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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter April 2015

Hi and welcome to the April 2015 newsletter, our monthly round-up of news, catch reports and anything remotely connected to our little slice of paradise out here in Krabi.

So with the shows done and dusted, it was time to kick back for a couple of weeks before returning to Thailand. Now living out here is great, and the job can be very rewarding at times too, but as with everything in life, it’s not all a bed of roses, and there are things I miss… of course there are! One of the main ones is live music. Now I can go down to Ao Nang, and although it’s a technically good rendition of The Beatles’ Money Can’t Buy Me Love sung by the locals, it isn’t really my bag. I’ve stood in big crowds all over America and Europe and watched Iron Maiden blow the roof off (or the trees down, metaphorically speaking), and I have been to a whole host of other bands’ shows too. I love my metal/rock, and one of my life’s ambitions is to attend 100 or more gigs (I was on 79 before going home). Some friends of mine are in a band called the Burning Crows, an unruly bunch of scallywags from Norwich, and they were about to go on tour promoting their second album, so I asked if they needed a driver, to which they replied, “Yep.” So we met in a pub in Norwich and headed north to York where we met fellow rockers The Falling Red, and their joint headlining tour started with a bang. The next day and about 30 cheeseburgers later, we landed in Newcastle, after a quick stop at the Angel of the North. Newcastle was bonkers, the show was packed, I got lobbed on the merch stand, and met some interesting characters including a six-and-a-half foot tranny with what looked like size 12 stillettos, who was later seen headbanging away.

The night ended in a very drunken blur, and somehow we arrived in Manchester the next day for what turned out to be another great show, after which we made our way back to Norfolk. At one point a certain band member was seen with one bollock resting on his mobile phone, with his pants round his ankles and an empty McDonald’s bag over his head reciting lines from the film “Hook”. I will never have the ability to write down just how funny that gracious moment was, but believe me we laughed a lot! Four days later the bands met up in Norwich at the Waterfront for the next gig, and I took a couple of mates along, so that didn’t end well either. Fortunately I had a quiet few days to recover, catching up with friends and spending time with my parents who filled me up with a great big lamb roast before I returned to the resort, only to find two silent assassins had kidnapped “Sally”, my inflatable crocodile. For the record I will say this now, retribution will follow…

As I wasn’t here for much of April, Sean is now going to finish this month’s newsletter, and I will resume normal duties next month!

April is the New Year for Thailand, and with it comes the world’s biggest water fight, Songkran festival. The festival started many years ago, as it marks the end of the dry season and the start of the rains. Everybody around Thailand would empty all their stored water ready to fill back up with fresh water from the sky above. Some how this turned into the biggest water fight the world has seen and also one of the best days of the year. Everybody joins in – kids, teenagers and old people. Krabi only celebrates this festival for one day, leaving Bangkok and other larger cities throwing water daily for up to seven days. This year was the first year the guides and customers didn’t join the madness in the town due to a heavy night starting the water activities the night before in Ao-Nang’s nightclubs.

This month has seen a change around with some of the guides… Alex has gone home for the summer and will be returning in October for another six months. Before he headed back to the UK his friend joined him for a two-week trip around Thailand hitting some of the islands to chill out before finishing up on some of the party islands. The first stop for Alex was Koh Lanta to chill out after working at the resort for six months. This however became his first and last stop after renting a motorbike on his first day and crashing it 100 yards down the road, spending the next week in the hospital and using all his money being put back together.

We’ve also had another guide join the Gillhams team this month taking over from Alex. Nick from Brighton has joined us, and luckily for us and the customers he hasn’t been given the job for his brains. After joining us we’ve had some classic examples: One that stands out the most is when Nick read the rules and found out that all working girls (bar girls) are banned from the resort. Nick asked, “My girlfriend’s coming over from England in a few months. Does this mean she can’t come now?” Bless him.

So that’s all the news from us. Best I get on with the whos, the whys and the what fors for what has been an awesome month’s fishing!

Here are the catch figures for the anglers who visited us for the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer: 647 fish were caught of 21 species, made up as follows: 38 arapaima to 400lb, five arawana to 13lb, four alligator gar to 40lb, 148 Amazon redtail catfish to 90lb, three giant freshwater stingray to 100lb, 76 Asian redtail catfish to 35lb, 37 black pacu to 35lb, four Chao Phraya catfish to 120lb, two Amazon stingray to 60lbs, one giant snakehead of 15lb, one giant featherback of 20lb, 23 Julian’s golden carp to 30lb, 62 Mekong catfish to 200lb, eight Nile perch to 6lb, one big head carp of 35lb, three ripsaw catfish to 22lb, 18 red bellied pacu to 16lb, five spotted featherback to 13lb, 204 Siamese carp to 140lb, one tambaqui of 50lb, and two striped catfish to 50lb.

Paulo Kwak is a South Korean who has relocated to Brazil with his family. He worked as a manager in a textiles factory, but he saved up his money to go traveling and one of the first places on his list to travel to was Gillhams Fishing Resort (good choice, sir!). You see, it turns out that we have quite a large fan base in Brazil. We are often written about on local forums, and our fish are held in very high esteem out there. So Paulo, being one of the first from his particular forum to come over, was really happy just to be here, and he wanted to catch a few to take the tales back home. I took him to his room, went through the usual waffle, showed him which switches did what etc, and then I asked him if there were any specific species of fish he would like to target. His face lit up… “Arapaima,” he replied. “Also Mekong catfish, Siamese carp Amazon red tails…” “Oh, ok,” I replied. It was obvious he was up for it and raring to go. We slipped him into Sala 10, put him onto some of the known spots and crossed our fingers that luck would come his way.

As I walked past him on the second morning, I enquired as to how things had gone for him on day one, and it appeared that no fish had come along. I told him to keep cheerful and stick to the plan, as we were all pretty sure the fish would turn up sooner or later. The news was no better at 6pm as I strolled past him. I was beginning to worry a little bit if the truth be known, as you could see in his eyes what it meant for him to be here. By the time dinner was served it was altogether a different story, as a very respectable 75lb Amazon redtail had picked up his bait, and the very endearing young man had banked his first big fish.

Day three started with a Siamese carp of 60lb, then a Julian’s of 25lb, but the real prize came next in the shape of the much sought after arapaima. It was not the biggest at 130lb, but Paulo was absolutely over the moon, even though he only got a short video of it, as it leapt the cage in true arapaima style! After that a 50lb Siamese carp finished the day off nicely. Day four saw him land a couple of Siamese carp: one at 70lb, then one at 25lb. Coming into his last day, we knew that if he could catch a Mekong then all his dreams would be fulfilled. Well, the day started well with a 50lb Siamese, and then, much to our amusement, he then caught a 55lb Siamese and pronounced, “Damn, these Siamese love me, man!” and then rather then getting wet again he did a “selfie” for a catch shot, with Chris holding the fish up in the lake, at which we all laughed.

He was such a nice lad that we all really took to him; in fact Chris was quoted as having said, “I love that Paulo. Oh man, I don’t want him to leave” But as his last couple of hours ran out, our new found friend was more than happy to jump in again as a Mekong catfish weighing 140lb ticked the last box on his wanted list. The whole time Paulo was with us he was grinning like a Cheshire cat, and the smile on his face as he came up to the restaurant for the final time was a sight to behold. It was job done for him; you could just feel his enthusiasm the whole time, and we were so pleased it all came right for him. As we were running around serving drinks and taking food orders, there was just one final photo he wanted, and that was a pic with us, and he got that too!

Whilst at the Manchester show we had a gentleman called David Halsall walk up to the stand, and he told us that he was coming out in the next few weeks. He quizzed us on a few things, such as how would he get photos taken etc, when he had come by himself. After a ten-minute chat he walked away, knowing there would be no problems, and all he had to do was turn up and fish! David turned up the day before he started to fish and just spent the day walking around having the odd beer and generally taking in the scenery. The first morning’s fishing started, and he was set up in B3. Although a competent angler of over 40 years’ experience and with carp to over 50lbs to his name, he threw his hands in the air and said, “I know nothing about how these fish feed, behave etc. You guys tell me what to do!” So we advised him on which spots we thought were best to fish and how to go about baiting those spots. It’s such a relief at times when people say this to us. If we had a penny for every time someone said, “Well, that’s not how I fish for them at home.” I don’t think I need to explain that one any further now, do I?

Anyway the first and second days were quiet for David, and I have to confess that’s when it’s squeaky bum time for us. If people don’t listen to the advice given and have a crap trip, quite frankly I don’t lose much sleep over that, but when they listen, you want them to catch even more than they do! Of course there was no need to panic, as David stuck to his spots, kept the bait going in, and on day three he caught his first Siamese carp weighing 40lbs, then another at 30lbs and finished the day off with a cracking arawana of 10lbs. That night he came up to the restaurant with a big smile on his face, and although he had two days left to fish, he was happy that he had caught his first Siamese carp. The next day the same spots produced again, and the smile became bigger and bigger as a Siamese of 40lb came along, then a 50lb’er, which was then followed by a 65lb’er. He couldn’t believe it… “Why bother going to France to fish for carp?” he said. “Five days fishing here, then five days on the beach out in Thailand – that’s what I call a holiday!” We laughed.

The last day yielded a change in fortune, as an alligator gar of 25lbs not only took his pellet on a Mekong float rig, but then managed to bite through the net and escape before we had chance to photograph it! David didn’t care though; he had thoroughly enjoyed himself, sussed the fishery out and plans to make a return visit as soon as he can.

Andy Cartwright made another trip out here this month on a guided trip with Neil Robinson from Fishing Khao Lak. This time was just a quick trip over for Andy, as he only fished Gillhams for six days before heading home rather than his usual tour of Thailand’s fishing lakes. Andy’s first couple of days didn’t go well due to a few lost fish while fishing at long range over two bars that run up the lake. Things started picking up for Andy with a couple of Amazon redtail catfish just shy of 60lb and Mekong catfish to 150lb. It wasn’t until the second to last day when Andy finally got the fish he’s been after for years. Andy made a swim change and wanted to try for the arapaima. Throughout the day a few more Amazon and Asian redtails were caught, and his first arapaima of the trip at 120lb, but with an hour left the fish gods finally answered Andy’s prayers. The fight lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and as the guides slipped the arapaima into the cage Andy was looking at his new personal best freshwater species estimated at 400lb, leaving him and Neil speechless until Neil commented, “That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!” Unfortunately I can’t write Neil’s exact words, as we get families and kids reading our newsletters, but I’m sure you can piece it together. Andy finished his trip on nine fish of four species and is now going for the real deal and joining us on a trip to Guyana next March.

This month we had the Sudders family from Colchester make their first trip out to Gillhams for a week’s fishing. This first part of their holiday was mainly for their son, 15-year-old Will who is a very keen angler back home in the UK. Will has already fished some great locations for big fish including Spain, Canada and now Gillhams here in Thailand.
The rest of Will’s family spent their time around the pool, meeting up a few times throughout the day in the restaurant, while Will stayed glued to the lake from start till finish having his food delivered. The main target species for the trip were Amazon redtail catfish, Mekong catfish and of course the arapaima. On Will’s first day he caught a couple of Amazon redtails to 40lb. The swim Will chose had been producing some big redtail cats but they also knew exactly where to run – straight into the corner of the lake down by the restaurant getting under the floating hyacinths leading to a few lost fish. Will stuck to this swim for most of the trip and managed to land Amazon redtails to 75lb along with a few Asian redtail. Will also caught his Mekong catfish from this swim, but not without a backbreaking battle.

When the Sudders turned up we heard that Will had caught some big fish before with a personal best Wels catfish of 181lb, and even landing the biggest catfish in the UK a year previously, but nothing was going to prepare Will for the battle he had with his Mekong catfish. Just 15 minutes into the fight the power of the Mekong and the heat led Will to hand the rod over to a guide who then battled it back towards the net. As it approached the net and with everybody thinking it was beaten, the rod was handed back to Will. The Mekong had other plans though, and decided he wasn’t ready to give up. exploding back up the lake leaving poor Will watching all the line that Pete had just put back on the reel disappear once again. After about another 40 minutes and having to hand the rod back to Pete again, the Mekong finally gave up, leaving Will to land his first Mekong cat at 130lb.

The last couple of days Will decided to move swims hoping to catch his third fish on the wish list. Unfortunately Will never caught his arapaima but did feel the power of one. After hooking into an arapaima the fish took a huge run down into a small bay and buried itself deep in the weeds leaving no choice but for a guide to follow. As the guide swam into the weeds the line suddenly went slack, and the arapaima was gone, but not before crashing into the guide who was helping to retrieve it, which gives him a good reason to return.

Nick Peat made another return this month to continue his pursuit of landing as many big fish as possible, including all six species over 100lb in the lake. Nick’s obsession with everything that swims shows everywhere he fishes whether it’s out here in Thailand fishing the lakes and rivers, South Africa for the great whites, Panama for the marlin and tuna or back in the UK chasing pike all up and down the country. Nick works hard, and is always the first on the bank and last one to reel in, even if that means keeping the boys out late for fish he’s caught out of hours… We know what you get up to, Nick.

When Nick arrived he had his usual supplies in his suitcase: bait and one spare pair of pants for the journey home. As always Nick’s fishing went well and he was into some good fish the first day, but he really started hauling when he made a swim change to A1 outside his bungalow, fishing down towards the restaurant. His first morning in his new swim was like a dream – he had landed 980lb of arapaimas with the biggest at 380lb, all before midday, and also lost one more at the net. The swim just kept producing. Nick also managed to land two Chao Phraya catfish to 130lb making five species over the ton here at Gillhams. This just leaves the wallago leeri and possibly the seventh coming up behind with an Amazon redtail.

Nick also managed to get a new lake record for a Mekong catfish, not in weight, but in fight time, after he hooked the Mekong at 07:10am and then played it for the next ten hours and forty minutes. The Mekong weighed 160lb but did manage to hold a record at Gillhams, even though we thought it could have been played harder, we can just put it down to three things: too many late nights, too many big fish and of course the obvious one being… AGE! In total Nick caught 23 fish of nine species including redtail cats to 60lb, Mekong to 160lb, stingray to 120lb, Siamese carp to 90lb and a giant snakehead of 9lb.

Once again good friends Dean and Jenni Handley made a trip back over fishing for ten days. Were always happy to have them both here, and Jack was also very excited to see them, as presents always follow. This time was no different, and Jack was once again given a sack of new toys. When they arrived Jenni was sporting a new T-shirt that she had made: Gillhams Ladies 100lb Carp Club after landing her first 100lb carp on her last trip. The day they started fishing they got into their favorite swim, Sala 2, where they had three 100lb carp on their last trip. The first couple of days were slow, but after having a couple of hook pulls they both managed to land an Amazon redtail. The third day things started picking up with a couple more redtails, Siamese carp and an Asian. Over the next couple of days they started catching a few more before Jenni latched onto something a bit better, which gave her the runaround for the next half hour until it was finally in the net, with Jenni realising she may have a PB Siamese carp. Once the carp had been unhooked it was bagged up and weighed at 110lb, beating Jenni’s previous Siamese carp record by 9lb. During their stay a total of 21 fish were caught with five different species including Amazon redtail to 70lb, Mekong catfish to 100lb, Asian redtails, two Julian’s carp and of course five Siamese carp to 110lb.

Another regular, Steve James, joined us this month over the Songkran festival, which is Steve’s favorite time of year, as he can act like a kid all day throwing water around. Steve shocked the whole resort this trip and actually managed to be up on the bank fishing most mornings at 7am. Mind you, after fishing here about nine times already he did have to check what time the fishing starts, which has been the same time since he started visiting the lake. This trip was like no other Steve had ever experienced: not only was he up for 7am, but he also managed to catch a few fish this time! The guides were shocked. In total Steve caught 16 fish of three species with carp to 95lb, Amazon redtail to 50lb and Mekong catfish to 150lb.

Steve Haynes and his wife made their first trip out to Gillhams, and what an awesome trip it was with some amazing catches. During Steve’s stay, although he had a few target species in mind, he never thought he would end up with what he caught. Siamese carp were one of the main species for Steve who caught a total of 12 Siamese carp with his biggest at 140lb. Steve also went on to catch ripsaw catfish to 17lb, Julian’s to 10lb and Mekong cats to 130lb. Other catches included Asian redtail, black pacu and arawana. In total Steve caught 20 fish with seven different species.

Mark Hanham made his first trip to Gillhams with his wife and two kids after hearing about us from some friends who have visited a few times before. Mark is a match angler back home and has done well over the years winning many tournaments, but fishing out here was a lot different to what Mark is used to. Mark also had to juggle his fishing with a family holiday so only did a few days fishing with his spare days on trips to the elephants, sea kayaks, island trips or even just down in Ao-Nang on the beaches. While fishing Mark also got to experience the mighty Mekong catfish with his biggest at 170lb as well as Siamese carp to 55lb amongst others. Mark and his wife are already planning their return trip once the kids have started college in a couple of years, but we won’t be surprised to see the whole family return sooner.

Ian Farr made another trip over, this time with his mum, dad and his wife. Ian tends to make a visit every six weeks. Due to being a teacher in Singapore, Ian is able to make Gillhams his local water. Ian and his dad both fished here together six years ago, but since then his dad Gerald hasn’t been back, so when he arrived he couldn’t believe the changes.

Ian always has good trips here due to finding his spots and would never dream of casting out before pluming his depths and knowing exactly where he’s going to be fishing rather than the method many other anglers use – the chuck it and chance it style. This trip was no different, which actually made it Ian’s best trip to date. As always Ian’s main target species was the Siamese carp. Ian landed 3,782lb of carp in his session with a total of 64 Siamese carp, four going over a ton with 110lb, 111lb, 115lb and a new lake PB of 140lb. Ian’s total was 72 fish of four species.

Gerald also had a good trip but struggled with the heat so changed his six full days to half days. Gerald caught a total of eleven fish of five species including Siamese carp to 65lb, Julian’s to 20lb, Amazon and Asian redtail to 65lb and a ripsaw catfish of 20lb. While Ian and Gerald fished, Ian’s mum and wife spent their days around the pool and making trips into town in between running the boys cups of tea, food and taking photos.

Well that’s it for April, and we hope to meet many new anglers and make new friends over the next few months. Once again many thanks to everybody who fished here through April, and we hope to see you again in the near future.
For those of you planning a return or first trip, please email Stuart or phone +66 (0) 861644554, and please remember we are +7 hours GMT.
Best wishes and tight lines from us all at Gillhams, and we hope your next fish is the one of your dreams (which it probably will be if you come to Gillhams).