Sorry for the delay to everyone following these monthly reports on the fishing in Thailand. Sean and I went away for three weeks to Australia, and on our return I was home for 18 hours before going away filming with Zeb Hogan and the National Geographic team. Since then I have been very busy with the new lake extension. This has left Sean and Becky running the resort and doing all my jobs, hence the long delay in this report on the fishing in Krabi. The following newsletter for Gillhams Fishing Resorts has been compiled by Sean, but hopefully next month I will have time to get back behind the screen and give you all a longer newsletter along with some gripes.
Over to Sean…
I would like to apologise for this late and shortened newsletter as we have been extremely busy here, what with our annual Australia fishing trip, the new lake extension and yet more filming here at Gillham. The trip to Australia went well again, as we caught many different species while fishing in some very remote locations, even sleeping rough on open boats due to travelling 100km out from any form of land, fishing a massive reef called Money Shoal, where at 25 metres you could still see the fish swimming around the ocean bed in between the many pristine coral reefs. When Stuart can find time he will be sharing our experience with you in the fishing trip section of our website, and any of you who are interested in our 2013 trip and would like to join us, send an email to email@example.com check out the place for yourself at www.jarbulodge.com.
We had the Mainline boys out this month with Kevin Knight, Scaff, Gary Patterson and the legendary SpugRedfern. The section in this newsletter was written by SpugRedfern for the Mainline Baits website and they kindly let us copy it below…
Spug’s account of the Mainline Baits trip.
I won’t start this story by recounting the years of drooling over the photos of the fabulous fish that reside in Gillhams Fishing Resort, or the excitement leading up to the trip, and, for me, two days not sleeping beforehand. Let’s start it at Krabi Airport where Gary Patterson, Kev Knight, Scaff John and I were all collected by Stuart Gillham, someone I have been very aware of since the old Harefield Hauling videos were released a long time ago! We were on the way to his fishery, his vision and a truly remarkable piece of angling heaven where there are 47 different weird and wonderful species that in all likelihood you would have to spend about two lifetimes cracking down, and fishing some of the most extreme places in the Amazon etc to even find them, all carefully hand selected, bred and placed into one fishery. We were hoping to catch arapaima, Amazon red tails, Mekong catfish, Siamese carp and basically anything else that came along.
If the amazing collection of fish wasn’t enough, there was an on-site restaurant, which served English/Thai/Indian food, with Sky TV and cold beers. Oh, and the “bivvies” for the week would be air conditioned bungalows with TV, DVD players, showers etc, and just incase it got too hot during the day, a state of the art swimming pool to mess about in too. Although weary from our journey, to say all four of us couldn’t wait would be and understatement!
We arrived at the fishery and prepared our tackle etc. Bait was going to be small dead baits, maize and some pineapple dumbells and pineapple high leakage shelflifes, as we had brought as much as our weight allowance would let us.The first morning I was up at 5am and just soaked in the atmosphere. The sun rose opposite and so did expectations – there were fish showing, bubbling and jumping everywhere, I just couldn’t wait till the seven o’clock start. By midday my left hand rod was away with a dead bait on it and I was soon holding up a 30lb stingray as all around me, were singing “Stingray…Stingraaaaaayyy!” A great start, and time for a quick ice cold tin of Coke.
Our guide for the week was an Essex lad called Joel, who had turned his back on a life of pressure and stress working in the city to become a guide for Stuart, and it was quickly becoming easy to see why!
Next away was Kev, and after a spirited scrap he was soon holding up an awesome 40lb-plus Siamese carp, which had fallen to a boilie. Scaff wasn’t far behind with a 60lb-plus Siamese carp, which managed to jump from his arms and escape before being filmed.
By the end of day one I had landed a 7lb spotted featherback, and we had all become blown away by the place including the fishcare. Every fish was carefully netted and unhooked; every fish was treated, checked and lovingly returned. No fish are ever dragged out of the lake; they are all held within the nets, and if you want a pic with one, then you simply jump in, get your pic, and the fish is returned.
The fish weren’t the only ones being spoilt either – so were we and all the other anglers at the lake. Nothing was too much trouble for the guides, who were constantly flying about getting cold drinks, delivering full English breakfasts to your swim, answering any questions you may have, etc, etc. In truth we felt like royalty, and it made a very refreshing change. The customer care at Gillhams Fishing Resort is such that they made all the anglers feel that it was a privilege for them to be looking after us, and for us to be catching their beloved fish, not the other way round – something that a few commercial fishery owners should really take note of in my opinion.
The second morning came, and after a load of Essex-based expletives, Kev landed a Mekong catfish of around 140lb before breakfast and Scaff had treated himself to a big Mekong too.Although the fish were coming in, Stuart said the lake was fishing slow and that on day three we should start a little later and fish until 10pm instead of the usual 8pm. Gary and Kev went off with their rods on day three and quickly there were cries of “Bring the camera!” and I was soon taking a pic of a 40lb Amazon redtail for Gary, which was then followed by a 70lb alligator gar!
At this point things went silly… I landed a 58lb Siamese carp, Kev landed a 100lb arapaima, and then one over 200lbs! What a fight, and what a fish! As the amazing fish rolled into the cage, out went the cry, “It’s all about the HARRY!” and Kev was blown away. This was the fish he really wanted, and you could tell by the look on his face that he was very pleased to have caught it!The fish kept coming so fast and furious over the next three days that it’s almost impossible to recount each and everycapture, so I will just mention a few.
On the third evening I lost two arapaima on the dead baits, and I was gutted. Upon hooking my third right at the death at 10pm it’s fair to say my legs were shaking and my back breaking as the fish tore out into the lake and flat rodded my 6lb test curve rod. Then everything came to a standstill with me and my rod creaking and sweat pouring down my back. Sean Gillham was standing next to me and said, “Oh, it’s just sitting on the bottom taking a breather.” I asked him what I could do to move it. “Nothing,” came the reply, “it will go off when it feels like it.” I was nervous, really nervous, as I hadn’t travelled over 6000 miles to lose them! With Sean’s help I managed to land this magnificent creature, and finally after years of poverty pursuing carp and years getting straight financially, there in front of me was the fish I had spent years drooling over pictures of. For me it wasn’t just a fish capture; it was more a realisation of a dream, and a reward for working hard to save my money up. 180lbs of arapaima swam back to the lake, and I dived up to the restaurant and helped myself to a box of red wine to celebrate!
Over the next couple of days the fish continued. Gary Landed an 88lb Siamese carp and Scafffollowed it nicely with a 80lb Siamese. I landed a 37lb Amazon, and Kev then landed a 180lb Mekong catfish followed by a 40lb-plus Amazon. Then Scaff and Gary both landed arapaima over 200lb, Scaff’s weighing 260, I believe – truly amazing stuff. Finally Gary popped a 150lb Mekong catfish in, and by now it’s fair to say our arms were beginning to ache!
Our time was running out and we only had one day’s fishing left to go left to go, but I managed a 90lb Siamese carp and then another arapaima at about 160lb, and Scaff managed to catch another arapaima of around 160lb, but this time on a fly rod, and the battle that ensued was epic, and a fine piece of angling by him.
This added up to about six days’ fishing – three full days then four afternoons really,and in fairness after day four we didn’t even start fishing until around 12pm, as once the arapaimas had been landed there was kind of a “job done” feeling about the trip. With one full day left we went out for a meal that evening with Jerry Hammond and his group of guys who were also out there when we were and enjoyed a few of the sights in Ao Nang. On our last day we went down to the beach at Ao Nang, went on a longboat to a secluded beach and drank cocktails and had massages on the beach and prepared for the journey home.
Now from a personal point of view we made some mistakes… Thailand is an amazing country and we didn’t get to do half the things we wanted to. For most of the trip I was running on about two thirds power. We crammed so much into the seven days we were out there, but in truth you need nearer to 14 days. I would recommend that you fish for a couple of days then have a day off, go and see the sights and absorb what this amazing place has to offer, then another couple of days’ fishing, and then a day of sights, etc, etc. So with that in mind I need to go back again, as there are a load of things I didn’t do. I think we were just too keen to catch fish, and as you can see by the pics we caught some incredible fish, and all of us cannot recommend the place enough. The fishing is not technically difficult (and on this point I would advise anyone going out there to listen to the guides and follow their advice, as it will make your fishing a lot easier). The customer service is second to none, the fish are stunning and the views breathtaking.
Thanks to Stuart, Sean and BexGillham for the amazing service and opportunity, and of course all the guides, especially our personal one, Joel – truly amazing. We’ll see you again!
The annual fishing shows are once again looming, I will be attending these shows with Stuart with the view of taking over from him in a couple of years. This will give the old git more time to relax and go on his fishing trips around the world. Once again we will be offering discounts at all these shows to people who pay their deposits on the day. We will have different levels of discounts depending on how many anglers and length of stay. Also the famous Gillhams raffle will be boosting our beer funds. The raffle will be a different format to previous years. In the past the raffle was drawn at the last show, but this time there will be a draw on the last day of each show, meaning each show will have its own prize up for grabs of seven nights’ accommodation with six days fishing for one angler with one 20kg bag of pellet, excluding flights, meals and drinks.See us at the following shows in 2013: Brentwood 26/27 January, Zwolle carp show, Holland 2/3 February, Ricoh Arena, Coventry 16/17 February, The Big One,Farnborough 23/24 February.
We get asked many times about flights from the UK to Thailand. Our good friend Aaron Hyde can arrange very good deals on flights through Kenwood Travel. Phone him on 02077499223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
So, onto the fishing here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts: The total catchesfor people fishing in Krabi this month are as follows:657 fish of 27 species, made up as follows:36 arapaima to 380lb, five arawana to 10lb, seven alligator gar to 75lb, 96 Amazon redtail catfish to 80lb, five Amazon stingray to 40lb, 104 Asian redtail catfish to 35lb, nine black pacu to 33lb, one barramundi to 4lb, eight big head carp to 23lb, four Chinese seerfish to 9lb, six Gourami to 6lb, six giant stingray to 100lb, three giant featherback to 9lb, six Julian’s carp to 28lb, 102 Mekong catfish to 250lb, three mrigal to 8lb, four ripsaw catfish to 25lb, 16 spotted featherback to 10lb, 201 Siamese carp to 110lb, five shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 40lb, five shovel nosed tiger catfish to 15lb, two striped catfish of 24lb, one tambaqui to 55lb, eight wallago attu to 28lb, four wallago leeri to 30lb, two yellow tail catfish 6lb,two Nile perch to 6lb and two zungaroto 30lb.
Keith ‘The Tooth’ O’Connor made another trip, and once again he was on the pursuit of his 100lb Siamese carp, which he’s been chasing here over his past several trips. Keith and his wife were booked in for ten days’ fishing followed by a week in KhoLanta, but they enjoyed the stay here so much that they decided to spend their whole holiday with us.Keith fished every day and ended his trip with 86 fish of six species including 12 Mekong catfish, 11 of which were over 100lb with the best two weighing in at 230 and 250lb, and three arapaima up to 250lb. As for his target fish, he landed61 Siamese carp with 40 of them over 60lb and three over 100lb. The biggest was a new personal best of 110lb, which also makes Keith the only person to catch three different Siamese carp over 100lb from our lake.
Johnny Bateup came with his wife for his first taste of fishing in Thailand, and with a name like that he was always destined to be an angler. With two weeks’ stay and seven days’ fishing, Johnny B was keen to get started, and even ended up fishing a few extra days like most people do. Generally it is easy for husbands to fish every day,as their wives arehappy around the pool with the other ladies at the resort. John landed 30 fish of nine species including alligator gar, wallago, shovel nose tiger catfish, Amazon stingrays and Siamese carp with his two biggest being 90lb and 110lb.
We also had Jerry Hammond come over with mates Barry Lockwood, Roger Stone and their sons, Vinnie and Ashley. They only had five days’ fishing, and as this was their first trip to Thailand they wanted some non-fishing days to have a look around Krabi and chill out at the beach bars of Ao-Nang. The trouble is that when you drink ice-cold beers in the afternoon, it usually results in an evening session as well. Jerry and his mates were no exception, and they ended up with some very late and messy nights with only afternoon fishing the following days. Despite this they still ended up catching some good fish.
Jerry caught a total of ten fish of five species with Mekong catfish to 140lb, Siamese carp to 65lb, Amazon redtail catfish to 50lb and a ripsaw catfish of 25lb. Jerry’s biggest fish was an arapaima of 380lb, and this fish alone made Jerry’s trip, as it was the biggest fish of his life.Barry and his son Vinnie caught a total of 23 fish of seven species between them, which included Siamese carp to 90lb, Mekong catfish to 165lb and a giant fresh water stingray of 40lb.Roger and son Ashley landed 23 fish of six different species with arapaima, Mekong catfish to 200lb, Siamese carp to 85lb, redtail catfish to 80lb and a rare catch of a Zungaro catfish.
Their final day was meant to be relaxing on the beach with a bit of shopping, plus tattoos of family and loved ones’ names translated into Thai. I’m not sure I would trust translation over here, and wouldn’t be surprised if they translate into something much worse. The shopping trip soon turned into another heavy session, going into the early hours of the morning after meeting up with a few of the guides out celebrating Mr.Ree’s birthday. Unfortunately these are all the pictures we have for the group as Jerry was the only one to send pictures after all being asked, the others couldn’t be bothered. Cheers lads!
We also had the return of the two Mick Murrays. Mick junior will be digging the new extension to the lake, so he came in one week before his dad to plan the work and have a relaxing time with his girlfriend before his dad got here and the fishing would start. Mick did sneak a day’s fishing in before his dad arrived, trying to get a head start and landed an alligator gar of 75lb.The morning before Mick senior came, Mick’s girlfriend flew back to the UK, leaving the second week for a boys’ fishing trip. The week’s fishing went well for the boys and even though they didn’t fish all day due to the heat and alcohol they did manage some nice fish. Between them they caught 27 fish of seven species including Siamese carp to 90lb, Mekong catfish to 250lb and six others over 100lb, also taking redtail catfish to 65lb and arapaima to 100lb. Mick is returning for a month on the 15th December, but he won’t get a lot of fishing in as he starts the lake extension the next day!
Next we had Kevin Hudson back for another trip, accompanied by Alan Clarke also making a return visit. The first couple of days were slow for the lads but soon the fish started feeding. Kevin always has a touch of bad luck, and it continued when he lost a Mekong catfish after a two-hour fight. The fish could possibly have been a new world record, and as the fish approached the net, Kevin gave one last hard pull to bring its head over the waiting net. As its head broke the surface a huge fish appeared with the width across its back close to a metre, but unfortunately,being on a short line and having the drag locked up tight in order to stop it from spooling him, the line parted and the fish swam free. FortunatelyKevin did manage to land ten fish of six species with two Siamese carp over 100lb and a new personal best at 110lb, plus another Mekong at 140lb, so it didn’t end up too bad, as Kevin has wanted a carp over the ton for long time. Alan also caught ten fish including wallago attu, arawana, spotted featherback, Siamese to 70lb and Mekong catfishto 150lb. His trip ended on a high with an arapaima of 320lb.
Etlon Nolte from South Africa joined us for a few days while on a holiday from his aquarium business in China where he now lives with his wife. On arrival Etlon, like so many others, fell in love with Gillhams and wished he had also bought his fishing mad wife. In the few days Etlon fished he went on to catch eight fish of six species with Siamese carp to 75lb, Amazon redtail catfish to 65lb and shovel nose spotted sorubim to 40lb. Etlon is now back home making plans for a return visit early next year with his wife, and he is also putting together plans for an aquarium in our restaurant. Hopefully this will all come together and people can eat their meals while huge Amazon fish gawk at them.
Steve James made his second trip out this year and has already booked his next trip in April, combining fishing with the New Year water festival. Steve came for ten days and couldn’t wait to get started, his target species being Siamese carp and arapaima, but even he wasn’t expecting to catch them to the size he did. He caught 63 fish of seven species and beat his previous bests for both arapaima and Siamese carp with five arapaima to 380lb and 27 Siamese carp to 105lb. He also landed his best Mekong catfish at 180lb along with nine others over 100lb. The other species included Amazon redtail catfish, spotted featherback, Asian redtail catfish and wallago attu.
Lady angling legend Jo Green and partner Mike Whitfordcame fishing in Krabi. This fishing mad duo have taken many lakes in Europe to pieces with their angling abilities, so Gillhams had to be next on the list. Jo and Mike caught all the fish on the hit list plus many others. As a couple you couldn’t find a nicer pair and their passion for fishing was clear for all to see – they fished hard all day every day. While here they even caught the same amount of fish with a total of 38 each, but Jo was beaten by Mike on the species with her landing nine different species and Mike hitting 13.Joe’s list of fish were Siamese carp to 88lb, tambaqui to 55lb, redtail catfish to 80lb, Amazon stingray to 40lb, and her biggest of the trip was an arapaima of 360lb. Mike had Mekong catfish to 190lb, Julian’s golden carp, Nile perch, redtail catfish to 80lb, Siamese to 90lb and also an arapaima of 300lb.
We are turning anglers away on a daily basis due to being fully booked, and many weeks in 2013 and even some in 2014 are already sold out. To avoid disappointment please book early, as we hate turning people way, but for everyone’s comfort we only sell limited places each week. We strongly advise you to check availability prior to making travel plans, and then once you have your dates confirmed as free we will hold them for 14 days while you get your flights booked. For bookings contact us by email at email@example.com or phone Stuart on +66861644554, when phoning please remember Thailand is +6 hours in Europe and an hour more for the UK.
As I finish this newsletter it’s time to start straight onto the next one. Christmas is fast approaching and then another year will be gone! Once again, sorry for the delay and lack of gripes and gossip in this newsletter, if Stuart does not take to retirement, the next newsletter will be back to normal. I would like to do the gripe section, but Stuart always refuses to put it in the newsletter on grounds of racism and vulgarity.
Best wishes to you all and thanks for supporting our resort and fishery. We hope to see you all in 2013. From Sean, Stuart and all the team.