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Krabi newsletter February 2011

Hi once again to all our readers of the Krabi newsletter, and once again my apologies for a late and short newsletter. This is due to my being busy in the UK with trade shows, plus having my little son Jack with me in England due to his mum not being well. To say life is hectic would be an understatement; I have never looked forward more to going home to Thailand and our yearly close down from the 25th April through to the 1st June.

The fishing in Krabi for February has been slower than normal, but as I write this we are getting some nice rainstorms in the evenings, which are cooling the water and perking the fishing up. Sean and I left Thailand on the 25th of February and had two days relaxing and having a mini holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Jack. Day one was the zoo and day two was shopping for warm clothes for the little fella. We stayed at the Sheraton Towers and Jack loved the evening cocktails with snacks and his favourite fruit, strawberries. All the guests took a shine to the wee man running riot, but with cream coloured seats and carpets the staff were glad to see the back of us. Jack thought the new pink tinge looked good though! Then it was off to the cold UK, and arriving at Stansted Sean and I soon realized why we left what was once called Great Britain. The United Kingdom is a very fitting description, but I will stop here before I get onto my soapbox!

Next month Scott will be sending me the report for the fishing in Thailand, and I will be reporting on the shows and drunken antics of certain fishing celebrities, plus some great pictures of achy shaky Ritchie McDonald at the Echo evening!

Our Mandarin ducks lasted a whole four weeks: first to be got was Mr. Duck followed the day after by Mrs. Duck, and we believe the wallago leeri are responsible for their disappearance. Despite being in a sectioned off area of the lake, some beast of the deep broke through the plastic netting and snaffled the unfortunate couple! We will not be replacing the ducks, as at £250 a pair it was an expensive experiment. Next time we will have to try hippopotami, but at the rate our monsters are growing I wouldn’t rate their chances much either!

Gillhams Gripe is shorter this month, but next month I will be exposing a liar of the lowest form, plus moaning about life in the UK! My main gripe this month is rudeness. Why do people talk to our staff like shit – get this, do that, with no please or thank you, or ordering dishes in the restaurant that they have never tried, then complaining because they don’t like them? Remember certain Thai dishes vary considerably depending on the chef and which area of Thailand the chef hails from, and we change dishes without hesitating if you are not happy, so why do some nerds keep bloody moaning?

Some clients ask our guides for something then get upset when the guide doesn’t run and fetch it immediately. We still get people expecting the guides to cast, bait up and strike their fish, and getting angry when they have to wait. Please remember our staff are trying their hardest to keep many people happy, so have patience and be polite you will find it makes a hell of a difference to the service you receive back. When you order something from our Thai staff and they get it wrong, instead of getting cross, order it in Thai so that way there is no confusion!

Many anglers come here with a dream of catching an arapaima, but there is no guarantee of catching one; they are special fish, and as they get fished for more they are becoming cleverer. When you stand on the skyline or have tight lines cast across the lake they are aware of your presence. When we advise you to hide behind bankside cover back from the water’s edge and only make a cast at a showing fish, creeping quietly around the lake with one rod and a bag of bait, why then do people then stand at the water’s edge in bright clothes, with a rod cast out hoping for a bonus fish while waiting for an arapaima to stick his head up? I have seen guys stalking for arapaima sitting in a chair on the edge of a swim with a bright orange bait bucket in front of them, with two rods cast out seriously believing that the arapaima is not aware of them as they are sitting down!

Then we had Amazon Man who cast out at 7am, slept till 12, then recast and slept again until 4pm. He reckoned he couldn’t have worked any harder and the swim was crap – mind you, he did cast twice more before 8pm! We also keep getting guys asking for free trips in return for writing a magazine article about the resort, but most of the articles you see in magazines have been written without a freebie. If a magazine contacts us with the promise of a feature then yes we will consider a deal, but if you are hoping to get an article accepted then don’t ask for a freebie. We even get people turning up with their Argos DVD recorder claiming to be making a movie for a TV company! Get real – all the professionals contact us first with a firm plan and presentation.

That’s enough rambling for this month, so it’s on to the catch report for the fishing in Krabi, with a total catch for the month as follows: 42 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to 14 days, and 20 anglers came to fish on day tickets. Between them they caught 381 fish of 21 species, made up as follows: 12 arapaima to 340lb, six arawana to 8lb, two alligator gar to 20lb, 162 Amazon red tail catfish to 65lb, 15 Asian red tail catfish to 25lb, nine black pacu to 25lb, one black shark carp of 8lb, one giant featherback of 8lb, three giant snakehead to 6lb, three Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, 32 Mekong catfish to 170lb, two mrigal of 9lb, one piraaiba (lau) of 10lb, five spotted featherback to 8lb, 81 Siamese carp to 80lb, eight striped snakehead to 3lb, 25 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 30lb, nine tiger catfish to 12lb,one wallago attu of 12lb, two wallago leeri to 15lb and one zungaro of 8lb.

John Bevan the original Kent Particles owner and long time friend came for three weeks with Paul Jones. Way back in the dark ages when I was fishing in the Colne Valley I wrote a chapter in Rob Maylin’s book, Bazil’s Bush, and I described an incident in the book that involved my old mate John. Since those distant days we have both gone on to own our own fisheries, and John is part owner with Paul of their 20-acre lake in France called Cas-En-Lac. On their arrival it all started as it was to carry on with plenty of beer and exchanging old stories of madness and mayhem back in the old fishing days. We had some wild nights out down the town at my local watering holes along with introducing the lads to my local landlord, Amy! Bevo found it hard to come to grips with the landlord being the best looking girl in town, and when he met Amy he even had a recurrence of the incident mentioned in the book! (Sorry, you will need to buy the book to get the story – Bazil’s Bush available from

The first couple of days John and Paul spent their time chilling out around the pool, but they soon found that sitting in the bar drinking beer was the best place to check the lake out. By bribing other anglers with drinks they found the best swim to plot up in and start fishing. The first couple of days were slow but they picked up a few fish on their own bait that they had brought with them from John’s bait company. Even though their boilies were good, they found out that, as we tell everyone, the resort boilies work best as the fish see around 150kg of them a week. Fished over beds of maize is the way forward here, and once the intrepid duo got onto the method their catch rate improved. Being a pair of piss heads, 7am starts were just a dream, but they were here for a holiday as well as fishing, which is exactly what Gillhams is about. They both fished most days as well as fitting in day trips such as elephant trekking, sea canoeing and the hot spring and waterfalls, and a few hours here and there walking around town and checking out what the beach resort town of Ao-Nang had to offer.

Bevo is certainly getting past his sell by date as the Alzheimer’s sets in. One day I was talking with him when he got a run, and upon ambling up to his rods, even though the offending rod was bouncing in the rest and the alarm was screaming with the spool turning like a Catherine wheel, the silly old bastard still struck the wrong rod! Due to being the last people out of the bar every night and fitting fishing in around trips, hangovers, etc, they still caught 42 fish of six species between them. Paul wanted, amongst other fish, a big Siamese carp of which he caught four, with the biggest going 80lb. He also landed Mekong catfish to 160lb and arapaima to 80lb in his six species haul of 20 fish. John caught the biggest fish of the trip when he landed a cracking 300lb arapaima. Mekong catfish to 150lb and Amazon red tail catfish to 55lb were also in his 22-fish haul of five species. At the end of their stay all that was left to do was pay the bar bill, which will keep the resort wages sorted for the next six months.

Glen Trumper and wife Ann booked their two-week stay through Angling Direct and mixed the fishing with a holiday by booking six days fishing, leaving the rest of the holiday for going on island trips, elephant trekking, visiting the tiger temple, hot springs and the waterfalls. During Glen’s fishing he landed a total of 27 fish of seven species, with his biggest being a 50lb Siamese carp. Unfortunately he lost three arapaima, but he did manage to land one of our rare black shark carp.

Dave and Clair Peacock made a return trip after spending their honeymoon here last year. On their arrival it was hard for Dave to control himself from not fishing straight away. It was around 4pm and coming into some good fishing hours, but after a few deep breaths Dave was able to make his way with Clair to the bungalow and spend a few hours with her before going to dinner followed by an early night, eagerly awaiting the morning to wet his line. While Dave was fishing Clair would just chill out reading books in the sun and swimming in the pool enjoying the peace and quiet, apart from the occasional call from Dave to take a picture of his latest catch. By the end of their stay Dave was happy with what he had caught. Even though he didn’t catch large numbers of fish, he did land some different species, the biggest being a Mekong catfish weighing in at around 110lb. Dave landed nine fish of eight species, which included new species for him, shovel nose tiger catfish, arawana, and snakehead, plus Dave also became one of only a handful of people who have caught a piraaiba catfish in Thailand and probably only a few hundred in the world.

Terry Knight and his wife came for a five-night stay after visiting last year for a day’s fishing, accompanied by friends David Flynn, Kevin Shore and their wives. During their trip all three fished well between day trips, etc. The lads were up for trying some new ideas, which led to some nice catches including Mekong catfish to 150lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 60lb and Siamese carp to 55lb. By the end of the trip they landed 45 fish of eight species between them. David Flynn ended up king of the red tails after landing 22 with the biggest being 56lb. Terry Knight, writer for the Angling Times, also had some nice catches and went on to land Amazon red tail catfish, Siamese carp, and his biggest fish, a Mekong catfish weighing in at 85lb. Kevin Shore was top rod out of the group, landing 16 fish of eight species including Amazon red tail catfish to 60lb, Mekong catfish to 150lb and Siamese carp to 55lb.

Doug Pryke once again came to Gillhams, this time with his family while they were all over for Doug’s wedding. He only had a couple of days’ fishing between an island trip with a private boat and spending time with the family. While here four out of the 11 fished and all caught, but as it was Doug’s wedding he was allowed to be top rod and landed nine fish of five species with his biggest being a Mekong catfish of 110lb. The others caught Siamese carp, red tail catfish and an arawana.

Dave and Julie Jones returned once again for ten days. Well, Julie returned for ten days, but Dave is staying on with us as a fishing guide until the end of April. Over the ten days Dave spent the days on trips with Julie, just fishing odd hours in the evenings. Being the capable angler he is Dave still landed 17 fish of three species with Mekong catfish to 120lb plus Amazon red tail catfish to 60lb. We are pleased to have Dave as valid member of the team and hopefully will become a regular guide at Gillhams, but I do wish he would shave off the dodgy moustache!

John Found and Dave Cook once again joined us for another two weeks accompanied by their wives and also Dave’s daughter and her boyfriend. They caught the lake in one of its moods, and due to the hot conditions the fish were being cagey, but John did manage a personal best Mekong catfish of 160lb on his last day of the trip. During the trip Dave and John landed 29 fish of seven species. John landed Siamese carp, arawana, pacu, shovel nosed spotted sorubim and Amazon red tail catfish to 50lb. Dave also caught some good fish with the best being a Mekong catfish of 110lb and Siamese carp to 70lb. They are both planning a return trip for October 2012 when the weather is cooler.

The last show of the tour for us will be the Visma at the Ahoy centre in Rotterdam, where we will be on my old mate Ronnie’s stand – RV Henglesport from The Hague. For all our Dutch clients, do come and see us, as we will be discounting holidays for all bookings with deposits taken at the show. Don’t take any advice on fishing from Ronald though, as he can only catch Amazon red tail catfish. He has even gained a new name of “Ronnie the Red Tail”. Ronald came for a week’s stay leaving his tackle shop in the capable hands of Jan, the brains of the outfit, accompanied by his wife Bianca and their daughter, plus friend John and his wife. While here John and Ronnie managed to get some fishing done in between drinking Singha beer, chilling out in the pool and relaxing in the restaurant. As John started catching a few fish of various species, Red Tail Ronnie was making his way through all of the Amazon red tail catfish in the lake. The only different species that came to visit him were when he was visiting the toilet and Bianca was left to show him how it was done. During their stay John and Ronald managed to land 26 fish between them of six species, and Bianca even landed the biggest fish of Ronald’s that was, yes, you guessed it, an Amazon red tail catfish. John was top rod out of the two by landing 14 fish of six species with his best fish a Siamese carp of 55lb. After their stay it was off to Ao-Nang for a week’s beach holiday, meeting up again for Stuarts 57th birthday celebrations and one more half day at the lake later on in the week when Ronnie once again caught a red tail.

This month we finally got to meet Norman and Eileen who supply all our steaks, bacon, sausages and pies. Norman is a retired butcher from Yorkshire who got fed up with the lack of quality produce in Thailand and started up the firm, Yorkies. Based in Pattaya, they supply all over Thailand including some of the top-end supermarkets. Norman had not been well and has just returned from hospital back in the UK, so Eileen insisted on him taking a break with us. Whether battling with our monsters could be classed as a break, at least Norman got some time away from the business, his best fish being a 60lb Amazon red tail catfish. Eileen, not to be outdone, went 100lb better than Norman with a fine 160lb Mekong. She also shared some secret recipes for pastries with Becca, so it looks like I will put on more weight!

We had two separate Russian visitors this month. Igor came for a day, hoping to catch an arapaima. He new that it was a tall order for a day, but knew you have to be in it to win it! The lads put him in a swim where the arapaima had been rolling the day before. He followed the lads’ advice to the letter and achieved his dream with a cracking 160lb fish. Igor was followed by fellow countryman Oleg accompanied by his delightful wife Natalia. They came for a day and then returned for another day after being smitten with the fish and surroundings at Gillhams. They landed eight fish between them of six species with the best fish to Oleg in the shape of a 170lb arapaima. These three Russians restored our faith in the Russian people, proving that just like everywhere else in the world there are good and bad people. They were a pleasure to fish with and listened to all the advice given to them; they were polite and respectful, and proved that if you come here with the right attitude your dreams can come true.

Matt Tong was travelling around Asia with his girlfriend when he decided to have a day’s fishing here at Gillhams. On his arrival he was mad keen to get started as he only had one day to catch a fish of a lifetime. We explained to him how tough the fishing can be, but he was buzzing with anticipation, and after just two hours Matt struck into a fish, which was obviously big. The fish didn’t even know it was hooked and just kept plodding down the lake, and all Matt could do was hold on and wait until the beast had no more lake ahead. As it turned around he started gaining line until it passed him on its way to the other end of the lake. 50 minutes later the battle was over and Matt landed a 120lb Mekong catfish. This was going to be Matt’s special day, as later on he was into another Mekong, but this one wasn’t like the first and was landed in under 30 minutes at 60lb. As the day was approaching its end the alarm screamed its warning for a third and final time, and after another epic struggle Matt’s excitement was at bursting point when into the cage rolled an arapaima of 280lb, topping off an exceptional day. He had achieved in a day what some people wish for in a week, which just goes to show when the fishing is tough dreams can still come true.

Jake Bojayer, an Australian chef who has made appearances on TV, was on holiday in Phuket with his girlfriend when he decided to drive to Krabi for his last day and night in Thailand and have a go at catching a monster. As it takes a couple of hours to drive from Phuket, Jake and his other half arrived at 9am to find that the lake was nearly full, but as they were only staying one night their was availability, so luckily it wasn’t a wasted drive. Jake was fishing by 10am and was into his first fish within an hour; a Siamese carp of 30lb. Jake was tortured for the next few hours by arapaima and other species rolling in front of him, but the only action came from line bites as the fish were sticking their fins up at him. Then at 5pm one of Jake’s bite alarms screamed off and as he struck the rod it was flattened, and the fish was off down the lake, swimming up and down the back of the weeds. Jake forgot to lower his rod to keep the line under the rootless weeds, resulting in the fish becoming stuck. Sean ran around the other side of the lake and leapt into the lake to free the line, and soon Jake was able to carry on with the fish himself. After getting the fish away from the weed it showed itself, and everybody who had gathered to see the action were in disbelief as a huge arapaima rolled that was looking well in the 200lb bracket. 15 minutes later and Jake landed the arapaima, which was even bigger than the first estimates – it was recognised by its distinctive colours and markings as a 340lb monster, rewarding Jake with his biggest ever fish.

That wraps up another fishing in Thailand newsletter, and by the time most of you read this I will be travelling home. Spaces for 2011 are filling up, so book your Thailand fishing holiday sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment. To book email us at or phone +66861644554. Should you not get an answer within 48 hours of emailing us please resend your message, as recently emails have not been reaching us.

Many thanks for reading and supporting our newsletters, and after next month they should get back out on time. Best wishes from all at Gillhams, and we hope to see you soon.