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Krabi newsletter February 2013

Well hello everybody and welcome to the Gillhams Fishing Resorts newsletter for February 2013. As you know, Stuart and Sean have been on the piss… oops, sorry… I meant advertising the fishing in Thailand in roadshows across Europe. Stuart doesn’t look much different, but I know they went up north to God’s country and did a talk to the Wigan Pike Anglers Club. Now for those who don’t know Wigan, it is very famous for its meat pies and a Wigan kebab is six meat pies on a skewer. Anyway, it looks like Sean visited every pie shop in the area, as he appears to be sporting a few more chins than when he left and now resembles Johnny Vegas from the PG Tips advert. I love Sean to bits and he is always one for playing practical jokes. When I told him I had damaged my knee and could he pick me up some anti-inflammatory tablets, he promptly returned from Krabi Town with a small packet of pills for me with the instruction to take only one tablet a day. Now not really being the most trusting person where Sean is involved, I looked up the chemical name on Google and to my delight found he had given me a packet of anti-histamine tablets! Suffice to say, ladies and gents, I no longer sneeze, but my knee still hurts! Anyway, Stuart asked me to put this month’s exotic fishing in Thailand newsletter together, so here goes… I sincerely hope I don’t offend anybody, but just in case I do, you can write in to the following web address with any complaints…

For those who don’t know me, it’s Geoff here, the only northerner that works at Gillhams and therefore the only person who can read or write, so I guess that’s how I got the job! (Well, I suppose in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king! – Phil, the proofreader/turd polisher…). Those that do know me will be amazed how I have managed to stay awake long enough to put this together, as I am very partial to a wee sleep on the bank, and many photos will no doubt surface in future newsletters to confirm my unusual sleep patterns.

For all those statisticians out there who are interested in statistics, the following fish have been caught fishing in Krabi during the month of February… 32 arapaima to 380lb, six arawana to 8lb, five alligator gar to 70lb, 155 Amazon red tails to 80lb, 53 Asian red tails to 40lb, one big head carp of 18lb, four black pacu to 25lb, five spotted featherback to 8lb, one firewood catfish of 20lb, four Chao Phraya catfish to 105lb, two Julian’s golden carp to 26lb, 72 Mekong catfish to 230lb, one ripsaw catfish of 35lb, one rohu of 8lb, 108 Siamese carp to 110lb, one sorubim of 40lb, two wallago leeri to 8lb. This totals 512 fish of 18 different species.

So what’s new? Well, Joel Fennell (you know him… the bald one) left this morning for the UK for a well-earned rest. He tells me he is going to spend his time fishing various lakes, including the famous Redmire Pool, with many of the guests that have visited Gillhams including Terry Eustace, Jerry Hammond and Spug Redfern to name but a few. Joel was in charge of the fishery while Stuart and Sean were away and needless to say he did a “grand job” as we say up north when we are not racing our whippets or watching Coronation Street! Seriously, Joel is a top bloke, 100% dedicated to ensuring the customers at Gillhams catch the fish of their dreams. Put that together with the fact that he is a fantastic guide, a great angler and also a really nice bloke, and you can tell that we are all going to miss him while he is away. It’s nice to know that he will be back here in the middle of April to carry on where he left off. Enjoy yourself, mate.

Also Becca, aka “Facebook” Gillham (cue roll of the eyes, blow out of the cheeks, large sigh) left today to return to the UK. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, but one of the reasons she is going home is to undertake further hospital tests, and I’m sure we all wish her well and she gets the results she deserves. Becca had a lot of responsibility when her dad was away and she didn’t let him down. I don’t know how many times I tried to slip in a food order for myself, which wasn’t on the staff menu, and not once did I get it past her. She certainly is looking after her inheritance, that’s for sure! Good luck Becca and see you soon.

On a sad note, John Anderson, a new guide, started in early January, and unfortunately John got the sad news that his father was extremely ill and so booked his flight home immediately. Things got worse for John as he received the tragic news that his father had passed away before he had left the fishery. In his short time here John proved to be a fantastic guide, always willing to go the extra mile for the customers and amazing everyone as he set about finding features on the lake that most of us didn’t even know about. We all know that John can’t wait to get back here, and he simply is too good a guide to not have back, so I’m sure we will see him return to Gillhams very soon.

On to the fishery… The new extension is nearly half full now, and I know Stuart was praying for rain while he was away, but it wasn’t to be. We have probably only had half a day’s rain in the last six weeks in Krabi, nevertheless floating hyacinth have been placed in the extension to filter the water to help bring it to the same quality as the main lake prior to the two waters being joined together.

The lake’s centre causeway is being removed between the 19th September and the 5th October. The fishing will still be available on the bungalow side, and within a few days also on the new part of the lake. In past experience every time a machine is digging the fishing is good, especially around the working area, as food is being dislodged all the time. We expect the fishing to be good, but in the unlikely event of the fish not feeding then a return trip will be offered with no charge for fishing or bungalow for the same period as booked this time. Booking during this period we are offering a 50% discount from our website prices, and as we are only selling limited places during this period we strongly advise to book ASAP.

Some will say the lake has fished slowly this month with many anglers struggling to find the fish, however when I look at the statistics, anglers who put the work in, stick to their tactics and build up their swim still get their rewards. Proof of the pudding is Lawrence “Casper” King who came to Gillhams for the very first time for two weeks and ended up with an impressive total of nine Mekong to 220lb, 23 Siamese carp to 95lb, two arapaima to 280lb, five Amazon red tails to 50lb, four Asian red tails to 25lb, and two featherbacks to 6lb… not exactly a fishery that isn’t fishing well is it? The only surprise was how Lawrence could spend all that time catching fish in temperatures reaching 110 degrees F and still go home whiter than when he came. If this man had pink eyes he could easily pass as a white rabbit – just look at the photographs if you don’t believe me!

On the subject of the fishing being slow, where else in the world can you catch Siamese carp to over a 100lb? This happened three times during February. First up was Ray Akehurst, a true gent and Englishman now living in Shanghai. Ray’s dream was to catch a Siamese from Gillhams that was over the magical 100lb mark, and he managed it on his second visit. After catching quite a few fish touching 90lb he finally landed one at 105lb, and although we tried to kid him and say it was a scraper 99, there’s no doubt about it, he got his dream fish. Ray also managed to break his own personal best on many other species, landing one Mekong to 90lb, three arapaima to 180lb, 14 Amazon red tails to 75lb, eight Asian red tails to 30lb, one arawana to 8lb, one tiger shovelnose to 8lb and the most sought after ripsaw catfish to 25lb… Quite a trip!

Next up was Ann McIntosh and her husband Gordon, affectionately known as “Mac”. Ann and Mac arrived quite late in the day, and although Ann was a bit tired from the flight, Mac decided to join a few of the lads for a few drinks in Ao Nang. For some reason we got split up, and the next time we saw Mac was at 6.15 in the morning. The guides were having a cup of tea when he rolled up at the restaurant looking a little worse for wear after spending a night on the park bench outside McDonalds. We all told him that Ann was going to give him the biggest rollicking of his life, and all Mac could say was “She’d better have the kettle on.” Now there’s a man with balls!

Ann soon got her own back on her first day of fishing, expertly guided by her adopted son Joel, when she landed a Siamese carp of 110lb. This was a known fish, which had been caught and weighed by Stuart in January, and she was over the moon. Ann also went on to catch one Mekong to 130, four Amazon red tails to 45lb, four Asians red tails including a true specimen of 40lb, and to top it off she managed to land another fish that doesn’t come out that often – a Julian’s golden carp at 18lb.

To prove how well we care for the fish here at Gillhams, Ann’s carp was quickly photographed and returned to the water with the minimum amount of stress placed on it, so much so the same fish carried on feeding and was caught by a another fortunate angler Steve Gillbank, who managed to land the old girl the very next day whilst on a three-day trip from Phuket.

Matt (Skip) Keogh, a close personal friend of mine, came to Gillhams this month. Matt, who can usually be found invading football pitches at the United and City derby is an ex-colleague of mine from the Fire and Rescue Service and is also a member of the United Kingdom Search and Rescue team where he has to rescue people from under collapsed buildings, searching every nook and cranny in order to locate injured casualties in many earthquake sites across the world. You can imagine then why it is mystifying when this specialist can’t seem to find his way to his own room after a night out… probably due to his love for Heineken!

Matt is an accomplished pike angler back home, but in his short visit here he managed to beat his personal best by 280lb when he hooked into a 320lb arapaima, and the grin on his face when the fish was in the net is the main reason why I love working at this magical place. He also caught Amazon red tails to 65lb, but the elusive Siamese carp eluded him. But like we say to everyone, “It’s good to have a reason to come back.” Thanks for coming, mate…

Father and son Tony and Greg William from the Midlands came to battle with the Mekong, and it’s fair to say Greg didn’t know what hit him when he hooked into his first one, trying to play a softly-softly approach. Some four hours later when he suffered a hook pull and he had walked up and down the lake twice and wiped out the whole fishery to the groans of fellow anglers, a tired Greg vowed he never wanted to see another Mekong again. Next day, another Mekong, and Greg was on his daily walk up and down the lake when he had another hook pull, this time after just three hours!

Crys of “Man up” echoed around the lake, and as the days went by Greg realised he had to bully the fish. The power of the Mekong has to be seen to be believed; it is a war of attrition, and the fish will win every time if you let them. Throughout the holiday, Greg’s angling skills improved and he got his time down to around 45 minutes, which is about the average for one of the world’s most powerful freshwater fish. Greg finished up with a total of 15 fish, which included three Mekong to 90lb and four Asian red tails to 25lb. Not to be outdone, father Tony showed his son how it was done, bagging 18 fish including nine Amazon red tails to 70lb, Mekong to 130 and Siamese carp to 60lb.

Next up were regular visitors to Gillhams Jan and Tineke Van De Berg from Holland. Jan is a mammoth of a man with a personality to match, and many a morning you could hear him with his deep voice shouting at his guide, i.e. me, saying “Asshole! Where are the fish?” Jan didn’t catch as many fish as he usually does when he comes to the fishery, but his smile never left his face. He was always laughing and enjoying himself and it was a pleasure to guide with such a top man. He even gave me a piggyback while walking up the lake playing a Mekong!

Now then, it would be remiss of me to not carry on the tradition of a Gillham’s Gripe section, so I asked all of the guides, “What winds you up as a fishing guide at Gillhams?” These are just a few of the comments…

Why do some customers forget to say please and thank you to the guides? It costs nothing and goes a long way, you know. Why do customers blame everybody and everything because they have not caught a fish? Do they not realise that we want them to catch as much as they do? Why do some customers who lose a fish blame the tackle? All the tackle at Gillhams is some of the best tackle the fishing world has to offer and more than capable of landing any fish that swims in the lake. Why are some customers happy to have the guide Spomb their swims, put bait on their hook, cast out their rods, sometimes go into the lake and walk the fish down the lake, and then finally hand the rod back to the customer for the last few minutes, when they then land the fish and take the photograph for the customer so they can say, “I caught such and such”? Surely there is more pleasure in doing that yourself, isn’t there? Why do some of our European counterparts insist on turning up at the fishery wearing the shortest and tightest pair of lycra shorts on the market? This job is hard enough without being subjected to someone’s meat and two veg. Please note all customers… fishing shorts should be baggy and reach the knees on all occasions… we guides have feelings, you know! And finally, why do some customers not turn the volume down on their indicators when the guide is trying to have a nap! It’s very inconsiderate!!

And a few other tips for customers when dealing with the guides at Gillhams…

Chris… Please don’t ask Chris for more than one thing at once; he has the memory of a goldfish and its very likely you will be disappointed.

Lee…. Please do not leave any of your tackle bags open, as Lee is a gold medal standard collector of anything shiny… If you lose anything at Gillhams we usually ask Mr Ree, and he usually finds it in HIS tackle bag!

Gollock… This man knows more English than he lets on, so be aware. Also please bring extra cigarettes – he will have some in his bag, but prefers to smoke yours.

Joel… If you want carp, he’s our main man!

Jut …without doubt the most intelligent man out of all of us so if you want to discuss the meaning of life, or his chosen subject on Mastermind, Information Technology, he’s your man

John…. If you want to find a feature he’s our main man.

Me… I am twenty years older than any other guide, so please be kind to the elderly… any abuse will be reported to Age Concern.

On a serious note, all too often we are happy to jump on the back of young kids of today and blame society as the reason why they have no manners, no respect, etc etc. No one ever looks at themselves and thinks maybe, just maybe I have not brought them up right. When you have thought about it, let me tell you a little about returning angler Paul Quenet who came along to Gillhams with his son Jake.

Jake, being just twelve years old, was one of the most pleasant, well-mannered and respectful young men you are ever likely to meet. Clearly he loves his dad like a brother and sat by his side for the whole week. Can you think of any other 12-year-old who would sit by their dad for 13 hours a day for seven days never moan, never get bored and was always willing to help anyone else on the lake? In these days of Playstations and the Internet, isn’t it pleasing to see a young man who just wants to fish? And boy, can this young man fish!

Young Jake caught one Mekong of 150lb, one Siamese carp of 75lb, one arapaima of 75lb, ten Amazon red tails to 70lb, and a specimen sorubim of 40lb. Many times we see customers who struggle to land some of these fish, but not once did Jake hand his rod to someone else; he fought every fish like an experienced pro, and if he continues with his fishing, I’m sure he will be on magazine covers in the very near future. Paul, I have said it before and I will say it again – he is a star and a credit to you, pal.

On the other end of the scale we had returning angler Ray Allsop and his friend Steve Wilcock who came to Thailand for three weeks. Ray is 80 years old and about 4ft 2in in his stocking feet, buys his shoes from Toys ‘R’ Us and looks like a cross between Charlie Drake and one of the Krankies. Every morning he would greet me wearing a pair of shorts that came up to just under his chest, Simon Cowell style, looking like Lofty in the series “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum” and I would sing, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go” as Ray toddled off to his swim! They are long but enjoyable days working as a fishing guide at Gillhams, but it doesn’t half make it worth it when you meet people like Ray and Steve. When they returned from a short break in Koh Lanta they had a blank two days running (some would say not surprisingly, seeing as I was their guide), and not once did Ray or Steve moan; they just enjoyed the scenery and giggled all day, and it was a pleasure to sit with them. All came good on the third day when Ray had an arapaima of 230lb under the tree in Sala 6.
80 years old or not, Ray could handle fish better than younger men, and if I’m as fit as he is at 80 I will be very blessed. His impressive total was two Mekong to 140lb, two arapaima to 230lb, two Amazon red tails to 40lb and one Julian’s carp of 22lb. Not to be outdone, Steve, a retired builder, hit many personal bests including three Mekong to 130lb, and one Siamese of 50lb.

One of my everlasting memories of Steve will be when he caught his first Mekong. I looked across the lake at this grown man who had been battered so nearly to submission by the fish that he adopted the well-known stance of the foetal position and curled up like a baby, as his back couldn’t take any more

Another returning visitor was Olivier Portrat from Germany. Olivier is a world-renowned photographer, and if you ever get the chance to see his work you will be amazed at the images this man can create with his camera. He is also a fantastic fly fisherman and returned to Gillhams to fish specifically for our specimen arapaima on the fly. To see the way this man can handle a fly rod has to be seen to be believed, subduing fish to over 200lb in less time than anglers using a 6lb test curve rod.

Oliver came to Gillhams with Rudi Heger, the European sales director for the company who made the rod that Olivier used. Now then, not wanting to break any advertising rules, I am unable to tell you the make of rod, but if you were to add the name of the rod to some onion and then stuff a turkey with it maybe you can guess the company yourself! The way these slight rods, weighing less than a few ounces, can bend and yet still have power in reserve to subdue the fish is incredible, and it certainly gave me food for thought for what I want as a Christmas present next year. (Sage rods Geoff, and Stuart’s name is on one before you…)

It’s fair to say that there was sometimes a slight conflict of interest, as Olivier would want just one extra shot of an arapaima coming up for air or jumping clear of the water in an attempt to shed the hook; the sort of shot that would someday grace the cover of some fishing magazine. However, on the other hand the guides wanted to cage the fish as soon a possible, fit and well, because after all they are part of our family.

It can’t have been that bad because Olivier took all the guides out for dinner, and although we insisted on paying ourselves, Oliver picked the bill, so thanks, Olivier. Over his stay here Olivier managed to hook 23 arapaima to 220lb. Notice I didn’t say land 23 fish, because Olivier was such a gentlemen that as soon as he had hooked a fish he was gracious enough to hand his rod to other customers, and indeed the guides, to allow them the experience of catching arapaima on the fly. Even I had the opportunity to land a 200lb fish… certainly one for the scrapbook.

Another rare sight at Gillhams was to see Rudi attempt to catch arapaima using a float tube and flippers. We curled up laughing, as when poor Rudi wound into the fish all it did was pull him nearer to it, and to see his little legs going ten to the dozen to try and stay stationary when the ‘Harry’ went on a surging run was so comical. To Oliver and Rudi, from all the guides and everybody at Gillhams, it was a pleasure to see you again, and we hope you return soon.

Thanks, Geoff. It looks to us as though you have landed yourself another job. We all agree you did a good job reporting on the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer. Bookings for 2013/14 are going through the roof, so if you wish to book your fishing in Thailand with us we recommend to book ASAP to avoid disappointment. Contact Gillhams Fishing Resorts by emailing or phone Stuart on +66 (0) 861644554.
Best wishes from us all at Gillhams and we hope to see you all in the near future.