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Krabi newsletter June 2009

Hello again to all our readers of this fishing in Thailand series. Before I get on with this month’s report I have to jump forward a month, because as I am writing up this month’s newsletter a July customer Alan Boon from Birmingham has obliterated the Chao Phraya catfish world record with a 90lb fish, which beats the previous world record by some 28lbs! The fish was caught in full compliance with the IGFA regulations so there will be no reason why this fish will not be accepted as the new IGFA world record. More news on this and other captures next month.

Considering it’s the low season, we have had a good run of visitors joining us for the fishing in Krabi, plus this month has seen a lot of people just renting our bungalows for a non-fishing holiday. Gillhams is such a peaceful beautiful place it is now becoming known for a relaxed destination to spend a non-fishing holiday. Considering it’s supposed to be our rainy season, we sure have had a lack of rain. We are getting ten days between rains, and even then it’s just a few hours before the sun reappears. All our stock ponds are full to bursting point, so we are in the process of digging two more, as we wish to grow some hard to come by species, and once these ponds are complete we will stock them with peacock bass, Thai mahseer and rip saw catfish. These new species will be grown on to around 10lb prior to stocking. The arapaima in our ponds here are now up to 20-30lb, and they are not two years old till October! This puts them well on target to achieve 100lb by the time they are four years old, after which we will stock the best 20 into the main lake, and hold the others back to grow past the 200lb mark. The red tail catfish are the same age; they are now between 10 and 15lb, and they should be 40lb-plus fish by the time we stock them. Our tiger catfish have grown from 3in fry to 5lb in nine months, so the future looks good for Gillhams to maintain its position as the top commercial fishery in Asia.

Baby Jack is growing at the same rate as the fish, and if he carries on at the rate he is growing now, he should overtake his dear old dad by the time he is 20! It never stops amazing me how quick kids grow, and just how quick adults turn back into kids! I can’t wait for the little fella to walk and talk; it won’t be long now, and then Sean and I can get him fishing. By the time he is 16, he will have caught more big fish than most adults. We have started getting the little chap in the swimming pool every day, as living here we feel it is imperative that he can swim, as he is surrounded by water. Everyone who knows me knew my views on having a baby at my age, but now the little fella is here it is great fun, especially as we have a nanny to hand him back to for the nasty jobs. Oh I wish I could have had a nanny when Sean and Rebecca were small! Especially a nice 21-year-old…

Sean and I managed to squeeze in three days river fishing in the national park near us. This was jungle fishing with very basic accommodation, and even more basic food. We didn’t manage any big fish, but we had great fun – we caught Thai mahseer, jungle perch, red tail barb, giant snakehead (not so giant though), cobra snakehead, and blotched snakehead. We had nothing over 3lb, but the scenery was stunning, as was the wildlife, with giant otters, barking deer, buffalo, elephants, lemur monkeys and other monkeys. There were also lots of birds; hornbill, giant kingfisher, fish eagle, osprey, humming birds etc. We even came across two pythons! It was very hard trekking up wild rivers with waterfalls and crystal clear pools; the only access was by wading, swimming and scrambling up the unspoilt rivers, as the jungle each side was so dense it was impenetrable. As soon as we get another quiet spell we are going back to go even further up the rivers, this time camping and fishing as we go, and sleeping rough. It’s a four to five-day trip to reach a jungle track for a pick up. This next trip will be an unbelievable adventure; we believe bigger fish will be higher into the river, and for sure there are fish to 10lb-plus. We will be laying on trips to these rivers once we have all the logistics sorted out ­– don’t expect big fish, but do expect unspoiled natural beauty. The trips will be for fit people who do not mind roughing it with creepy crawlies, snakes etc. They will be tough and demanding, and anyone thinking of booking one of these trips will be expected to carry all their own kit, and to muck in with pitching camp and cooking. If you are a whinger or expect home comforts and slaves do not book one of these trips – stay at our resort where you do get pampered with all the home comforts, plus some! If you come on one of these trips with us and start causing problems, it will be our pleasure to leave you behind in the jungle!

This leads me into this month’s Gripe with Gillham section of the newsletter! Not too much to say this month, which is unusual for me, but here goes with the dirt. Why do the Brits, especially, go on holiday to whinge? From the moment they lock their home behind them they pick holes and whine about just about everything, from the queue at the airport and the food on the plane to waiting for their bags, etc. By the time they get to us they are in full holiday mode, complaining about every little thing, haggling about 20 pence, wanting a day trip to last all day for a fiver, and expecting the locals to speak perfect English. Typical Brit behaviour is to talk slowly, and everyone will understand! Come on guys, chill out – it’s a holiday, an adventure, and you are leaving the rat race behind. Life in paradise is slow, and as the locals will tell you, “It will come tomorrow.”

Then we have those who come here without changing their money, and when we give them a point or two below the exchange rate they have seen in the airport, they moan again. Change it at the airport if you want the best rates! The airports in Thailand will give you the best rate you will get. If you change it here with us, for sure we give better rates than at home, but we go lower than the airports, as the exchange rate can fall in a day before we can get to the bank. Then we have the tossers who come without enough funds, telling us they promise to send the money from their bill on to us once they are home – yeah, right! Sorry, you pay your bill or you go to the police-run hotel, which is a definite five star! The last gripe has to be why oh why do so many people think that you just cast out anywhere and catch? Is it really like that at home? No it isn’t, and that’s why 10% of anglers catch 90% of the fish. We are sick of explaining that our carp and Mekongs prefer to feed in 12 to 16ft of water, our other fish feed in the deep gullies, and the arapaima get attracted to the area where you are putting your free offerings, which then attract the fry that in turn attract the arapaima. Why do so many clowns still not even bother to check the depths in front of them with a marker rod? Find the correct depth and your own spot, feed it up, and fish to it. Time after time we see so-called anglers casting blind; every so often they hit the correct spot and catch, but if they had put in half an hour’s effort at the start, they would catch so many more fish.

Then we get the ones who bait up their guessed area and fish away from it. I just do not understand why we waste our breath. When these clowns ask us how and where to fish, we should just say chuck it anywhere and hope! Come on all you who are coming to visit us – please plumb the depth, then cast accurately to your chosen spot, and stick with it. Gillhams is a specimen fishing location; they do not crawl up the rods. We have the biggest fish in the world, and they grew big by being crafty and clever. Expect the average day to produce around four fish, but trust me by the time your trip ends you will have caught at least one fish of your dreams, and had at least one red letter day. Fish properly how we tell you, and your catch rate will improve dramatically. Many of the guys who listen leave here with large amounts of fish under their belts, plus several monsters. It’s really your choice, but please do not complain if you sit back, do bugger all, and only catch a few!

Moon phases are certainly starting to generate a pattern here at Gillhams; it seems that the last quarter of the moon coming into a full moon is the time that the fish get their heads down, especially the Siamese carp, Amazon and Asian red tail catfish, and the sorubim. On the other hand the arapaimas do not feed so avidly; they seem to prefer a new moon period. As you will see this month, catch numbers are up considerably on last month’s.

So on to the fishing in Krabi: 17 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to 14 days, with nine anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holiday. Between them all they caught 557 fish of 19 species, made up as follows: 34 arapaima to 330lb, two arawana to 8lb, six alligator gar to 25lb, 83 Amazon red tail catfish to 85lb, 11 Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, one barramundi of 8lb, 22 black pacu to 25lb, four Chao Phraya catfish of 62lb, two Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, six Mekong catfish to 160lb, three mrigal of 10lb, two rohu of 15lb, five spotted featherback to 10lb, 297 Siamese carp to 85lb, five striped snakehead to 4lb, 58 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 50lb, three shovel nosed tiger catfish to 15lb, four wallago attu of 20lb, and nine wallago leeri to 15lb.

The first group in this month came via an introduction by our regular client Dan Cox – Wayne, Steve, Toby, and last but not least, Hey Andy! Andy was the excuse for the trip, as it was his 40th birthday; we did him proud with a nice birthday cake and candles, then went down the town for another birthday cake at Amy’s bar and got extremely wasted. What a crew this lot was – great lads, great fun, and spent a lot of time drinking, sightseeing, drinking, fishing and drinking! Our bar takings have never been so high – originally they booked in for four nights and two days fishing, but they stayed for eight days and fished between drinking and day trips. Steve and Toby had not fished before. Looking at Toby it showed, but through following our advice he managed six fish, with two arapaima to 130lb. The highlight of Toby’s trip was trying to fish while drunk, and forward rolling into the lake when casting out. Toby had to go home a week before the rest of the lads, and on his final night he lost a shoe. He left the odd one behind, and the boys took it on tour with them. Everything they did after that the shoe came out with them and got photographed! Steve on the other hand was the sensible member of the team; he had never fished but stuck at it like an old hand, and he was out for a few hours each day, despite the hangovers. His best arapaima fell short of the ton by 10lb, but what does that matter when your PB before was a 6in roach? Steve has vowed to return on a serious alcohol-free holiday to fish every day – yeah, right, I will believe that when I see it! Wayne was the fisherman of group, having run Mercer’s syndicate in Surrey for many years, but it took him a while to accept that our beasts are not carp. As with all the carp boys who come here, it is hard for them to come to terms with drag settings and arapaima hook pulls, but once he calmed down he landed 11 fish of six species, including four arapaima to 230lb. As for Andy, he is another who has vowed to return and fish while leaving the drink alone – I suppose after fishing we can go hunting flying pigs! Andy had a blast here, and certainly had a birthday to remember when he landed a 200lb arapaima.

Next to arrive was Glenn Isakson from Sweden, who came with his wife and two children for a family holiday with some fishing thrown in, and boy did he throw some fishing in! He came for a week and checked out the day we left for the jungle, only to return for another five days when we got back. His excuse was the kids missed Steve’s cooking. Now Glenn fished very hard and effectively between family duties, landing 69 fish of six species, the best being arapaima to 330lb, Siamese carp to 80lb, sorubim to 30lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 65lb, Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, and wallago leeri to 12lb.

Our dear friends Wil and Betty arrived the day before the jungle adventure to join us in the trip, plus to meet young Jack. After the jungle Wil fished for three days before heading up to Bruce Dale’s new fishery, Teak Tree Lake in Chiang Mai. Wil hopes to never catch another Mekong catfish, but as usual he caught one of 120lb. Every trip here Wil catches at least one Mekong catfish, and we reckon if anyone is ever going to break our world record for the species it will be Wil! His main target every time here are a big Chao Phraya catfish, and as usual these avoided him, but he did manage a nice brace of arapaima in his six-species catch, plus his first Asian red tail catfish to add to his enviable world species list.

Fireman Michael Charalambous returned for a fishing holiday with his mate Daniel who is in the army. Now poor Daniel avoided injury in his tour of duty in Afghanistan, only to fall down the steps of his bungalow and badly cut his head open, along with giving himself a beauty of a black eye – he really looked like a war veteran! In five days’ fishing they landed 58 fish of seven species, the best being an arapaima to Danny of 230lb, mind you Michael landed three to 150lb.

Then came the return of Alistair, better known for the phrase, “It wasn’t me – Christie done it.” Now Alistair is a regular here at Gillhams, and never fails to make us laugh; it is always non-stop piss taking, with this trip being no different. When he bought his mate Alan King, alias Seaman Stains with him, Seaman smoked for England, drank for the world and ate like an Ethiopian refugee. Put that together with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp, and you had one very unfit, ugly chap! Now Alan, like so many of our guests, chose to celebrate his birthday here, claiming it was his 60th, but we had no doubt it was at least his 70th, or he has had one hell of a hard life! Mind you, being an old salty sea dog maybe it was true. He actually got severe sunstroke on his birthday, and completely missed his birthday booze up, but we celebrated in style for him, and Roger the cabin boy took care of the surprise. Seaman went on to puff and pant his way to an 18-fish haul, which included two Mekong catfish to 160lb, and two arapaima to 260lb, which really rubbed Alistair’s nose in it. Now Alistair, not to be outdone, went on to catch 32 fish, the best being a superb 80lb Siamese carp, plus a 200lb arapaima. Seaman Stains has already booked trips in August and September, and Alistair in September, which just shows the draw of Gillhams, as most visitors say once they have fished here, nowhere else can compare.

Then we had the Facebook pirate, Roger the cabin boy, in the form of Aaron Hyde. Aaron works for a travel company Kenwood Travel, so check out where I am sure he can sort you out a good deal on flights. Aaron is one of those guys who we meet who comes as a customer and leaves as a friend. He fished to enjoy himself; the whole holiday was for fun, and the fish were a bonus. We had some good nights out and some good laughs, and Aaron caught 15 fish of four species, achieving his target of an arapaima, which weighed 160lb. He also achieved another target downtown that we can’t mention in a family newsletter, but it was not what it seemed, and while he strolled along the sea front at 3am the final character of the Captain Pugwash crew was seen in attendance – none other than Master Bates!

Steve, aka Butter Bean’s brother, daughter and boyfriend came for a two-week holiday along with two of Steve’s old buddies from England, Burger and Glenn. This team came for a holiday without fishing, but Burger and Glenn had day and a half’s fishing resulting in 12 fish. Such was the effect on Kerry that he proposed to Vikki whilst here, and now we have a wedding booked for the middle two weeks of August 2010. Please note the resort will be shut from the 14th to the 28th August 2010, as they have booked the complete resort for two weeks for this momentous occasion.

Stephen Daly and his partner Paula Smith where a couple who came for a day then returned for a second day with the excuse they were missing Steve’s Sheppard’s pies! Then on the last day of their stay Paula surprised Stephen by telling him they were going snorkeling for the day but secretly booking another day for him. The first day Stephen caught a rare brace in the shape of a wallago attu and a wallago leeri with a barramundi, Mrigal, redtail catfish and Siamese carp he sure had a Varity in his haul. Next visit was to see yet another wallago attu plus pacu, redtail catfish and Siamese carp. He topped his final surprise day with a fine hall of Siamese carp with the icing on the cake in the shape of a 70lb Siamese carp; Paula had some nice carp in her catches. The arapaima eluded him but he has vowed to return and land one.

Next guest to arrive was Rob Tonkin who was on a six month back packing trip around Thailand and beyond with his girlfriend, he had read about Gillhams in Big carp magazine and decided to blow a hole in his budget and spend four nights in a five star resort rather than the minus five hell holes they had been suffering! Robs girlfriend suffered bad sunstroke chilling around the pool, but rob in top form didn’t let it affect his fishing in anyway and stuck to the job in hand!! Fair play to him top angling Rob! His keenness worked when on the next day he landed his target arapaima although a baby at 70lb, this was one of the arapaima born here in September 2007, the growth rate on these fish is unbelievable. In three days fishing young Rob went on to land 25 fish of five specie. He left Gillhams well fed watered and a happy man, oh and the girlfriend’s sunstroke cleared up in time for the next leg of their journey to Australia.

Next on the scene was my old mucker Rob Maylin, who is rapidly becoming part of the furniture here. Rob arrived with his delightful better half Flo, his family, and family friend Tom. Rob came to try to break another world record, but unfortunately the only things that got broken were whatever Tom touched! Not a lot of fishing was to be done by Rob this trip, as it was a family holiday – the first one with all his children together made it special. They had some great days out visiting Krabi’s many attractions, and we also had some good nights out, with one being just like the old Colne valley days, when ‘one for the road’ went on until 4am! Between day trips and sleeping, Rob managed to catch 28 fish of five species, including arapaima to 150lb, and red tail catfish to 60lb. His main target was Siamese carp, and he landed 20 to 64lb. Oh well Rob, you will have to return next year for that 100lb carp and another world record. On the day Rob left Alan Boon broke the Chao Phraya catfish world record, but more on that one next month.

Then came that old silver fox David Arbour, soon to become our neighbor as he is buying a plot of land at the end of the resort. As usual Dave kept us entertained – for an old fella he is very active, and once on the beer he takes some keeping up with. By the time he had topped his tan up, he looked just like a pint of Guinness with his silver hair. Dave is wading his way through all our species, plus this trip he added to his 100lb species list, making three different species over the ton from our lake, i.e. Mekong catfish, arapaima and Siamese carp. He rocked the old Chao Phraya record this month with a 62lb fish ­– luckily it wasn’t 3lb bigger, or it would have been the shortest record in history. In his ten-day stay Dave landed 77 fish of eight species, with the best being arapaima to 180lb, Mekong catfish to 150lb, and red tail catfish to 85lb. Dave really sorted the Siamese carp out, fishing a Richworth method feeder 3ft below a float with Richworth salmon supreme fishmeal boilies, landing some 51 Siamese carp to this devastating method. The strange thing about this method of fishing is it produces lots of Siamese carp in the 20 to 40lb bracket, but never any real lumps. It was good fun though, and who would turn their nose up at 20 to 40lb carp? I suppose I shouldn’t ask that, as for sure there are loads of people who come here expecting a 100lb fish every cast. Buy yourself a decent camera before your next trip Dave!

Space is running out for me here folks, and sorry if I missed your catch out, but we can’t fit you all in – you will just have to return and catch a monster. For those of you thinking of booking a trip to the best fishing resort in the world, get booking as we are filling up fast for November onwards and 2010. Christmas is filling up too, but there are still some spaces. We have once again the famous Gillhams Christmas feast and party, with the same band as last year. From now until the end of October we are still offering the 10% discount, so take a look at our website and get booking. You can also phone me on +66861644554, but please remember we are six hours ahead of GMT.

Have a good year, tight lines, and catch a whacker, with best wishes from Stuart and all the gang here at Gillhams.