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Krabi newsletter July 2010

Hi to everyone following our fishing in Thailand Krabi newsletter. July has at last seen some rain but still not as much as usual. At least the lake is now full and has had a good flush through. The arapaima fishing has slowed down despite the rain, as the fish are getting ready to get their fins over, but if they are anything like us, after they have finished it will be time for a feast!

We took Jack to the UK this month to meet his grandma and grandad for the first time, plus it gave us an excuse to miss part of Les and Alan’s trip! We only had 16 days, so unfortunately we could not get to see you all. One friend we did get to see was jellied eel man extraordinaire Johnny Swann from Hastings, who laid on a pukka sea food feast, got some of my old mates together, and even bought a bouncy castle claiming it was for Jack! Benz thought Johnny’s trampoline was cool, claiming after five minutes to have lost several kilos. Sorry girl, but if you could lose it that quick, Johnny would not weigh more than my arapaima! After the UK we managed five days in our favourite city, KL Malaysia. Taking Jack to the zoo one day we were looking at the orang-utans when I glanced down in the moat surrounding them and saw a huge arapaima 3m long and as fat as a pig! Does anyone have the zoo’s phone number, as I am sure it would be happier in Gillhams? Flights to KL from the UK are cheaper than to Bangkok, and the flight on to Krabi is just one hour and 20 minutes. There is so much to do in KL and the food and shopping are world class. Maybe of interest to some of you is that we flew with Air Asia from Stanstead to KL and on to Krabi. Book online for the best deals at

We have finally bought the land next door to us after five years of trying, so the next project is widening the lake. Before payment for the land changed hands we had to mark out the boundary of the land next door, but due to very thick undergrowth, Matt the trusty gardener was going to lend a helping hand by cutting a path from one end to the other. Matt made sure he was equipped with all the safety gear that is needed when using a big steel bladed strimmer, i.e. trainers, shorts, tee shirt and Ray Bans! Matt had been gone for all of fifteen minutes when Sean received the call that Matt needed to get to the hospital quick, as in a whimpering voice Matt announced he had cut his big toe off! It was then Steve the moaning chef to the rescue, making use of his time in the hospital with Matt by taking pictures of Matt’s injuries. Later on that day when we went next door to mark out the boundaries, and knowing that Matt hadn’t finished the path, it was a relief for us that Matt had failed to notice a path already cut out from the other side by the seller.

The cut off toes actually ended up being a severe cut to the bone of his big toe and its neighbour, but in true Yankee style Matt has been milking the injury to the hilt, getting up at the crack of 10am each day and sitting in a whimpering heap watching TV all day! The new land will put around 40m on the width of the main lake, plus we can make the top stock pond into a fun fishing lake full of mini species. We are selling multi-trip tickets to our loyal and trusted clients to fund the work, and these tickets are sold at today’s prices less discount and can be used as needed over the next few years. They are transferable, and can be written down for tax purposes as corporate expenditure. A big thanks to those who have already purchased a ticket – I won’t name you, but you know who you are.

We had a few quiet days this month after the madness of Boon’s and Bamford’s tours departed, so it was time for a much-needed clean out of one of the filters. This turned out to be a job from hell due to three years of sludge, fish turds and all the other crap that gets sucked of the bottom of the lake! Not to mention big spiders, water snakes and loads of other creepy crawlies that most likely bite or sting you. After four days of intense cleaning we finally got the job finished, and then it was time to check the bottom drains. We rented some diving equipment from one of the local professional (ha ha) dive schools, and upon checking the air gauges they told us we had enough air for one hour. Sean spent half an hour checking the two huge bottom drains and pipework, and returning to the surface he came ashore and checked the gauge, which was showing 40 minutes left. He was about to return to the murky depths when he casually tapped the glass, which showed just two minutes!

When we were closed last month Benz decided to have the local monks bless the lake and resort. They tied holy string around the complete property, splashed holy water all round and then settled into a huge religious feast. So we are now free of evil spirits and ghosts, and they left a bottle of holy water behind in case we needed to ward off any remaining spirits. Benz in her wisdom put this bottle in our bedroom, and I woke up in the middle of the night, thirsty, picked up a bottle of water and drunk the lot! Yes it was the bloody holy water! It actually tasted ok apart from some indescribable clear lumps, and I am frightened to ask what the hell they were – I just hope it wasn’t monk’s jiz! So as I sit here writing this newsletter I am spirit-free and should be feeling lucky, but I have a really shitty throat virus… Oh, I wonder what those bloody lumps were!

I don’t normally put catch reports in this part of the newsletter, but did not wish to put the loon’s tour with normal people! This month we had the return of Alan Boon and Les Bamford tours, and Thailand will never be the same again after these nutters’ holiday ended! The idea was for Alan Boon and friends to get some fishing done before the second part of their trip, which was the bright lights and madness of Pattaya, while Bamford and Co stayed on at Gillhams before heading back to the UK. Things were not to go as planned due to excessive amounts of alcohol and late nights in the resorts bar, but luckily we had advance warning, and knowing what was descending on us we avoided all families and normal people booking these dates. Even Stuart, Benz and baby Jack buggered off to England to avoid the wee fella from being corrupted.

So the quiet and peaceful side of Gillhams Fishing Resorts was pushed back into the corner for a few days, and upon their arrival at Krabi airport stories of the flight to Thailand and the night in Bangkok were coming off the plane before they were! The looks of disgust at Mr Bamford from other flight passengers told you that they were all true, so we got them all loaded into the cars and headed for the lake as quickly as possible before any police or customs officers had a chance to learn about these colourful characters. On arrival at Gillhams the madness and drinking was underway leading to some very late nights for Becca and Stuart, large bar bills for the lads, and all our overheads paid for the next few months!

Onto the fishing (yeah right, what fishing?) Boon and his merry men really fished hard in their five-day trip. They had decided to fish by the hour so that if, sorry, when, they didn’t wake up for the seven o’clock start, they were not paying for fishing they weren’t doing. The fishing hours went like this… Nigel Boon, the long suffering brother of Alan, managed a whole hour’s fishing in his trip, Lee Saxton two hours, Simon, in his five days here didn’t even pick a swim let alone cast a rod out, and Alan actually fished the most by knocking up 24 hours in four days! Out of Boon’s group the fish list goes as follows… 24 fish of seven species – the biggest going to Alan with a 90lb Mekong catfish, not a bad bit of angling for a few hours fishing with four people.

Les Bamford’s group did fish more than the others, mainly due to Tim Cameron and Richie’s son Liam, and they stayed on at the lake ‘til the end of their holiday while the others went off to Pattaya. Also we had a guest appearance by none other then John Allan, but we are not sure if this was due to him not seeing some of the lads for a few years, as he lives in Thailand, or getting out of his home town of Pattaya before the madness descended! Out of Bamford’s group they had caught 32 fish of ten species with the biggest going to Liam and Tim, both catching arapaima of 120lb. John caught eight carp to 30lbs on his trip, but this was still eight more than Les had caught even though he was the trip’s organizer.

Now years ago Les Bamford and a fellow nutter, Disgusting from Berkhampstead, used to do anal pyrotechnic shows at various fishing get-togethers. All sorts of fireworks were fired from the loonies’ rectums including rockets and a Roman candle that went wrong on Les at Nottingham University! Now I thought these antics were about as crazy as it gets, but in his later years Les has progressed beyond the realms of depravity. His latest performances include ‘The Swiss Army Tool’, which involves knives and forks (not from our kitchen) hanging from his willy! Anyone down the town asking for a light got a shock when out popped Les’s plonker with a lighter tucked in the hood! Air Asia were also treated to Les’s antics, and they are now changing their policy of charging to use the loo after Bamford peed in a water bottle to save a quid! (Don’t sit in seat 33A!). To all our normal clients, don’t worry; we will never book this man into Gillhams when sane guests have already booked their dream fishing holiday.

As I finish the above garbage, I thought it would be appropriate to lead into Gillhams Gripe! Why do people spend shed loads of money in the sleazy areas of Thailand on bar girls with huge drink bills and a nice gold bracelet for said “love you long time” then come here for a fishing trip of a lifetime and moan all day every day about the prices of food and drink and the extra bait they need to better their chances of catching? Extra bait is not a must, but most anglers realise that the more effort you put in i.e. recasting, baiting and plumbing etc, the more fish you will catch.

Also we get the other idiots that want to kill every fish they catch and eat them, and don’t understand why they can’t. I often wonder if these people phone up for a day’s elephant trekking and ask if when they have finished they can shoot the bloody elephant! We have some of the world’s rarest and largest freshwater fish here at Gillhams, and if we let these morons kill them, in a couple of months we would have no clients. Many of you ask why you were not included in our newsletter, well, if you did nothing wrong and failed to catch a monster, space prevents us mentioning you all.

As Gillhams becomes more well known we are getting heavily booked. We limit the fishing here to 16 anglers per day to avoid overcrowding and to allow people to move swims. We are regularly full, but still we get the people who booked flights and hotels in advance just turning up wishing to fish, and when they are told, “Sorry we are full,” they get upset and rude, claiming they built their trip around coming to fish here. Why the hell they don’t book in advance to ensure their fishing is beyond me. Do they turn up at the airport to buy their plane ticket? Do they hell!

We are still getting complaints of slow fishing when some people catch a 300lb-plus arapaima plus two or three other fish around 40lb in a day, ending their week with around 25 fish with three or four fish over 100lb. Slow? I wish I knew where they fish! But we are treading on old ground here so I will get onto the catch report.

The catch report for this month is down from last month, which is down to Bamford and Boon’s Tours’ devastating tactics! The total catch for the month is as follows: 612 fish of 19 species, made up as follows: 32 arapaima to 280lb, eight arawana to 9lb, six alligator gar to 30lb, 121 Amazon red tail catfish to 80lb, 17 Asian red tail catfish to 34lb, 16 barramundi to 10lb, 23 black pacu to 30lb, four Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, 11 Mekong catfish to 140lb, three rohu to 15lb, two spotted featherback to 7lb, 325 Siamese carp to 89lb, three striped snakehead to 2lb, 15 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 30lb, nine shovel nosed tiger catfish to 18lb, two striped catfish to 14lb, three tambaqui to 45lb, five wallago attu to 22lb and seven wallago leeri to 21lb.

Aaron Hyde returned again, this time bringing with him Matt and Justin, two fishing mates from back home. The first few days were fairly slow and it took them a little time to get used to the rods and then the style of fishing. Even though they carp fish back in the UK and we use similar methods, it’s not a case of cast out sit back and wait until the evening and then recast once more. Once they got into the fishing they started catching a few fish, mixed in with some new and different species, like Aaron with his barramundi. Now these fish are very similar to Aaron as they are born male, and later some change to female! Towards the end of their trip they were catching some good fish and had cracked the Siamese carp with Justin getting an 89lb carp and a couple of others between 50 and 60lb. It wasn’t all fishing for the lads; they also went on some of the many day trips including sea canoeing, Phi Phi island tour, elephant trekking etc, plus a couple of nights out on the town checking out local restaurants and other attractions. By the end of their stay the three lads had gone on to catch 52 fish of seven different species. The best catch for each of them were Justin’s 89lb Siamese carp, Matt’s 50lb Siamese carp and Aaron’s Mekong catfish that weighed in at around 130lb, even though watching him play this beast you would have thought it was going to be 300lb-plus! He had the Mekong on for about 40 minutes, and it was sheer hell for him, with his little legs and puny arms wobbling. He even had to keep taking water breaks to tame the beast, but eventually it was in the net, with a sigh of relief from Aaron and a big cheer from the spectators. After the photos were taken and the adrenalin had finally left Aaron’s body, the last thing he wanted to catch was another Mekong catfish, so it was off to the bar for some pina colada cocktails and fairy cakes!

Jason Hopkinson had been keeping in contact with us from his home away from home in Afghanistan, where he is stationed as a soldier for the British armed forces (please note I still use the word British.) He was originally bringing his girlfriend with him but unfortunately for her she had police training and couldn’t make it, so Jason brought his mate Andrew with him instead. Jason was booked to stay for ten nights but only fishing five days, using the rest of his time to see some of Krabi’s many sights including elephant trekking, sea canoeing and island hopping. Andrew was just taking things easy and fishing odd hours, as he was more into rock climbing, diving and other extreme sports. He did find out how extreme Gillhams can be though when he hooked into a giant fresh water stingray. After playing it for about 45 minutes, the tail whipped the line one too many times, and like so many others before him the fight was over, and Mr. S. Ray had won the battle. Thankfully not everything had the same unfortunate ending, and during their stay Andrew and Jason went on to land 24 fish of seven species, with the two biggest fish falling to Jason in the form of a 150lb arapaima and a 120lb Mekong catfish. Jason fortunately did not have to return to hell with all the other boys fighting a pointless battle against fanatics with no morals, but I will get off that soap box and just wish all the troops out there the best of luck and a 20% discount to any serving soldier who would like to come and fish Gillhams – some of us appreciate what British troops are doing around the world.

We also had returning customers Michael Ong, Richard Carden and John and Selina Mitchell. They came for a weekend’s fishing as living in Asia it’s only a short flight away, Michael from Malaysia caught 17 fish of four species, some of which he had not caught here before. Richard Carden came with his wife he had a good two days’ fishing, managing to land 13 fish of three species, the biggest being a Siamese carp just shy of 50lbs. John and Selina Mitchell caught 18 fish of five species, between them also catching species they had not caught here before. Selina’s largest arapaima was 120lb, but their biggest catch fell to John in the form of a 140lb arapaima.

Last year two Germen anglers, Wolfgang Wildermann and his friend Gunter came to us for a few days via Siam fishing tours. They had a bad fishing trip, so we offered them a reduced rate to return and sample fishing in Thailand under better conditions. Our Thai guide Wyn took care of them and forgot to fill in their catch report, but looking at their pictures they obviously caught a few! Here at Gillhams we do not accept a bad fishing trip, and will always offer a deal to put things right.

George and Lucy Carr came to us for a few days’ fishing for George’s birthday, their main target species as usual being arapaima. The first one George caught could not have been timed better, as it was on George’s birthday. Just as he struck into his arapaima Lucy also had a screaming run, and as luck would have it her fish was also an arapaima. After 15 minutes George landed his fish, which weighed in at 140lb. Lucy’s was not far off being ready for the net, so pictures were taken and George’s birthday gift was released. Luckily for the birthday boy Lucy’s arapaima was not bigger than his, being identical in size to George’s, or at least that’s what we had to tell him! During their stay George went on to land one other arapaima slightly smaller than the first but still very much appreciated, and the end results were 12 fish of three species to George and four fish of two species to Lucy.

I was a bit disappointed to miss our next guest, Nina Simon, our friend from Sweden. She is a very good and capable angler who has also spent time in Australia working as a fishing guide. Nina does a lot of promotion and writing about Gillhams back in Sweden, and this visit was for her to try and catch her bogey fish, the arapaima. In Nina’s previous visits she has been unlucky, hooking a few, but always suffering hook pulls. This is a common occurrence with arapaima, and 60% come adrift, but in poor Nina’s case it was, and still is, 100%! Oh well Nina, you will have to endure yet another trip to paradise next year! Nina came with her boyfriend Olof who was not a fisherman but enjoys photography. The plan was for Nina to fish, with Olof behind the camera, and they were only fitting in a couple of days before moving on to explore Thailand together. Nina fished hard and managed to catch 14 fish of four species, with the biggest being a Siamese carp just shy of 40lb, and also catching Amazon red tail catfish, Asian red tail catfish, a pacu and several other Siamese carp. Nina has promised she will return, and next time she’s not leaving ‘til she catches her target fish.

Unfortunately Ben Jenkins finished helping us out and continued his travels, but hopefully if we have a vacancy he will return next year to work with us. As part of the deal for helping us he was given a few days’ fishing, but he probably wished he had left on a high and not bothered fishing again. Ben was having a fisherman’s nightmare by losing everything he hooked, including a giant freshwater stingray. These rays must not be given any slack line and require maximum pressure from the angler, as if you back off they nail themselves to the bottom and eventually that swishing razorblade tail will end the battle. As Ben gave a few extra clicks on the drag in order to really give it some stick, the fish had other plans and bolted across the lake. Poor old Ben didn’t have enough time to loosen of the drag and was pulled straight off the bank and into the lake! He climbed back out with the ray still trying to drag him in, and deciding enough was enough, Ben leant really hard into the fish when somehow he managed to knock the bail arm open, and the sudden release of tension sent him sprawling to the ground, cutting his knees! Then the inventible happened; the dreaded tail whipped the line one too many times and cut through, leaving Ben stood on the bank bruised abused, bleeding and humiliated. During these couple of days fishing Ben managed ten fish of four species including two stunning tiger catfish.

Day ticket anglers fared well this month, totalling 73 fish between them with arapaima to 270lb, Mekong catfish to 130lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 65lb and Siamese carp to 60lb. We had the pleasure of the company for a day of two fishing mad sisters from Singapore, Esther and Li Ling. They came for a days fishing wanting to catch an arapaima and anything else that came along. Unfortunately the arapaima avoided their charms, but they did go home happy after catching 11 fish of three species, with the biggest being a 42lb Siamese carp. Both ladies are now back at home sorting out their photos of fish and the beautiful scenery, plus working out their next trip to Gillhams for a proper Thailand fishing holiday.

We also had the return of Tim and Moon who live in Nottingham, England; they holiday in Krabi each year and always fit in a few day trips to Gillhams, this year being no exception with them fitting in four visits. The days they fished were perfect for fishing, mainly being overcast and dry, but also with some heavy downpours. This weather led to some great catches, including their wish list fish, a 90lb arapaima. At the end of their four days they had caught 28 fish of eight species, including 17 Siamese carp with two over 60lb, plus Amazon red tail catfish to 50lb. With the amount of time they spent here, next year’s holiday plans have been set and Gillhams will be the base, so as they can do their sightseeing etc and still fish at peak times.

Mike Bailey from Canada is becoming part of the furniture here, and he squeezed in yet another visit, making two trips this month. Mike is a fanatically keen fisherman who is eager to catch every species that swims. For a long time his heart has been set on catching an arapaima on the fly, plus a Mekong catfish on bait. On previous visits the Mekongs have been rolling all over his baited areas, but eluded being caught. His first six-day trip of the month went well and Mike managed to land 35 fish including the elusive Mekong catfish just shy of 100lb at around 95lb, but still his fly rod hadn’t had a proper bend, so that was saved for his second visit of July. Towards the end of the month Mike was back for round two, this time concentrating more on the fly fishing and moving around more trying to catch new species and his target fish. He only had four days fishing, as a business meeting in Bangkok was calling, so he was keen to get started, so keen in fact that on his first morning he thought nothing of starting early, even though he knew we have a seven o’clock start time! Mike just could not resist as an arapaima went cruising by him at 6:45am; the temptation was just too much, and Mike was forced to drop bait on its head.

The next minute, bang, the fight was on and 20 minutes later he landed a 120lb arapaima, and still it was only five past seven! On the third day it was time to go all out with the fly fishing, and using Stuart as his guide he was in capable hands. The day was very wet and windy, but this didn’t put Mike off. Walking around the lake, they spotted a couple of arapaima in one corner within casting range, and after a few casts and being shown the correct retrieve to entice arapaima, Mike was in. With the rod bent double and after a 15-minute battle an Amazon red tail catfish broke surface. At around 50lb it would have been a new fly record if it hadn’t been foul-hooked in the side! Then it was back to business and after a further 30 minutes Mike was in once again, but this time it was the target fish, and after a 30-minute fight the 100lb arapaima was landed, and Mike was over the moon.

The next day, once again Mike went in search of arapaima with the fly rod, and it’s funny in fishing, but once you have confidence in what you are doing the fish come easily. Mike had total confidence now that any arapaima showing itself was catchable, so when one broke the surface to breathe, Mike made the perfect cast and, wham, arapaima number two was on. Around 35 minutes later Mike was the proud captor of a 220lb arapaima, his biggest ever freshwater fish, and by far the biggest fish he has ever caught on a fly rod. The total fish caught during Mike’s two July trips totalling ten days’ fishing was 53 fish of nine species. On departure Mike was like a dog with two dicks, and already planning his next trip when he wants to target featherbacks. He says the next visit will be in two months’ time, but we know we will be seeing him sooner than that!

Another guy who is part of the fixtures here is our good friend John Duffy who spends a week here roughly every five weeks, as having his own business and living in Indonesia makes this possible for ex-pat John. This trip his hopes were set on a new PB carp that currently stands at a respectable 65lb. Apart from the carp John was up for anything that swims. Coming for a week he set his target of 50 carp in a week, and as it was quiet he took Sean as his personal slave for the week. With his targets set, he started fishing on arrival and in the first evening, in only three hours’ fishing, he already had four carp under his belt, plus two Amazon red tail catfish. So then it was dinner and an early night ready to fish hard the following day. With 46 carp to go and seven full days to get them, it was a big number but achievable.

The next morning he was set and ready to go at 7am, with 15kg of maize, 10kg of boilies and 16kg of groundbait. Armed with a spod rod, two bottom rods, one float rod, a catapult and super bitch Sean to fire it all out, they were away. Constantly banging out bait and recasting all day, they were going well, and after five days of hard fishing he was only 11 carp off the target. But then as all fisherman know, you get your off days, including one day when the fish were feeding but not staying on the hook. John lost about eight fish, and with time running out the big 50 was looking unlikely. At the end of John’s stay he hadn’t managed to hit the 50-mark but still had a cracking week’s fishing, landing 41 Siamese carp to only 5lb off his PB with a stunning 60lb carp. John had caught 55 fish in all, of eight different species, and along with the carp he also had arapaima to 130lb and a Mekong catfish of 100lb. After an unbelievable week’s fishing John was not only exhausted but looking forward to next month’s trip when hopefully there will be a 100lb-plus carp with his name on it!

That just about sums up July, folks. Watch out for next month’s newsletter because our old buddy Rob Maylin is returning to try and regain his world record crown! Many thanks for reading this newsletter, and for all your feedback on its content. If you are planning trips this year or next we suggest you book early to avoid disappointment. To book contact Stuart on +66(0)861644554 or email
I hope you all catch the biggest fish of your lives, and for those already booked in you probably will! Best wishes and tight lines from Stuart and all the team here at Gillhams.