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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter February 2015

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

As seems the norm, it is has been an interesting month out here nestled in the beautiful lime mountains of southern Thailand. We haven’t seen any rain to speak of, and the weather is gradually getting hotter, with most days between 32 and 35 degrees. For those of you who have traveled to Thailand before, I am sure you have been amazed by the wiring that runs through the towns and adjacent to the roads; it’s pretty awesome and leads to numerous electrical fires and power cuts, so even though we haven’t had any thunderstorms, we have of course, had the odd power cut, but it’s been quite good this month, as there have only been a couple. It’s a fact of life that out here it happens, but our mighty leader, “the big dawg”, doesn’t let things like that get in his way, so we have had the builders in and now we’re are getting close to having a big generator installed, one I believe that will run the whole resort. The generator building is up and ready on the front car park, and we just await the delivery/installation, and that’s another thing ticked off the list as Stuart strives to make the resort the best he possibly can. Bearing in mind it was a marshy field when he started, I think what has already been achieved is pretty special, and as every day goes by I am learning more and more of the “behind the scenes” stuff, things which you don’t see or realise as a customer, it’s a logistical nightmare at times! I am sure there are not many spaghetti Bologneses that start off in a Tesco’s in England, then end up being served 6000 miles away, that is for sure!

Fortunately it’s not my problem, which is quite handy, as you would all end up eating frozen grasshoppers, Pot Noodles and the odd turtle. There’s a very big difference from “holding the fort” whilst key players are away, to actually running the show, which just makes me even more passionate about the place, the fish and the people who work here, all of whom, I think, do an outstanding job. Without doubt the vast majority of people who come here appreciate everything about the place and understand what has been achieved and the ongoing improvements.

The new waterfall is nearing completion, and I have to say it really looks the nuts. The craftsmanship that the builders have shown whilst building it is pretty awesome, and when we have the flow of water, nighttime lighting etc exactly how we want it, I will film it and put it on our YouTube channel. With Stuart and Sean away doing the first round of shows (with a three-week break in between and a spot of fishing) the resort has been left in our hands, which has been enlightening to say the least! But in fairness and without too many dramas, monster H.Q has been busy and again we have seen some fantastic customers, new and returning, gracing our banks this month, but more of that later.

One of the seemingly difficult things to do out here is get a hair cut, well unless you go to Ao Nang or Tesco in Krabi town. I fell foul of Sean’s haircutting skills last month and ended up with a Mohican, but this month, albeit by accident, it was Gollock’s turn for a “bad day at the barbers”. He had informed Chris that he needed his hair cutting, so Chris told him to sit in a sala whilst he retrieved his hair clippers. It would have run as sweet as your granny’s sewing machine if they were fully charged, but half way through the proceedings the clippers ran out of battery charge and Gollock ended up looking like a complete lunatic as Chris ran off to put the clippers on charge. We got the photos and laughed a lot, and Gollock thought it was great too. Somewhat strange in my opinion, but that didn’t stop him posing for some funny photos for us. The problem was rectified a couple of hours later when a small knock on my door led to my clippers being borrowed and some sense of normality resumed, if indeed there is such a thing out here!

Orange John said his goodbyes as a guide, as he returns to Spain where he works for Catmaster tours. Jake returned to England also, and we have Casper the friendly ghost, sorry, I mean Lawrence King, landing in three days’ time. Now he has finished a very productive trip to Guyana where he caught all sorts of weird and wonderful species of fish and got a classic photo of himself sitting on a croc in the process (see below for that one) he is a vastly experienced angler and has caught many different fish from all over the world and lots of big ones from here at monster H.Q. It’s just a 100lb-plus Siamese that eludes him. And finally young George, another of Sparsholt’s finest, has returned for a few weeks, just prior to sitting his exams.

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: 677 fish were caught of 28 species, made up as follows: 26 arapaima to 380lb, seven arawana to 10lb, three alligator gar to 75lb, 153 Amazon red tail catfish to 85lb, two Amazon stingray to 30lb, 46 Asian red tail catfish to 35lb, three black shark carp to 15lb, one big head carp of 35lb, three barramundi to 6lb, 21 black pacu to 25lb, one cobra snakehead of 3lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 80lb, one giant freshwater stingray of 40lb, two giant gourami to 8lb, three giant snakehead to 4lb, six giant featherback to 17lb, 15 Julian’s golden carp to 35lb, one marble gobie of 4lb, 89 Mekong catfish to 220lb, five Nile perch to 7lb, one rohu to 8lb, four ripsaw catfish to 25lb, 16 red bellied pacu to 15, two spotted sorubim of 30lb, four spotted featherback to 10lb, one striped catfish of 35lb, four shovel nosed tiger catfish to 15lb and 201 Siamese carp to 140lb.

Steve White and his girlfriend Noi came for a return visit to see us in January, and as soon as he arrived the action came thick and fast! Day one was only half a day, and three Siamese carp to 70lbs and an Amazon red tail later Steve was sitting there with a smile on his face and was pleased with how his trip had started. The second day was a crazy day, as Steve found himself battling with three Mekong catfish all over 100lb, the biggest of which was 170lb, and another two Siamese carp rolled in the net both around the 50lb mark. Steve was laughing, and his arms were aching. I think it’s fair to say that he was quite relieved that day three yielded “only” two carp of 45lb and 85lb, but things were about to get busy for him – really busy! A revitalised London cabby made a leisurely approach to day four of his “relaxing holiday”, but the fish had other ideas, as two 150lb Mekongs and a further three Siamese carp to 70lb kept him busy throughout the day. We noticed that he was starting to have a bit of a lie in, as clearly he was quite content with the way things were going. The next day was a great day for him, and it was smiles all round as he landed his first Siamese carp over 100lb in the shape of a superb lump of a carp at 112lbs, and then preceded to land a further two Mekong catfish of 120lb and 150lb making it an incredible tally of eight fish over 100lbs in five days! Oh, and we almost forgot that day he landed another two Siamese carp of 55lb and 75lb. Now that’s pretty busy.

But the next day was without question one of the craziest day’s fishing I have ever witnessed out here in the theater of dreams. Spurred on by his first 100lb Siamese, Steve had a proper go at the fish and landed an amazing haul consisting of one black pacu of 25lb, an Amazon red tail of 20lb, three Mekongs of 130, 135 and a 170lb and eight Siamese carp weighing in at 80lb, 65lb, 20lb, 70lb, 50lb, 40lb, 40lb and then a beast of all beasts, a clonking 137lb’er. What a day’s angling! Thirteen fish with four over the magical 100lb mark – now that’s pretty busy, even busier than the roundabout at the Elephant and Castle! For some strange reason we barely saw Steve the next day as he decided on a “rest day” and was starting to feel a little “fished out” – hardly surprising that one.

So after a day of rest and a trip down the beach he reappeared in his swim and got stuck straight into a hard-fighting Mekong of 110lb and a couple more Siamese to 95lb! I laughed… that’s an arm aching tally of 11 Mekong over 100lb and of course the two hundred-pound-plus carp, now that’s a major haul in anyone’s eyes. Although he had a few days left, Steve opted not to fish; he was more than happy to do some sightseeing with Noi and spent a day visiting her relatives, discussing chicken farming and the building of a new house, somewhere in the North of Thailand. There is of course one final twist to the story, and it started when I heard some commotion across the other side of the lake whilst doing the oxygen tests. I looked up and saw a silver fish flying through the air, repeatedly jumping out of the water. I had an idea what it might be, but as I watched I saw a very excited Jake heading for Steve’s swim, as he had hooked a tarpon on the waggler rod. After a very lively fight the fish was banked, and there was definitely a real buzz around the lake. The reason for that was that although many have been hooked and lost in the past, no one has ever landed one out here, and whilst it may have been his smallest fish of the trip, it was his greatest and his last, as he and Noi left the next day.

Father and son duo, Glyn and Danny Morgan, like a foreign fishing trip, and often that takes them to France. This year however they fancied something a little more exotic, so they boarded Thai Airways and headed to Krabi to spend some time with us. The first morning saw the traveling piscators set up and raring to go around in salas 9 and 10 respectively, then Glyn kicked proceedings off nicely with a 60lb Siamese carp. Danny (the younger half of the two) was set up superbly in sala 9, with his laptop open and premiership manager game open and ready for battle. I had a little chuckle to myself! Danny however was the one who was chuckling, as that day he landed an Amazon red tail of 70lb, a Siamese of 85lb, then caused quite a stir when he landed an Indian mahseer of 5lb. The reason this caused quite a stir was that although we stocked these into the lake over two years ago, this was the first time that one had been landed. The next day however belonged to Glyn, as Danny’s rods were quiet and Glyn landed two Mekongs to 120lb and a hard fighting one of 140lb. He then followed these up with a hefty Siamese of 85lb, and I am sure he was quoted as saying, “I don’t want another Mekong!” as his arms were aching. Ha ha! Welcome to Gillhams me old son!

Danny had aching arms the next day, as it was his turn to lock onto a Mekong, and after another lively scrap, he too was a beaten man. His dad had to have a little laugh to himself as Danny had thought it was quite funny that his dad had complained about the two fish the day before. By the end of day three Glyn had landed another Mekong of 150lb and an Asian red tail of 20lb, and as they had both caught a few fish, they decided to have a bit of a break and enjoyed a couple or three days sightseeing and a few beers of a night time.

The leisurely approach continued, and they decided a change of scenery was in order, so on the final stretch of their campaign, they moved swims and set up in the lower swims of the bungalow side. Danny quickly landed a couple of nice Siamese carp to 65lb, and Glyn popped out a 55lb Amazon red tail, and then the next day, Glyn landed another Mekong of 160lb (much to Danny’s delight) and then a small barramundi, whilst Danny was having a go at the Siamese, and landed four to 70lb. With a couple of days to go, and on a day where the big Siamese went a bit silly, Danny landed a big one that Pete (the guide) called close to that magical 100lb barrier, so we decided to weigh the beast. This turned out to be a good decision by Pete, as this huge fish weighed exactly 100lb and Danny was, understandably, over the moon. He then went on to land a further one of 65lb and another Mekong of a 135lb. Meanwhile Glyn slid the net under a mid-sixty Siamese. By this stage of their holiday they were both on cloud nine and weren’t particularly bothered if they landed any more fish on the last day, but they did, as Danny landed a couple more Siamese to 55lb and Glyn an 80lb’er!

Lee James McSween, by his own admission has not been fishing for a very long time, but the chance of a trip to Thailand with his hero and legend of a Grandfather, Reg, was one he couldn’t turn down. The holiday was going to be the two of them here for a good few days, then Lee would come home, and Reg would continue traveling around Thailand. The two of them turned up, one bouncing up and down with excitement, and the other, well, let’s say his non-fishing approach was of a more laid back nature. Lee had done some homework, or should that be he had some Internet banter with Darren Hunt about our wonderful fishery? Either way he was more than happy to slip into sala 1, as purely by chance, Darren was in sala 2. Before his arrival Lee’s biggest fish was a 20lb carp, and although he dreamed of catching a 400lb arapaima first cast, he was more than happy when he hooked and landed a 100lb Mekong first! To say our cheeky, cheerful car salesman of Liverpudlian descent was over the moon, would be as accurate a statement as the time was on the old talking clock, for those of you who remember that!

With Reg nonchalantly turning up after a sit-down breakfast every day Lee continued having a go at the fish and landed a very nice Asian red tail and a cracking Amazon red tail both within an hour on day two. Then they had a couple of days off where they went off kayaking and generally chilling out. Next off he caught three superb Amazon red tails to 75lb, and then took a quick trip up the top lake where he caught a Julian’s carp, and amongst others Lee managed to bag his first arawana. With Reg off on his jollies Lee then made a start in sala 10 and was quickly rewarded with two Siamese to 45lb and another Mekong this time weighing 130lb. On his last day he bagged a further two Siamese carp to 50lb and a couple more Amazon red tail around the 40lb mark. Lee left the venue as vibrant as when he arrived. Reg has gone missing, but we know he’s alright so that’s OK, and Lee vows to return to avenge an arapaima that took him from one end of the lake to the other at breakneck speed then spat the hook out. We look forward to round two… I wonder if Reg will come…?

Dave Taylor and his better half came along for a few days’ fishing, and other than some laughing we hardly heard much from them at all… well, except for the whistles! Things started at a steady pace for Dave, who had set up base camp in swim C3. On the first day he landed a nice Siamese carp of 45lb, and the day after a Mekong of 110lb! Dave had picked some spots in his swim and decided that no matter what he was going to stick to them and have a real go at the fish. The swim really started to kick in on day three when he landed a further two Mekong of 110lb and 130lb, then three Siamese carp of 35lb, 60lb and another 60lb. Then in the dark he landed a superb Amazon red tail of 65lb – now that’s a good day’s fishing in anyone’s eyes, and Dave was rightfully buzzing.

With a few fish under his belt, Dave was another angler who yet again didn’t put himself out to catch some fish; he just fished steadily and enjoyed whatever came along and whenever they came along. His fourth day was eventful too, as two more Mekong came along at 120lb and 140lb, again followed by a Siamese of 60lb and an Amazon red tail of 50lb. He was certainly having the time of his life, and his grin just got bigger and bigger! Although he was really chuffed with what he had caught, he, like a lot of other people who make the journey to see us, really wanted to catch an arapaima, and the next day when he did just that, you could see from the smile on his face just what it meant to him, and at a weight of 130lbs it signaled his sixth fish over a 100lb in just five days’ fishing! The arapaima wasn’t the only fish he landed on day 5, as a black pacu around 20lbs, a red pacu of 15lbs and a Siamese of 30lbs kept him busy for the rest of the time, and just before his week-long stay ended he added another Amazon red tail of around 55lbs to his photograph album, or should that be memory stick? God knows, it’s the digital age these days! Either way he went home with that big smile still on his face.

Darren Hunt returned for his second trip to Gillhams along with his wife Lisa, his sister Sarah and her partner Nicole. He was fired up and ready to fish the second he walked onto the complex, but as much as he was champing at the bit to start, he had to wait a whole day before his fishing started, now for a keen angler like Daz, that’s a long time, I can tell you! Bright eyed and bushy tailed he started off in sala 2, and he fully intended to give the carp a good battering, as he was hoping that his first 100lb carp would come along. The first day was pretty busy, as within an hour he had landed a 45lb Amazon red tail, and a couple of hours later, a Siamese carp of the same weight. The icing on the cake for Darren though was when he landed a Chao Phraya catfish at 80lbs, as this was a new species for him.

Day two started with a bang, literally, as before the first round of coffees Daz was locked onto a hard-fighting Mekong and calling out, “Give it some butt, son!” Well, by his own admission he probably gave it a little too much and he lost it, and then another that fought like a demon too. Revenge was sweet though as by the end of the day he landed a cracking specimen of 150lbs. Day three was the day that the Siamese carp started to turn up, and the constant baiting on a couple of spots paid off as he reeled in four around the 45-50lb mark. He was starting to get a little excited, as he knew if he could get them feeding and keep them feeding that his dream fish may come along. Just for good measure he landed an Amazon red tail at 35lb that evening.

With the carp turning up the day before, and being quite an enthusiastic character, Daz was literally bouncing to the swim the next morning and had baited up and was ready to go the second the clock struck 7am. Three hours later, and just for once, maybe for only five minutes, he was completely speechless as a good-sized carp was popped on the scales and she wound them round to a 106lb! He was grinning like a lottery winner, and so was Lisa; in fact so was everyone! Now you would have thought achieving his goal would have slowed him down a bit, but he kept going at it and landed a couple of small ones at 20lb and 40lb, then a black pacu of 20lbs and finished the day off with two Amazon red tails, the biggest going 60lb.

The action continued the day after when three more Siamese came along at 65, 92 and then another amazing specimen at 104lb. Daz was blown away, and we noticed he took his foot off the pedal a bit and really went into holiday mode and a leisurely approach. The last day in sala 2 saw him land another Siamese of 60lb, and then it was time for some family fun as he took the next day off. He and the family went elephant trekking, which the girls all loved and said it was the best day ever. Then it was a quick day in the grassy swim where he landed Amazon red tails of 40lb, 45lb and a new PB at 75lb. The next couple of days were spent on family outings where they visited the local temple and hired a longtail boat for the day. Then the final part of the trip loomed fast, and he was fired up and ready to have a go at the fish once more.

Positioned in sala 10, the first day was a leisurely affair for him with a 100lb Mekong, a 35lb Siamese and then a 20lb pacu, but he kept on pushing and baiting and trying, and it came as no surprise that on his penultimate day, the swim kicked into gear and he landed six Siamese carp to 88lb, the 88lb’er coming as part of a brace including another at 80lb within half an hour of each other. The day’s haul also included a PB Mekong at 180lb, but the real delight that day came with a ripsaw catfish at 20lbs, and then a 30lb Julian’s – both new species for him – what a day’s fishing! The final day came, but still he was spodding away, as he was determined to catch some more. He did, of course, and they were three more Siamese carp – two 50s and another lump at 90lb. It was a truly awesome display of angling and determination. He fished the lake perfectly; he listened to any advice given and reaped the rewards for doing so. Top fella, nice family, and we look forward to their return, although the fish might not be so keen!

Last but by no means least this month, it’s Ian Farr and his second trip of the year, as luckily for him, he lives just down the road in Singapore. This time Ian traveled without his wife Georgina, and he was 100% focused on catching as many carp as he could. Although he has had six Siamese carp over the magical 100lb barrier, he was really hoping to catch one of the real biggies at 130lb-plus. Ian doesn’t miss a thing when it comes to his fishing, and he is always fully aware of who has caught what and from where. In the past he has had some big hits along the bungalow side, but this time he slipped into sala 2, as he knew this had been producing the odd carp or two prior to his stay. The night before he started, he had stated that he was right up for having a good go at the carp, so it’s no surprise that his trip went the way it did!

The first morning came and he was down in the swim ready to go 15 minutes early. He had already picked his spots and baited up, the PVA bags were ready, and at exactly 7am he was cast in and ready for action. The action started pretty quickly, and by the end of day one our P.E. instructor had received a mild workout with three Siamese of 65lb, 50lb then a chunky 85lb’er. The second day started well with a few Siamese topped by another 100lb-plus specimen for him at 108lb, then a red bellied pacu of 15lb followed by a Mekong of 130lb, which pulled him down the lake for half an hour or so. Then the Siamese returned and he landed a further four to 85lb. A quick drive down the sports bar to watch the Welsh rugby team play then followed that evening, and although it was a late finish that night, he was back on the bank and ready for day three!

The action and baiting continued, and this (dare I say it?) was a quiet day for him as he “only” landed two Mekongs of 150lb and 175lb and three Siamese carp at 35lb, 55lb and 85lb. Granted that is a bit of a ridiculous statement, and there are plenty of people (including me) who would punch the air for joy if they had such a day, but Ian is very attuned and good at catching the carp we have here, and three in a day is not his most productive by a long way! He fared better on day four, as he landed five that day, two of which were 80lb, then a spotted sorubim of 30lbs and a black pacu of 15lb. That evening after tucking into his arapaima steak, he pointed at one of the pictures that hangs on the restaurant wall and said, “I really want to catch that fish.” Of course it was one of the real big ones, last weighed a few months previously at 137lb. I replied, “Well, it can’t avoid you forever, mate. It won’t be long.” He smiled.

As I walked round the lake the next day, there seemed to be quite a lot of excitement in sala 2, and when I stared into the net, I quickly realised why! There was a huge carp in there, and it looked like one of the really big ones. With the scales zeroed and just a little bit of excitement bubbling over, we weighed the monster, and it swung the dial round to a mouth-watering new lake record of 140lbs! Bring on the dancing girls! What an incredible fish, and we are fairly sure it was the same one that he pointed at in the picture, although it’s very difficult to say, as there are a few real biggies that all look very similar and are within a few pounds of each other. Either way, no one really cared which fish it was, as it was a monster, a real monster of 140lbs, and it was caught by a really nice fella who totally deserves the title of lake record holder. That’s quite an honour for this lake… well, in my opinion. You could see how made up Ian was about the whole thing, but he sat there quietly and went about his business and landed a further three Siamese to 80lb, a red bellied pacu of 25lb and finally an Amazon red tail at 50lb – quite a good day I am sure you’ll agree!

Still on a high from the day before, the next day was a different affair as the swim switched off and resulted in just one Amazon red tail catfish of 63lb, although I can confirm he was still sitting there grinning like a Cheshire cat! With just two days to go, Ian stuck to his guns and carried on baiting and fishing the same spots, this turned out to be the right approach, as another 100lb carp fell to his rods, followed by a 75lb’er and then a Mekong of 140lbs. Before we could say, “Look there’s a 140lb’er!” it was Ian’s last day, and yet again he had shown us exactly how to do it… if you want to target the Siamese carp specifically that is. It’s great to watch and learn from people like Ian, Kev Shore, Darren Hunt, Steve White and Keith “The Tooth” O’Connor; they don’t have these big hits by accident. Some people do now and again, but every time these lads turn up, they give the lake a good “rinsing” no matter where they fish. It’s a good lesson for anyone making the trip over – fish hard, as sitting there in a swim scratching your arse all day won’t catch you as many as getting stuck in will. Speaking of getting stuck in, on his last day Ian landed three Siamese to 75lb, a small black pacu and another 140lb Mekong, so that was seven and half days’ fishing for forty fish – eight over 100lbs!

Guides’ Corner

Well that’s it for February, and we hope to meet many new anglers and make new friends over the next few months. Once again many thanks go to everyone who came to see us at the shows and everybody who fished here through February. We hope to see you again in the near future. For those of you planning a return or your first trip please email Stuart at 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).