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Krabi newsletter May 2012

Hi and welcome to another month here at Gillhams. I hope you have enjoyed the newsletters the last couple of months, but if not don’t worry as my writing days are coming to an end as Stuart will be returning to the newsletters soon I promise. (Not if I can help it – it’s about time you did some work – even the guides call you Lord Lucan because you can’t be found!).

As we are now into the low season so certain jobs that we’ve been meaning to do can get done. One of those long awaited jobs was the cleaning of the arapaima stock pond. We had to take every fish out and clean the pond. Now this may all sound easy but believe me that isn’t the case. Temporary plastic lined ponds had to be made, which was hard work in itself, let alone having to get in the pond with 38 angry arapaima over 100lb that haven’t been fed for three weeks prior to being moved.

Stuart is now back from England and doesn’t have to go back till next year, which is still too soon. Stuart did have some luck back in England though as he got out of having to see Westlife by giving his ticket to Rebecca to accompany Benz instead. While the girls were throwing their knickers at the boys on stage, Stuart was back at the Hilton sipping on his free wine and vodka in the hotel posh sods’ lounge.

Jason Ingley has returned to the UK for a couple of weeks to fish the world catfish classic match in Spain with Beverly Clifford of Angling Publications. (News just in… Jason and Bev came a very respectable fourth, plus Jason landed the first catfish of the match). Out of five pairs he did well, so seriously well done mate – we are all proud of you. Jason won’t be back to Gillhams until January, as he has started his own catfish guiding company in Spain. Knowing how professional Jason is, we are sure he will establish himself as the top guiding service in a very short time. Anyone wishing to take a trip with Jason, his email is Jason’s trips should work well for him to fit in with guiding here, as the cold season there is our busy period here. Before leaving, Jason managed to get a couple of days’ fishing in and managed a PB arapaima of 280lb and his biggest Siamese carp at 95lb amongst other species.

Dad and I are also getting close to our fishing trip to Panama at the end of next month. There will be seven of us in total with regulars from Gillhams and will be privileged to be accompanied by none other than Sir Richard Foster of Fosters of Birmingham. So look out for the write-up of how we got on in the July newsletter.

We also have our annual trip booked to Rob Hunt’s fantastic fishing lodge on Croker Island near Darwin, Australia. We still have two places up for grabs, so you can either meet us in Darwin, or fit in a trip here with Australia thrown in. Dad and I are flying into Darwin on the 1st November and out of Darwin on the 13th November, so anyone wishing to do Gillhams either side for a few days and fly with us and stay and fish at ours for free, just pay bait, food and drink. (No one month each side allowed!) It’s just 1½ hours to Singapore, then connect with a 4½ hour flight to Darwin. On the 3rd November we fly in the morning from Darwin to Croker Island, fish half a day, then fish every day and stay till 12th November and fish the morning before flying back to Darwin. It includes flights, Darwin to Croker return, plus fishing boats, tackle and all meal. It’s estuary, flats and reef fishing plus if the weather is OK which it should be, we are fishing a huge underwater sea mount 18 miles long and six miles wide with depths from 200ft to 9ft. This adventure is 100km by boat, fishing for just about everything that swims – marlin, sails, red emperor, huge GT and queenfish. This mount has not been fished for two years. We camp on a nearby island and fish dawn to dark. The fishing around Croker Island is awesome; the lodge is comfortable, the food superb and Rob the boss is a pukka bloke. It’s for eight people maximum including Sean and me and two anglers per boat. The cost is 7,270 Australian dollars per person.

This month was little Jacks third birthday and was also the start of his first year of primary school. At the moment he is enjoying it every day with no tantrums about having to go, but if he likes school like I used to, it’s not going to stay that way.

Our run of bad weather continues; Thailand, like the rest of the world, is still suffering the wettest year ever recorded, but the plus side is the fish love rain and the cooler temperatures it brings. The only fish that slow down in the rain are Mekong catfish, as we get huge zooplankton blooms when it rains. Being plankton feeders in the wild they abandon the pellet and gorge on plankton, and this shows in the monthly catch figures, which dropped to 37 fish this month from last month’s haul of 187 Mekong catfish. The weather as I write this report on the fishing in Krabi has at last broken, and the last five days have been back to normal clear blue skies and sunshine (it’s a hard life living here, but some of us have to suffer it!).

The Siamese carp are now piling on incredible weight gains, as they recognize the special pellets we developed as a nutritional food source. The average size Siamese carp six months ago was 40lb, but now it’s rare to see one under 50lb, with the average being 60lb. There are numerous 80lb-plus fish now, and in one day alone this month 14 over 80lb were landed. We have had six different 100lb carp this month alone. We weigh fish we think are 100-plus, and out of these six fish, four were new 100lb fish up from 80 and 90lb. God knows how many over the magic ton will be swimming around here in a year’s time, as we have also had 12 over 90lb this month! For sure at this rate next year should see at least 30 Siamese carp over 100lb, with the others averaging 80lb!

Don’t forget there is a holiday up for grabs to the first person to beat the world record Siamese carp caught here to IGFA rules. Also this month two other world record fish have been caught, with a mrigal carp 19lb 4oz beating the original record by 2lb, also from Gillhams. The captor of this fish did not wish to claim, so Eddie Grey’s record stays in the top spot. On that same day the Chao Phraya record was beaten by nearly 5lbs, but this one could not be claimed as the rod was given over to one of our guides, making the record invalid.

We had a disappointing email from Lesley Gainer who wrote… Just read your April newsletter, and can’t believe you didn’t even give Rob Gainer a mention when he stayed for five days and had some great catches – disappointed!

Rob Gainer is Lesley’s son. We can understand his mum’s disappointment, and replied as follows… Sorry about your disappointment. Robert never gave us his fish pictures, and without pictures we do not include anglers’ catches in the newsletter. Our reason is that many fisheries state in catch reports that Fred Smith or Bill Jones caught such and such, but without pictures, it’s easy for them to falsify catches and boost catch reports by doing this. We only include genuine catch reports with pictures to back up the said catch, and that way we cannot be classed alongside the less genuine fisheries. We are always saying in newsletters that we are disappointed we can’t include fish captures, due to the angler not supplying us with their pictures. Every month we have to leave out some great catches due to pictures not being supplied. Sometimes pictures are of poor quality and have to be left out. Sometimes there just is not space to include everyone as we average 80-plus anglers a month! But in Robert’s case we just simply never had any pictures from him! We are also disappointed when anglers do not give us pictures, as it deprives us of the chance to show their catch, but we will not go down the road of naming anglers with no picture to show, as it would cast doubt on our reports. I remember your visit and Robert was asked to send us pictures. He returned for a day’s fishing on the Sunday but he forgot to come and say goodbye when he left. We did remind your husband when he came to say farewell to ask Robert to send pictures, but as we never got them unfortunately he was not included.

ur guides hand in catch reports every day, and these are added to the overall catch numbers for the month. Once the newsletter goes on the website the angler’s individual catches are thrown away. If you would like us to include Robert’s catch please supply us with a list of fish, species and sizes plus pictures, and we will be happy to give him a mention in this month’s newsletter. This might even prompt others to supply us with pictures when asked!

Unfortunately Robert did not send his pictures again this month, so I am afraid his mother’s disappointment will continue, but I have included the above so he gets his moment of glory. Please people when you do not want us to take your pictures from your camera (maybe you have some embarrassing pictures), just send them as promised, as without your pictures we can’t produce the newsletter.

The total catches this month are as follows: 610 fish of 31 species, made up as follows: 47 arapaima to 380lb, five arawana to 10lb, three alligator gar to 30lb, 132 Amazon redtail catfish to 85lb, two Amazon stingray to 18lb, 78 Asian redtail catfish to 50lb, 12 black pacu to 25lb, one big head carp to 20lb, one black shark carp 15lb, two Chao Phraya catfish of 125lb, seven Chinese seerfish to 25lb, one firewood catfish of 8lb, five giant featherback to 9lb, six giant stingray to 120lb, three giant snakeheads 10lb, three hovens carp to 6lb, eleven Julian’s carp to 40lb, 37 Mekong catfish to 230lb, nine mrigal carp to 19lb 4oz, eleven rohu carp to 20lb, one, three ripsaw catfish to 25lb, 16 spotted featherback to 10lb, 180 Siamese carp to 105lb, four shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 45lb, five shovel nosed tiger catfish to 20lb, one striped catfish of 20lb, two striped snakehead to 4lb, seven tambaqui to 30lb, five wallago attu to 22lb, eight wallago leeri to 35lb and two zungaro (jau) to 14lb.

First up this month we had Dutch angler Peter Stout come over for 19 nights and 15 days’ fishing for his second trip to Gillhams. Now while here Peter was all about the fishing; he’s not interested in going out or seeing the sights. All he wants to see are big fish and new species, preferably on the end of his line. Because Peter is a dedicated angler he went on to have a very successful trip and landed a total of 121 fish of 16 species with 15 fish over 100lb including Siamese carp to 100lb, his biggest fish being a 280lb arapaima. While here Peter also landed what would have been a world record Chao Phraya catfish, but due to him having to get in the lake to follow the fish, Peter passed the rod to Joel while he jumped in the lake. This made the record void, as somebody else touched the rod, which is against IGFA rules. Other species caught by Peter included black shark carp, stingrays, ripsaw catfish, zungaro and both the wallago leeri and attu. Having three days at the end of his trip to relax, Peter ended up taking some extra fishing and took three half days between 11am and 5pm due to most of his big carp being caught between these times.

We also had the return of Aaron Hyde for a week’s fishing to get himself fit for the Panama trip next month. While here Aaron didn’t actually fish that much; he caught a few fish, but was more into taking a break from a hectic workload back in the UK, plus meeting up with an old mate. He spent most of the time with him down the beach relaxing and sinking a few cocktails in him instead. Aaron caught a total of ten fish with some nice Siamese carp and a big Asian redtail catfish of 50lb.

Jan Kastrup came to Gillhams for a two-day trip informing us that when fishing with his mates at home in Denmark he may not catch the most fish but always the biggest and has got the nickname ‘Lottery’ because of this. Well Jan certainly wasn’t lying about this, as he went on to catch 26 fish of nine species, amongst them the rare fish like ripsaw catfish and firewood catfish. He also caught four species exceeding the magic 100lb barrier: Mekong catfish to 120lb, stingray to 120lb, Siamese carp to 100lb and three arapaima at 190, 260 and 320lb.

We had our old mate Captain John Pearce from Phuket join us for one and a half days again this month following last month’s trip for two days, putting together a video for the producer of the Australian TV company who used to produce the Rex Hunt show. The producer is a friend of John’s and he would like to get them interested in filming here. John managed six fish of six species including Julian’s golden prize carp, wallago and an arapaima of 180lb.

Tom Comerford experienced Gillhams for the first time this month and by the end of his stay will no doubt be returning in the near future. Tom came with his sister who had stopped in Thailand a couple of years back while on a cruise and wanted to see everything she missed the last time. Tom informed us that he was more into fly fishing than bait fishing but was very keen to catch all the different species here using any method he had to use to achieve his goal. Tom’s sister spent her time relaxing around the resort and pool, and she mentioned the need for cushions on the sun loungers, as portly people find them uncomfortable. Tom’s reply was, “Lose some weight!” And this from a bloke who admitted he scoffed hundreds of cream cakes to put on a stone in anticipation of fighting our lake monsters! And even with his incredible bulk he still struggled! While here Tom had an exceptionally good trip and went on to land 55 fish of 11 different species including Siamese carp to 80lb, redtail catfish to 70lb, stingray to 120lb and arapaima to 310lb. On top of those fish Tom even caught some rarer species like zungaro, wallago attu and took two arawana on the fly.

Also this month we had a visit from Aaron Perry who was on holiday with his wife, and managed to sweet talk her into letting him fish for two days. While they were here the weather wasn’t its best as we had a lot of rain about this month, but they both enjoyed themselves and are making plans for a return trip next year, staying for a week. Aaron caught 12 fish with his two biggest being a Siamese carp of 80lb and a 300lb arapaima.

Next up we had Darren Arrowsmith from Australia with his wife and his mate Lindsey, who despite having this name was actually a man. He was also accompanied by his wife.
Darren told us on arrival that his main target species was an arapaima and went onto catching that on his first full day’s fishing. While here Darren ran into a few problems such as casting into trees on the other side of the lake and also casting into the rope that separates the main lake and a small resting area at one end of the lake. If casting into the rope wasn’t bad enough, Darren also cast over the rope only to have an arapaima take the bait as it hit the water, which ended up cutting him off due to friction on the rope. Darren and Lindsey went on to catch a total of 19 fish between them in two and a half days’ fishing with Darren having the bigger catches with an arapaima and an 85lb Siamese carp.

We also had Chris Beale and Simon Hyatt, two British expats living in Singapore, come for a long weekend of fishing while sinking a few bottles of Jack Daniels and cases of beer. It was the first time at Gillhams for both anglers, but Chris has already been in contact for a return trip in a few weeks’ time. While here Chris and Simon caught 29 fish including arapaima to 260lb, stingray to 110lb and Mekong catfish to 140lb. They even broke a lake record by drinking 40-plus drinks in a day from Singha beer to Jack Daniels before fishing finished, then carrying the session on again in our restaurant.

Also this month we had Robert Mansell come on a day ticket while on holiday in Ao-Nang. Robert is a match angler back in the UK with personal best fish of 17lb and combined catch weight of 84lb until he came to Gillham’s for the shock of his life. Within ten minutes of starting, Robert hooked into a Mekong catfish of 90lb and this carried on throughout the day with him landing his two biggest fish – a Mekong catfish of 230lb and an arapaima of 210lb. When Robert’s day was over he had a total of nine fish with a combined weight of 641lb.

That just about brings another month to a close. As I write this in June it just made me realise we are half way to Christmas already. Time flies here in paradise; if you are thinking of a trip here for Christmas we still have a few places available, but these will sell out soon so book ASAP to avoid disappointment. Most of our regular guests have booked already, but one couple has not confirmed yet (come on Mrs P. P. – pull your finger out or Ian will not talk to you again!). This year we are not having the Christmas or New Years Eve parties here at Gillhams; instead we are taking our guests to one of the top hotels in Ao-Nang to join their celebrations with a huge buffet, live cabaret show, music and fireworks.
While on the subject of bookings, October and November 2012 are close to full, with some dates fully booked already. September still has a lot of spaces due to the large cancellation by a tour operator. We are offering large discounts for September to try and recoup our losses, so if you can make it contact Stuart for a special deal!
We hope to see you all soon here in paradise, so please contact us with your holiday plans; we are always happy to provide you with a quote and if possible a discount option. Contact Stuart by email or phone 0066861644554 or visit our website where you can contact as via the site.
Best wishes from us all here at Gillhams.