The 2009 yearly review for Gillhams Fishing Resorts is set out below, with many of the highlights from the best freshwater fishing in Thailand if not the world. What a year 2009 was with many returning clients and two world records, plus the birth of my son Jack Bernard Gillham. What a place Jack is going to grow up in, if he likes fishing that is! With big brother Sean, 27 years older, to take him fishing he sure is going to have an impressive fish list by the time he reaches 16! Plus, having big sister Rebecca, 29 years older, to teach him about life, and I am sure Jack is going to grow into quite a character. At the end of this review you will see 2009 catch figures compared with 2008, these will give you indications of what month to choose for your target species.
January: The New Year got off to a good start when our dear Dutch friends Wil and Betty came to stay, Wil is a serious big fish fanatic who fishes around the world in wild and remote destinations, and he generally comes to Gillhams for fun and to visit us. Over a seven-day period Wil exceeded his expectations when he landed three different species in a week; these being Siamese carp 110lb, arapaima to 200lb and Mekong catfish to 130lb. Then there was Ida from Sweden who caught a stunning brace in one day; a 120lb Siamese carp and a 150lb Mekong catfish. Big fish were in abundance this month with Incredible Hulk Ricky Clark landing the month’s best Mekong catfish at 180lb. Our regular Austrian angler Andreas returned and landed a superb 400lb arapaima. The stingrays were very active this month with five being landed, the best of 120lb to Liverpool angler Keith. Finally I couldn’t finish January’s report without mentioning the sting ray incident when a 110lb stingray that Sean had forgotten to remove the sting from (or was he after the inheritance!) impaled its sting in my foot, inflicting the most painful experience of my life. I was rushed to hospital and a year on the wound still tingles and gets cold when I am not moving around!
February: This was another incredibly hot month just like 2010. We do hope this supposedly unusual weather is not a pattern for February, and that 2011 returns to normal. We were suffering in the middle of a heatwave but still some good fish graced the landing nets; one notable fish being a superb 110lb Siamese carp to David Arber. This was Dave’s first visit to Gillhams, and the peace and tranquility of our paradise resort had Dave well and truly hooked. He has since purchased a plot of land from us, and as I write this his dream holiday home overlooking the lake is nearing completion. Another regular, Alistair ‘don’t use my surname’ landed a PB arapaima of 360lb. Spanish expat Peter Gardiner landed the best Mekong catfish of the month in the shape of a 160lb fish. Another guy to arrive on his first trip to Gillhams was Neil ‘The Gob’ from Luton. Neil also fell under the Gillhams spell and has returned four times in the last twelve months.
March: This month the rains came in, giving the fishing and gardens a much needed boost. My old mate Terry Eustace made another guest appearance, landing some nice fish but having to watch as a fella opposite him had all the fish on Terry’s wish list, while Neil Cobley, after some accurate spodding, landed a 120lb Siamese carp from the swim next to him. Neil is another angler who came here for the first time in 2009, returned twice more, and already has two trips booked for 2010. Another regular visitor to Gillhams, Graham Jones, made a return visit and landed the second 100lb-plus Siamese carp this month in the shape of a fine fish of 110lb, which has grown from 70lb when it was stocked. The third 100lb-plus fish this month came to a guy on his first ever carp fishing trip, and it was his first ever carp. John Cristlas is a fly fisherman at home, although this fish converted him to the joys of carp fishing. I am sure he will struggle to beat his first ever carp, unless, that is, he returns to Gillhams!
April: This month saw the rain that we normally expect in June, which improved the fishing no end, as the lake got a proper flush through. The 100lb carp continued, with three out up to 110lb. A really funny thing happened this month when a visiting Russian, after it got dark, sprayed himself and his friend with what they thought was complimentary mosquito spray located in spray bottles by each fishing position. As it was dark they never realized it was actually the purple antiseptic spray we use on the fish! James Courtney came for three days fishing, then left with his wife and friends to attend a friend’s wedding on Phi Phi Island. The lure of Gillhams got the better of him and he returned landed a 110lb Siamese carp when he managed to fit in a one-day session before flying home! The two other 100lb-plus Siamese carp landed were one to Robert Mitchell and the other to a guy we only had down as Ron. Just to prove Gillhams is not all about monster fish, the Wei-Liew family from Malaysia fitted in a short three-hour visit to Gillhams hoping to catch just one fish. They fished through a horrendous thunderstorm to share the fight and capture of a 110lb arapaima. I have never seen a happier bunch of guys with a fish, and as usual for Malaysians they all shook my hand and thanked me for their fishing. It’s moments like that and people like them who make our job so rewarding. National Geographic came to make a film with my old mate Rob Maylin about Mekong catfish, and while they were filming we had fly fisherman Philip Bell-Scott here so the producer, our dear friend Julia Dorn, decided to make a second film fly fishing for arapaima. Philip really produced the goods in the shape of two arapaima both on fly, at 250lb and 350lb respectively.
May: The highlight of May was in the shape of the most special 6½lbs ever, the birth of my son Jack Bernard Gillham on the 12th May; a beautiful baby brother for Rebecca and Sean. This was to be the last May Gillhams will open, as the hot conditions in May do not suit the Amazon species. With temperatures at their maximum in May a lot of the Amazon species die when you fight them in the warm water. Although we run a commercial fishery we will not put profit in front of our fish! We also changed the rules on handling arapaima; we no longer allow arapaima to be lifted clear of the water for a picture – not only is it dangerous for everyone, it also results in fish deaths. Since stopping this practice our release rates have improved to 99%. You can roll them across your arms leaving the main bulk of their body supported by water, the pictures are still good, and the fish do not suffer. Keith Jenkins and family also visited this month. Keith is an angler I have always respected, and his writings have long been a favorite of mine. We had met many times over the years and share many of the same friends, but we had never spent any time fishing together. I knew from the off that Keith and I would hit it off, as we share many of the same views on life and fishing, and his wife Linda shares my sense of humour, so the trip was always going to be a success. The family took 67 fish between, with son-in-law Ben stealing the show with a brace of arapaima going 350lb and 220lb.
June: For Sean and I the highlight of this month was getting away for three days jungle fishing. It’s not often we get a chance to fish nowadays, let alone together, so although the target fish, Thai mahseer, were small, the stunning unspoilt and peaceful surroundings made fish sizes immaterial. For the record we caught Thai mahseer, jungle perch, red tail barb, giant snakehead, cobra snakehead, and blotched snakehead. The scenery was stunning, as was the wildlife, with giant otters, barking deer, buffalo, elephants, lemur monkeys and other monkeys. There were also lots of birds; hornbill, giant kingfisher, fish eagle, osprey, hummingbirds etc. We even came across two pythons! Our dear friends Rob and Flo Maylin also got another trip in this month with their son little Max and Rob’s grown up children. Not a lot of fishing was to done by Rob this trip, as it was a family holiday – the first one with all his children together made it special. They had some great days out visiting Krabi’s many attractions, but Rob still managed to catch 28 fish of five species, including arapaima to 150lb and red tail catfish to 60lb. His main target was Siamese carp, and he landed 20 to 64lb. Rob already has his return booked for this year to try and reclaim his Mekong catfish record and the 100lb-plus carp he so desperately wants to catch.
July: The month started on a high with Gillhams regular visitor Alan Boon obliterating the world Chao Phraya catfish record, raising it from 62lb to 90lb. Our Dear friends Arthur and Angie, the fishing mad 21-year-old pensioners, returned to celebrate Arthurs 70th birthday. What an honour for us that Arthur thought Gillhams was special enough for this momentous occasion. Arthur didn’t break any records, but landed 39 fish with a PB Amazon red tail catfish of 85lb in his haul. Angie wasn’t going to let him win just because it was his birthday, and once again trounced the old sod with 41 fish and snatched the family record arapaima with a 180lb fish. Another special fish was caught by Dan Holt who was in Krabi on his honeymoon and had to fit in a day’s fishing. He landed a 130lb Mekong catfish; not the biggest in the lake by far, but it surely topped off a special trip to Thailand for him. My old mate John Allen returned for another of his regular visits from his home in Thailand 900km from us. John’s target is a 100lb-plus Siamese carp, and he keeps getting closer, landing 55 this trip to 85lb with a couple of 70lb fish thrown in. It’s surely just a matter of time before he gets that magic 100lb-plus fish.
August: With some heavy rain this month the big arapaima went on the munch. We had five over 300lb; one being a fish that we hadn’t seen for two years who had grown from 220lb to 350lb. Also Henry, one of our favorite arapaima who we feared had died, made a welcome appearance at 340lb! Another return visitor was Paul Duggan from Hong Kong, and this trip he bought his wife Kim with him who landed the ladies’ lake record arapaima at 350lb. Paul tried in vain to top Kim’s catch, but came close with a fine 300lb arapaima. Another 340lb arapaima fell to Gillhams regular visitor Eddie Grey from the UK. Also this month the bell was introduced. This baby is our top earner; the idea is every time you catch your biggest fish of any particular species you ring the bell in our bar and buy everyone a drink. For the newcomers to Thailand every fish they catch is a PB, and for our regulars we keep stocking new species, and with the fish growing they also get caught out! To be honest it’s a bit of fun that works out pretty even by the end of your trip, or if people wish they do not have to join in. Another Hong Kong regular who came close to a record was Selina Mitchell who was accompanied by her husband John. She caught an 80lb Chao Phraya catfish, which, had she caught it before Alan Boon’s 90lb beast four weeks earlier, would have beaten the old record.
September: The lake fished its socks off, and even I caught fish when I got my fly rod out this month for the first time in ages; I caught what is believed to be the first ever Mekong catfish taken on a fly. The fish was around 120lb and took a white clouser minnow with a red throat, using a 12-weight setup, and the fish took me one hour to land. The Luton pest Neil ‘The Gob’ returned once again. He certainly picked the right time for his ten-day trip, taking a 50-fish haul which included 11 arapaima to 340lb, 17 Siamese carp to 85lb, eight Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, seven sorubim to 35lb, six black pacu to 20lb, plus an alligator gar. Another regular to Gillhams, John Duffy, was here at the same time as Neil. Catching the lake in a generous mood, over a ten-day period he landed 81 fish of 11 species, including 13 arapaima to 200lb, 16 Siamese carp to 55lb, 18 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, plus a Mekong catfish of 150lb. Other fish in the haul were sorubim, black pacu, Asian red tail catfish, tiger catfish, rohu, alligator gar and wallago leeri. The best arapaima this month at 350lb fell to another returning client, Alan from Pattaya. This fish was closely followed by our regular visitor, lady angler Kandy from Canada, who rocked the ladies’ record with a 300lb-plus arapaima on her first cast of the trip!
October: The monsoon season was on us with a vengeance, but the arapaima loved it, and 84 were landed – the most ever in a month from Gillhams, with an incredible nine over 300lb up to 360lb! Another species that loves the rain is the Amazon red tail catfish, and 91 of these stunning fish were landed up to 85lb. Gillhams must be close to its first 100lb red tail, with nine known fish over 80lb in the lake. My old mate Johnny Swann arrived on what was to be the first of many trips, landing 66 fish of nine species over just six days. Included in this awesome haul were 12 arapaima, the best being a 340lb beast. Another mate from the past arrived, Les Bamford. He did not catch many fish but he did catch the sun. Ignoring warnings to cover up, Les burnt his feet so badly that he ended up with a blister the size of a fried egg and a three-day stay in hospital with septicemia! In the same group as Les was the other half of the Gold Label Tackle team, Rob Eustace, who was chuffed old Les was taken to hospital, as he had to stay on an extra week with Les until he was declared fit to travel. Rob landed 18 fish with two different species over the magic 100lb barrier – a 130lb Mekong catfish and a 250lb arapaima. Next to arrive was Scott Morely who came for three days then stayed for six days and ended up staying five months with us as a fishing guide, Scott fishes as well as he guides, landing two arapaima over 300lb in six days. Scott made many friends during his stay; he is a top fishing guide and an incredibly nice hardworking bloke. He was an asset to Gillhams and is sorely missed. This was a month for blasts from the past when another mate arrived, Ralph Hughes, accompanied by his son Jack, brother Chris and his sons Harry and Lewis plus their partners. The fishing-mad family landed 55 fish of 12 species in a week including two arapaima over 300lb. Yet another old mate arrived this month, Derek Mallows, aka Ladders, and in his 28-fish haul was a black pacu of 39lbs, which was only 2lb short of the world record.
Finally this month we had the pleasure of the 2006 Commonwealth Games decathlon champion Dean Macey who came for a week’s fishing. Dean fished well, checked his depths, baited tight areas, listened to local knowledge and fished his socks off. He landed 39 fish of nine different species, and in that 39-fish catch were seven arapaima to 280lb, 18 Siamese carp to 50lb, two Amazon red tail catfish to 50lb, a Mekong catfish of 120lb, tiger catfish, rohu carp, black pacu and a record shaking 11lb 4oz spotted featherback 12 oz below the current world record. Dean wrote the following about Gillhams:
“Heaven is a fishery and it’s called Gillhams Fishing Resort! I have been lucky to travel the world over the last decade and even luckier to wet a line in some amazing places, but none of them can hold a candle to Gillhams Fishing Resort. The facilities are out of this world and the fishing blew my mind every single day. Where else on the planet can you catch 39 fish of nine different species and every one of them a PB, in just a week? I would quite happily fish no other destination for the rest of my life. I’ll be back next year, and probably the year after that too. Awesome!”
November: Big arapaima continued to dominate the catches this month with ten over 300lb! The first guest into a monster was Joe Price from Brighton, UK. Joe and his wife Venetta, like so many, came as customers and left as friends. Joe landed 38 fish of 11 species topped by a 350lb arapaima and a 160lb Mekong catfish. At the same time as Joe’s visit another UK angler, Dave Coleman, landed a 340lb arapaima in his 36-fish one-week haul. Regular visitor, Yorkshireman Ian Norris was another to land a 340lb arapaima. Then there was Stu Clinton and his lovely girlfriend Jo, another couple who left as friends. Jo had arranged this trip as a surprise 40th birthday present for Stu, and although the fishing slowed down he got the best ever birthday gift when he landed the biggest ever brace of arapaima from Gillhams at 340lb and 350lb.Our dear old mate Poppa Terry Eustace returned for an eating holiday with his friend John, who, although the fishing was slow, stuck to the task to be rewarded with a 400lb arapaima. The fishing-mad Clark family made another visit to Gillhams and although the fishing was very slow, they all caught fish, with Lloyd stealing the show with a 300lb-plus arapaima. 14-year-old Luke also landed his first arapaima at 120lb, and this fish puts him in a very small group of under-16-year-olds to catch an arapaima. Singaporean returning clients Tim and Bob came to catch the arapaima that eluded them on their last trip, and both achieved their dream, with Tim stealing the show with a fine 340lb fish. The slow fishing, by Gillhams standards, made it hard for the day ticket anglers to achieve their dream fish with only a day to play with. But one guy, Lars from Sweden, realized the only way to win was to return, and in the last five minutes of his second day he was rewarded with a cracking 340lb arapaima. The Carter family came here for some fun and fishing – dad Ben, grandad Billy, plus Ben’s two sons, Matthew and Andrew. Between them they landed some stunning fish with Ben taking the last 300lb-plus arapaima of the month.
December: Rob Maylin’s world record Mekong catfish got beaten this month by day ticket angler Joe Ball from the UK with a stunning fish of 191lb. Another record was set this month too – Gillhams junior carp record fell to 11-year-old Karl McKellar with a stunning fish of 110lb, which Karl landed totally unaided! What a fish for an 11-year-old, and he was only on a day ticket! Stewart Downing of Pure Fishing came for his first trip to Gillhams, accompanied by his better half Heather. Between day trips he landed 40 fish of nine species over two weeks, topped by a fine 300lb arapaima. Heather only fished a few odd hours but she still landed a fine 200lb-plus arapaima. Another fishing-mad couple arrived this month – John and Sue Hymes, and on John’s first cast he landed a 340lb arapaima! The run of 300lb arapaima continued with a fine brace of 300lb fish to Jon James who was on honey moon with his new bride Becs. They came for a day, stayed a week, and then two days after leaving decided they liked Gillhams so much they checked out of their honeymoon hotel to spend Christmas with us. Another guy to come for a day and stay longer was Jody, Colin Baker of Richworth Baits’ best mate. Jody was another one to get among the big arapaima, landing one of 340lb on his first day, and he nearly had his second 100lb species the next morning when he landed a 90lb Mekong catfish. Another regular visitor to Gillhams is Eddie Grey, with his non-fishing wife Lynn who loves the tranquility of Gillhams, and instigates the return trips, not that Eddie needs any encouragement! Eddie upped his PB arapaima to 340lb.
Writing this report makes me realise that it’s no wonder that the record fish keepers didn’t compose the top 50 arapaima list, as Gillhams would have been numbers one to 50! We know we have at least 15 arapaima over 300lb with the top two at 400lb-plus. It’s not all about the fish here at Gillhams; the place has a certain magic about it. Three guys have proposed here this year, the latest being Keith Franczak who came for five days with the lovely Tracie. They both fell in love with our resort, and wished they had booked longer. When Keith did the full-on romantic bit by dropping to one knee and proposing, Tracie promptly accepted, providing the honeymoon could be at Gillhams! That just about wraps up 2009 folks, except to mention a 5ft tall geezer with a 10ft tall personality – my old mucker, Ritchie McDonald. Ritchie arrived on Christmas Day and within seconds of arriving he had our guests in fits of laughter, as in his small case all he had was some aftershave and toiletries and a bottle of champagne he had bought at the airport, plus a stale egg sarnie he had bought in the UK in case there was no food on the plane! Believe me, the fella had come for a month’s stay in the clothes he stood up in and nothing else! Ritchie came for fun with a bit of fishing thrown in, and it was a joy to watch the little fella dancing, partying and at times taking his fishing seriously and sneaking some nice arapaima out.
The 2009 yearly report for Gillhams Fishing Resorts for fishing in Krabi Thailand is set out below. The 2009 figures are in black, and the 2008 figures are in red after them to compare the fishing.
Arapaima – 568 total, best 400lb, best month October – 84 fish.
2008 – 432 total, best 400lb, best month November – 44 fish.
Alligator gar – 86 total, best 25lb, best month April – 11 fish.
2008 – 151 total, best 35lb, best month August – 21 fish.
Amazon red tail catfish – 787 total, best 85lb best month August – 97 fish.
2008 – 504 total, best 80lb, best month August – 76 fish.
Arawana – 18 total, best 8lb, best month April – four fish.
2008 – 12 total, best 8lb, best month September – five fish.
Asian red tail catfish – 107 total, best 30lb, best month December – 21 fish.
2008 – 40 total, best 31lb, best month November – six fish.
Barramundi – five total, best 10lb, best month August – three fish.
2008 – Six total, best 31lb, best month February – two fish.
Big head carp – two total, best 20lb, best month February – one fish.
2008 – Two total, best 30lb, best month July – one fish.
Black pacu – 418 total, best 50lb, best month August – 99 fish.
2008 – 186 total, best 55lb, best month December – 33 fish.
Black shark carp – one total, best 8lb, best month August – one fish.
2008 – Two total, best 10lb, best month March – one fish.
Chao Phraya catfish – 75 total, best 90lb 6oz (new world record!). Best month August & October – ten fish.
2008 – 62 total, best 64lb, best month September – 11 fish.
Common carp _ none were caught this year in 2009.
2008 – Six total, best 25lb, best month April – two fish.
Giant featherback – 13 total, best 11lb, best months March and April – three fish.
2008 – Three total, best 21lb, best month May – one fish.
Giant freshwater stingray – six total, best 120lb, best month January – five fish.
2008 – Two total, best 90lb, best month November – two fish.
Giant snakehead – nine total, best 8lb, best month August – three fish.
None caught in 2008.
Giant Gourami – seven total, best 14lb, best month November – three fish.
2008 – Nine total, best 15lb, best month March – five fish.
Julian’s golden prize carp – 47 total, best 30lb, best month March – nine fish.
2008 – 105 total, best 45lb, best month May – 25 fish.
Mad carp – 11 total, best 5lb, best month October six fish.
2008 – none caught.
Mekong catfish – 73 total, best 191lb (world record claim is pending), best month October – 14 fish.
2008 – 46 total, best 185lb (world record caught here), best month May – seven fish.
Mrigal (Asian grass carp) – 28 total, best 15lb, best month August – seven fish.
2008 – Five total, best 18lb, best month November – three fish.
Rohu carp – 91 total, best 20lb, best month January – 17 fish.
2008 – 83 total, best 21lb, best month December – 37 fish.
Siamese carp – 2,633 total, best 125lb, best month February – 302 fish.
2008 – 1,325 total, best 98lb, best month December – 213 fish.
Spotted featherback – 69 total, best 20lb, best month October – ten fish.
2008 – 34 total, best 15lb, best month November – eight fish.
Shovel nosed tiger catfish – 56 total, best 25lb, best month October – ten fish.
2008 – Four total, best 20lb, best month March – two fish.
Shovel-nosed spotted sorubim – 422 total, best 50lb, best month June – 58 fish.
2008 – 379 total, best 45lb, best month October – 65 fish.
Striped catfish – four total, best 10lb, best month October two fish.
2008 – none caught.
Striped snakehead – 74 total, best 5lb, best month January – 18 fish.
2008 – 40 total, best 5lb, best month December – 15 fish.
Tambaqui – 15 total, best 45lb, best month December – seven fish.
2008 – Eight total, best 29lb, best month October – three fish.
Wallago attu (silver) – 27 total, best 24lb, best months October and December – five fish.
2008 – Nine total, best 25lb, best month August – three fish.
Wallago leeri (black) – 78 total, best 28lb, best month December – 12 fish.
2008 – Five total, best 35lb, best month April – two fish.
Total 5,730 fish landed of 28 species.
2008 – Total 3,465 fish landed of 26 species.
That’s 2009 gone folks, and as I sit and write this review in April, 2010 is slipping away too – god, how time flies in paradise! So if you are thinking of a trip for 2010 or even 2011 I suggest you get booking, as the secret is out and many weeks are getting full. We only sell limited places here to stop overcrowding and to keep the magical atmosphere of peace and tranquility for everyone to enjoy. To book contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +66 (0)861644554.
Best wishes from all at Gillhams, and we hope to see you soon.