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Krabi newsletter August 2008

Hi to all our readers following this fishing in Thailand series. I can’t believe a year has passed since I started the Krabi newsletter. What a year it has been, with some tremendous fish caught, and growth rates way above our expectations. So many of you have been over, and lots have already been twice or more. I was speaking to an old mate the other day and he asked how many personal bests our lake has produced. When I thought about it, I realised we are probably responsible for more PB’s here than any other lake in the world, it is nice to make so many people’s dreams come true. The restaurant is now open for our guests, and will open to the public by the time you read this newsletter. The gardens around the restaurant are now landscaped and the lawns are laid, so hopefully Benz my partner will stop buying bloody flowers and shrubs to give us a chance to start recouping our investment. Mr. Peacock has spent the first week of this month in the vets. We think a wild cat came out of the forest and tried to silence him, but he is a tough old fella, and he is making a fighting comeback, and costing us a fortune in his favorite tucker – mealworms. Peacock junior is growing fast and causing mayhem; he does not like been penned up and seeing the rest of the bird gang roaming the gardens. We drained the small stock pond this month, cleaned it out, and in November we stocked 80 arapaima at 3oz, which are now 1?lb. We also stocked 200 red tail catfish at 2oz, which are now 2lb. they have been transferred to our bigger stockpond where they will stay for two years, by which time they should be around 30lb. The arapaima will stay for three years, as we want them over 100lb before stocking them in the main lake. The small pond has been restocked already with 100 small shovel nosed tiger catfish and 50 Julian’s golden prize carp. Once these are around 3lb they will be moved over, then replaced with some other exotic fish species. This month has seen some awesome catches with the species that like rain, and we have had plenty of that – there have been four arapaima over 300lb. The red tails shed their skins and went on a feeding frenzy, with one angler taking three over 70lb. The sorubim, who love the rain, have been feeding as if there was no tomorrow. The fish species who prefer hot settled weather have been noticeable in their absence, ie Mekong catfish and Julian’s golden prize carp.

This month has seen an increase of fishermen to 32 for the month, who have accounted for 359 fish, made up as follows… 42 arapaima to 380lbs, two Mekong catfish to 120lbs, 117 Siamese carp to 65lbs, 76 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lbs, 21 alligator gar to 25lbs, two Julian’s golden prize carp to 25lbs, three Asian red tail catfish to 25lbs, nine black pacu to 30lbs, eight Chao Phraya catfish to 60lbs, 64 spotted sorubim to 40lbs, two arawana to 7lbs, one shovel nosed tiger catfish of 20lb, two tambaqui to 25lb, one barramundi of 25lb, one big head carp of 25lb, two spotted featherback to 13lb, three wallago attu to 20lb, one wallago leeri of 25lb, two striped snake head to 5lb.

First guest this month was our old mate John from Wahoo fleet in Phuket. As you recall from last month’s newsletter the race was on for who would produce the winner of our target species – the first sailfish from Phuket or first arapaima from Krabi! Well John has now had his arapaima at 165lb, so if we don’t get a sailfish next trip, we win. John also went on to catch five other fish on his overnight excursion. So mate, no pressure on your next trip. The second guests this month came by the way of a distressed phone call from a Dutch guy called Sjoerd Kuiper who was staying at a hotel in Krabi. He was with his girlfriend Leonie, whose dreams had been shattered by a badly described hotel in town. Knowing the hotel myself, I know how she felt. They had seen Gillhams on the internet and liked the look of our setup here. When they arrived the couple cheered up, as in their words here was paradise. Sjoerd fished for four days and fitted in one half day (what was supposed to be an hour), before taking his better half Leonie for her chosen day out. They also had two days here using the bungalow as base, then going off sightseeing. Sjoerd, as with 80% of our clients, had his heart set on an arapaima; he was not worried about the size as long as he could have his picture behind one. His first arapaima came two days into his fishing – a nice starter at 145lbs. The next morning Sean had promised him that they’d go stalking. Sean, being on the lake 24/7, knows all the little spots the arapaima like. Two hours into the session, Sjoerd landed the fish of a lifetime – a stunning 380lb arapaima. This fish was stocked a year ago at 330lb, and had never been caught before. Sjoerd went on to catch 18 fish of eight different species – red tail catfish to 45lb, Siamese carp to 50lb, spotted sorubim to 30lb, Julian’s golden prize to 30lb, a spotted featherback of 13lb, and also a rare wallago attu of 16lbs, but the icing on the cake, due to the trouble it caused him, had to be the 120lb Mekong catfish he landed after an epic three-hour battle. Why did this fish cause him grief? Well Sjoerd had promised her who must be obeyed that his four days fishing was enough, and the rest of the trip was her choice, but I gave him an hour’s fishing for free before Leonie emerged from the pit. Only problem being our Mekong are turbocharged, unlike the emaciated yellow jaundiced things you get at some other fisheries. Our Mekong fight and don’t give up, hence a three-hour battle and one angry woman waiting to go out. Surprisingly, Sjoerd declined my offer of another hour the next morning!

Now you remember mad Mitch the Brummie from last month? Well he returned under strict orders from big boss – no drinking. And fair play to Mitch; I take my hat off to him, as not a drop was consumed, and he behaved impeccably. He has totally redeemed himself- good lad! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Mitch had returned to try for his hat-trick of arapaima, as he had previously caught two, both over 200lb. Well he really topped it off this time around, landing a fish we call Henry Waterman at 350lbs – actually the same fish Uncle John Allen caught in May. Even after this capture Mitch controlled himself, having a nice cup of tea to celebrate with me that night! He went on to catch a further nine fish, and vowed to return next time he needs rehab! After leaving here Mitch had a night in Bangkok getting well and truly hammered, then phoning me to say how drunk he was, and also that he had proposed to his girlfriend and bought her a gold bracelet. Actually, that’s another story between Mitch and me, but if he misbehaves here again all will be revealed about big bad Mitch and his big soft heart.

We had our first Malaysian visitor this month, Anthony Sullivan, an ex-pat who owns a fishing company in Malaysia We took him along with our other guests to our favorite night spot the Kansas saloon in Krabi town, with good food and live music, but he fell asleep through it, even though there was some good rock going on – even yours truly was up on stage belting out Bon Jovi numbers. Now how the hell anyone could sleep through that is beyond me; it brings a whole new meaning to a bed of roses! If Anthony had checked his drag settings he would be the proud captor of an arapaima, as would a few others this month. We tell everyone who fishes here to check the drag every cast, as the heat alters drags, and you don’t get second chances with arapaima; they take off at speed when hooked, shake their powerful heads, and then it’s bang, goodnight. Fish a loose drag setting and tighten up after the first big run – it applies to all big fish here, as they are like nothing you have ever hooked before.

Next came Tom Cruise, or rather the French version – my missus thought he was a Tom Cruise lookalike, mind you she thinks I am Keanu Reeves, poor bitch, must take her to have her eyes and head tested! He also did the arapaima drag test and lost it. Although French Tom came for two days, work called him back to Phuket that evening, but still he had two Siamese carp, a redtail and a sorubim before departing. Another bunch of expats who made the short trip from Phuket for the day was Hendrik and Petri with their Thai friend A (bet he has a brother named B!). Hendrik had their target fish – a nice arapaima of 130lb, while A caught the most with four fish, followed by Petri with three. Mind you Petri cheated as he played a mouth organ most of the day to attract the fish, it certainly kept me away, as his playing was as good as my Bon Jovi impersonations. Perhaps we should start a tribute band! Next came the beer drinkers club from Bangkok, a great bunch of guys who all work on the oil rigs in the Gulf of Thailand. Five of them came for three days, and team leader Doug, who has visited Gillhams before, got the ball rolling with a Siamese carp, and ended up with nine fish caught and three crates of beer drunk! Not to be outdone was his mate Grant, the Aussie drinking machine, who had more beer and bigger fish topped with a nice 55lb Siamese carp. The other lads fitted in fishing and golf, using Gillhams as a base. There was moderate drinking for these three, but awesome fish catching. The biggest fish went to Terry, who originally hails from the USA, with his target fish and first ever arapaima at approximately 100lbs. In all they ended up with 26 fish, and are busy planning their next assault on Gillhams.

Low season Lee has had a couple of short sessions this month with his mate Gino from Tottenham. The best fish to Lee was in my opinion a wallago attu of 20lbs, but Lee is getting so blas? about big fish, I don’t think he realized just what a good fish he had, so the only picture we have is with Gollock holding it. Gino had two arapaima up to 100lbs, so between them in two short trips they had 18 fish of six species. The unluckiest angler this month must go to Nina from Australia or Sweden (she lives between both countries). She came for a day trip via her adopted Australian dad Gary of Angling Adventures Australia, targeting an arapaima. In the first ten minutes she lost a good fish which came within a meter of the cage, only to get another run and for the hook to pull! Nina was a very capable fisherwomen who would put most guys to shame, and she went on to catch a Siamese carp, a redtail catfish, plus a brace of Chao Phraya catfish of 30 and 40lb by stalking with a float-fished deadbait. Nina returned later in the week for a half-day session only to lose two more arapaima, but landed a consolation red tail, and she has vowed to return. Then mayhem descended on Gillhams in the shape of Gary Newman of Anglers Mail, plus his two partners in crime Adam and Vince. Following this motley crew came the one and only all round nice big bloke Richard Foster of Fosters Tackle Birmingham, plus Siam Fishing Tours’ one and only male model Jules with his client Andy from Manchester. With this lot on the lake there could be many tales to tell, but hey our lips are sealed, but we can be bribed! As the Anglers Mail team are here for two weeks I will fill you in on their captures antics and general lies next month, but just to tell you their catches have been awesome with three arapaima over 300lb in the first week, plus many other big kippers!

Back to the visitors, namely ‘fat blokes have feelings too’ Richards Foster – what a star, a top all round geezer. To quote the big fella he did not wish to go home as he had found paradise, and from a travelled guy like Richard that is a compliment we are proud of. For the record Richard caught 22 fish of six species, and considering he spent most of his week chatting with me he did well. The arapaima eluded him, which he claims was a ploy by me putting him in the wrong spots to make him come back. In a lifetime of fishing I have been fortunate to meet many top fellas, and once in a while I meet another top bloke, and for sure Richard Foster is one of them, so come back soon big man. What would you reckon to a fishing guide service whose owner wears a skirt to go fishing, well there you have Jules of Siam fishing tours – another top bloke who brings many clients to us (hence him being a top bloke for swelling Gillhams wallet!). Jules is always welcome here, and whenever he brings a client he also fishes, or attempts to anyway! Jules caught ten fish in a couple of days, with the best being a 60lb-plus Chao Phraya catfish. To be fair to Jules, the fish was a potential record, but as he said we have many fish over this weight, so why creep the record up a bit, only for us to beat it in a few weeks putting the fish under undue stress – cheers Jules. Andy Wilson from Manchester came with Jules for a week’s stay, and fitted in immediately with the mickey taking and general banter that surrounds Gillhams. He even got a new dad in the larger than life form of Richard Foster. Richard adopted Andy, and they were like Siamese twins – everyone they met genuinely thought they were father and son, even the Dutch community here did not notice the difference between a Manchester and Birmingham accent. Oh well, it takes all sorts, eh?

John of Wahoo Phuket kindly invited all the lads on the lake to a day’s blue water fishing plus a night out in Phuket. The night out was awesome, and boy were there tales to tell, but as I don’t tell tales, you will all be left guessing. But if the Anglers Mail team doesn’t give us a favorable report all will be revealed, and I can tell you we have some gossip on Gary Newman! If any other interested party bribes me enough, I will reveal why the new quote is, “When I found out he was a man…”. But that’s where I shall end it for now (or ask Richard Foster who is a witness). The fish once again avoided us, so John lost the race 1/0, but he did keep us entertained with his stories of how he became an angling legend, inventing up-tiding, plus being the bass catcher extraordinaire in the late 70’s – even producing old brown wrinkled copies of the Anglers Mail with a very young hippie-type John on the front cover. All I can say is look out Cox and Rawle – John Pierce is after his royalties for certain innovations he taught you in the 70’s! Space is running out so it’s goodbye for another month, and wherever you are, catch a whacker, and if their ain’t no whackers get over here for a holiday of a lifetime, but book early to avoid disappointment because we keep the numbers down to keep Gillhams the place of your dreams. Best wishes from all of us here at