiry could have been interesting.
Now Dave was a character from day one, and the last night was no exception. You could see someone marching down the path towards the restaurant like from a scene mixed between Benny Hill and Rab C Nesbitt. It was Dave, this time he’s dressed in a string vest, hankie on his head, pulled up shorts… the lot. It was brilliant! He gave the trophy to Paul and everyone was all smiles, and the boys were happy, except poor Adam wondering what had he got himself into by becoming the newest of the Gillhams team.
(Unfortunately we have only a few limited pictures as none were sent)
Another first time angler joined us this month, Steve Gladwin and his fiancée Annalisa and young son Ralf from Croydon, South London. The trip was a surprise 30th birthday present from Annalisa and Steve’s brother Bill – what an awesome present. You could tell from the first moment Steve was here that he was going to love it. His eyes never left the lake, and he was around the lake chatting to other anglers more than his fiancée, getting tips and watching the variety of different species being netted. You could tell in his eyes he was adding fish to his wish list with every fish netted.
Steve had to split his fishing time carefully, as young Ralf wanted to see his dad as much as Steve wanted to get into the fish. Annalisa was brilliant and was a fisherman’s widow on the fishing days, so Steve could get as much out of his time as he could. His brother Bill had been travelling around south east Asia for three months and was never going to let his brother enjoy paradise on his own. He was here religiously every day he had on the bank, and the pair of them worked tirelessly as a pair to maximize the opportunity to catch the monsters that are swimming in the lake.
I knew from speaking to Steve that his dream catch was an arapaima. On one of his days fishing he had a day that all anglers dream of, landing well over 1000lb of arapaima. I believe it was 11 hooked and seven landed. Every time a bait hit the mark, the arapaima wanted to know, and to top it off the last fish was the biggest one – a monster of 380lb. As I said at the start, Steve, even when he wasn’t fishing or busy with his family, was about the lake, chatting, helping people, wanting to see fish landed, willing people to catch and generally just loving every second. He did manage to sneak in an extra half-day’s fishing on his last day and in three hours caught a 70lb Siamese and after a two-hour fight he landed a 150lb Mekong to finish of the trip. I’m sure we will see him again soon in the near future, and I bet his brother Bill will be at his side with his own rods fishing hard.
(Unfortunately we have no pictures as none were sent to us)
Final say from Stuart…
Thanks lads for doing the newsletter for me. It has been a hectic month for me with various problems to sort out, plus the netting and trips to hospitals with Benz. Everyone at Gillhams has amazed me this year; it’s been a long, busy season, and you all coped magnificently. We now have two months of quiet; bookings are down due to the World Cup and the military coup. Ten of us are off to Florida and Panama, and thanks to everyone who is staying behind to run Gillhams in our absence. I have total confidence in you all.
Talking of the coup – we are getting lots of worried emails, and below is what I can tell you about the military coup…
We fully understand your concerns; I have copied below the situation here as it is. Unlike most hotels and the airlines who only refund should travel be forbidden by your home country, we will refund all money paid as we believe customers should be given a refund if they feel unsafe to travel because of political unrest.
Please do not worry… Military coups are common here. The last one was in 2006, and they generally last a couple of weeks, so by the time you arrive it will be over. Bangkok was affected the worst, but there was no violence; in fact everything was peaceful. Basically Thailand’s political situation caused the problem. The army has taken over to disperse demonstrators and ensure safety for everyone, and the last of the demonstrators were removed on 23rd May. The curfew in Bangkok has now been adjusted to midnight to 4am, and life in Bangkok is starting to return to normal. The military will then run the country for a year or so, and once everything is stable they will oversee fair elections.
We are 500 miles from Bangkok, and here there have been no demonstrations or any trouble. The only thing that affected things here was the curfew, which was from midnight to 4am. All bars and restaurants had to close by midnight, but resorts and hotels could do as they please as long as the guests stayed in the resort between midnight and 4am. So we were not really affected. The army announced that the curfew will be lifted in the south on 28th May 2014.
My own view is the military make a better job of running the country than the government. The last time they ran the country it lasted a year and everything was good. The political situation had been deteriorating since before Christmas 2013; the demonstrations were getting out of hand and the economy was on meltdown. To sum up the situation things here are fine; Thailand is still safe and life is back to normal. The south never had a problem; the problems were all in Bangkok and the north.
Don’t worry, by the time you get here even Bangkok will be back to normal. It always surprises me how foreign media make things sound worse than they are. Had the army not taken control then for sure Thailand was heading for civil war, but now an extremely efficient army are in control who are loyal to the King and people of Thailand so only good will come of the situation.
Of course should anything happen and the situation got out of hand we would refund all payments in full. We even did this when airports were closed a few years ago. We also refunded money when the volcanic dust cloud stopped flights from Europe. The chances of things getting out of hand are highly unlikely.
While the problem was at its height I had to visit Bangkok for a hospital appointment. The curfew in the Sukhumvit area was midnight to 5am. Outside of these times you would not have known anything was different. Shops restaurants etc were all open as usual; the Thai people were openly welcoming the army’s control and pleased that normality had been restored. Apart from troops discreetly placed around the airport and government buildings you would not have known a military coup was in operation.
By the time this newsletter is online I will be on my travels, but for those of you visiting during my absence don’t worry. All our staff are the best; they will do their utmost to ensure your stay with us is the highlight of your holiday. For those of you who can take a last minute break check out our discounted rates for June/July and August. If you are planning a trip we have very limited availability left after September through to February 2015, and many dates in 2015 are close to full or even full. Bookings for 2016 are accelerating, so please plan and book your trip in advance to avoid disappointment. To book in my absence contact Becky who will have my mobile +66 (0) 8616 445 54, or send us en e-mail.
Best wishes from all the team here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts – we are number one because of you, our customers.