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Krabi newsletter July 2009

Hi once again from Krabi to all of you following this ‘fishing in Thailand’ newsletter. The recession in the UK must be coming to an end at last, as our bookings are shooting up! If you are planning to spend Christmas at the best fishing resort in the world you had best get booking, as spaces are going rapidly. Why stay at home in the cold watching The Sound of Music for the 20th time when you can come to the famous Gillhams Christmas party and listen to our sound of music? Yes folks, we have the same live band as last year, Steve’s mega Christmas dinner, plus the best cure for a Boxing Day hangover in the shape of the biggest freshwater fish in the world for you to pursue!

It’s been a bad month for losing friends, and first was the massively popular and all-round nice guy, Nifty from Australia. RIP dear Nifty, the world has lost one of its best characters. Why do the good people always go first? For those of you who never got too meet Nifty, you surely missed the chance to meet a funny, kind and big-hearted man. He was one of the world’s best, and 1,000-plus congregated to say farewell to Nifty, which just goes to show what a gentleman the world has lost.

For us it has also been a sad month, as Mr. Peacock died when something attacked him in the night. For the last three years he has strutted his stuff around the resort; he was the tamest peacock you’ve ever seen, and he even used to walk around with Helmet, our dog. As if that wasn’t enough, poor Mrs. Peacock died on her nest, sitting on two eggs. She was fine at 7am and dead by 10am, for no apparent reason. Maybe she couldn’t live without the old chap; she was actually his second mate. His first one met the same fate as him, as living next door to the jungle we get all sorts of visitors, the most likely suspect being those horrible stinking giant monitor lizards. These things are major pests to us, as they also like fishing; they kill for fun, and think nothing of biting a chunk out of fish ten times their size. Once they bite a fish the wound festers and the fish dies. I have a 12-bore on order, and I am going to thoroughly enjoy a monitor hunt! We probably won’t replace the peacocks, as it’s not fair on them being this close to the jungle.

On a brighter note, the rainy season has been unusually dry this year; we are still getting ten days of sun to three days of rain, and all of the people who have chosen to come over to escape the English rainy season have been rewarded with clear blue skies, suntans and expanded waistlines thanks to Steve and Benz’s superb food.

We are definitely noticing moon phases affecting the fishing at the moment. If you had asked me last year I would have told you the moon has no effect, but this year it has been noticeable that the ¾ to full moon period is best for Siamese carp, but the new to ¼ moon period is noticeably better for arapaima. Don’t get me wrong, the arapaima feed all through the month, as do the Siamese carp, but certainly more aggressively during these periods.

Gillhams’ gripe… What can I say? I haven’t got one. We had a good crowd in with plenty of anglers not bothering to check the depths in their swims and the odd one breaking rules, plus not listening to our advice, but it would all be going over old ground, so what’s the point? As long as people enjoy their holiday and stick less hooks in our fish, why should we worry? The only thing that pissed me off this month was the guy who caught a spotted featherback around 20lb, called it small, and told our Thai fishing guide Gollock to release it without a photo. Poor Gollock does not speak enough English to explain to the guy he had broken an IGFA world record by around 8lb. When we informed the angler concerned, he was gutted, as he had missed his moment of fame (prick!). I suppose Keith Jenkins was right the other month when he said, “Don’t listen to the advice here and you lose out!” So that’s it folks – no slinging of poo this month, but don’t worry, I am sure some loonies will appear soon to give me some more ammo! In the meantime the plumbing rods remain idle as 80% of people don’t worry about finding likely feeding areas!

In the catch reports for this month you will notice the black pacu captures have exploded. This is due to yet another species that apparently does not spawn in still water proving the experts wrong, as ours have spawned. We now have an abundance of 3lb to 5lb fish getting caught, and we are leaving them in the lake though, as they seem to be piling the weight on. Our Siamese carp and wallago leeri have also changed the rules and bred like rabbits, which just goes to show what a perfect environment we have created for them here! Our theory is we have two large water filters working 24/7, both sucking up large volumes of water and spewing it back out into the lake via waterfalls, which could give these river breeders the impression they are in running water. Mind you, even I spawned last year, so maybe it’s just the magic of Gillhams!

Before moving onto the Krabi fishing results, you will recall last year we made a film about arapaima for National Geographic channel with Hoff Productions producer Julia Dorn. Some of you in the UK will have already seen the footage on Gillhams, but for all you who missed it watch out for the repeat on Monday 31st August at 5pm. It is mixed in the middle of a show called ‘Hooked: Monster Fishing: Dogtooth Tuna & Lemon Shark’ on BSB National Geographic Wild Channel 528 in the U.K. Our fishery is featured in the episode titled “Dog Tooth Tuna and Lemon Shark”, Check out
Why they put it in with the sea fishing is beyond me, but that’s where it is, so watch out for that one. They actually shot some better footage, but when these films get to the editing desk all sorts happen. However, it is still a nice piece about us.

So on to the fishing in Krabi: 19 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to ten days, with 22 anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holiday. Between them all they caught 546 fish of 14 species, made up as follows: 32 arapaima to 250lb, seven alligator gar to 25lb, 69 Amazon red tail catfish to 85lb, 12 Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, 55 black pacu to 25lb, six Chao Phraya catfish to 90lb, three Mekong catfish to 150lb, two rohu to 10lb, six spotted featherback to 20lb, 283 Siamese carp to 85lb, four striped snakehead to 3lb, 55 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 35lb, three wallago attu to 20lb, and ten wallago leeri to 20lb.

The first guest this month was Alan Boon. For those of you who don’t know AL, he’s a bit of a loud Cockney lad, but with a heart as big as his cakehole. He visited this time with his delightful family, fitting in odd hours fishing between family duties, but being Alan, he sure didn’t let that stop him catching. He is one of the rare breed of anglers we get here who plumb the depth, watches for fish, and when he fishes puts in 100% effort. Couple that with listening to our advice, and making the effort to bring a kilo of worms with him, its no wonder that in short sessions he landed 27 fish of nine species including new personal best Siamese carp of 70lb, arapaima of 170lb, and of course that new world record Chao Phraya catfish of 90lb, obliterating the old record of 62lb. Now that fish caused some hangovers with a celebratory trip or three to Ao-Nang! Alan’s daughters Charlie and Bobbie must take after their mum in the beauty stakes, ‘cos they sure don’t take after him! Accompanying daughter Charlie was boyfriend Liam, who may have a model girlfriend, but the boy sure can’t fish! He managed just six fish, but reckons he didn’t try, as he didn’t want to take Alan’s glory away – or was it because AL wouldn’t share his worms?

Then of course we had the return of the oldest swinger in town, Arthur Hawkins, another guy who has a model wife but can’t fish! He arrived with his wife, the delightful Angie, and this gal can fish! Arthur and Angie returned for a two-week holiday to celebrate Arthur’s 70th birthday. It is always fun when Arthur visits, as he is a 16-year-old in a 70-year-old body. After an evening of playing killer pool in our bar, Arthur came in the next night and asked who wanted to play Thriller! As he was carrying Angie’s pink handbag at the time, some of the new guests must have been worried about where they had come for their holiday! As I said, Arthur is a young man in an old fart’s body, but he and Angie obviously still perform, as they announced one day that they felt hot, so they went to bed for a couple of hours! Arthur’s family unfortunately could not make the trip to be with him, but made up for it by sending us pictures of a young Arthur and Angie, and what a couple these two were 50 years ago.

Onto the fishing, and Arthur, who had been weight training to get fit for his fish battles, landed 39 fish with four arapaima to 160lb, plus seven Amazon red tail catfish to 85lb, and 13 Siamese carp to 65lb in his seven-species haul. Angie didn’t need any weight training to land 41 fish of eight species, and she toppled Arthur’s arapaima with a fine 180lb fish, plus she landed 20 Siamese carp to 75lb, with a best Amazon red tail of 75lb. This couple are fishing machines, enjoying their retirement and fishing the world together – truly a great couple, and we are looking forward to their return in November. They have certainly fallen in love with Gillhams as much as we love them.

In between the Thailand fishing holidays we had 22 day-ticket anglers, no one blanked, and some caught a dream fish in a day’s visit, like Dan Holts and Natalie from the UK, who were on their honeymoon. Dan fitted in a day and landed two Siamese carp and a 130lb Mekong catfish. He has vowed to return for a Thailand fishing holiday next year. Another day visitor also on their honeymoon were Jarrod and Heather Portelance from the USA, landing three fish, with Jarrod’s target 100lb arapaima. We have had a few Danish anglers in on day ticket top rods – Sibastian and Peter, with six fish and an arapaima each of 130lb and 160lb. In fact day ticket anglers accounted for six of this month’s arapaima catches.

Once again this month we have had Malaysian fishermen visiting. If only everyone had the Malaysian attitude to a fishing holiday in Thailand – it is what it says – a holiday. They all listen to the rules and advice, plus enjoy the fish they catch. First in where the Lim family for a couple of days fishing and sightseeing, and the best fish went to John with a 60lb red tail catfish. Then we had Tommy and Jason for three days, great guys who got up every day at the crack of 11am, had a monster breakfast, fished a few hours before having a Thai feast, and then back to fishing for a couple of hours before going out to party. Still they landed 18 fish between them of seven species, both achieving the arapaima they came for, the best falling to Tommy at 200lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 60lb, and Siamese carp to 50lb. They also had a mate, Sam, fly over for a day with them who landed three Siamese carp to 30lb. Not really a Malaysian this one, but as he has lived there for 30 years he is a local – our old friend, expat Englishman Anthony Sullivan arrived, who owns the highly successful game fishing company in Malaysia Anthony is also an accomplished fishing journalist, but each time he comes here he fails miserably. This time however, he came close to his arapaima when after ten minutes the bloody hook pulled. During his two-day trip he landed six fish, and has vowed to return soon to try and beat the curse Gillhams has on him. He is surely the unluckiest angler we have ever had here!

Then our peace was shattered when my old mate John Allen made another trip here from his home in Pattaya Thailand. Those of you who are over 100 years old will remember John as the guy who caught the first big wels catfish from Lac St Cassien in France. He also landed many fine UK carp including the famous Wraysbury fish Mary, and that legendary Longfield fish, ‘Jack the Net Ripper’! John loves Gillhams; he reckons it gives him the best buzz he has ever had in a 58-year career, and he visits whenever possible to fish Siam carp. As usual with John he walked around the lake, watched for moving fish, and settled smack in front of his bungalow! For the first time ever John fished every day even starting at 7am! He also went to bed early every night except for one relapse when he got trashed with Sean, and what an annoying pair these two are when they get on the JD! John says he is saving the drinking for Christmas when our old mate, and another carp fishing legend, Ritchie McDonald, is over. Now that will be messy, with loads of drinking and reminiscing! John came for five days and stayed for eight, landing 71 fish of nine species. The top baits for John were the ever-consistent Richworth Tutti Frutti boilies and pop-ups. His best fish were a 130lb arapaima, a 75lb Amazon red tail catfish, plus 55 of his target species, Siamese carp, the best going 85lb, with two of 70lb, three over 60lb, seven over 50lb, and the rest between 20lb to 40lb.

Accompanying John was his mate and landlord of his local pub (he must be loaded – imagine having your pub as John’s local!), Roger the Welsh sheep molester (at least he left his boots behind!). Roger had never been fishing before, but settled in like an old hand. Unfortunately he had to get back to his pub after five days, as the takings where down due to John being away! Roger loved the fishing, and is already planning his next trip. He landed 24 fish of five species, the best being the same 85lb carp John caught on his last day – very friendly fish this one!

Next to arrive was Guy Baxendale, who is an all-round angler. Along with bait fishing, he came with a dream to catch an arapaima on a fly, which he achieved twice by stalking the marginal weedbeds. The first one weighed 120lb, followed two days later by a superb 200lb fish. He also landed three sorubim on the fly, the best being 30lb. fishing with baited rods he also landed another 18 fish of seven species, including another arapaima of 150lb. Guy only came for four days’ fishing and sightseeing with his girlfriend Sam, fishing odd hours between day trips (well actually, two-hour trips before dashing back to fish!). Sam decided if she couldn’t beat him, best to join in, and landed two Siamese carp of her own. She stuck to the task admirably when she played a fish in an absolute downpour. Since going back to the UK, Guy informs us she has taken up fishing – way to go gal, and see you back soon we hope! After leaving us we sent Guy down to our old amigo the angling legend and little bald French git Francois Helios for a day on Bungsamran. As is normal with what is undoubtedly the best, and the original, guiding service in Thailand, Francois delivered the goods for Guy in the shape of a fine 145lb Mekong catfish.

Talking of my old mate Francois Helios, he has recently taken up fly-fishing and is as would be expected of him, obliterating every world record he sets his stall out for. He is also at the moment doing some awesome Barramundi fly-fishing trips, and I am desperately trying to wing a couple of days off to go and join him. Also watch some records tumble (fishing and drinking) when Francois comes to us in September.

Our final visitor this month was my old mate Matt Skinner. We used to fish together years ago, starting when Matt was a kid, and to hear him and Sean talking about trips with the old man when they were six and sixteen made me feel my years. It only seemed like yesterday, not twenty years ago. Matt also celebrated a ten-year stretch of managing to stay married to the delightful Claire whilst he was here – blimey son, you get less than that for murder. Claire actually amazed us this trip by staying sober, probably because she wanted to impress the in-laws! Mind you she did come close when we took them to the local curry house then onto Amy Bar where the now obligatory crazy glasses were again on parade for holiday snaps. Matt was accompanied by his dad David, who is actually older than me. It was his first fishing trip to Thailand, but he settled in from the off, taking 21 fish of seven species, with arapaima to 220lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, and a best Siamese carp of 65lb. He reckons fishing in the UK will never be the same again! Commenting as many anglers do that a 20lb fish seems small now! David actually had a tear in his eye when the six-day trip came to an end, and he even left Margaret’s things behind in the wardrobe in a vain attempt to get out of the sightseeing trip to Phuket, and to stay here another week! Matt ended up with 23 fish to beat the old chap by two fish, plus taking a bigger arapaima of 250lb, but with six specie of smaller sizes than his dad, I declared David as the winner, plus he bribed me and promised to hide some of the photos taken in silly glasses!

Finally Sean and I have managed to get a few hours’ fishing in, with me beating the little git handsomely on species; mind you I was using worms that Alan had left behind. The first evening on the worms, in the first two casts, I landed an 80lb and a 70lb Amazon red tail catfish, and in three evening sessions before begrudgingly releasing the wrigglers to the new wormery, I landed 12 fish of six species. It’s well worth bringing these over, but pug them up in your suitcase, because it’s not really allowed! Sean did thrash me on the Siamese carp stakes using his favorite Richworth Tuttis, his best being a brace of 60lb fish in two consecutive casts, which must be the biggest quick brace in fishing history!

That’s about it for another month, folks. Spaces for 2010 are filling fast, and we are already fully booked for 15th to the 28th February and the 14th to 28th August 2010, so don’t delay get booking now at or by phoning +66861644554. For Christmas 2009 period, I would suggest you book sooner rather than later, as our Christmas celebrations, along with the fishing, are legendary. This year is going to be a laugh a minute with the folks already booked in being a top crowd. Where better to spend a Christmas in the sun, with big fish, top food, and set in paradise, than here at Gillhams?

Best wishes to you all, and hopefully see you soon, from all of us here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts.