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Krabi newsletter December 2010

Happy New Year to all of our friends, clients and potential clients following this fishing in Thailand Newsletter. The fishing in Krabi has been patchy as we change from the wet season to the dry, but on the right days some cracking fish are being landed. It is now at last coming into the dry season with just a few scattered showers, unlike Europe with all your snow and ice, which I really hope is gone before I arrive in March!

I know many of you are waiting to see what unusual presents I got this year for Christmas, so how about a female companion for George the tortoise? She is a lot smaller than George, who weighs in at 30kg. We cleaned and polished George before introducing him to the new girl. George was most disgusted that we should think he was like Gary Glitter, and within minutes of meeting her he devoured her grub and broke through her pen, heading as fast a giant tortoise can back to his burrow on the hill where he has stayed in hiding ever since! Becca, Sean and the guides joined forces to buy me a pair of Mandarin ducks, which are proper stunners, and hopefully they will survive dangling their little feet in a lake full of monster fish. We had to build a pen for them at the side of the lake where they will stay for a few weeks until they have settled down. The pen extends out over the lake, and without thinking we did not peg the netting to the lakebed. Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Duck’s horror when they went for their first swim, only for a bloody great red tail catfish to make a grab at their feet! I hope he was just being inquisitive or I don’t fancy their chances of survival, although in the last few days they seem a lot more aware of what lurks below them in the depths!

While on the subject of what goes on under the murky depths of Gillhams, how about this picture of an unfortunate 25lb pacu who appeared one evening in distress? Believe it or not this unfortunate fish was actually still swimming around; we believe a big wallago leeri had tried to devour him. If you are under 100lb and less than 4ft long Gillhams must be a scary place to live. Thank god I am bigger than that but if anything ever grabs Scott the fat fishing guide I will retire from getting in the lake!

Many of you are sending us emails with concerns about how the planned lake extension could affect your holidays, but the lake extension is not starting yet, and certainly not for at least six months. All the work is being carried out on the other side of the fence, and when we start it will not affect the resort or the fishing. The works that will be seen and heard are going to be done during our close season in 2012, so you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

At one stage Christmas looked like a nonstarter as Heathrow ground to a halt, and things were looking grim as at least 15 people were stranded! Then the airport pulled its finger out and got people out, the end result being just three people missed the fun including my old mucker Richie McDonald. Richie not making it lost us some of the entertainment this year, and I was surprised he didn’t clear the runway singlehanded! Never mind Richie – see you next year, fella!

Their was no fishing on Christmas Day, which gave some of us the chance to sleep off the effects of falling back home at silly o’clock after a rather eventful Christmas Eve, while the adults among the guests who stayed in or returned to the fold at sensible o’clock played golf. Seven people were due to attend and nearly all made it apart from one drunken stop out by the name of Ian Wright after rolling in at around 5am. At 8am the mayhem began at the first tee, as the first balls started flying into the bushes, including five on the first hole from chubby Scott. The beers also started flying. The budding Tigers in the camp got a proper spanking by Eddie Woods Grey, but I suppose that was better than the septic tank Matt the gardener winning! I was in the former group, as I had to make the sacrifice and make sure the last of the revelers stumbled home safely, plus I hate golf, and I was having my first drink in three months.

The famous Gillhams Christmas party was voted the best yet by our regulars. Adam the cook made a first-rate effort, even managing to avoid burning or overcooking anything (well nearly, because I did notice some charcoal spuds!). Mind you he did need showing how to make Yorkshire puds, plus he had plenty of adult supervision! We had 62 people for the party, and after the spectacular buffet the party went on into the wee hours, with the brilliant Blues Brothers live performance keeping everyone’s toes tapping. Little Jack loved every minute of it and was dancing with all our lady guests till way past his bedtime. The little chap is so like big brother Sean, sneaking around pilfering any drinks within grabbing range. By the time the wee man got to bed he had eaten and drunk so much and shaken it all up with the boogying that he honked up all over our house! I once again fell into bed after polishing off two bottles of champagne plus vast amounts of any other alcoholic substance! If you would like to join the fun in 2011 you had better book early to avoid disappointment, as 12 people have already rebooked!

Boxing Day arrived a bit early for most of us who had very sore heads. Some even managed to come out and fish while others stayed in bed or relaxed around the pool. The day lived up to its name when in the evening our local village hosted a boxing tournament, and some of the best fighters from southern Thailand battled it out for the provinces. All our guests attended the show and the resort even sponsored two local brawlers. It was winner takes all and surprisingly the local judges ruled in the local lads’ favour and they both won! The men and boys fought well, but then it was time for the women to step up and show that the Thai national sport is for both sexes (no sign of Thailand’s third gender though!). The ladies got down and dirty and one of the best fights of the night was between two young ladies, and the prettiest girl won hands down, but as the judges were placing bets the outsider won on points. In a very sporting gesture the alleged winner gave her winnings to the loser. I bet the men wouldn’t have done that!

Anyone thinking that Boxing Day was the last late one of the Christmas break would have been wrong, the 29th December being my daughter Becca’s 30th birthday. Once again the whole resort was dragged out protesting, first to our local club for a superb nosh-up and live music. Half a dozen sensible people went home after the club, but the rest of us tripped the light fantastic down the seedy part of town! The reveling went on into the wee hours ending in yet another hangover, and the next thing we all knew Christmas was over, as was my drinking and bulk-eating spell! Not a bad Christmas, and to only put on 6lb of the hard lost 32lb in a week was something of a result, I suppose!

I had a personal disaster this month when a gang of hungry termites took a shine to my book collection. I kept my lifetime’s collection of fishing books all packed away in a cupboard in my house. I had many signed copies by friends, some of whom are no longer with us, plus rare books that are out of print and 80% were destroyed. If only I had sold them instead of bringing them to Thailand!

If you read our website you will see advice on bits to bring that may give you an edge, like braid for float fishing with a feeder. Small fish knock the feeder around and tangle line so we use braid, but unfortunately in the tropics braid degenerates within a few weeks, which is the reason we do not supply reels loaded with braid so please bring your own (you need 80lb-plus bs) unless you know of a sponsor lurking out there for us!

Poor chubby guide Scott couldn’t buy a fish for his anglers earlier in the month, and was getting paranoid about his failure to put fish in the net for clients. Rather than tiptoeing around the bank he needs to lose some weight, as it’s like a Panzer tank crashing around and scaring every fish within 100 metres! Seriously though the fishing has been tough lately, but those putting in the extra effort are catching some big fish. Ok, not loads, but Gillhams was built as a specimen angler’s location. You can’t have both – if you catch a fish a chuck the water is overstocked and the fish are tatty and never grow. We could go single species and have a lake full of tatty Mekong catfish, but Thailand has lots of those waters and is not what we want to put our name to. Most people fishing more than a week catch a fish of a lifetime, and those who want ten fish or more a day are going home disappointed. If you are one of these anglers who want a huge amount of fish then I am afraid Gillhams is not for you, but if you are the type of angler wanting to chill out in stunning and peaceful surroundings and you are happy catching a few huge fish during your holiday then book now. If you are one of those guys who failed to catch what you hoped for, and in all honesty you can say you fished hard from 7am through to 8pm each day after checking the depths, finding your spot, baiting regularly and listening to our advice, then I can only apologise. Any angler we feel gave it their best shot and failed then we will always offer you a discount to return. If you did not get offered a discount then sorry, but you did not make the effort!

As I am getting into gear it’s probably time for the bit you love, or hate if it’s directed at you – Gillhams Gripe! This part of our newsletter is a bit of fun; we welcome novices here and are very happy to help at whatever level you need help with – the gripe is directed at the moaners and self professed experts. Normal people with normal views have nothing to fear, but an old grumpy git like me will get a slating, as will bullshitters and bigheads!

I often get referred to fish forums to see comments about our fishery. I don’t play on these armchair fishing sites as most of the tossers on them know sod all, hardly go fishing, and make comments about things they know bugger all about! One that did make me chuckle was when a friend directed me to one such site where a guy was stating that I am grumpy. Well, yes folks – I am! I don’t suffer fools, and I am at that stage in life that comes to us all, but what is the young grump’s excuse not get off the sofa and go fishing!

Talking of stay at home anglers who have no track record with big fish, who choose to slag of others or campaign against things to hear their own voice… Certain people in the UK are saying that Gillhams is a goldfish bowl – maybe they should read the catch report that shows differently! Effort equals fish; you have to be in it to win it, and the good anglers, as anywhere, catch more fish. Someone who has not been here and I won’t name, and who I respected and looked at as a friend, has been stating that Gillhams is easy and a joke fishery. When I get home I intend to go and see them and invite them once again to come and try. I suppose once again they will decline for fear of being unable to catch in a goldfish bowl and proving they are a noddy who makes money out of anglers despite hardly ever going fishing!

If you visit here once a year for a couple of days why would you expect a discount as a regular? Or why, just because you came to our fishery, which we created, and you caught a big fish that we stocked, should you get a discount because you made us famous? Then we have the big name anglers, or those who think they are a big name, expecting a freebie… Or the namedroppers – remember a lot of well-known anglers are our friends, and they are the same as all of us – just people! Because you spoke to them once at a show or fished the same lake they did does not make them your mate, and naming them as your mate does not impress us (take note, Pinocchio!).

In the last month the weather has been all over the place. I can only tell you what the weather should be doing during your visit; it’s not my fault if it rains when it should be sunny. If I could control the weather I would be a rich man by holding the world to ransom. Then we have the people who bring their own inadequate rods and tackle, and then go on to complain when we won’t let them use it. Then we have the ones that accept a quotation, pay the deposit, and then when they arrive complain about the price – the list goes on…

Finally if you come here fly fishing bring your own tackle, and especially leader material and flies. Don’t complain to us that we do not supply flies and fluorocarbon. This month I have lent out my 12wt gear to a lot of anglers, and someone cut the whipped loop off the fly line and tied a quadruple granny knot! Was it the same pillock that over-tightened the drag setting, breaking the reel? I have a good idea that it was the guy who wanted to use his 8wt gear and stated that he could land any fish that swims on it even if it takes all day! When I explained to him that with light tackle like this you have to play a fish to exhaustion and it will probably die, his answer was that the fish dying is my problem and all I have to do is go out and buy another one (and they wonder why I’m grumpy!). That’s it then, guys. If you think it’s you in that lot then it probably is, but if you are not in it, you are in the 95% of good guys who we welcome back!

Now onto the catch report for the fishing in Krabi, with a total catch for the month as follows: 28 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to 14 days, and 13 anglers came to fish on day tickets. Between them they caught 357 fish of 22 species, made up as follows: 21 arapaima to 350lb, seven arawana to 8lb, two alligator gar to 15lb, 84 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, 12 Asian red tail catfish to 34lb, six black pacu to 25lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 90lb, three giant snakehead to 6lb, three giant featherback to 12lb, five Julian’s golden prize carp to 45lb, 45 Mekong catfish to 180lb, two mrigal to 7lb, one piraaiba (lau) of 8lb, 16 spotted featherback to 10lb, 113 Siamese carp to 80lb, nine striped snakehead to 3lb, 15 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 30lb, three tiger catfish to 12lb, one tambaqui of 35lb, one wallago attu of 20lb, five wallago leeri to 110lb and one zungaro (jau) of 6lb.

The first guests this month were our good friends Ivan and Terri. Ivan had booked this trip as a surprise for their wedding anniversary, not telling Terri until an hour before they left home. The trip had been booked since March when Ivan sneaked into the Five Lakes show to book, and he also arranged holiday from Terri’s work as a prison officer, and somehow kept the secret from her for all that time. They had a wish list of Mekong catfish, arapaima and Amazon red tail catfish, especially Ivan, who is getting a red tail tattoo wrapped around his body! On the third day of the trip the Mekong started rolling around the baited areas, it was only going to be a matter of time before they latched onto one. When the Mekong got their heads down and started feeding, they landed three between them. Or should it have been three to Terri, as Ivan was spotted taking Terri’s rod to claim one for himself?

The following day Ivan fished the other side of the lake opposite Terri, saying that he wanted to bait one area and both fish the same spot. The truth was Terri had banished him from her swim so she could have a chance of some fish after the previous day’s antics, plus wanting to get some time alone with her new toy boy fishing guide, Gollock! Throughout their trip they both caught some cracking fish; Terri caught three species over 100lb in a day with an arapaima of 150lb, Mekong catfish of 160lb and a lake record wallago leeri of 110lb. We all got ready to take pictures of Terri’s prisoner when the bloody thing grabbed a mouthful of landing net, shook its head and made its jailbreak. I think secretly Terri was relieved, as the wallago has numerous rows of needle sharp teeth. She is trained to control prisoners but not 5ft long slimy critters with a gob full of teeth! (The Wallago, not Gollock!) She topped off this incredible day with a lake record Julian’s golden prize carp of 45lb. On the same day Ivan also had a catch of a lifetime by landing an arapaima of 230lb. By the end of their trip they had caught between them 32 fish of six species with some new PB’s. Terri and Ivan love it so much here because they are part of the family, and every time they leave we have to open the sluice gates as the lake floods with tears!

Rodney Jones from Florida came for just over a week, booking six days’ fishing. Before Rodney’s arrival we were unsure what kind of person to expect due to emails from his worried mum about her son travelling to the other side of the world alone, as he had never even set foot outside Florida in his life. His flight to Thailand with all the stop-offs and changing planes took around 43 hours, and when he got to Krabi we had bets on to what he would look like. I had him down as wearing a sleeveless patterned jumper, bow tie, tweed jacket with arm pads, check trousers, shoes with animal tracks and a compass. The others had their money on a safari suit, with a money pot around his neck, complete with a nametag and hiking boots. We were all very wrong. Rodney was nothing like we had pictured, and to tell the truth he was a really nice, very polite young man dressed sensibly. He was very keen to catch some of the fish he had seen from Gillhams on National Geographic Thai Eden with Zeb Hogan, and he also wanted to learn about them, as one of his hobbies other than fishing is exotic aquariums. Rodney’s first day’s fishing almost made him wish he had never cast out due to hooking into a Mekong of around 100lb that nearly ripped his arms out of their sockets. The next day Rodney was still feeling the pain from his tussle with the Mekong, so he decided to chill out and go on one of Krabi’s many day trips. Over the next few days Rodney really got into his fishing and along with another Mekong catfish he also caught two arapaima with the biggest going 150lb, smashing his previous personal best fish, which was an 8lb large mouth bass. By the end of the trip Rodney had landed nine fish of six species and is already planning his return trip.

Ok people, yes, you guessed it – now it’s time once again for Mike Bailey’s monthly review. This month Mike didn’t catch as many fish, but also he wasn’t here as much as previous months, only managing two trips in four weeks! He did manage a new species when he caught one of our newer residents in the lake, a zungaro or jau catfish at 6lb on worm. Also while here Mike managed to get on top of the featherbacks. He has been targeting this super looking mini species for a while, catching three one day plus a fourth the following day. They all took a liking to the Canadian night crawler worms he had brought with him. This month Mike also bought along all his own gear such as a rod pod, reels, end tackle and a large variety of bait, and is now just waiting for his own rods to arrive. Now Mike is buying all his own equipment, Chubby Richard Foster of Fosters of Birmingham will make his second million!

We have no pictures of Gillhams’ other resident angler, John Duffy who also made a pre-Christmas appearance. He had his worst ever trip to Gillhams only catching five fish of two species. John is experienced enough to know you can’t always clean up, and made the most of chilling out, getting pissed and eating his way through the menu!

Our dear friends Wil and Betty from Holland returned this month, we have no pictures as Will was suffering a cold and did not wish to get wet. This lovely couple attend fishing shows throughout Holland for us, with the next being the Zwolle show on the 5/6th February at stand 15.Wil hadn’t long been home from his latest big fish hunt to Guiana where he was out targeting the piraaiba (lau), they are the second largest catfish in the world behind the mighty Mekong catfish. While here Will was not feeling so good due to the cold weather conditions back in freezing Europe, but managed to fish every day bar one. During Wil’s trip he caught 11 fish of four species including a piraaiba, but at the moment they are nowhere near the size he was catching in Guiana where he caught one of 200lb-plus. He has now caught them from three countries and two continents, which must be a record. It will be interesting to see what the piraaiba do in a lake, as we are the first lake to stock them. He also caught a few nice carp and a couple of featherbacks. Wil was just happy chilling out with Betty and any fish that he caught was a bonus. At the end of the trip he left us all a special Christmas gift – his stinking flu. Cheers, Wil!

Perry Lewis also joined us this month after planning and saving and reading all the newsletters and the website inside out for the last two years. Perry was almost as mad on fishing as he is on Chelsea, with tattoos all over him making him look like the Chelsea hall of fame (he could at least support a proper team like West Ham!). The first few days poor Perry caught sod all, and it was looking like he would have to be offered a free trip. We hate seeing people struggle when the lake switches off; it makes us feel guilty, as we know how much people have looked forward to their well-earned break. Perry then moved swims and got on the fish, catching a couple of the species that he wanted with Mekong catfish to 100lb and an arapaima of 90lb. At the end of his stay Perry had managed eight fish of five species, plus dropping a fair few along the way due to hook pulls.

Kent Fox from America booked two days fishing while passing through Krabi and found out exactly why we tell people who come here that Gillhams is a big fish venue and not a runs water. Kent’s first day’s fishing was slow and he only caught one small snakehead even though he had plenty of fish rolling over his baits. The next day Kent was fishless until 6:30pm, when his bite alarm screamed, and after a 30-minute battle he landed a 340lb arapaima. After photos had been taken and the arapaima safely released the rods went back out and ten minutes later he caught a Mekong catfish of 130lb. With just 15 minutes left Kent cast back out, then with three minutes to go his rod baited with boilie rattled off and he landed a Siamese carp of 24lb leaving him a very happy angler. So it just goes to show that if you keep on fishing and baiting the right areas and don’t give up, your fish of a lifetime can come at any moment!

Matt Mee from England came for ten nights with six days’ fishing, and as is normal when visiting Gillhams he ended up fishing all ten days! While here he caught nine different species, despite the lake being in a slump due to changing weather conditions. Even though the fish numbers were down the big fish were still playing, and even some of the rarer species could get to the bait. Matt caught 25 fish including Siamese carp to 80lb, Mekong catfish to 130lb, spotted and giant featherbacks to 12lb plus Julian’s golden prize carp, arapaima and a few others. At the end of Matt’s stay he was unsure whether or not he would make it home due to the snow and ice at all the airports in Europe, but at least he was stuck on the right side of the world!

Talking of the bad weather, Eddie and Lynne Grey arrived at Heathrow and checked in their luggage only to wait 24 hours before being sent home. Eventually they arrived a week late and had to cut their trip to just a week. Poor Eddie’s bad luck continued as the fish went off the feed, leaving him with just eleven fish of five species. Eddie had planned a romantic night and day away on Railay beach with Lynne, but he hadn’t done his homework as he booked a night at the youth hostel on the side of Railay crowded with hippies and partying youngsters! His golf was OK though as he slaughtered the opposition on Boxing Day. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without regulars Eddie and Lynn, and they have already booked next Christmas, so let’s hope the weather and fish are kinder to them next year.

Our other regular Christmas guests, Ashley and Jeremy, just beat the bad weather, leaving Holland hours before the weather shut the airport down. Last Christmas they bought their mum over, and this year it was dad Rene’s turn. Unfortunately the fish were playing hard to catch, and they only managed 26 fish of four species between them. We hope the poor fishing has not put them off returning, as their company would be sorely missed – maybe the food was also a bit spicy for Ashley, as he even struggled with the ice cream!

Another Christmas regular, Graham The Cyclist Jones returned. Playing it a bit more cool this visit, he booked the bungalow only and fished odd hours between his day trips and golf. He probably made the right move by just fishing the productive times; he landed 17 fish of four species including a cracking PB arapaima of 350lb.

Keith Franzack also made his return trip for Christmas and followed Graham’s lead just fishing odd hours between chilling out around the pool and sleeping off hangovers! Keith caught 21 fish of five species including seven Mekong catfish, the biggest going 120lb.

We had two couples here for their first Christmas with us who booked next Christmas before leaving. The first couple, Paul and Michele fitted in with everyone and helped make Christmas special. Michele soon teamed up with the other ladies here and boosted our drink sales accordingly! As the drink flowed so did the confessions, and it turns out these two run the bar at a News of the World featured St Albans nudist camp. This place apparently specializes in bondage evenings with Miss Whiplash, etc etc! The more drink they had, the more they slipped up. Christ knows what happens at these places, but apparently if you get a bottle stuck where bottles shouldn’t be stored you just tap the bottle and it loses its suction! Maybe that’s why they called each other poppet! What with drunken confessions and pool parties and a lake fishing at its worst since we opened Paul managed to extract just six fish of four species, but he was not perturbed and booked a return next Christmas. When we asked Michele for her camera card I mentioned a couple having embarrassing pictures on theirs, and for some reason she went round the corner and checked her camera card before giving it to us! Sean and I have been invited to the infamous St Albans colony when we are in the UK, so watch out for a full report in March newsletter!

Ian Wright arrived next with the Christmas entertainment, his partner, ‘pissy pants’ Anne Godfrey the incontinent tenner lady! This couple, along with Eddie, Lynne, Paul and Michele are the kind of people who make Christmas at Gillhams so special. With these three couples rebooked for Christmas 2011, plus Ritchie returning, the entertainment is guaranteed. I must just mention one of the many Essex girl bloopers that Anne said, when she spotted a lovely ‘Muriel on the wall’! Ian started slowly on the fishing front but rallied well at the end for a final tally of 16 fish of eight species with the best being two arapaima to 130lb and a 70lb Mekong catfish.

Before bringing this newsletter to a close I must mention chubby guide Scott. This guy really needs to go to fat camp! In an attempt to lose weight he managed to persuade Sean to part with some dollar (which is some achievement!), and he bought Scott a punch bag for Christmas. All it needed was filling up with sand and a picture of Pinocchio on it, and Chubby could get exercising! So what does bloody Chubby do? He filled it up with breadcrumbs just in case he needs a snack while working out! Scott went through a blanking streak not only with his customers but also his own fishing at the start of the month, but later on things started to change but only for his customers, as Scott himself was still feeling the harsh side of fishing. Fishing on his days off Scott’s first few sessions went as well as Gary Glitter taking up child minding, and he was starting to get some stick around the lake! Then things finally went right for the chubby fella and he landed six fish in a day including the spotted featherback that he had been targeting for some time. He caught three on worms left by Mike, with the biggest going around 8lb, which isn’t bad considering the world record is only 12lb. He also landed a Siamese carp and a tiger catfish, and then just as it was getting close to the final whistle he caught a nice red tail catfish of 45lb. Scott, being the gay he is, decided to put his favourite pink sunglasses on its head for the photo.

Also among the staff fishing this month was Brown Finger Matt the special needs gardener. Matt was one of the main jokers against Scott as every time he fished he was catching. On one of Matt’s fishing days, much to Scott’s delight, he had fished all day and caught nothing, but then with 30 minutes to go Matt had a screaming run that left his reel smoking, and it turned out to be a Chao Phraya catfish! It was one of the big girls estimated at around 90lb, which a little over a year ago would have been a new world record.

That’s it for another month, so thanks for reading our fishing in Thailand report. Sorry if you didn’t make the newsletter, but as always I have run out of space, so just be thankful you did not make the gripe! Don’t forget to make a note in your diary of the 5/6th February Zwolle show in Holland, stand 15 opposite Korda Tackle. I am not at this show, but see Wil and Betty who will answer all your questions.

Also make a note of the 5/6th March Carpin’ On show at Five Lakes in Essex, where we will be on stand 125 opposite the bar. Sean is with me, and we drink lager! We will be holding a raffle for a trip to Gillhams plus other prizes, so book your holiday and pay the deposit at any of the shows for a 20% discount.
If you can’t make that one, we are at the Farnborough show the week after, stand number to be confirmed. The last show before returning to paradise will be the Visma in Holland from the 31st March to 3rd of April sharing a stand with RV Henglesports.

Dates for 2011 are filling up fast with many weeks fully booked, so you need to book early to avoid disappointment, especially for Christmas, June and August. For enquiries email or phone Stuart on +66 (0)861644554.
Best wishes from Stuart and all the team at Gillhams.