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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter July 2015

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

It’s been another incredible month out here at the Theatre of Dreams. We started the month off with the end of the Help for Heroes Monster Fishing Expedition and it was a truly rewarding experience for all concerned. We didn’t know the personal circumstances of the lads and lasses who came, but as time went by and we learned their stories, it became very personal to all of us, and to see the reactions when some amazing fish were caught was extra special, and it was without doubt an honour to be part of it.

After the Help for Heroes expedition left, we introduced our new boilies to our customers’ mandatory bait allowance. Now when you arrive here to fish you get 3kg stick pellet, 2kg of boilies and a pack of fish, plus of course the large drilled pellet for hookbaits (per day). The boilies are made here on site by Sean and his team and have been slowly introduced into the lake over the last few months. They are packed full of expensive ingredients and goodness, and the fish clearly like them. It’s been a mindblowing month as far as the Siamese carp have been concerned – in the first 17 days of July we saw 15 different captures of 100lb-plus fish, and by the end of the month we had gone to over 20 captures! Now that must be a record! I can’t say hand on heart that every fish was different, as I didn’t see every one of them with my own eyes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were, as there seem to be different ones coming out all the time, and we are sure there are at least 50 (if not more) 100lb-plus specimens in the lake now, which is pretty awesome stuff I’m sure you’ll agree. This is a true testament to Stuart’s vision and drive to make what is not only the world’s greatest fishery, but is also the ultimate carp lake… in paradise! Maybe I am biased, but not bad, eh?

July saw the return of Bang, our general handyman. Now Bang is quite a character, and I hadn’t met him before. Stuart said he was pleased that he wanted to come back, as he really was quite an inventive character who was quite gifted at sorting things out and overcoming all sorts of mechanical and engineering problems, but who also spoke good English, which really is a help!

Instantly I noticed how talented he is and incredibly versatile too, but I have to say I think he is a little bonkers. The other day one of the big stock ponds needed some maintenance. Some of that involved diving to the bottom of the lake, and the dive needed to last for a few minutes. Next thing we knew he had gone and bought a diving mask, drilled a hole into the side, screwed in an adaptor, then connected a long blue air line, which led to an air compressor. Sean asked me if I had seen what he had done. I hadn’t, so armed with my camera, I went round to see if the story was true. I walked to the pond, found Bang and asked if he really thought it was a good idea to jump into 15 feet of water connected to an air compressor, to which he replied, “No problem for me – I can do it for one hour!” At that he jumped into the depths, and all that we could see were a few bubbles. I couldn’t believe it! Even with Martin keeping an eye on him I still worried, but a good few minutes later he popped up, grinning away, having solved the problem. “See? I told you,” he said. “No problem for me!” I walked away laughing and somewhat relieved. I recounted the whole story to Stuart saying that I thought there was probably something “not quite right with him”. Stuart agreed… Oh well… welcome back, Bang!

The Vimeo page now has some great videos on there – all The Zeb Hogan stuff is up, the clip from River Monsters where Jeremy Wade stayed here for a few weeks is up, and Olivier Portrat’s amazing picture compilation is there too. It’s well worth a look, especially if you haven’t seen them before. If you haven’t heard of Vimeo, it’s like YouTube, but with none of the annoying adverts. It looks and feels quite slick. Speaking of YouTube, that is now peppered with videos. Pretty much all the Facebook videos have been put up there, so if you liked or laughed at one of them, you can find them pretty easily there, if you fancy watching them again.

Gollock went home for the month to see his family up in the north of the country, and meanwhile Lawrence still manages to dazzle us with his lack of ability to control his “gobshiteness”, although he is now definitely sporting a tan these days. He also bought a hammock so he could lounge about on his days off, which he duly set up and then fell out of, grazing his arms and ankles. Of course we didn’t find that funny at all, poor little sausage. Darren continues to survive on four hours’ sleep a night (oh to be young again) and pulled out of another carp over 100lbs. Nick has taken up Muay Thai boxing on his days off, and Lee and I have had a few longtail boat trips. Lee also decided to do a spot of waggler rod fishing and managed to catch a Hoven’s carp, which we weighed at 22lbs – well above the IGFA world record, so it’s a great capture for him. Chris purchased some new shorts, and one day he may even get some that fit!

At the end of the month Sean and Noi were pleased to announce the birth of their baby boy Tyler James Gillham at just under 8lbs. I don’t now much about babies other than they stink, make a lot of noise and cost a fortune, but on the other hand, everyone I know who has bought one says they are great and bring bundles of joy and happiness. I am sure this will be the case for Sean and Noi as the days, weeks, months and years go by.

Finally a special thank-you from me to Mo Morris, one of the soldiers on the Help for Heroes trip. Here is our very personal story… Mo has had a proper bad time with PTSD (post dramatic stress disorder) and ended up in prison, but he turned his life around, and although he’s not fully through it yet, he is moving forward all the time after the horrors of battle. Part of his rehabilitation was to take up art. Now over the years plenty of people have offered to paint or draw the pic of my capture of Two-Tone, at the time the second biggest carp ever landed in England. I turned them all down, but when I saw little Mo painting in his swim, I asked him if he would do me the honour. He did and I am over the moon with the drawing, so thanks Mo Morris – you have made my year!


Right that’s enough of my ramblings, so best we get on with the whos, the whys and the flipping ‘ecks from this month’s fishing.

The anglers who visited us for the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer had some superb fishing in Krabi this month with a total of 837 fish caught of 23 species, made up as follows: 67 arapaima to 520lb, five arawana to 10lb, four alligator gar to 55lb, 96 Amazon redtail catfish to 85lb, four Amazon stingray to 130lb, 169 Asian redtail catfish to 40lb, 14 black pacu to 30lb, four Chao Phraya catfish to 100lb, one Hoven’s carp of 22lb, one barramundi of 4lb, one giant snakehead of 6lbs, four spotted featherback to 10lb, 18 Julian’s golden carp to 40lb, 39 Mekong catfish to 180lb, nine Nile perch to 10lb, eight red bellied pacu to 12lb, 372 Siamese carp to 148lb, one spotted sorubim of 35lb, one rohu of 10lbs, eight gourami to 9lbs, one striped catfish of 55lbs, four ripsaw catfish to 20lbs and two Amazon stingray to 20lbs.

Now carrying on from the last month’s newsletter, the lads and lasses on the Help for Heroes Monster Fishing Expedition were catching loads of fish. We then took them to a restaurant in Krabi and then they had a days R&R, which I think stands for “rolling around in the sand and relaxing, down on the beach”, which most of us did! After the day off the fishing started; Mac was over the moon when he landed a 50lb Amazon, and was then blown away with a 170lb arapaima. He fished the swim with Sam who also landed an Amazon, but a real cracker at 80lbs. Little Steve was getting himself a reputation as a bit of a “winkler”, so we started calling him “the Fonz”, and he lived up to his reputation when he then landed three Siamese of 55lb, 75lb and then 85lb! Wayne did some hauling on that day too, as he landed a 55lb Siamese, two Asian red tails and Amazons of 50lbs and a mouthwatering 95lb’er.

But the capture of the day for us was seeing Kate, laughing her head off as she battled a 150lb arapaima. We did have to laugh, as she’s only little, and it was quite a task for her, but she hung on, and with a little help from Long Tall Bob, she landed her dream fish, but then decided that was enough for her for one day! With the fishing and the cultural days rotating, the next few days were a bit of a blur to us really. With a draw for swims every day (which we undertook in order to keep things fair for everyone), everyone cracked on with the fishing, and everyone had caught by day six. Steve Edgeler had a few topped by a 45lb Siamese carp. Owain got amongst them and was pleased with a nice Amazon red tail, whilst George landed a 50lb Siamese carp, and Mohammed caught an Asian red tail and an Amazon red tail.

Then the guides got the Mekong rods out. It was something we had deliberately avoided, as the Mekongs had been really active in the run-up to the H4H trip, and we wanted to see if they would continue to feed and be as active as they had been on the leads. It was also for us to gauge whether or not the injuries which we had to deal with would in fact be worsened by a good scrap with a Mekong! Well, we didn’t have to worry because although the fish weren’t really getting picked up off the bottom, they were quite catchable on the floats, and the boys and girls were up for a battle the second we mentioned it! I guess we should have known they would be! Mac landed one early doors at 130lb, and bearing in mind he had also landed a 100lb-plus arapaima, he was more than made up! Mark got greedy and had two at 140lb and 150lb, and Conrad battled one for ages at 130lb. George didn’t want any of the Mekong action but doubled his Siamese PB to 110lbs. Kate slipped the net under a 45lb Amazon red tail, and Pav was having fun with the Siamese.

Then all off a sudden the arapaima went bonkers, and Will landed a stunner at 180lbs. Steve did the same with another 180lb’er, big Mo landed a dream fish at 240lb, and then Owain caught another over 200lb. The guides were flying about and loving every single second of it, as were the injured personel, I hasten to add.

Like I said last month, not all of the injuries that come during battle, or in general whilst living a life in the forces, can be seen with the naked eye, and as time went on, some of the H4H trip really came out of their shells. Unbeknownst to us, they were actually having the times of their lives, and although they didn’t scream and shout about it. They just got on with it, smiling away, and as time went by, you could see that they wanted to catch more and more fish, and they were just loving it!

A local businessman called Gidi, who owns a restaurant called “The Carnivore”, a very popular haunt for Gillhams regulars, which cooks a fantastic steak, very kindly gave the whole resort a free meal as a present to our visiting Heroes, helpers and all of us here at the resort. What a fantastic gesture and one that everyone appreciated!

The next day was a day off for everyone, and the fishing continued the day after. The Siamese carp were now really feeding, and Wayne pulled in an 85lb specimen. Mark had a couple at 35 and 65lb, and then Paul and Dean both followed suit with an 80lb’ers, whilst Steve, Martyn and Mark had one apiece between 35 and 60lb. Sam landed four Amazon red tails to 75lb and a stonking Asian red tail at 40lb. Will had an Asian of 15lb and an Amazon of 30lb, whilst Pav had a small Nile perch and two Amazon red tails of 45 and 75lb, and then to finish off what was quite a busy day, Conrad bagged himself an 180lb arapaima. Clinton had one at 130lb and LLoydy had a small one at 65lb, which he was really quite pleased about!

The penultimate day’s fishing was a busy one, and the Siamese kept everyone busy again as Paul landed two at 45lb and 75lb. Mark had three to 88lb, and Steve (The Winkler) had four to 85lb and then popped out a 55lb striped catfish. Mark had a couple to 90lb, but the cat that really got the cream was Owain with a 106lb’er. The red tails kept Steve, Vance and James busy, but not as much as George did! His incredible haul that day was four Amazon red tails to 80lb, an Asian red tail of 35lb, a small arowana and two arapaima of 140lb and 160lb! Big Mo also had an arapaima of 160lb and little Mo had one at 100lb. Incredibly that wasn’t it for the arapaima that day, as Matt landed one at 160lb, and Jamie had one at 200lbs, after landing Siamese of 75lb and 80lb! Last but by no means least was Will… He impressed everyone when he battled and won with a 150lb Mekong and also landed a Siamese of 70lb for good measure.

And so the final day came, and some things didn’t change. The Winkler (Steve) had a 145lb Mekong and a 30lb Siamese. The red tails kept Conrad, Pav, Vance, George and Kate busy, and then Holyhead’s finest, Mr Lloyd, got amongst the Siamese carp when he landed five to 90lb,. But I guess the capture of the day had to be Jamie when he bagged two Siamese at 70lb and then an absolute pearler at 140lb, which none of us on the lake recognised. This got us thinking about just how many different really big (120lb-plus) we have in the lake – blooming loads of them (with at least 50 different ones over the magical 100lb barrier)!

The final evening meal saw a nice chat from husband and wife duo (and organisers) Nicky and Chris, and a large blown-up signed photo of everyone on the trip was presented to Stuart as a big thank-you for his kindheartedness in allowing the whole thing to happen in the first place.

The whole experience had been pretty much everything we expected it to be. From what we have learned since, and most importantly, all of our servicemen and women who came took a hell of a lot of positives from the whole experience, and some have even vowed to take up fishing upon their return. So it was job done, and with a heavy heart we had to bid them farewell, although I am sure the story won’t end there, as we’ll be seeing some of them again I’m sure!


Not long after the soldiers left we had a lovely family from Sussex come called the Staplehursts. Father and son were going to do the fishing whilst the ladies were going to do some serious sunbathing by the swimming pool – a good plan, I thought. The first day they arrived was a leisurely affair, and as the girls settled into a week of luxury and relaxing, the lads got their fishing heads on. Tahnee, the son, is a very keen fisherman at home who has landed some very respectable fish, and a little bird told me that every spare second he has, he’s off fishing! So it was no surprise that you couldn’t keep him off the rods the whole time he was here. After a quiet first afternoon Tahnee and Rick set up in swim G1, and Tahnee was first to score with a small Asian red tail. But the morning definitely went to Rick, as a powerful fight then ensued with a stingray, which ultimately ended with the fish sucking down hard on the lake bottom, like they do, and a tug of war between the guides and the fish then ensued.

When this happened in the past it has often led to a loss as the mono (or now braid), can catch against a stone or mussel on the lake bottom and hence weaken and lead to a break. Since we swapped over to the braid we have definitely landed more of the big ones, with the higher abrasive qualities it possesses. However now and again, and with a big ray on, it can still break, and that’s what happened to Ricky. Just as Lawrence managed to grab the ray’s tail the braid went, and everyone thought it had escaped… well… until we saw Lawrence being dragged by the fish, saying that he still had hold of the tail!

Chris grabbed Lawrence’s spare arm, Darren grabbed Chris’s spare arm, and the mandatory tug of war started, but they were losing the battle, as this was a powerful fish. Sean jumped in and grabbed Darren’s spare arm, and they all pulled, and the slowly the fish came closer. But they needed just a little more help, so then Rick grabbed Sean’s spare arm, and all five of them pulled the beast towards the cage… Now we were just inches away from a very memorable capture indeed! The fish had other ideas of course and sucked down onto the lakebed again, so Sean dived down, grabbed it, pulled it up from the bottom, and it was placed in the cage – pretty awesome stuff, that’s for sure. Luckily for us Tahnee’s sister made a very good job of videoing the whole thing, and it’s a video you can watch on our YouTube page. Tahnee was next to have some fun, as a couple of hours later he was seen grinning behind a 100lb Siamese carp, which totally blew him away, and we knew he wouldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. But it got even better, because at roughly 6.15pm he then hooked into a hard-fighting fish, which turned out to be an arapaima of 180lb. The whole family were really buzzing, and I am not surprised –three different species of fish over 100lb in one day!That’s just awesome!

The following day was a quieter affair on the main lake, and dad Rick landed an Amazon red tail at 45lb, so a quick move over to Sala 1 was planned for the following day. This was to prove a good decision, as Rick then had a couple of Asian red tails and another Amazon of 65lb, whilst Tahnee helped himself to a 70lb Amazon red tail. Now somewhere in those last two or three days, the lads made it up to the top lake and had a few fish between them, notably both catching an arawana. The last day however was upon them, and it seemed as if their few days had gone in the blink of an eye. However, they held their heads up high and managed a couple more Asian red tails, but Rick had the best of their last day with two Amazon red tails of 30lb and 50lb. They left a happy family and said they will return one day. Well, we look forward to that.


Speaking of people returning, a few months ago we had four characters roll into the fishery all full of beans and laughter. Those four were Barnie and Charlie, ex pats from Norfolk who work in the oil industry who were fishing, and their two wives Sharon and Liz. They live not too far away, near Malaysia, and on the last quick visit they all enjoyed themselves and even described here as their second home! We heard the laughter in the car park before they arrived in the restaurant, and after a somewhat relaxed start that involved a couple of ciders, Barnie and Charlie headed round to Sala 9 and 10 as the girls, well… chatted and relaxed. It wasn’t too long before Charlie’s rod ripped off, and he really was made up when an arapaima of 90lb rolled into the cage that afternoon. Well, in time honoured tradition that was enough of an excuse for these two to call it a day (around 6pm) and head back to the bungalow for a shower, pick the girls up, and then head for the bar to celebrate their first and I quote “arapaima experience”.

The next morning the lads were up early and straight in the swims again. It was Barnie who had the luck this time, as a couple of Siamese carp of 35lb and 50lb were quickly followed by a superb 40lb Julian’s carp, and Charlie sat there twiddling his thumbs. Revenge however is a pudding served best cold, and after another early finish and trip to the restaurant, the next day belonged to Charlie, as he banked an Asian red tail of around 30lb and then had a chuckle at Barnie’s “baby” 25lb Siamese carp. With just a day to go the four friends from Norfolk decided it was best to hit the town, and I am not really sure what happened, but they all had a good hearty hangover, and there were some great pics of Barnie doing a spot of pole dancing. Remarkably there were none of Liz letting herself down… just joking… I’m sure the girls behaved well, as usual.

It’s fairly well known that Barnie and Charlie do as many things together as they can, but to both catch a 40lb arapaima the next day was at best, unusual… but that’s what they did. Was it the same fish? Who knows? It’s as likely as it is unlikely. The day finished with another Asian redtail, and all that remained was a quick three hours on the final morning. Barnie had a red tail straight away, and then just before 8am the rod rattled off again and he was locked on, “man and beast”, with a fish that turned out to be a 150lb arapaima, which was definitely the icing on the cake for them on this trip.

July also saw the return of ex-guide Joel and his friend Brian Nielsen. They were staying at the resort whilst another friend, Rick Lawrence, was going to do the odd day session. Joel had been away from Thailand for ten months, and he was really pleased to be back. He picked up his girlfriend Tor, popped to Phuket for a few days and then made his return to the fishery. Joel started in Sala 1, armed with a couple of rods for the carp and a waggler rod to see if he could tempt one of the more unusual and maybe smaller species that the main lake has to offer. Rick popped up into Sala 9 and landed a small Siamese, whilst Brian had a 50lb’er mid way up the bungalow side. Joel proved he hadn’t lost his magic touch, as on the first day he managed to catch a couple of gourami, one of which was a fantastic 9lb’er, but it was his beloved carp that came up trumps that day for him, as he managed to land one at 125lb, which was all he had hoped for before he made his return, and it was also his seventh Siamese carp over that magical 100lb barrier, so he was understandably “buzzing”.

After a night on the town, no doubt seeing some old friends, the next day saw him land a couple more good sized Siamese of 70lb and 80lb and then a clonking Asian red tail of 45lb. Brian across the other side had an 85lb Siamese. The Siamese carp continued to keep Joel busy the next day as he landed fish of 65lb, 50lb and 35lb, and then he got stuck into an arapaima, which weighed 140lb. 140lb seemed to be the weight of the day, as Brian then landed a 140 Mekong and then a small pacu. Rick made a return the following day, and it was his turn for a huge fish, as he landed a superb Siamese of 115lb and then another of 80lb from Sala 9, whilst Joel had a couple of 70lb’ers, and Brian had a 50 and a 60.

There was then a quiet day where only Joel caught a small Siamese, but it was on their last day’s fishing that we really had some fun. The call came in that we had a really big Siamese carp in the net, and Stuart gave us the nod to get the fish out and pop it on the scales. We all dived up there as fast as we could and marvelled at the width of it; it was huge! So with everything in place and with videos and cameras recording the moment, we carefully lifted the beast out of the water and onto the scales. The fish weighed 148lbs, exactly and Brian was understandably over the moon. What a truly magnificent creature, and it was definitely an honour to have seen such an impressive fish. Brian had another Siamese of 60lb followed by a 130lb Mekong, and Joel finished their last day’s fishing with a couple more gourami and Siamese of 55lb and 60lb. Joel then had to leave; it was time to pick up a visa for Tor, as they were planning on her going to England for three months, I think to see whether moving to England would be a good thing for her or not.


Last and by no means least is the return of Rob and Mandy who came as part of Rob’s 40th birthday celebrations. They came over with a few friends, and basically it was going to be a little bit of fishing and a lot of partying in the local town, Ao Nang, and then off to the island of Phi Phi. It’s short and sweet this one, but it did make me laugh. Rob and Mandy turned up and started fishing the day after their arrival. It’s fair to say they adopted a somewhat relaxed approach to their fishing, and were definitely in “holiday mode”. However… on day one, fishing midway up the bungalow side, Rob reeled in Siamese carp of 80lb, 80lb, 110lb, 130lb and 50lb with two Asian red tails of 35lb and 12lb, whilst Mandy in the swim next door reeled in Siamese carp of 75lb, 80lb and 55lb. Then the next day Rob went on to land Siamese of 55lb, 45lb, 60lb, 95lb and 50lb, whilst Mandy was seen grinning behind a 100lb’er. So that was three 100lb’ers between them in two days. They disappeared for a couple of days, and then had a couple of days chilling out. Rob fished another day or so, but his rods were quiet (not that he cared after two hundred pound-plus Siamese!), and the next thing we knew they had disappeared again! Good solid angling!

Oh, and here just to make your eyes pop out, is a great pic of Christian Jones and his massive arapaima of 520lbs!


Well that’s it for another month here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts. We hope to meet many new anglers and make new friends over the next few months.

Once again many thanks to everyone who has fished here, and we hope to see you again in the near future. For those of you planning a return or first trip, please email Stuart or phone +66 (0) 861644554, and please remember we are +6 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).