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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter June 2015

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

Well it’s been another really hot month out here in what is supposed to be the rainy season. We have probably had about six days where it has rained, and not really for that long either. The lack of rain hasn’t affected the fishing though, and it’s been another tremendous month at the Theatre of Dreams. For the first couple of weeks it was pretty much business as usual, for this period of the “low season”, then we had a few days where the numbers of anglers dropped right back, just before the Help for Heroes monster fishing expedition rolled into town.

We have now started to go through the website in order to update any rule or price changes, and we are slowly going through the galleries to update those as well, so please keep an eye on the website, as this will now be an ongoing process. Other than the fishing we have been as busy as usual, making improvements to the resort. The new concrete path has now been covered in a rubberized sealant, which looks great and feels superb underfoot. During the soldiers visit we had the opportunity for the yearly netting of the stock ponds, which involves netting all the fish, placing them in holding tanks and then fully draining each pond and giving them a good clean out. It was quite a sight to behold.

The growth rates of some of the fish were phenomenal, and some of them were transferred into the big lake, including some arapaimas, ripsaw catfish, arawana, big tilapias (which will have probably been eaten time you read this) and the odd surprise here and there. It was a great learning curve for me to see fish like the sucker fish, a bottom dwelling, quite prehistoric looking thing, which the Thai fish farmer who came to do the netting clearly didn’t know why they were in the lake and put them down as nuisance fish, but they are not. They are in there for a reason, and they play their role in the whole ecosystem of the lake, so that’s why Stuart has them in there.

The netting of the arapaima ponds was the best though! Talk about aerobatics! I had my camera and did my best to get some pics of the arapaimas jumping. Some pics weren’t too bad, and I saw a couple of heavy collisions with the Thai netting crew, one chap even taking a good blow to the back on the first sweep of the net, as the arapaimas tried to jump clear and avoid being caught, and I just about managed to capture some of them with my camera. We also used the Help For Heroes days off as a good opportunity to send divers into the lake to check for any snags or foreign bodies that may have blown into the lake, when the odd storm occurs.

The guides have now been together for a while, and although head guide Lawrence is a professional gobshite, they have formed a really close bond and are enjoying all aspects of working and living in Thailand. Work hard, play hard seems to be the way forward for them! Lee, the newest addition, has bought himself a new mountain bike and then managed to break the pedals within the first week, probably because he spent most of that week on one wheel, as he wheelied around the lake. But all was not lost, as he found himself a nice massage parlour next to a steak house in Ao Nang, so he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven!

Nick shaved all his hair off to look as gormless as the rest of us. We played Chris Men at Work’s hit single, “Down Under”, and he turned to jelly with goose pimples and said it reminded him of home. Gollock seems to have turned into a weatherman, and is predicting what time it will rain (for tins of Leo I hasten to add). And finally Darren has proved he isn’t man enough to eat a red curry, the shandy-drinking pie-eater from Devon! It’s been really great to see the team spirit getting stronger and stronger, and for me personally, it’s taken the whole Thailand experience to another level we are all feeling part of something very special indeed.

Finally the last bit of news from monster HQ is that we have a new addition. It’s a little Boston terrier, which belongs to little Jack, and he has named him Billy. I have to say seeing the two of them walking about together and playing is really quite sweet!

Right that’s enough of my ramblings, best we get on with the who’s, 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 good fishing in Krabi this month with a total of 511 fish caught of 24 species, made up as follows: 46 arapaima to 440lb, six arawana to 11lb, three alligator gar to 55lb, 82 Amazon redtail catfish to 85lb, two Amazon stingray to 65lb, 89 Asian redtail catfish to 40lb, 29 black pacu to 30lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 100lb, one black shark carp of 10lb, three bighead carp to 18lb, two barramundi to 4lb, five giant gourami to 9lb, two giant stingray to 130lb, two giant snakehead to 10lb, three ripsaw catfish to 16lb, four spotted sorubim to 30lb, nine spotted featherback to 10lb, nine Julian golden carp to 30lb, 82 Mekong catfish to 240lb, eight Nile perch to 10lb, 13 red bellied pacu to 16, 106 Siamese carp to 150lb, four tambaqui of 30lb, one wallagoo leeri of 30lbs.


Keith “The Tooth” O’Connor made a return visit in search of his beloved Siamese carp. In the past he had a good hit out of Sala 2 (along with other swims on other trips), so he thought that would be as good a place to start. With his usual “old school carper” banter and a box of tricks, he started his campaign in true style with a hard fighting Mekong of 130lbs and a smaller one of 90lbs. Unperturbed, Keith started day two with a spring in his Crocs and started baiting up with aplomb in readiness for the onslaught of Siamese carp. At the end of day two he had landed another Mekong catfish of 120lbs, and then lost another one!

The next day was more of a relaxed affair as he drew a blank, but things were looking up for him as his favourite swim D3 was to become free, and with plenty of previous victories in there, our wide boy from London dashed in like a rat up a pipe! With newfound energy, and I hasten to add, fewer expletives, Keith ordered a third rod and got stuck into his Siamese carp campaign, take 2! First blood was a black pacu of 25lb, and he followed that up with some serious swearing and a 190lb Mekong catfish. The campaign continued the next day as another mid-twenty pacu graced his net followed by another Mekong of 130lb. We laughed (a lot) and filmed this one whilst Keith was seen to be mumbling about how he didn’t want to land any more Mekongs, as he gently supped a tin of Singha, contemplating his life and the whereabouts of his beloved carp.

The following day saw a change a fortune as an Asian red tail, then an Amazon red tail catfish came along to say hello, and just as we thought his luck was about to change, he landed two more Mekong catfish at 140lbs and 150lbs, and although putting a brave face on it, I knew there were tears on the inside as the Samsong whiskey tickled his taste buds that night. By now Keith was starting to get itchy feet again, especially as Simon in Sala 2 had landed a few Siamese carp and was about to end his holiday, so Keith was thinking about returning there for the final week of his holiday.

However, fortune favours the brave, and the glint returned to his eye as the next day Keith was seen lurking behind a 70lb Siamese carp, then a spotted featherback, and out of the blue, wallago leeri of 30lb and of course a Mekong catfish of 180lbs finished the day. With the thought the carp had finally turned up, the following day Keith was ready for some serious rod bending action, and he got it, as an early Mekong of a 150lb came along, and then an arapaima of 160lb rolled in the cage just as a group of six Australians booked in, who were greatly impressed, but not as impressed as I was when Keith landed another Mekong catfish that evening at 130lbs! Now that is a lot of 100lb fish, that’s for sure.

With Keith’s knowledge of the lake and how prolific the carp fishing can be, he had itchy feet again as he came into the last few days of his holiday. He had seen Simon in Sala 2 land a few Siamese, so as soon as Simon left, Keith moved back in there. That afternoon he landed a 55lb Siamese, then the next day he landed an Asian red tail of 15lbs and then a Siamese carp of 70lbs, and that is when disaster struck! As he was holding the fish up for the photo, his left arm literally exploded and his bicep muscle seemed to jump out of place and ended up nearer his elbow than his shoulder and it left him in quite a bit of pain. I felt really sorry for him, especially when he said, “Maybe that’s it for my big fish angling maybe I am too old now.” Talk about hitting you in the heartstrings!

After quite a painful night Keith returned to the swim the next day and continued to fish on. He landed a massive Asian red tail of 45lb, an Amazon red tail of 40lbs, a red-bellied pacu of 15lb, and then another Siamese at 30lb, quite a day with a sore arm! By now he had “Googled” his ailment, and the diagnosis was either a stretched or snapped tendon, but he still carried on. That rather painful decision was greatly rewarded the next day, as he then caught his first black shark carp at 10lb and a couple more Siamese carp of 50lb and 55lb. Keith soldiered on and landed a 20lb Siamese carp before he finally called it a day, left us and then carried on his holiday in northeastern Thailand. Good luck with that arm, fella let us know if you can get it fixed!


Terry Thompson is another well-seasoned angler who has been round the carp fishing block a few times. He’s a long-term friend of Stuart’s, and he’s been here before on a few occasions and done well on every trip. His first day was an absolute blinder in that he landed two arapaima’s over 250lb. When I found out, I was straight up to E3 to grab the pics, as that would have been a great post for our Facebook page, but total disaster struck as for some, as yet unknown reason, the pictures wouldn’t download, and then somehow they disappeared off the memory card completely! I couldn’t believe it; it was a totally gutting experience. Terry’s wife Tracey came and had a look, but it was all in vain; they were gone! Terry didn’t seem too bothered about it, as he had pictures of arapaima to 380lb from previous trips, but I wasn’t so happy, as this was the first time anything like this had happened to me. I hoped he would continue catching monsters! This is how it went.

The next day he landed a black pacu of 25lbs, a Mekong of 110lbs, and then a battle ensued where Terry thought it best to fight the beast “from the chair” so to speak, and promptly moved his chair from the sala into the swim and bent into what was obviously a good fish. Forty minutes later a lump of Mekong rolled into the net at 175lbs. The next fish that came along was a much more manageable Julian’s carp of 10lbs; however later that day the fighting chair was back in situ, and Terry was locked onto a monster Mekong that came in at 200lbs. Terry then decided a change in scenery was in order, so he swapped over to Sala 9 where he then added another two Mekong catfish over 100lbs, at 110lb and 120lb. The session was turning into monster clumping session, and literally every time I walked past him he was either in the chair fighting a fish, or on one particular occasion he was actually sitting in the lake hanging onto a big Mekong.

The lake was slightly down in depth as we waited for the rains to come, but Terry thought this was great and jumped in as the big fish charged down the lake and got a direct pull on them. A Siamese carp of 50lb and another Mekong of 100lb ended his run of fish, as the next day was a quiet one where his rods fell silent, probably in need of a good rest! Terry’s last day in Sala 9 was quite eventful, as an Asian red tail came along, but so did three more Mekong’s at 170lb, 190lb and another 200lb fish! This was getting ridiculous! Seven 100lbíers and four 200lbíers, but fair play to Terry as he lapped them all up as they came along and continued fishing hard without wimping out or moaning about it once. It was almost like the lake was punishing him, as big fight after big fight just kept coming his way, so much so that that during one battle a rod exploded on him.

A day off followed with a trip into Ao Nang to do some souvenir shopping. When he returned to the swim, all was quiet, and Terry decided to go back to where he started in E3. This turned out to be a good move, as almost straight away he landed a 75lb Siamese carp, and then a blistering take signaled the start of a “battle royale” with what could only be a big Mekong, as the fish charged down the lake to Terry’s left and he could do nothing but hold on! Now Terry is a strong fella; the way he battled Mekongs all week showed us that one, but this fish was clearly on a mission to get as far away from Terry as possible. He couldn’t stop it even with all his strength mustered, and the fish ended up by the restaurant, catching a line in Sala 2.

After some ingenious untangling by the guides, Terry battled the beast from B3, and at one point it was heading up the lake towards the paddles, so Terry, knowing what disaster that could spell, locked down on the spool and pointed the rod at the fish in a vain attempt to stop it. As he did so, a massive Mekong leapt out of the water, and Gollock was heard to say something that sounded like “plucking ‘ell, mate!” Yep, it was a monster alright! The fish was finally netted, and it was huge, so Gollock called Sean and they estimated the fish at 240lbs! The next day seemed to be business as usual for Terry, as he caught another Mekong of 150lb and an Asian redtail of 30lb, which just left him with one day to go.

His final day came along with a pacu of 15lb and a Siamese carp of 90lb. Becky was in the swim talking to Terry and Tracey on a quick break from the restaurant, and as Terry was casting out, one of his rods ripped off, so Becky struck it as Terry finished up. “Here you go,” Becky said, trying to pass him the rod back, but Terry said, “No, you struck it; it’s your fish” and refused to take the rod back. So Becky played the fish and landed a Siamese carp of 25lb, which she duly jumped in for a picture with! Lawrence laughed, “She’s only been on the lake five minutes and bloody caught one already!” The story doesn’t end there though, because Terry caught another Mekong of 130lb, making his tally for the holiday nine 100lb Mekongs to 190lb, three 200lb Mekongs to 240lb and two 200lb arapaimas, plus all the Siamese carp, etc What a haul!


Mike Smith had been to see us before and been quite successful. On this return visit he brought his friend Jack Owen along. Mike was hoping to catch some more of the unusual inhabitants. He set up in A1, and Jack set up in A3, all ready for a weeks rod-bending action. Mike was one happy bunny by the end of day, as things couldn’t have gone any better. Not only did he land two 130lb Mekong catfish and an Amazon red tail catfish of 45lbs, but the icing on the cake was a giant snakehead of 12lbs, not bad for a first day. Even better for him was the fact that the snakehead was right at the top of his “hit list” too! Jack was going to take more of a laid back approach to the fishing and would fish some half days, reel in and come up for breakfast and dinner and generally have a nice time and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

However, the next day Jack was up at the crack of dawn, as he was keen to get amongst the fish, and it didn’t take long before he lost his “Gillhams virginity” with a superb Amazon red tail of 60lbs, and he was quite pleased about it! Mike then landed a clonking Mekong of 160lbs after a good solid fight, and then Jack also landed another one, a 90lb Mekong. The next day Mike landed a nice arawana, which he then followed up with a Mekong of 100lb whilst Jack was just fishing a half day. The Mekongs were really dominating the lake at the time, and another monster made an appearance for Mike. A move then followed to the top of the lake on the bungalow side, and the fun continued as another Mekong at 140lb and an Amazon of 25lb kept Mike busy while Jack got going again with another 60lb Amazon red tail, which was to signal a bit of a backing off for Jack who was having a nice enough time just chilling out.

There was no chilling out for Mike though, as his next day was a very busy day in that he landed two Siamese carp of 35lb and 45lb, then a 100lb arapiama followed by a 280lb arapaima (which we filmed) and then another Mekong at 120lbs. What a days fishing! Mike was obviously very happy with that. The following day was a slightly more relaxed affair as he landed three Siamese carp to 70lb and a small Asian red tail. After all that excitement Mike and Jack had a day off and just went down the beach for their last but one day and came back all refreshed and raring to go again. On the final day Mike landed another fish over 100lb with a 110lb arapaima and an Asian red tail of 25lb, so a really, really busy week for him and nice chilled week for Jack.


Lee Stocker was another returning customer we saw in June. He was part of the quiet and uneventful “Spug Tours” trip in October 2014, and he loved it here. This time however he brought his son Mitch along. They only had a few days to play with, but the day they arrived was spent walking around, soaking up the atmosphere, having a few beers, etc. They left for their bungalow early that night, and I expected them to be “bang on it” the next morning. To my surprise they ambled down to the swim about 7.30am, and then were both seen in the restaurant sitting down for breakfast at 9.30. This obviously led to some mickey taking about their joint lack of effort, but in true Stocker style, they made their way back to the swims around 10am and had a little go then.

Lee opened their account up first with a hard-fighting Mekong catfish of 180lb, which he was very happy with, and then he landed another at 100lbs a couple hours later, which were two better fish than he landed on his previous trip, so he was buzzing and hoped it wouldn’t take long before Mitch got one too. It didn’t of course, and by the time they were tucking into dinner at 9pm, Mitch had landed a 130lb Mekong! After another late start father and son made their way to their swims, and Lee quickly landed a pacu of around 20lbs. Mitch then got amongst the action with another 130lb Mekong. Lee had the last laugh that day though, as he went on to land an alligator gar of 60lbs.

The next day turned out to be a quieter one, but Lee was over the moon when he landed a 20lb Julian’s and Mitch a 20lb pacu. Then they went out for a night on the town, which resulted in a chilled out day the day after. Their short stay had rapidly come to an end, and both had really enjoyed themselves, but there was to be a little twist to the end, as Mitch managed another good sized Mekong before they left us.


Just before the Help for Heroes monster expedition came, Andy Triebel and his wife Mandy came for a couple of days. The lake was becoming very quiet in the run up to the soldiers coming. So it gave us a chance to catch up on some bits and bobs around the lake. Andy and Mandy are both quite keen anglers and decided to share three rods then take it in turns as to who reeled them in. Andy scored first with a 130lb Mekong on the first day, but it really was their second day that was the one to remember, as Mandy landed one of the much sought after Chao Phraya at 70lbs, and then Andy landed one of the big Siamese carp at 150lbs and was completely blown away by the capture. It’s fair to say that he was grinning from ear to ear, but the smiles didn’t end there, as Mandy then caught a 50lb Amazon red tail before they departed and continued their holiday. It was a really short visit, but one with a large amount of smiles and happy memories for them as they continued their holiday in Thailand.


And then the soldiers turned up – 25 serving or ex-military personnel with a support team of eight, including physios, a psychiatrist, general helpers etc. We didn’t really know what injuries to expect, but it became quite quickly apparent that the injuries sustained whilst serving in the forces, aren’t always ones that you can see with the naked eye. We were all really looking forward to them arriving, as we all have a great deal of respect for the bravery of “our boys and girls” who go into battle or defend our liberty and freedom. Like I said previously the lake had been fairly quiet in the run up to them coming. We just hoped the fish would play the game, that everyone would take a lot of positives from the experience and that it would help in the recovery process of such things as PTSD (post dramatic stress disorder).

The lads and lasses turned up around 7pm, and they couldn’t wait to get stuck into the fishing. Instantly we could tell there were some characters on the trip, and we looked forward to them catching a few monsters. The first morning came, and everyone was up early. The first thing I noticed was that everyone was blown away by the scenery, and everyone remarked just how beautiful the landscape was. In fact one of them, called Mo, remarked that when he looked out of the window, he thought he was in King Kong’s territory. I laughed and showed him what we call “King Kong Mountain”. “I told you,” he said. “I was right then, wasn’t I?” I laughed again, and it was at this point I knew something special would happen with this fella, it always does out here, but more of that later.

The first days fishing was absolute mayhem, as their rota system didn’t kick in until day two, so that meant we had 16 people on the main lake and about ten fishing the top lake, and we all were flying about like headless chickens! However the fishing was amazing. Vance in swim A1 could not stop reeling Amazon red tails in and landed seven with two over 70lb, and he never stopped smiling all day. Conrad up the top of the main lake landed two Amazon red tails, a 55lb Siamese and a giant snakehead of 10lbs! Pav and George both landed respectable Siamese carp. Liam, Mark, Jamie, Mohammed, Will and Martyn pulled in a host of Asian and Amazon red tails. Physio Kate caught a 15lb Asian red tail, and just about held it up for a photo, whilst little Steve managed a 50lb Siamese and a 6lb Nile perch.

The top lake had been very busy With Julian’s being caught here and there, pacu causing mayhem by biting through hook links and charging all over the lake, and our friend “Long Tall Bob” (Bob Bolton, a local expat who came to help out) did a sterling job in keeping them all up and running, along with the support staff. Day two was a little bit more manageable, as the lads and lasses were split into three groups, with two groups fishing the main lake and one group out on a “cultural day”, as they call it in the military, (we call it “going out on a jolly”). Little Steve continued to winkle the fish out, and this time he had a 100lb Chao Phraya and then a 20lb pacu, which he was really made up with, as that was one of the fish on his target list. The Amazon and Asian red tails were really out in force and kept Matt, Mohammed, Liam, George, Chris, Steve, Jamie and James busy all day long with most of them landing two, most of which were around the 40-50lb mark.

Will landed a barramundi and then Paul landed a 75lb Siamese, which he was really happy about, and Mark then put one in the net at 45lb. However the day really went to James (Marsh) who landed two Amazons around 40lb and then got locked onto an arapaima. It’s a good job he is a strong lad, as this was a powerful fish and came in at a jaw-dropping 440lbs! Luckily I was on hand with the video camera and filmed the whole thing (it will be on YouTube if you missed it on our Facebook page). This was the first time I had seen a 400lb’er in the flesh, having missed the last couple that came out, and I have to say it was a truly magnificent creature, which I hope to catch one day! Chris, one of the trip organizers, also landed a 160lb arapaima, when one of the soldiers left the Grassy swim early and he saw an opportunity to have a quick 45 minutes in there.

Day three came, and again the Asian and Amazon red tails were really dominating the catch reports with Paul, Owain, Clinton and Wayne getting amongst them. Then the Siamese seemed to switch on, as Sam, Paul, William and Martyn all landed them up to 75lb, and Nathan landed a couple at 50lb and an Asian red tail. Mark then landed a pacu of 30lb and a small Siamese. Dean was absolutely over the moon when he popped a 160lb arapaima in the cage, followed by a 40lb red tail, but for us, personally it was Mo’s story that day that was “the one”. I had walked past Mo fishing in A1 at around 3pm, when he said, “Oh, mate, I am glad you’ve walked past. Can you keep an eye on my rods? I need to go to the toilet.” So I sat down in the swim as Mo ran off.

Literally two minutes later the left rod ripped off, so I grabbed the rod and battled a fish out from underneath the hyacinth. With Lawrence and Nick in the swim, we saw an arapaima on the end and looked at each other in a slightly panicked way, Lawrence ran to the restaurant to get Mo, and I carefully played the fish without any intention of landing it of course. Mo ran back and grabbed the rod, but after a minute or so it threw the hook, and my heart sank to the bottom of my feet, as I knew just how much he wanted to catch an arapaima. Mo didn’t see the fish, and we said we didn’t know what type of fish it was, as we didn’t want to upset him in any way. So from that point on Lawrence was on a mission to try and get another arapaima to take the bait, and about an hour later one did just that!

The fight was an epic from the second it took the bait until it rolled into the cage. Mo fought it like a trooper, but the fish tried every sneaky trick in the book to get away ñ getting under the hyacinths, getting caught another anglers line in Sala 2, going under the boat, back under the hyacinth and roaring off out into the main body of the lake, you name it; this fish tried it! But at the end of the day there was only going to be one winner, and it was Mo. The relief when that fish went in was nothing short of orgasmic, and it was a real beauty at 380lb. We did the photos and caught the whole thing on video. It was awesome because we knew just how much it meant to him. He was shaking with excitement and thanking us all for the team effort, even me  for the encouragement and advice as he played what was quite a tricky fish to land. I have to say that seeing what an effect it had on him, put a lump in my throat, and we all said that it was a really special moment, especially after the heartbreak of one falling off before.


Well that’s it for this month as time and space has got the better of us, we’ll see you all next month to see how the Help for Heroes trip ended.

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).