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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter March 2015

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

Well there’s always plenty going on here at Monster H.Q and notably, the concreting of the path and swims from right past “the Grassy” all the way round to Sala 1 has now finished. It looks fantastic, and consequently the swims are a lot easier to keep clean. The generator is now fully installed and working like a dream, so when the power cuts happen out here, sometimes more than once on a bad week, especially in the rainy season, at least we won’t suffer anymore, and to be honest, although infrequent some people’s reactions and shock horror if the power failed was somewhat bemusing at times, bearing in mind our location out in the middle of a national park, but hey ho, such is life, and it’s another thing ticked off the “annoying list” by Stuart. I suppose it’s one of the downsides to getting five-star reviews all the time – some people genuinely think they are coming to Dubai’s finest £10,000 a night hotel, and if a tiny thing goes wrong then it’s the end of the world. Sorry, I thought it was the world’s greatest fishery out in a national park in Thailand with super accommodation and grub!

Perhaps we’ll have to get some hotel porters and butlers in, whilst we hairy-arsed fisherman go fishing more… I’ll ask the “Big Dawg” and see what he says! Was that a rant, I hear you ask? No, not at all, I don’t feel it’s my place to rant, but I know a man who can “have a word in your ear”, and that is our mighty leader. We all agree it’s time we brought some spiritual assistance back to the newsletter, so I’ll leave anything like that to him. As we say in good old Norfolk, “It’s his train set after all,” and quite frankly, Stuart’s ability to answer unfair criticisms, or generally put the world to rights is, A) pretty legendary and B) always amusing, so we think we should afford him some space, especially bearing in mind that ultimately it’s his newsletter. So look out for that from April’s newsletter onwards, possibly every month or indeed anytime he feels the need to have “a word in you ear”, which I think is a great title for it, and I look forward to that. From a personal point of view, I think it’s fair to say nearly all of you guys who visit here love what we do, hence the high rate of re-bookings, and it’s always great to see you and even better to see you come back.

Lawrence “Casper the friendly ghost” King has settled in well with the guiding, and although we have had a couple of complaints about the sun reflecting of his shiny dome head, he seems to be settling in very nicely and has even invested in a small beer fridge for his room. Rumour has it that his incredibly pale skin has actually started to tan a little, but I am not so sure, and the jury is out on whether he will actually end up being a “bronzed Adonis”. Our Justin Bieber look-a-like Alex has had to return to England for a few months to keep his painting and decorating customers happy, but well educated and lovable dairy farmer Adam has popped out for a few weeks to help out and help us, along with our understanding of the beautiful English language. My favourite saying so far is “golly gosh”, which means “wow” or “amazing”. Also Nick has settled in well and in his own words is “living the dream”.

I returned to England mid March and joined Stuart and Sean for the Farnborough show and we were joined by the Nicky and Chris who were selling raffle tickets to raise money (and to win a holiday of course!) for the upcoming Help for Heroes trip to the resort. Jo Green and her partner Mike came down to join us, and it didn’t take long for the banter to start, especially when we found “foot long” hot dogs. It did of course ultimately lead to some messing around… Sorry, Jo… the pic taken behind you was just too much to resist! During the show Dean and Jenni Handley kindly brought some chocolate cup cakes with Siamese carp on them, and Dave Bartlett came with his brother Mark bringing an amazing cake that friend Tony’s daughter Bethany had made for Sean’s birthday, which was on the Saturday.

After the show, Stuart and Sean returned to Thailand, and a week later I was heading to the Manchester show with Dan Swann where we were met by ex guide Joel and Andrew Neafcy. The show went well, and it was nice to see some of our regular customers/friends up there, and I even managed to get a picture with angling legend Bob Nudd. Dean Macey came along on the Sunday and pulled our winning raffle ticket for the free holiday, and a very happy Mr. and Mrs. Swan will be joining us along with their children in the not so distant future. So with all the shows now finished and done, all that remained for me was to get back to Norfolk and prepare for a few days on tour with some friends of mine who are in a “hotly tipped” rock band called the Burning Crows, but more of that next month.

So that’s all the news from us… best I get on with the whos, the whys and the what fors for what has been an awesome month’s fishing! Here are the catch figures for the anglers who visited us for the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer

677 fish were caught of 25 species, made up as follows: 31 arapaima to 380lb, six arawana to 13lb, two alligator gar to 65lb, 183 Amazon redtail catfish to 90lb, one giant freshwater stingray of 45lb, 71 Asian redtail catfish to 40lb, 21 black pacu to 35lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 70lb, one Zungaroo catfish of 35lbs, one Asian stingray of 45lbs, two giant snakehead to 15lb, two giant featherback to 20lb, 25 Julian’s golden carp to 30lb, 105 Mekong catfish to 200lb, three Nile perch to 6lb, one big head carp of 35lb, four ripsaw catfish to 22lb, 16 red bellied pacu to 16, one spotted sorubim of 25lb, two spotted featherback to 13lb, 188 Siamese carp to 140lb, one tambaqui of 50lb, one tiger shovel nose of 10lb and one barramundi of 5lb.

Arron McDonagh is an experienced carper who fishes some of the finest waters in the Colne Valley, and he had been itching to come to our fishery for a long time. However Arron has a problem, and that is his work. Having to travel all over the world as a cameraman, filming some of our favourite films, means that he is often away from his much-loved family and never knows when or where the next job will take him. Consequently it’s difficult to book a date to come over and to justify more time away from the family. However, they say things come in threes and when Tom Cruise stopped the filming on Mission Impossible 5 (for a fortnight to rewrite the script), we had a short-notice cancellation, and his wife said, “Go for it!” All his dreams came true, and he was literally on the next plane out where he planned a few days’ fishing with us and then a few days with a friend of his somewhere near Phuket. With literally just a large rucksack and an equally large grin on his face, he arrived at the resort and sat down and had a beer and asked what we thought the best way to get amongst the Siamese carp would be. Although just happy to be here and happy to catch just anything, he really wanted the Siamese carp, so we had a little chat, and he prepared himself for the fishing the next day.

If memory serves correctly he set up in swim C3 on the bungalow side, found some spots not too far out and started the process of getting a bit of pellet in. By the end of his second day things were going rather well, and he had landed a thirty, two fifties and two sixty-pound Siamese carp, and he was grinning from ear to ear! But then day three came along and he was blown away when he landed a load more Siamese weighing 38lb, 60lb, 63lb, 70lb, 75lb, 82lb and finally 84lb – a pretty impressive day’s angling I am sure you’ll agree. There was a small downside however, and that was a couple of Mekongs that had managed to get away, and this clearly wound him up a little bit and revenge was planned.

The next day was a slightly more relaxed affair as he only (?!) landed three sixty-pounders, which in itself is quite a sad statement! The hunger for more was now growing, but time was running out, and the fishing suffered a bit, as most of the next day was spent pleading with Becky to grab a few extra days’ fishing, as the yearning for more carp (and hopefully one over a 100lb) far outweighed the call of a few days “beering it up” with a mate. The day wasn’t a complete write-off though, as he landed another 60lb specimen and managed to secure another few more days, although it meant skipping from room to room for a bit. He didn’t mind though, as his gaze was totally fixed on the fishing.

Back in the zone and with 100% focus Arron got stuck in again and was delighted when a 20lb ripsaw catfish came along, and then so did the Siamese at 45lb, 60lb, 60lb and 75lb. The next day he had a little dabble for some arapaima that he had seen in the margin to his right, first thing in the morning and unfortunately he lost one, but went on to land two more Siamese of 45lb and 65lb. With the large numbers of Siamese slowing down and a further lost Mekong, he seemed more interested in exacting revenge on said catfish, and he finally he landed one at 140lb along with a Julian’s at 20lb, then two Siamese of 55lb and 60lb on his penultimate day. With fingers crossed and his rucksack packed his final wish was to just get that 100lb carp. Unluckily for him it didn’t happen though, but an 80lb Siamese and a 130lb Mekong catfish did, and luckily for us, he plans to return, as in his own words he loved the place and is “itching to return”. Well we look forward to that… let’s hope Harry Potter waves his wand and says something like “occulus repairous” or even better “get you arse out here agaianerous” (you can keep your groans to yourselves on that one – thank you!)

Neil Davies and his wife came over from Norfolk to Thailand for a couple of weeks’ holidaying, but before they came to us for a day or three, they started off in Bangkok and took in the sights and sounds, and unluckily for his wife, a spot of “Delhi belly” Thai style, which meant that we didn’t see much of her for the first day or so, bless her, but after a couple of days she was fully recovered and back up to full speed. In the meantime Neil quietly fished away in a nice relaxed manner (much as you would expect from a fellow Norfolk brethren) and was more than happy when on his first afternoon he landed a cracking Mekong of 130lb. The next day his luck continued when a much sought after Chao Phraya catfish rolled into his net at 70lb, and then a clonking Mekong of 160lb kept him entertained for an hour or so just into dark. Neil wasn’t too concerned about emptying the lake, as it was his first trip; he was just happy if he caught one a day and was more than happy to just take in the beautiful surroundings and general aura of the fishery.

Rolling into his third day, Neil was hoping for his first Siamese carp, and with his wife well on the road to recovery, it was quite a triumphant day for him as he got his Siamese at 55lb then followed it up with another leviathan in the shape of Mekong number three, but then before he knew it, the very lovable and fully recovered duo from sunny Norfolk were down to their last morning, and just for good measure he popped out a sixty-pound Siamese carp. They returned home happy and having enjoyed the whole experience, and if the truth be known, Neil is planning on a return trip, although this time I think he wants to come straight here, fish for longer and miss out Bangkok’s finest prawns!

Not everyone who comes to fish here at the theatre of dreams stays for a week or maybe two. Some like Neil in the above story grab a few short days, then some like Matt Harding can only squeeze in a couple of day tickets, but as Matt showed you can still have a ball in a couple of days with a bit of effort, and, of course, a slice of luck. The guides set a keen Matt up in Sala 10 and advised him on a couple of spots and left him to it, as he clearly knew his way around the tackle, and this is how his day went: a pacu of 40lb, a Mekong of 130lb, two Asian redtails of 8lb and 12lb, then a couple of Siamese carp, one at 45lb the other at 140lb! The next day he returned and was straight into another Siamese of 75lb, then a 40lb’er, and to top things off nicely he then landed the guide’s favourite fish, a Julian’s carp at 30lb. As I sit here now looking at the catch report, one of the guides has written “jammy bastard!” on the catch report. I had to laugh… Oh well, it just goes to show you, a good angler who makes an effort at the right venue can land fish that non anglers, or people who don’t try, will only get to dream of or read about!

Speaking of short trips we had the absolute pleasure of angling legend John Wilson’s company for a couple of nights, as he made his way round Thailand visiting various fisheries for a book that he is going to publish about the fishing that Thailand has to offer. Stuart and John had previously spoken about John coming over to fish a few years previously, but John was just too busy to make it, but now living in Thailand and with a book to write, it was all systems go for his first visit. Although I wasn’t here when he came, I know there was a real buzz round the fishery about John’s arrival. John only fished for a couple of hours on the first day, and he was delighted when he caught a PB giant snakehead of 15lbs. The next day he also broke his Siamese carp PB with a cracker of 85lb, and then followed it up with a very respectable 65lb’er. In between these carp he also had a play with one of the rays, which often come right up to the bank and eat the snails in the shallow margins, he didn’t catch one though, but had a lot of fun trying! Everyone wanted a picture with him, and John, being the gentleman he is, duly obliged. Becky even got a T-shirt signed for her boyfriend, which she was really pleased about! I think it’s fair to say John really liked the resort; in fact he said to Lawrence that the fishery was, and I quote, “The most impressive, innovative, man made freshwater fishery I have ever visited anywhere in the world.” Praise indeed, and we look forward to seeing the full review in his upcoming book!

Self employed builder and carper Greg Williams returned to Gillhams hoping to break his Siamese PB and catch a juicy arapaima along the way. He also made it very clear that he didn’t want to catch any more Mekong catfish, as they were nothing but hard work, and he had caught a few before on his previous visit. He slipped into Sala 2, and was pleased when a spotted featherback just under 10lb came along on his first morning. He then went about baiting up some likely Siamese carp spots and later that day he also landed a respectable Amazon red tail of around 40lbs. His first Siamese came along on the second morning at around 30lbs, and he lost a Mekong, which obviously wasn’t too much of a loss for him, and he didn’t seem too heartbroken.

Day three and things became very lively for him… First up was a 110lb Mekong catfish, which led to some expletives, but this was followed by a large grin as a PB Siamese rolled in shortly after at 70lbs. The next slice of action was another 100lb Mekong, and I quietly laughed, but the smile was soon wiped of my face and put on Greg’s, as he was standing behind a fish that I would love to catch in the shape of a 245lb arapaima! Now that’s a pretty impressive day’s fishing in anyone’s book. Greg quietly went about his business and popped another Amazon red tail in the net at 55lb the next evening, and it seemed that his little spot had gone quiet, but it hadn’t really, as the next day he then landed another Mekong at 120lbs, followed by a 65lb Siamese and then his third Amazon at 45lbs.

Before he could bat an eyelid his final day had arrived, and he was made up when another Siamese of 60lb came along, and then a new species for him when a giant freshwater stingray made an appearance at just over 40lbs. It’s a funny one really because, unlike me, Greg is a quiet guy really who doesn’t make a lot of racket and buffoon about, and it seemed like he hadn’t done that well from the outside looking in, but if someone thinks a week’s fishing is quiet if you land a PB Siamese backed up by a couple of 60s, 3oolb-plus Mekongs and a 245lb arapaima, then quite frankly it’s time to hang their rods up, that’s a great week’s fishing!

Tackle Fanatics employee Duncan Hayward managed to slip a ten-day stint at the fishery to celebrate his non-fishing girlfriend’s birthday. Quite how he pulled that off I will never know, but in the interests of fairness half of his time was going to be spent fishing, and the other one day trips out and a couple of days on Phi Phi Island. He really wanted to catch an arapaima, as his little boy is called Harry and he also hoped for a juicy Siamese carp. Day one started with a small Asian red tail catfish fairly quickly in the net, but there were arapaimas rolling in the corner of the lake in Sala 3, and big ones at that! This of course kept him quite busy for the day, as a small bubble float was quickly fired alongside the hyacinths, which was then followed by a couple of well placed casts, one on each side of the corner. Although the arapaimas kept drifting in and out of the swim they didn’t pick one of his baits up, and the second day saw a change of swim and up into A1.

Still keen and having a real go at the fish, Duncan slipped one rod up the hyacinth to his left and started baiting a couple of spots in front of him. This turned out to be a good move, as the rod out in front of him yielded a superb Mekong catfish of 120lbs, and although covered in sweat and Mekong slime he kept angling away, and by the end of the day he had landed his second Gillhams monster when another Mekong of 100lb graced his net, so a happy Duncan then slipped off for a day or two to spend some time with his girlfriend.

On his return he decided that another change of swim would be in order, so he went up along the bungalow side to D3, and this time he caught one of his targets when a superbly conditioned Siamese carp of 70lbs made an appearance, shortly followed by a mid double pacu. With a couple of days off looming, Duncan got stuck in again the following day and was over the moon when he popped another carp in the net at 60lb and then a fierce battle with a 130lb Mekong finished the day very nicely. Right at the end of his stay he had a day down in the Grassy, a swim where the arapaima can often be seen quite easily, and with the odd one milling about, excitement was high that he may just be able to winkle one before he left, but yet again the arapaima had different ideas on this one. However he did pop a couple of nice Amazon red tail catfish in the photograph album, the biggest going 50lbs. So bearing in mind he was stop/start, stop/start with the fishing and he fished four different swims, all of which he caught from, I think he did rather well!

David Straw normally spends his time catfish angling on the Ebro in Spain, where he has caught countless fish over 100lbs, so it’s fair to say he likes a catfish. The last time he came to Gillhams he caught a 480lb arapaima and a clonking carp of 130lb. This time he said all he really wanted was a Mekong catfish, and that’s what he had set his heart on. I think it’s fair to say that things went rather well for him! The first day started with an Amazon red tail and then a meet for breakfast with his wife, and later on that day he pulled out a 130lb Mekong, good start! The next day he moved up a couple of swims and that proved to be a great decision, as he then landed a 140lb Siamese carp and another Mekong at 120lb. So although very happy he fished hard and continued to try, and in the next three days he landed a further five Mekong to 140lb, five Amazon red tails to 65lb, a small Asian red tail and two Siamese carp to 55lb. Then a nice little day followed when an arapaima of 120lbs rolled into the cage, which was then matched by a Chao Phraya catfish of the same weight, another Siamese of 45lb and an Amazon redtail catfish at 30lbs, and this is the point when things got very silly indeed!

His last day in Sala 2 saw Siamese carp of 55lb, 80lb, 90lb and 25lb, a red pacu of 20lb and another Mekong at 140lb. He then moved to E1 for his final few days, and in between telling corny jokes, he landed Mekongs of 80lb, 165lb, 110lb and then a 40lb Siamese carp. Remarkably the next day got even busier when another three Mekongs all over 100lb, biggest 150lb nearly pulled his arms off. In amongst those where three Siamese of 30lb, 60lb, and 50lb, along with a 20lb pacu on his secret bait, called Pepperami, which incidentally accounted for five different species of fish for him on this trip. His final day of madness came in the shape of another three Mekong over 100lb, the biggest being 160lb, so that was eight 100lb Mekong catfish in three days – ouch! That’s got to hurt! He had four different species of fish over 100lb – pretty cool, huh?

Well that’s it for March, and we hope to meet many new anglers and make new friends over the next few months. Once again many thanks to everyone who came and fished here through March, and we hope to see you again in the near future. For those of you planning a return or your first trip please email Stuart or phone +66 (0) 861644554, and please remember we are +7 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).