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Krabi newsletter June 2008

Hello once again to our readers, and many thanks to you all for reading my monthly ramblings. An even bigger thank you goes to all of you who have booked holidays here at Gillhams with us. June has now passed, and with it some serious rainstorms, which were good for flushing out the lake. We have probably now completed a 50% water change. June and July are our worst months for rain and lack of customers, so many thanks to all who visited us here last month, especially Low Season Lee, a lady’s hairdresser from Phuket, who is becoming part of the family here. Lee has totally fallen in love with Gillhams, spending most of his free time here. Sometimes he does not even fish, but just enjoys the peace and quiet of the resort. Mind you when he gets drinking the peace and quiet is forgotten! This month he has been running round the resort in his St Michael’s white Y-front Air-Tex skidders, on the back of which Ning, his girlfriend, had lovingly embroidered his initials – thank god there were no customers in. Lee’s drink bill paid the staff’s wages this month, so a big thanks goes to him.

Poor old Steve (aka Butter Bean), our resident English chef, has been learning how to handle our fish, but in a moment of forgetfulness he made the classic mistake of standing at the head end of a caged arapaima. Upon seeing Butter Bean Steve, the arapaima kacked itself, and thought old Jumbo was going to eat him! The arapaima jumped from the cage, straight at poor old Steve’s face, head-butting him at 50mph! Poor Steve learnt the hard way why we tell everyone to mind these aggressive fishes’ heads, which they use as a weapon. Arapaima will give you the best Glasgow kiss on the planet, and there are many serious injuries every year caused by them; in Brazilian fish farms they are responsible for 14 deaths a year. So please all of you coming here or elsewhere, take heed of what you are told, do exactly as we say, and you will be safe, or end up like Steve with a black eye, split lip and loose tooth! Mind you, Steve was lucky – that was a very minor injury – only last month an inexperienced guide at another fishery in Thailand lost his front teeth, and had several broken ribs inflicted on him due to underestimating these huge fish. They look docile and handled correctly they are docile, which is why we insist on our customers obeying our strict guidelines. We have probably handled more big arapaima here than any other fishery in Asia.

On a sadder note we learnt of one of our customers and friends, poor Sean Fay passed away after a short illness. Sean hailed from the Oxford area, and he was a very well respected angler who loved all fish, but especially predators. Sean had fished Thailand many times in the past; his last trip here was in October ’07 when he managed personal bests in arapaima, Mekong catfish, Asian red tail, Siamese carp and Julian’s golden prize. He was planning a return trip here around November, and his target species was to be a big Amazon red tail catfish. Being the accomplished angler he was, we are sure he would have pulled it off and then some. RIP little fella – I am sure you will get amongst some big fish behind those pearly gates, and I bet the big guy there has a lake with your red tail swimming in it.

Being the low season, customers this month are as rare as rocking horse poo. Mind you, July is the quietest month, so let’s hope Low Season Lee returns with his team of drinkers. The 13 fishermen who did make the trip here had good sport, with the low temperatures bringing the fish on the feed. Total fish caught this month was 171, made up as follows… 25 arapaima to 180lbs, three Mekong catfish to 140lbs, 64 Siamese carp to 55lbs, 25 red tail catfish to 70lbs, seven alligator gar to 25lbs, five Julian’s golden prize carp to 25 lbs, one rohu carp of 20lbs, two Asian red tail catfish to 25lbs, five black pacu to 30lbs, two Chao Phraya catfish to 45lbs, 27 spotted sorubim to 45 lbs, three spotted featherback to 8lbs, one giant featherback of 2lbs, and finally the one and only striped catfish we have in the lake has been caught. This fish was an escapee from an order we were holding in a fish cage for another fishery we supply with fish. It escaped in December at 5lbs and came out this month at 15lbs, so as all the fish here he has grown on well.

Top rod this month was Paul Cropper from Manchester UK, Paul must have a wife in a million, as she paid for his trip to Thailand as a present – top marks to that lady. Paul is hoping to return sometime in the future with his family, so I must buy Mrs. Cropper a drink or three. Paul came to us via our friend Jules, who owns and runs Siam fishing tours. Jules had set up a fantastic itinerary for Paul fishing various venues around Thailand, ending in his trip here to Gillhams. Paul stayed and fished for five days, and in that time he landed 32 fish of eight different species. His catch included arapaima to 170lbs and red tail catfish to 67lbs. He also landed 15 Siamese carp, and was unlucky not to get amongst the shoal of big fish we have lurking in the lake, he was happy though to take them to 35lbs. The record for the least fish caught for a holiday must go to Steve and David from the USA. In a ten-day trip they only landed ten fish between them, but at least getting an arapaima each of 130 and 110lbs. To be fair to these two entertaining chaps were here for fun around Krabi, to check out the local area and things to do, as Steve runs a fishing holiday company in the USA called Adventure Travel Alliance. After his visit here Steve was happy to put Gillhams Fishing Resorts down as his only destination in Thailand. In Steve’s own words, everything from the fishing and equipment to the food and the resort is first class. David did create some records of his own, and helped the local economy, but that is between me and the Owner hat! Steve also kindly invited me to his fishing lodge in Brazil – thanks Steve, hopefully next year.

The Phuket ex-pat crew did a weekend, and Sharky Craig (actually it came out as ‘shaky’ on the spellchecker – does Windows know him?) got his long overdue arapaima, then like buses after the first one the next morning the second one turned up. Craig bribed me to say it was 300lbs, so there you go mate – 300 less 190 = 110lbs! A really keen nice guy came with them for his first trip to Gillhams, Steve Knockout. He could only manage a day from work, but fished hard all day for eight fish with two arapaima up to150lbs. Low Season Lee had five arapaima this month up to 150lbs, plus plenty of other fish in his long-term campaign to stop us going out of business – cheers fella, you may not be top rod, but you certainly are the top drinker. A new ex-pat customer came up for a day this month, language teacher Liverpool Dave from Ao-Nang 19 km down the road. Dave summed up what the fishing here at Gillhams is all about when he hooked and played a huge unseen monster for 20 minutes, only to lose the unseen beast to a hook pull. In Dave’s words, it was a privilege to hook such a fish, to fish here and see all the big fish rolling and crashing in such beautiful surroundings, and then to hook one was an honor. To land one would be like winning the lottery. Dave thoroughly enjoyed his day, and got a consolation prize just as he was packing up landing a sorubim of 30lbs. Like Dave said, it gives him something to come back for, and once he learns the water I am sure a guy like Dave with his attitude to fishing will do well here. He has booked a stay in the bungalows for his birthday in September.

To sum it up here, the fishing is not easy, but for a big fish venue it is not hard. To put it in perspective, if you had a lake in your own country with just one big arapaima present, you would fish all year with a syndicate of other fishermen hoping to be the lucky guy who caught that fish. So why do some fishermen (muppets) come here expecting to catch a big fish of a lifetime every chuck? If you book a week here you WILL catch a fish of a lifetime, and maybe several. We have never to date had someone come here for more than five days and not catch an arapaima – now that is good fishing anywhere in the world. We also get the wingers who are a bit disappointed that they got a 190lb arapaima because they were hoping for a couple of 300lb-plus fish. Come on lads, get it in perspective – a big arapaima is 100lbs! The world record is 182lb 15oz! That is an exceptionally big arapaima. At Gillhams we have eight over 300lbs, plus another 15 over 200lbs, but they, as all big fish, got big by being clever.

They do not get caught regularly; they make a mistake on average twice a year, and some have not been out for a year – they are the bonus fish. But what is wrong with arapaima over 100lbs, especially when you have never caught one before? There are probably still less than 1,000 people in the world who have caught an arapaima, and probably less than 100 who have caught an arapaima over 200lbs. If you go back 15 years before fisheries like ours stocked arapaima, there would have only been a select handful of people who had caught one at all. So please, if you are planning a trip here don’t expect a fish a cast with every other one over 200lbs, because it is not that kind of venue; the average day here is four to six fish per day. It is a beautiful place in paradise where in a week you will get a fish of a lifetime. To sum up what we get asked here, take a look at ‘Ask Stuart’ on our website, at the letter from two impatient guys called David and Peter, titled ‘What type of fishery is Gillhams Fishing Resorts?’ If you are in the same league as these two, please do not come here.

That’s my monthly whinge over, and our news wrapped up. July is extra quiet, so Sean Butter Bean and I will be getting the rods out, plus Uncle Johnny Allen is threatening to return in pursuit of, in his words, ‘a big —- off Siamese carp.’ Will he get one, or even manage to get his rods out? Watch out for next month’s Krabi newsletter when all will be revealed. If you are planning a trip, get booking because slots are filling up fast for later this year and 2009. If you have any spare holiday from now up to the end of August, email us for a super low season deal. Best wishes, and get a whacker wherever you are, from all of us at We hope to see you soon.

Stuart and the team.