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Krabi newsletter July 2008

Hello again to all of you who are following our fishing in Thailand articles, sorry to all who missed last month’s news letter due to there being no space left in Big Carp magazine. If you look at our website you will see June’s newsletter in the newsletters section. For those of you who have booked your Thailand fishing holiday with us, many thanks. The builder is still dragging his heels, but with much cursing from yours truly he is slowly getting there, and we reckon to open the restaurant for our guests by the 21st August, then opening to the general public by the 14th September. Christmas is looking good; we have about 40 booked for the Christmas party. We have a really good band booked from 3pm to 8pm, plus we are working on another entertainer coming in from 8pm to 12, Steve aka ‘Butter Bean’ is putting on a monster traditional Christmas dinner, and we still have a couple of bungalows free for Christmas, but suggest you get booking quickly as it will be on a first come first served basis.

We have now had our first peacock egg hatch, and the little rascal is looking good – it actually squeaks like Sean’s wallet. We also have a pair of arapaima spawning early; they normally spawn at the end of September or October, but this pair has already got young, so the top bay is closed until they move out, or we can net them. Last year we sent Gollock out in the boat to run a butterfly net alongside the female and plunder the babies, but the male arapaima attacked the boat and turned it upside down. This year we are thinking of sending Butter Bean out to net them, as he is into arapaima wrestling! The weather here in Krabi is good for July; we are getting seven fine days to three wet ones, keeping the water temperatures down and the fish feeding. Last week we had an absolute monster of a storm – for two hours the rain fell from the sky, and we had to open every sluice gate to cope when the stream rose over the road and came into the lake like Niagara Falls.

The beginning of July got off to a flying start, but the duo involved ended on a sad note, and the unluckiest angler this month must go to poor Stig from Sweden. He came for ten days with his good friend Johan, and they had a great trip, catching 94 fish between them, with arapaima to 240lb and Mekongs to 150lb, when on the last day in Bangkok poor Stig left his camera in a taxi while out sightseeing. The taxi dropped them in Sukhamvit Road, and Stig realized ten minutes later that he had left the camera with all their holiday snaps on the back seat. Poor young Stig was devastated, so if by some miracle the one taxi driver in two million reads this article, Stig has offered a 20,000 baht reward for its return, or at least his camera card! Stig and Johan have vowed to come back next year and catch bigger fish, and as a consolation prize we have offered them a free day.

21 fishermen this month accounted for 281 fish, made up as follows… 31 arapaima to 270lbs, three Mekong catfish to 150lbs, 124 Siamese carp to 90lbs, 36 red tail catfish to 65lbs, 15 alligator gar to 25lbs, seven Julian’s golden prize carp to 30lbs, two rohu carp to 20lbs, three Asian red tail catfish to 30lbs, seven black pacu to 30lbs, three Chao Phraya catfish to 55lbs, 43 spotted sorubim to 40lbs, one giant featherback of 20lbs,one arawana of 6lbs, one common carp of 16lb, one shovel nosed tiger catfish of 20lb, one tambaqui of 25lb, one barramundi of 30lb, one big head carp 0f 30lb.

The next guests were Steve and Diana Keeling from Australia. In between sightseeing Steve fitted in short sessions, landing ten fish in three half days. Then there was the return of Uncle John Allen. As you will recall on John’s last visit he targeted arapaima, landing two over 300lbs. This trip John’s target was to fish Siam carp for seven days, fishing over beds of maize. John landed 57 Siamese carp with the icing on the cake his biggest ever carp at 90lb, plus two over 60lb and three over 50lb proving that you can come to Gillhams and target carp. John also bestowed on Sean the honor of asking him to be godfather to his son, George. Upon Sean’s agreement we all went out to celebrate, and at the end of the evening Sean came out of the closet, quite literally, as he got well and truly inebriated under Uncle John’s care. What a pair these two make, father and godfather – poor little George has no chance of growing up on the straight and narrow. Back to the tale – John had a friend back to stay, so Sean decided to take up residence in John’s wardrobe, but his plan was rumbled when the friend decided to hang up her clothes, only to find a drunken Sean sat on the safe (brings a whole new meaning to safe sex I suppose).

John’s friend Steve Cox came down for a week with target species of arapaima and red tail catfish on his wish list. Steve came out with some classic sayings, such as, “He knows when he’s beat,” only for the fish to go on another 100m run, or, “It’s all over; they know who’s the boss,” as yet another 80m of line disappeared off the spool. Even as he was leaving, Steve caught a 60lb Siamese carp, so his parting shot to John was, “Beat that one, son!” Well, half an hour later John boy landed his 90lb’er! Steve actually ended his five-day session with 38 fish of six species – five arapaima to 170lb, and nine red tail catfish to 55lbs, so targets achieved – top guy, top fishing. Next to arrive was Mad Mitch the Brummie. In his first five minutes he caught the arapaima used in last year’s adverts with the other Brummie Sir Terry Eustace, only the second time the fish has ever been caught, and up around 50lb in weight at 270lb-plus. He went on to catch another arapaima at 200lb, plus nine other fish. Now Mitch is a nice guy, but his drinking lets him down. After too much ale and whiskey, young Mitch went out on his own, well oiled when he left, and he returned in the early hours after meeting a ‘girl?’ in town. After a stroll along the sea front and some romantic whispering under the stars, Mitch discovered he was not what she seemed! He returned here in a bad mood, and took his drinking too far, only to find why I have a reputation of strict but fair. So, because of this, and along with a few other problems, young Mitch was told to leave Gillhams, and respect to the guy, as he left when told, going off to party and getting his wild ways under control. He phoned the next day and offered his sincere apologies. After five days he called on us to say he was sorry too. Everyone can slip up, and they deserve another chance, so Mitch was allowed to return, but on an alcohol ban. Wait for next month’s newsletter to learn what he caught, along with a PB arapaima that dwarfed this month’s one. That’s another story, but writing this a week after his return all I can say is that he has behaved impeccably, and stayed off the sherbet, so fair play fella, ‘nuff said!

Wayne De Jager of East Coast Fishing Charters in Fujairah Musandam, somewhere in camel land, came with his family, who are all avid fisherfolk. While the girls bait fished, and all caught, Wayne wanted to target an arapaima on the fly, as only 13 people are allegedly supposed to have caught an arapaima on the fly in the world, and he would have been number 14 if his knot hadn’t let him down. What an embarrassment for poor Wayne, being a charter boat skipper! Mind you these arapaima have got some incredible power when they shake their heads, and only the toughest tackle survives – even a slight flaw and it’s goodnight. Next arrivals to try their hand at arapaima on the fly were the Shimano fly team from Wales, boyo – three great lads who came for a day and stayed for three. On their first day Kevin lost an arapaima, as did yours truly. So the next day became a contest to see who would be number 14. Using a 12-weight outfit with a big fry pattern fly, I secured another long time ambition of mine to catch an arapaima on the fly, with a cracking fish of 150lb-plus. This fish would have broken the world fly record for arapaima, but I never claim records, as being the owner of the fishery too many doubters would belittle the fish, so some nice pictures and several witnesses were good enough for me. Kevin, not to be outdone, then went on to catch a brace at 120lb and 100lb on the fly, making him number 15. The next day not to be outdone either, Simon became number 16 when he landed one at 90lb, so for you fly guys – arapaima can be targeted here fly fishing, so come and try, as number 17 is waiting, but you need 12-weight outfits to cope with these Thailand arapaima. The Shimano lads also had some nice fish bait fishing, with Kevin taking two more arapaima. Mind you, he deserved it, as rumour has it he made the same mistake as Mitch while in Phuket – yes folks, things ain’t what they seem in the land of smirks.

Last but not least we had the return of Matt, the ugly part of the duo without the delightful Kandy. What a pair they were; Kandy had gone home to Canada to visit family, leaving Matt at a loose end, and what better place to come and spend some time than here at Gillhams? Matt accounted for 24 fish in his five-day trip, including five arapaima to 140lbs. He was hoping for a 200lb-plus arapaima, but was not disappointed, and who wouldn’t be! Matt’s target fish were red tail catfish, and his best was 45lb. Matt is eagerly awaiting Kandy’s return, as they are planning to open a pub in Krabi, which will make them virtual neighbors, and hopefully regular visitors to Gillhams. Apart from the clients’ fishing, we also managed a few short sessions ourselves. One evening Sean and I stalked the weedbeds for snakehead using mini livebaits, as we need a good picture for the website. We caught sorubim, pacu and Chao Phraya catfish, but the snakehead eluded us. We managed a few short sessions targeting Siamese carp, landing several to 50lb. Also an arapaima of 250lb took a shine to the maize, along with red tail catfish up to 60lb. Actually we do not think these species eat maize – more likely what is happening is that the maize attracts the small fish, which in turn get engulfed with the maize. Also this month I took a nice arawana of 6lb fly-fishing with a hopper pattern on 8-weight gear.

We also got Butter Bean out fishing for the first time in his life. The hardest part was prizing him off his throne on the balcony where he sits every day impersonating Buddha, although he claims to be watching the water, as uncle Johnny taught him! He caught a couple of small Siamese carp and a nice 35lb sorubim. We often exchange clients in return for fishing trips with my old mate John Pierce who is the manager of the best blue water fishing outfit in Asia ( John came over from his base in Phuket the other day for a day’s fishing, landing five fish of three species, the best a red tail catfish of 64lb. John also hooked a giant freshwater stingray, which he battled to get off the lakebed for an hour and half. This awesome beast just kept sticking to the lakebed like Butter Bean sticks to a triple burger. We tried to get over it in Gollock’s luxury boat, only to spin and cut poor John’s line (better bring the marlin gear next time, John!). The elusive arapaima avoided him, as did the vanishing sailfish on our last trip. As with our arapaima coming out both sides of John’s trip, the sailfish did the same to us, but we had plenty of tuna. Now the race is on, will we get John an arapaima before he gets us a sailfish? The trip was pretty spectacular though, as we got to go out on the pride of the fleet, a spectacular all-singing all-dancing 48ft sport fisher. On this last trip we took our Thai fishing guide Gollock along with us, and his face was a picture, as he was expecting a boat like the HMS Gollock. He cruises our lake in an 8ft blue plastic two-bob tub. Well the color was the same, but there was just an extra 40ft and a few million dollars separating Gollock’s floating bathtub and Wahoo’s magnificent state-of-the-art sport fisher!

That’s about it this month, so many thanks to all of you for reading my monthly drivel, and an extra big thank-you to all who have booked your fishing holiday in Thailand with us, and shame on those of you who haven’t. Don’t forget check us out at and good fishing wherever you are from all of us here at Gillhams.