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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter March 2017

Hello and welcome to another month of news and captures from Gillhams Fishing Resorts. First off we would like to offer our sincere apologies for the late newsletter and lack of fishing updates on our Facebook site. Stuart and I have only recently returned from the UK where we have been doing the yearly rounds of fishing shows, plus of course a couple of weeks’ fishing in Guyana. We also managed to squeeze in some pike fishing in the UK. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it! As you can imagine, it’s been hectic at the resort with us leaving them understaffed.

We’re now getting back on top of everything, and you’ll start to see a lot more updates over the coming days, weeks and months. We would also like to thank the whole Gillhams team for their hard work while we were away for keeping customers happy and catching them fish. Benz has also been flat out working in the restaurant training our new kitchen team. Our old cooks walked out for a trivial matter that doesn’t warrant an explanation! While working in the restaurant, Benz also has the added stress of running the business side of the resort and dealing with all our Thai staff, plus getting the new spa up and running, all this while keeping that warm Thai smile holidaymakers love to see. Dad and I really do appreciate the effort Benz puts into the resort; in a short space of time she has the restaurant producing quality food again. In fact she has built a team of staff around her that we are all extremely proud of, and without Benz, Gillhams just wouldn’t be Gillhams. We would also like to thank Martin and Caroline Ford for their help while we were away, and Becky was of course adding to the Gillhams family with little Riley, so let’s break it down and talk about what’s been going on the past month.


Show season started for us at the end of January with the Brentwood Carp Show, followed by our annual trip to Holland for Mick Paine’s excellent show in Zwolle. This show seems to go from strength to strength, making Zwolle by far the best fishing show in Europe. As usual our dear Dutch friends Ronald and Bianca and Will and Betty helped us at the show. We would really struggle without their help, plus the show would not be the same without them.

We also attended the Carp Reims Show in France, and it was very disappointing to be met with so much hostility. On numerous occasions we and other UK stands were asked if we were English, and upon replying yes we had to suffer abuse regarding Brexit. Obviously we did meet some great people and even took a few bookings, but the hostility outweighed the kindness to a point that we will no longer be attending French fishing shows! The show was scheduled to finish at 5pm on the Sunday, but by 1pm we decided to call it a day. We calculated that if we packed away quickly and Stuart drove at speed, we could get an early ferry and be home nice and early. The stand was broken down and packed away in record time, and within 30 minutes we were heading out of the exhibition hall. The comments of, “You lucky bastards!” coming from other exhibitors watching our rapid departure made us chuckle!!

With the van packed and Stuart wheel-spinning us out of the car park, a record time to Calais was on the cards. Before reaching the motorway, Stuart had triggered the first speed camera. “No worries,” he commented. “They can’t chase us over the channel for a speeding fine!” We were merrily bombing down the motorway, and with Calais only four miles away, we were well on target to catch the 5pm ferry.

As we flew over the crest of a hill, we were treated to the sight of a whole tribe of Gendarmes. Stuart commented, “Look! They must be pleased to see us leaving!” They are all waving, which was funny because they didn’t seem to like us leaving the EU! A motorbike spun out behind us, overtook, signaled for us to follow, and we were taken off the motorway to a makeshift police station. One hour later and 100 Euros less in our pockets, we rejoined the motorway. By the time we reached the ferry we had missed the early crossing. Five minutes later, Jo and Mike pulled in behind us. They had obeyed the speed limits, saved a rollicking and 100 Euros, and still caught the same ferry as us!

Stuart and I had a fishing trip to Guyana planned for the end of February, so we left the remaining shows in April in the capable hands of our show team. You all know who you are, and we thank all of you for a splendid job. We would also like to thank everybody who came round for a chat, especially those of you who booked your dream fishing holiday. We also had the chance to meet up with many of our customers, so thank you for all your support at the shows; it’s great to have such good friends and customers that all help to make Gillhams what it is. We also run the Gillhams Fishing Resorts raffle every year, and we would like to thank everybody who entered. Unfortunately everyone can’t be a winner, but hopefully your turn will come next year.

The draw was made by Dean Macey, and Geoff Akroyd managed to stay awake long enough to oversee the draw. Below are this year’s lucky winners. Congratulations, and we look forward to seeing you here soon.


1st Prize, Peter Leslie Mann-Ticket No.1250

Seven days’ fishing for two anglers using a two-bedroom lakeside bungalow including breakfast, plus 14kg of boilies and 40kg sack of stick pellet. Total prize value of £2,900.


2nd Prize, Clive Baker-Ticket No.1212

Half price fishing for two anglers with seven days’ fishing using a two-bedroom lakeside bungalow including breakfast, plus 14kg of boilies and 40kg sack of stick pellet. The normal cost of this would be £2,900, so 50% discount = £1,450.


3rd Prize Neil Thomas-Ticket No.2707

Half price fishing for one angler with seven days’ fishing using a one-bedroom lakeside bungalow including breakfast, plus 7kg of boilies and 20kg sack of stick pellet. The normal cost of this would be £1,540, so 50% discount = £770.



Benz Spa & Cooking School is now officially open. While we haven’t had time to update our website, we do have an official Facebook page, Benz Spa & Cooking School. We would kindly ask all our readers if they could possibly like and share this page, and also all you fisherman out there, make sure to show your partners, as it might just be what’s needed to close the deal. All partners on a stay longer than three nights receive a complementary 20-minute Thai massage. The spa has an extensive menu of treatments and is equipped with four massage beds, steam room, Jacuzzi plus an Infinity swimming pool looking over beautifully landscaped gardens with ornamental ponds plus our 12-acre lake overlooked by stunning natural limestone karsts.

Benz Cookery School – learn how to cook a range of Thai dishes. After you have cooked your meal, it will be served to you in the gardens or one of the elevated salas. Every participant will be issued with a folder containing the recipes for the dishes you cooked, plus a certificate of completion. The price for a five-dish menu is 1,200 baht. The spa kitchen serves snacks and drinks that will be delivered to tables in the gardens, plus we have two elevated salas overlooking the gardens and lake with stunning limestone karsts. During the evenings the two elevated salas will be serving exclusive romantic meals. Booking is a minimum 24 hours in advance, and the sala will be yours for the evening. Meals are from an exclusive menu.


Upgrades to all the bungalow bathrooms are currently underway. Also half the bungalows will be changed to suites while the other half are having the second bedroom upgraded. The suite rooms will retain the front bedrooms, and the rear bedrooms will be changed and furnished with sofas, coffee tables and large flat screen multi channel TVs.

Between 16th April and 31st August 2018 we will be upgrading the restaurant – we are having a complete refit. We will have an upper area with a new bar and sofas, and the lower level will be the restaurant. The whole area will have sliding glass panels that can be opened to allow a nice breeze, and during periods of rain we will close the glass panels and keep everything cool with air conditioning. During this period the restaurant will be in a nice floorboarded marquee. The romantic meals in the spa gardens using the elevated salas will still be open, and during this period bungalows and fishing will be sold less 30% from the website prices.


This year’s trip to Guyana was a success despite torrential rains and a rising river. Although these trips are hard and punishing, the rewards can be amazing. On the 28th February, ten of us met at Gatwick airport at 6.30am. As always at the start of a fishing adventure like this, everybody was very excited, although some of the first timers were slightly worried about what they were getting into! We took a flight via St Lucia and Tobago, finally arriving at our hotel in Georgetown Guyana at 23.30. Although everybody was tired, we managed a few beers while talking about plans for the trip. One small problem emerged when the hotel staff informed us that they did not supply or sell water. Stuart soon reminded them that under the Geneva Convention even prisoners must be provided with water, and seeing the funny side of his comment, the staff went and got us all a bottle each.

The following morning we were transferred to a small airport, where we had a small plane chartered for the internal flight. These internal flights are somewhat worrying; the planes are very old and have bolts and rivets missing from some important looking areas like the wings, engines and doors! Fortunately we made it in and out without any problems, hence why I’m here writing about our experience.

The plane duly landed on a tiny dirt airstrip cut out of the jungle in the tiny Amerindian village of Fairview. Having been here before, we were soon installed in Raymond’s Bar and Disco. We had a pleasant hour’s wait sinking ice cold beers and generally taking the piss out of each other. Soon the boats arrived to transport us three hours downriver and through the rapids to the base camp. Fortunately the sun shone through blue skies for the entire boat journey, but little did we know that this rainless period was the longest we would experience for the next 12 days! The water was so much higher than the year before; the levels were 20 feet up! We had already had word from Amazon-Angler front man Steve Townson that the camp had to be moved back into the tree line of the jungle, as due to the rising water the beach had disappeared.

On arrival at the camp, it was clear that the set up was five-star compared to the previous year. We were even met with a smile by Steve Townson instead of the dead stare of the ignorant money-hungry Indian conman from the previous year’s trip. We picked our tents while downing the first of many cold beers – yes, this camp even had generators and freezers, totally unexpected in the Amazon rainforest in the middle of nowhere! Steve informed us that dinner would be in two hours, giving us enough time to get all the rods set up ready for an early start the following morning. With the excitement of what was to follow over the next ten days of fishing, between some rather strange noises coming from the jungle, plus big Kev Hudson’s snoring, nobody got much sleep the first night in camp.

Due to the rivers running fast and brown with extremely high water levels, we knew the fishing would be hard, as the fish have lots more area to move around, and they’re not stuck between rapids, so the hunt was on. The hardest thing in these conditions is locating and catching bait – the baitfish hide out of the main current and are hard to locate.

Some days were a struggle with the gods above the rainforests showing us just how hard rain can hit you, however after a few days most of us were catching some cracking fish. The previous year we caught many different species, but much smaller sizes of fish. This year fewer fish were caught, but proper river monsters were lurking in the murky depths. Some of the larger species caught were piraiba catfish (lau lau) to 230lb, Amazon redtail catfish to 60lb, Jau catfish, to 100lb, plus arapaima to 300lb. Other fish caught that weren’t so big but just as rewarding were peacock bass, payara, bicuda, pescada, arawana, wolf fish, blinker catfish, leopard catfish, sorubim catfish plus black piranha and some others I can’t even remember the names of!

When the end of the trip came, some of us had caught everything we came for, but others had struggled slightly, as it was their first time on a trip like this. These types of trips aren’t for everybody; you have to do most things yourself. Even though you’re out with a boatman who knows the river, the rest is down to you, which for me is one thing that I really like. It’s a hands-on trip that really will test you and your angling ability. I could make this newsletter all about the trip and really go into detail, but unfortunately there’s not enough time (plus Stuart is writing an article for the excellent new fishing magazine called Catch Cult). We would all like to give a very special thanks the Free Spirit Fishing for supplying us with the new four-piece travel rods and also Steve Townson of Amazon-Angler. Anybody considering one of these amazing trips really shouldn’t look any further than Believe us, we have tried them all, and Amazon-Angler are by far the best operator out there!

I had a great time and can’t wait till next year when we’ll be fishing in Guyana again for 6/8 weeks – these are going to be amazing trips. Stuart arranges trips to fish with us, so email him for availability and details. Alternatively to book your own trips, please book directly with Amazon-Angler. Thanks to all the people on the trip that made it memorable and also Stuart for spending hours arranging everything, putting the trip together and making it all happen.


We had only been home a few days when Stuart had to attend the international river prawn competition at Amphawa Samut Sonkhram near Bangkok. Stuart had been asked by the organizers to be a judge. The competition drew anglers from around the globe. It was the brainchild of well-known top Thai fishing guide Wuttichai Khuensuwan (aka Boy). Boy had done a magnificent job of getting the Tourism Authority of Thailand on board along with top government officials. The competition was a success with some of the top fisheries in Thailand putting up teams. Palm Tree Lagoon entered four teams, Greenfield Valley had three teams and Gillhams had just one team entered. Our team captain was Bob Bolton who led his team to a magnificent blank over the two-day competition! Palm Tree Lagoon were clear favorites, especially with the formidable top Thai lady angler Benny competing, but it was down to Greenfield Valley to put the Thai fisheries on the stage. They got top honours with the biggest prawn and second place overall. This competition was another display of how the responsible Thai fisheries are now working together for the benefit of promoting fishing tourism in Thailand. Well done to all involved – apart from the fishing, the event was a great social event and showed the TAT that we can all work together for the good of Thai Fishing.


We haven’t had a gripe section for a couple of years now, and although many of our readers enjoyed Stuart’s gripes (as long as it didn’t involve them), we are not going to start another gripe section (for now). I do however have a few things I would like to put straight! Firstly we would like to apologise to our good friend Dean Macey who suffered a lot of backlash from a certain fishery owner. The crap spread about Dean and Gillhams was a result of pure jealousy. It was with disgust on our return from our Guyana trip that we saw what had been happening on social media sites with accusations that not only was Dean bullshitting his weights and catches, but he was also involved in a publicity stunt with Gillhams. Everybody who has ever been to Gillhams, or had the pleasure to meet Dean, would know that these accusations are nothing but lies, to try and damage ours and Dean’s reputation.

Other guests witnessed Dean’s catches plus the weighing of Dean’s fish, Dean was simply here on holiday with his wife Lisa, and due to his angling ability he had a trip of a lifetime landing 15 Siamese carp over a ton and a total of 46 fish. We would like to thank all our customers and followers that took the time to support our fishery and defend both ours and Dean’s credibility and honesty in the fishing community. We’ve always weighed our big carp and other species as long as it doesn’t cause problems to the fish; sometimes we recognize a fish that was recently weighed, so we don’t bother to weigh it. If we have high water temperatures or we believe the fish is too stressed, we won’t weigh them. We’ve also got many witnesses to weighing and zeroing of the scales. We can’t claim records anymore, but we still send our scales to be recalibrated every year, so our weights are correct.

Many people have seen certain places in Thailand claim exaggerated weights. Some are down to lack of experience with big fish, but other fisheries must be in a part of Thailand where a very strange gravity affects their scales, causing 40 to 50lb carp and redtail catfish to weigh in at two or even three times their actual weight. Fortunately we don’t have these gravity pulls, nor do we have specialist camera equipment. Certain fisheries claim we have a special camera that magnifies fish to make them look bigger. It’s funny because if this was the case, would it not also magnify the people behind the fish or the surrounding areas of the picture?



All this backbiting and jealousy between fisheries is pushing people away from Thailand and the fishing it has to offer. Every fishery has its supporters; anglers have different targets and goals, and what suits one angler does not suit another. Some people’s ideal fishing situation is to catch lots of fish regardless of size; others wish to catch multiple species while some prefer bigger than average fish that are a challenge to catch. Some like small waters and some like big, while others like Thai style, opposed to anglers who want some luxury. Whatever rocks your boat, Thailand has what you require. So many times we see someone asking a simple question on social media, which nearly always ends up with various fisheries’ supporters slagging other fisheries off, and eventually the poor guy asking the question gets slagged off himself. All this does is turn people away from coming fishing in Thailand. The fisheries’ owners churning out bullshit on other fisheries are doing the same damage, not only to themselves but to everyone else. Come on everyone! Many Thai fisheries are now working together, pushing Thailand to become a serious fishing destination with lakes to suit all anglers. To all the other fisheries in Thailand that work hard promoting themselves and Thailand as a country, keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the idiots that cause people to turn away from Thailand. Stuart has a dream that all Thai fisheries could form an association, directing people to the fishery that suits them, helping each other with water quality and parasite issues. Personally I think it will remain a dream; there is just too much bitterness and jealousy, but knowing Stuart he will work on this and prove me wrong!!

While on the subject of putting things straight, I would also like to clear up a few matters on some of the comments we receive on sites reviewing destinations. Fortunately this is only a very small percentage of customers – people commenting on the fact that they can go to town and get a pad Thai noodle or Thai curry at the side of the road for a third of the price. While this is true, please take into consideration that you’ll be sitting at the side of the road with cars, motorbikes and open drains running past your table. Searching around in your food for limited amounts of meat, is an option that’s down to you. Here at Gillhams we give you some of the finest food with large portions of meat, or more than one chopped-up prawn in your pad Thai! We provide some of the best views from your table, overlooking the lake and stunning gardens, surrounded by lime karst mountains set in a national park.


We also get people complaining that as they’ve paid their money they should also catch all the species they want. We would love nothing more that for every customer to catch all their dream species in a single session, but unfortunately this is why it’s called fishing, not catching! The lake has its own sustainable ecosystem that’s crawling with life and natural food. The fish here aren’t always hungry or interested in what the anglers have to offer. That being said, the catch rates, growth rates and fish conditions all speak for themselves. The great thing about fishing in Thailand is there are lakes of all kinds to suit all anglers. Just like in your own countries, some people want easy catch runs waters, some people want lakes stocking only one or two species of fish, and then you get lakes like ours where you get out what you put in. Sure, sometimes you can get lucky, but if you want to work a little bit and feel that everything you’ve caught was achieved by your own efforts and persistence, then Gillhams is the lake for you. If you want to catch 20/30 fish per day of no real size, then please do your homework, as there are lakes that will cater for this. We are more than happy to advise on other fisheries in Thailand that might be more fitting for you – the last thing we want is a disappointed customer who chose the wrong kind of venue for his needs. Well that’s enough grumbling; I’ve turned another year older and starting to sound like the older generation I used to poke fun at with all their moaning.


This next part is written by Dean Macey, it covers his whole Gillhams experience up until his recent trip last month. The pictures below Deans write up are from his previous trip when he landed an impressive 15 Siamese carp all over 100lb.

I couldn’t have been much older than 10 when I first saw the Giant Siamese Carp picture in a mainstream newspaper. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; it looked huge but incredibly beautiful at the same time. That lit the fire for the species and ever since that day, I have had a burning passion for them. I remember that it had such an effect on me that I actually did a school project on them, probably the only piece of homework I ever completed!

Many years later around the end of 2008 Gillhams Fishing Resorts came to my attention. It was the first venue that I really fancied traveling the 6000 plus miles to Thailand to fish and after contacting Stu, a trip with an old friend was planned for the following November for 9 days.

One that first trip the venue was still very much in its infancy, with small plants and rushes skirting the lake, tiny little immature bushes outside the apartments and umbrellas in concrete slabs to keep you out of the sun while fishing. I was keen to target everything but number 1 on my wish list was the carp. If memory serves me correctly I had around 40 fish up to 280lb that trip, with 11 different species and 19 Siamese carp up to 50lb. Ill never forget the moment when I hooked the first one. I shouted over to Sean to hurry over with the net as I thought I had one of the real giants, and when a 25lber popped up I couldn’t believe how hard it had fought. I was still mega buzzing and couldn’t believe just how perfect it looked.

I returned for my next trip in November 2012, this time with my wife and a couple of good friends. As much as this trip was planned as more of a holiday than a fishing trip, I still managed to do 8 full days and a few short sessions before the girls awoke from our nights in the restaurant and out on the town. Juggling the both nearly bloody killed me but again the lake was kind to me with lots of fish in the time I was there. My two main targets for that trip were the Mekong and again the carp. I had that many Mekong that trip that I actually returned home with tennis elbow! The carp however had started to get their heads down on the recently introduced pellet that Stu had sauced and their growth rate was very impressive. In total I had 21 carp up to 108lb with just 4 fish under the 50lb barrier.

And now for my most recent trip, which to be honest, even though I have now been home for a whole day and gone through some amazing pictures, I still find it difficult to believe what has happened.  This was my 6th visit to the venue but only my 3rd that I have actually had a good go at the fishing for myself. I know that sound weird but I don’t count the filming that I have done on the resort as a proper trip.

Every time I drive through the gates I’m staggered by how much the venue has changed from one year to the next. It never stops evolving and to think back to 2009 and how far the resort has come from then is astonishing. It is a true work of art. From the new Spa that overlooks the whole lake, to the extension of the sala bank and of course the size of the fish! With that in mind, I once again came with a mindset to really have a go for some of the truly massive carp. As with all the other trips I kept things very simple and stuck to my game plan for the 10 full days fishing that I had. My first day was a great start with two carp of 85 and 90lb with a bonus Asian redtail. Proof that the methods, bait and spots were working and being visited.

Day two and the same routine was employed and five great big Siamese to 90lb graced my net. I was over the moon as you can imagine.  I always have very realistic expectation in my fishing and now the lake is very much a “big fish” venue, I think that a bite in the morning and one in the afternoon is good going. Day 3 got even better with another five carp to 97lb and a welcome Mekong of about 160. Then the really big girls turned up and my trip, that was already a brilliant one turned into the trip of a lifetime.

Day 4 and four carp of 96, 97, 109 and 118lb had me skipping up and down the bank.

Day 5 and six carp of 35, 60, 99.8, 100, 115 and 122lb had me wondering whether I should be doing the Lottery.

Day 6 and yet another six carp of 35, 85, 101, 103, 103, 109lb. By this point I was thinking that it had to slow down.

Day 7 and four more Siamese carp of 60, 95, 101 and 120lb.

Day 8 and I changed swim for the day to try for a Julian’s as I had seen a few show the day before. The gamble paid off with my first ever Julian’s from the main lake and to back it up I managed to nick a 116 Siamese and a stunning red tail.

Day 9 and my Siamese head was back on and with that, five more carp visited me that day of 85, 90, 110, 116 and 119lb. As I walked to the swim on my final days fishing I stopped and looked out as the mist rolled across the surface and monsters of all species put on a show that only Gillhams can do. I pinched myself to make sure that it had all been real and thought back to my first visit. Over the years I had fished for these magnificent creatures from 20lb up to 120lb and every single one of them made me feel like that child many years before. I don’t know why but on that last day I didn’t fish as hard but sat at the front of the swim looking out and thinking about how far everything had come. I had three carp of 85, 90 and 95lb on the last day to make a final total of 46 fish, of which 42 of them were Siamese carp and a staggering 15 over the tone.

I’ve said it 100 times before and I’ll probably say it another 100 times, Gillhams Fishing Resorts is quite simply the best big fish venue on the planet.

I will be back!!!


So after Dean’s account of his trip the previous month let’s get on with this months fishing and find out what’s been getting caught this and what species have been landed.

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 762 fish caught of 25 species, made up as follows: 26 arapaima to 400lb, five arawana to 8lb, four alligator gar to 30lb, 211 Amazon redtail catfish to 80lb, six Amazon stingray to 45lb, 91 Asian redtail catfish to 55lb, eight bighead carp to 45lb, three barramundi to 8lb, 35 black pacu to 45lb, two Chao Phraya catfish to 150lb, three giant gourami to 12lb 8oz, one giant featherback of 8lb, one jau catfish of 16lb, 39 Julian golden carp to 50lb, 48 Mekong catfish to 220lb, one mrigal carp to 10lb, one rita sacerdotum of 12lb, two Nile perch to 12lb, seven ripsaw catfish to 46lb, 11 red bellied pacu to 18lb, two spotted sorubim of 20lb, 245 Siamese carp to 178lb, one tambaqui of 30lb, one wallago attu of 8lb.

We’ve had many different customers in this month but like always we can’t write about everybody. People that don’t get a mention sometimes feel left out, so recently we’ve been trying to cut down on the people we write about. This month especially is light on customer information where I haven’t been here and haven’t been given much info other than catch records we keep. We would like to keep the newsletters based more on information about what’s been happening at Gillhams Fishing Resorts and any new ideas and upgrades. We’re going to keep the individual captures more to our Facebook site. I’ve put in below some of the fish that have been caught and would like to thank everybody who visited us last month, and a special thanks to everybody who sent their photos in for us to share with our readers. We will be writing up on more customers next month as things here get back to normal due to the full work force now back in action.


Well that’s it for this month. We’ll see you again next month with more captures and stories of what’s going on over here in paradise.

For those of you planning a return or first trip, please send us your enquiry via our enquiries page or email us at

Tight lines from us all at Gillhams Fishing Resorts. We hope your next fish is the one of your dreams, which it probably will be if you come to Gillhams!