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Fishing In Thailand Newsletter May 2013

Sorry for the delay on this report on the fishing in Thailand. As many of you will be aware my father passed away on the 25th of May, and obviously this resulted in me having to fly back to the UK immediately with Becky and Sean following a few days later. I was overwhelmed by the amount of messages we received from our friends and clients; it was a great comfort to all my family to receive so many kind words of sympathy.

As I started this newsletter about my father, I will continue here with a short memory of my dad’s life. Bernard Jack Gillham was 90 years old, married to my mother Marjorie, and they would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this year. He was the proud father of my late sister Jenny and my younger sister Helen, grandfather to my children Jamie, Becky, Sean and Jack, plus Helen’s children Daniel, Jennifer and Noah. Dad was to see action in World War Two in bomber command, and he met my mother firstly as a pen friend while in the Air Force. After the war, dad briefly served in the fire service before becoming a policeman, and he served 30 years in the police force, retiring at the rank of sergeant.

My father was a fanatical fisherman with a strong interest in specimen fish. He enjoyed all types of fishing, and in later years fly fishing became his passion. Dad passed on his passion for fishing to me; I had a fantastic childhood, starting fishing at four years of age. All our family holidays and spare time were spent fishing, and by the time I was 18, big fish had also become part of my life to the point of obsession. Dad was by then more into his trout fishing but loved to listen to my exploits, plus we trout fished on a regular basis together right up to my move to Thailand in 2005.

As I made a name for myself catching big fish around the world, Dad could not have been more proud, what with Sean following in my footsteps, and our get-togethers always resulted in tales of big fish and foreign lands. Unfortunately due to Dad’s war experience when he survived a plane crash, he would not travel, only fishing in Great Britain. He was always fascinated by my globetrotting fishing experiences, but my one regret is he never came to see what I achieved here in Thailand.

Dad was a very organized man, and even in his passing, he left instructions of what to do. He left us all a fantastic letter, which eased the pain, but did make the inventible lump in the throat hard to ignore. Part of this letter I have copied here to share with you all:

Stuart, we have been lucky together for a long time, we have shared a lot together and enjoyed so many things. You have been a good son and friend and I am proud of what you achieved in life. The methods may have been a bit shaky at times, but you have got there in the end. Good luck mate, and stay happy.

Dad wanted a simple family funeral, as he was never one for a big show, and we sent him on his way to the tune of the Dambusters. Goodbye to my dear dad and friend – you will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

With Sean, Becky and me being away, we left the running of the resort in the very capable hands of Benz, Jut and Joel. All the staff worked their socks off, and I am immensely proud of them all. They coped with everything in a very professional manner; in fact they have worked so well, I reckon I can go away again for a nice fishing holiday! The extra hours everyone had to put in has made for a short fishing report, which Jut and Joel put together. If they have missed anything or anyone out we apologise, but this is the first time they have had to write for us. Hopefully I will be back in the mood for writing more for the June newsletter, but if not, we can always draft Geoff back from his sleepover in the UK.

I have also been very pleased with young Jonathan Salisbury’s progress; he is a great help to us with his knowledge of water quality and fish care. It was nice not to have to worry about the fish’s environment while we were away. Jonathan is a very capable young man to leave in charge of our lake and fish.

Just prior to our return the bad luck continued when poor little Jack was stung by a hornet. The little man had an allergic reaction and spent the next 36 hours in hospital. Joel drove Benz and Jack 100 miles at 2am to get Jack to hospital, and he then stayed with them and phoned me with progress reports. Joel, I am eternally grateful for everything you did for us, and to the staff left behind – a big thank you for running everything extremely short staffed. All in all we are very lucky to have such a fantastic dedicated team – every visitor here remarks about them, and many thanks to you all.

I understand from many of our friends and clients that they are getting emails from other fisheries, and we are aware that a lowlife accessed our database. This could have been achieved by being hacked, or more than likely stolen, by someone we trusted to use our computer. We have now changed our passwords, increased firewall protection and had our computer cleaned up. Our client base has been distributed amongst other fisheries to try and throw the trail off the scum who stole it. Once again we can only apologise to all of you receiving emails from other fisheries. We recommend that if you have not contacted a fishery that contacts you, you do not visit them, as their actions only show what an unprofessional second-rate setup they are operating. We are also getting many people who follow us on Facebook getting contacted – again this is a desperate unprofessional way to conduct business. The one thing you can be sure of is that these people are dishonest, and obviously their fishery will be run on the same lines. Instead of helping these people, we are sure it will work against them, showing our clients who not to visit. The Internet is a handy tool for many things, but the downside is that dickheads can also use it as tool against you.

When we developed Gillhams it took years to gain a reputation and get known, and we are fortunate that we have many friends around the world connected with fishing. The rest was done on hard work – providing clients with the best service, lots of promotion and expense.

Not once did we contact other people’s clients, slag off the opposition or pick holes in other fisheries. We regularly get forwarded emails sent to an existing or potential client from another fishery, slagging us off and telling blatant lies about us. We do not respond and leave people to judge us on recommendations or the quality of the service we provide. Many times we feel like confronting the jealous girls who think you win business by slagging off and lying about the opposition. The reason we don’t is all we would be doing is lowering ourselves to their level. Our policy is to let people judge for themselves, and 80% repeat business is proof enough that we are doing it right!

At the moment we have new fisheries starting up in Thailand and existing fisheries that are not getting the same volume of business as us. Instead of building their own reputation, they feel that by slagging off ours they will take our clients. If only they would realise that all they are doing is making their own business look unprofessional and slowing the growth of anglers coming fishing in Thailand.

To the new fisheries, take note that it takes time to build a reputation; all the badmouthing and lies in the world will not make your business instantly successful. To the existing fisheries – it’s simple… up your game! It’s not just big fish that bring clients, it’s providing a good service and improving facilities!

It amazes us that a person who knows us starts spreading lies about what we have supposedly said, and people who do not even know us believe it must be true, when all they have to do is ask. Can they not see the person is using them, and will shit on them like they have on us when they have served their purpose? People who do not even know us should realise that these people are loading a gun and letting them fire the bullets. We do not make derogatory remarks about other lakes, their surroundings or the fish that either swim, or allegedly swim, in their lakes. We even get comments that we do not allow anglers to tie their own rigs or experiment with tackle and methods. Sure we have rules in place to protect our fish, but as any of our clients will tell you we welcome anglers making their own rigs and experimenting.

We do not visit other fisheries so how could we be commenting on what they are like? I have been visiting Thailand since 1979 and have only ever fished three venues that are still operating today. Since 2005 all we have done is worked hard at creating what we have today, and to be honest we don’t need to visit other fisheries; we know what we want to achieve and have done so. We don’t need ideas or to copy other venues. What the others do is up to them, and what they are happy with is also their business. For eight years we have just got on with our own thing; we don’t need help or advice, as we have the experience, or know enough experts, to deal with anything that comes our way.

Jealousy is a sad thing in any walk of life; all it proves is that these pricks can’t achieve their goals through their own incompetence. All we are asking is to be left alone to run our own fishery – what we have created and our reputation is proof enough. All the knockers are doing is showing people their own failings!

Believe it or not we want to see many other fisheries in Thailand. People need a choice, and Thailand can become the freshwater fishing capital of the world. When good operators exist it makes all the others up their game, which in turn leads to more anglers wishing to visit Thailand. With an abundance of good venues, anglers will visit one place and wish to try others, rotating around the venues, and everyone will have enough business. By slagging off, lying and criticising each other, all they will do is frighten people away. Fishing in Thailand will only grow by everyone giving anglers what they want. It will never grow if people exaggerate their own fish and belittle others’ fish or fisheries. It won’t make everyone come to you if all you can do is slate the opposition or listen to Billy Liar saying so-and-so said such-and-such about you.

Most of the shit coming our way is because a couple of people claim we are saying things about others, and the others stupidly believing them. Anyone who knows us will tell you we don’t slag off other venues. If I have a gripe with anyone I tell them to their face. I suggest that anyone who has a gripe with me does the same, speak to my face – I only bite if you want me to. I will face anyone anytime and discuss any problem you think you have with me, and as long as you are civil with me I will show you the same in return. But if you keep pushing me behind my back, I will turn on you… only the retaliation will not come with words or hiding behind a keyboard. So back off, live your own lives, run your own business and leave us to run ours!

It seems one of the main things a few people seem to think is important is that we have some incorrect information regarding fish species on our website. Bear in mind our fish library was put together in 2007. Some of the fish we started with were unfamiliar to us, and we wrongly believed information given to us by so-called professionals. We were too busy building the lake and complex to spend hours checking what we were told, so if a fish supplier who we stupidly trusted told us a fish was rare we believed him, as he was considered a friend and expert. The fact of the matter was that all he was doing was lying to push the price up. Being a bit green and trusting the twat, we made a mistake – easily done when you are busy. But at least we know now and let him sell to others and bullshit them to swell his bank balance! Yes folks every one of us makes mistakes in life, although some try to say they have never made a mistake and know everything, which brings us back to square one.

The main thing in question is that the names could be wrong on some fish. The only true names are the scientific names – the rest are as people see them or tell them. The black shark, species Labeo Chrisophekadion (or so we are told!) is not code red as we were led to believe, but like most species in Thailand is not too prolific in the wild. Julian’s golden carp’s species name is Probarbus Julieni. We were originally told it was called Julian’s golden prize, but then told it was ‘price’ so we just left it as Julian’s golden carp.

Another fish that seems to give the knockers delight in correcting is the spotted sorubim. Again the dubious fish supplier told us ours were the real deal from Argentina. This justified the exotic price, and being newbies we fell for it. Oops, ha ha, how did they fall for that? Giggle giggle… we are experts and would not be fooled (yeah, right!). More than likely ours are hybrids, but does it really matter? Not to our clients, but with nothing better to slag us off about, apparently it’s very important.

We are in the process of getting biologists to check our fish library, and I am sure they will probably still get a few names wrong. The species names will be correct, but to use those would be a nightmare. Imagine telling a client, “Congratulations, you have just landed a Labeo Chrisophekadion!”

Many of the fish stocked in commercial fisheries in Thailand are critically endangered in the wild, so commercial fisheries do give the average person the chance to catch a fish they probably would not catch in its diminishing natural environment. It’s funny but many biologists and fish experts have varying views to each other. Some say this site is wrong, while others say another is wrong. All we can do is choose one and go with what we are told, but does it really matter to 99% of us? I think not!

The only ones it seems to matter to are the green-eyed monsters who can only knock us on a few bloody fish names. If they think that a few wrong names is going to stop customers coming to Gillhams then it just shows they are a damn sight more stupid than we thought!

Normally I would not even bother to write any of the above, but in the last few months one person who knew me started a little vendetta against me and our fishery, cleverly done by adding people to the team who had only ever met me once, or some that have never met me or Sean. What the team have not tumbled is they will be used and then treated the same way as us. For sure some time in the future they will have been used in the same way we were and dropped when they are no further use.

I am a big boy and can normally handle little girls in the primary school playground, but as this all came to a head when my dear old dad was fighting for his life and after his death, I feel that for once I should retaliate and answer the girls. All I have to say to any of them is come and stand in front of me and have a pop or shut the f–k up!

Sorry to have ranted on and put all the above in our newsletter, but I feel strongly about our readers and clients being subjected to being contacted and reading lies and abuse about us. Hopefully we can return next month to a newsletter about Gillhams Fishing Resorts and the venue we have created. If any of the above is familiar to you we recommend visiting the fisheries who are not involved and avoiding the ones who are.

Enough said, and onto the fishing report compiled by Jut and Joel…

So, on to the fishing in Krabi here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts: The total catches for people fishing this month were 545 fish of 25 species, made up as follows: 53 arapaima to 360lb, four arawana to 12lb, eight alligator gar to 62lb, 92 Amazon redtail catfish to 80lb, three Amazon stingray to 20lb, 59 Asian redtail catfish to 34lb, eight black pacu to 32lb, ten big head carp to 30lb, three Chao Phraya catfish to 110lb, one firewood catfish of 20lb, four giant gourami to 8lb, two giant stingray to 100lb, two giant featherbacks to 10lb, 18 Julian’s golden carp to 32lb, 68 Mekong catfish to 190lb, four mrigal to 8lb, four ripsaw catfish to 35lb, six spotted featherback to 8lb, 172 Siamese carp to 110lb, three shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 30lb, five shovel nosed tiger catfish to 14lb, six wallago attu to 22lb, eight wallago leeri to 32lb and one zungaro of 14lb.

We met Bryan Anders and his wife Sarah for the first time this month, and Bryan is already planning his next trip in his head! It was a slow start for Bryan but we got him off the mark with a nice Siamese carp of just under 50lb. He also got his first taste of the mighty Mekong catfish, which renders many a newcomer to Thailand speechless. Unfortunately after being taken down the lake on a couple of occasions following the fast disappearing fish, the battle ultimately ended fishless. It wasn’t until after he’d gone the full distance with his first Mekong that he changed his mind about wanting another one. Even this multiple tour hardened Sergeant Major wasn’t relishing another go!

You could see from Bryan’s mannerisms and the precision layout of tackle in his swim that this was a career army man, and young Jonathan managed to fall foul of these high standards whilst going about his daily tasks (whatever they might be?). The only way to bring him back in line was to get the ultimate fishing trophy shot. So when Jonathan was first to the swim and jumped in to net a Siamese carp, I turned cameraman in Jon’s place. Photos taken and fish returned, Jon turned to shake Bryan’s hand only to be pushed into the lake, disappearing from view under the water, then to be unceremoniously picked up and lengthways presented in Bryan’s arms for the full on trophy shot. Despite the abuse, poor Jon could only manage to laugh through the whole affair and behaved perfectly for his photos. Shame more of the Gillhams captures don’t always behave once in the angler’s arms! We’re looking forward to their return visit, and I know Bryan’s hoping that Jon’s put on a few pounds when he comes back. We’re also looking forward to that bell ringing in the bar for a new PB if he manages to catch him again.

Peter Stout and his dad Rikkas came out this month for a two-week holiday, Peter having been out to fish on several occasions in the past. He caught well over 100 fish on his last trip, so was well up for the challenge. Peter’s dad was on his first visit and was looking forward to doing multiple half-day stints for anything and everything that came his way. Peter moved into the swim that Jan Kastrup had been fishing with a desire to get into a big Mekong catfish and Siamese carp. The fishing proved a little slower than Peter had hoped for, and having seen the number of carp that Jan had extracted he was a little despondent until the fish started to come to longer range tactics than Jan had adopted. Peter did get into a number of big Mekong, getting very close to that prized two hundred pound barrier on almost his last fish of the trip, a 190lb Mekong that took him close to two and a half hours to tame, and was finally banked at nearly 9pm.

Whilst Peter noted time, temperature and all manner of factors relating to every capture, his father Rikkas was almost horizontal in his laid-back approach. Rikkas fished between 10am and 5pm most days and was a great guy to talk with. His overtly tidy approach to swim management means he’ll be welcome anytime. The guides can cope with as many anglers as exist who put away their chairs, put down their umbrellas and pack, tidy and even take away their rubbish at the end of their fishing – cheers, Rikkas! An impromptu and unscheduled two-hour stint on his last day was rewarded with a 180lb Mekong that required Gollock to swim across the lake before ending up at the furthest possible corner of the lake for its eventual netting. Peter and Rikkas finished their trip with 43 fish and ten different species with nine over 100lbs and two over 200lbs with Peter’s dad catching the biggest of the trip – an arapaima of 280lb.

We were pleased to welcome back Terry Thompson, aka Terry ‘no legs’ and his wife Tracey to the resort for two weeks. Terry is a very old friend of Stuart’s and the two have shared many fishing (and drinking by the sound of it) sessions over the years, so it was great for the guides to talk all things fishing with a very knowledgeable and entertaining guy. It’s been a while since they were here last, and neither Tracey nor Terry could believe how much the trees and landscaping had matured over the last couple of years. You don’t realize quite how much the place has changed when it’s under your nose, but its nice to hear positive feedback on how nice the place is looking. Terry had caught big fish here in the past but was looking forward to catching a bigger Siamese carp and also landing his first Mekong catfish.

Anyone who’s been here before knows just how much of a challenge the Mekong can be, even for someone with normal length legs. It didn’t take more than a couple of days to get that first chance to address the lack of Mekongs on his catch list, as a very lengthy battle commenced during an epic rainstorm. Three hours of backbreaking effort, much use of expletives, the odd hour in a chair to ease the pressure on his back, and we were done – all 190lbs of it. Having spent the whole time standing by offering encouragement, and a good hour in the water, I thought that might be the end of it for Terry for the day, but no, he was keen to put his baits straight back out. Glutton for punishment that he clearly is, he was rewarded with two further Mekong catfish between 125lbs and 135lbs that same day for a total of approx 450lb of Mekong, as well as somewhere in the region of six hours fighting fish! Apart from feeling a ‘bit tired’ and demanding more cups of tea than the guides usually like to deliver in a day, he was absolutely fine. When you see people have to hand over the rod after half an hour it really does make you laugh – some of these old school anglers make us youngsters look pathetic! As well as getting into the Mekong catfish, Terry also managed to beat his previous best Siamese carp of 85lbs as well as being delighted to get his first Julian’s golden prize carp (or whatever you wish to call them!). The trip ended with a huge arapaima of 340lb, which was enjoyed by a large crowd of onlookers. Tracey even decided to get in on the action at the end of their stay with an expertly played and landed Amazon redtail catfish of around 25lbs.

Carsten and Eva Brandt joined us for two weeks, making this their third trip to Gillhams, fishing two days on and two days off to make the most of their time in Thailand and enjoy some of the local sightseeing. We often get the UK based anglers turning up giving it the big’un about leaving behind minus two degrees and saying that Thailand is too hot until they acclimatise. Well, try living in Greenland 12 months of the year and visiting tropical climates! Carston and Eva spend half their year in darkness and get to experience temperatures as low as minus forty! They both struggled with the heat for the first couple of days, but regular deliveries of water to the swim made sure they didn’t suffer too much. Carsten is a big guy and certainly showed his strength when playing the Mekong, leaving Joel and Jut close to speechless after schooling his first Mekong in less than 20 minutes. This bullish approach to playing fish worked well for Carston, as during his stay he caught several fish over the magical 100lb mark including the Chao Phraya catfish, Mekong catfish and the ever-impressive arapaima. By the end of his stay he’d caught 20 fish of eight species including Amazon redtail catfish to 70lb, arapaima to 200lb, Mekong catfish to 130lb, Chao Phraya catfish of 110lb and Siamese carp to 65lb.

Regular visitors to Gillhams, Jamie Rich and Scott Russell, returned with dreams of big fish, plus big nights out at our local watering holes in Ao Nang. Anyone who’s been here before and met Jamie will know how much he likes a good night with a few beers. Whilst we had a few good nights out, you always get the impression with Jamie that he could handle just one more! Jamie and Scott opted for the swims outside their bungalows, and they were regularly seen fishing by the crack of lunchtime nearly every day. This, coupled with a daily two-hour brunch, ensured they were suitably relaxed to go about the business of catching fish! Moving a couple of times to get onto some fish, we experienced some over the top but well meaning organization skills that can come out in ex-banking supremo and head guide Joel. Having planned (in his head anyway) the swims for the next day, a mental list was produced. This however differed from the actual list put together on this occasion by Jut, as Scott had decided not to move despite a previous conversation to that effect with Joel.

When the next morning came around, Joel decided his mental list was better than the original and moved Scott to a new peg. Now we all get a little protective over our fishing, and coming out of your room at 7am, a little tired from the exertions of he night before to find you’re not fishing where you’d expected, coupled with Joel’s master plan for the day of swim choices meant only one thing… stalemate! Now we’re all friends here at Gillhams and long may that continue, however, let’s just say Scott and Joel had to kiss and make up a little later in the day once they’d both woken up properly and realised that it is just fishing after all! As always we’re looking forward to their return for more nights out with a bit of fishing thrown in.

Simon Mead, Gary Shaw and Ian Howard came to visit us for their first trip this month, in search of some of the monster fish we have on offer here at Gillhams. The three of them had different approaches to their time here. Simon fished every minute of every day to try and catch the large Siamese carp he craved. Gary he got up to fish when he was ready, more of a laidback approach, mostly at his peg by 9am, and had a few days off in-between. And then there was Ian, well, he loved his sleep and relaxation, fished a little, probably a lot less than he expected, which was partly due to a knee injury he bought with him restricting his movement and ability to fully commit to the fishing. The guys were a pleasure to be around, always happy and having a laugh, and as you’d expect with three guys coming out here together there was a lot of banter flowing between the three of them and the jokes were a constant daily occurrence.

One of the more memorable moments was when Simon hooked in to a large Mekong catfish. This fish was not stopping, and it was heading up to the restaurant whether Simon wanted it to or not. So when we told Simon stick a life vest on as he was getting in to follow the fish, he thought we were joking. Well we weren’t, and for the next five minutes, to the amusement of the fishing guides, customers and of course Gary and Ian, they watched Simon literally get pulled along the margin with his feet not touching the bottom and the fish winning the battle. It was a sight to which words can’t really do justice. Unfortunately for Ian his luck took a turn for the worse one morning, and while on his way out for a morning’s sightseeing at the marine research center in Ao Nang to look at the large grouper and stingrays, he took a tumble on the pavement and a bad knee turned in to a swollen knee leaving him in agony. We have a wheelchair on site and Ian was subsequently helped into it, turned around and wheeled back to his room and put to bed to rest his knee.

The guys caught some good fish, as follows: Gary Shaw – three Amazon red tail catfish to 50lb, two Siamese carp to 54lb, one arapaima of 170lb, two Asian red tail catfish to 25lb, one wallago leeri of 22lb, one Julian’s golden carp of 22lb and a Mekong catfish of 135lb. Ian Howard – two Amazon red tail catfish to 35lb, one arapaima of 160lb and a Chao Phraya catfish of 80lb. Simon Mead – 19 Siamese carp to 70lb, five Mekong catfish to 170lb, five Asian redtail catfish to 35lb, two Amazon red tail catfish to 35lb, one pacu of 30lb, two arapaima to 160lb and a Julian’s golden carp of 22lb.

Tommy Raun returned after a few months away from us, and as always with Tommy, we wonder if he will actually stay at the resort after his nights on the town. With past experience this is always an open question due to his drinking habits and love for a party.
He was actually here every night this trip; I’m not saying we saw him in his swim at 7am, but he was here and got up most mornings before 10am for fishing. His first words each day would be to the guides, “Can I order a full English breakfast and a cup of tea to clear my hangover please?” Tommy has been here on a few trips now, and he has caught some great fish in the past. This time the main thing he wanted was a Julian’s golden carp. He set both rods on carp baits, fishing to a tight baited area and using single baits and small but frequent baiting method of maize and pellet. Julian’s are very wary feeders and can drive you mad for a bite, and they can spook off very easily.

For the first couple of days he caught fish, but not the species he wanted. Landing Amazon and Asian redtail catfish and picking up a nice arapaima. On the third day he caught a 26lb Julian’s, the target, and once again Tommy left us a happy man.
Tommy’s catch report consisted of two Asian redtail catfish to 25lb, Mekong catfish of 140lb, an arapaima of 80lb, two Amazon redtail catfish to 55lb and a Julian’s golden carp of 26lb.

American navy officer Rob Genaro came to visit us with his wife Sara and young children Yonas and Makayla for a few nights stay from his home in Malaysia.
The trip was a treat for his young son Yonas who was celebrating his fifth birthday. He is a fishing addict and first heard of the resort on the National Geographic program Monster Fish. When his dad asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, Yonas chose to come and try and catch a monster fish of his own. Rob himself has grown up with fishing through his father who has a fishing boat in the US and commented how much his dad would love to come here. I think the wheels are in motion for the men of the Genaro family to make a lads’ trip here in the near future.
The family only had one day fishing booked in-between trying a few of the various different activities in the local area, including Elephant trekking, visits to the beach at Ao Nang and quad biking to help fill the gap before the fishing day arrived. They chose to save the fishing for third day of the their trip, and for Rob and Yonas this built up huge expectations due to seeing a number of large fish being caught in front of them in the days prior. I remember seeing Yonas and Makayla running up and down the bank looking at the fish being netted and their looks of shock and excitement of what was to come for them.

The day had come for the boys to fish but unfortunately it didn’t pan out as they had hoped. Coming into the last hour of darkness they had been unlucky with a few sounds of interest from the bite alarms but no bites, but still positive with hope, the traps had been set for the chance of a predator creeping about in the dark. It was 7.30pm and finally the inside margin rod bent round violently with an awesome take. Now the way this fish was running we knew it could either be a good size redtail catfish or possibly an arapaima. The look on Rob’s face was a sight – first it was relief and then I suppose a little shock as this fish was going and it didn’t want to stop for anyone. The decision was taken to get in and follow the fish, as it had now gone a further four swims down the lake into the bay.
After following the fish, the battle commenced, and to the joy of everyone a beautiful 65lb Amazon redtail catfish was in the net. Yonas stood on the side of the water with his dad looking down at the fish they had just caught, and the smile wasn’t going to be moved from his face for a long time. After a little coaxing from everyone, Yonas joined his dad in the water and had his photo taken with their capture. That evening Yonas proceeded to let everyone know with pride the story of the fish they had just caught.

Well, as with most people who come here, they added to the fishing they had booked and decided to try again in the morning, and I’m happy to say after an hour-long battle they landed a Mekong catfish of 100lbs. I know Yonas had a birthday party arranged for him at his school when he returned to Malaysia, and for sure he went there full of stories of monster fish, and most importantly for him the photos to show of his father and his own Gillhams monster fish.

English angler Peter Malysz from the Midlands stopped by for three nights. Peter has been here on multiple occasions on his annual trips to Thailand, and has always caught some good fish on his trips. On arrival here this time he was after the Siamese carp as they eluded him on his last trip. He hooked into a few, but unfortunately never landed them. Once he was unpacked and settled we set him up to try and target the Siamese carp – small pellet, 1kg maize and PVA bags, loose feeding his swim, and he was ready. Well it didn’t take long for the carp to bite, and within 15 minutes of his lines being in the water his left hand rod tightened up, the alarm started to sing and he was away, successfully landing his first Siamese carp. If you haven’t caught a Siamese before, they will shock you with the power and dogged strength in the fight. They certainly are an awesome fighting fish. Once the fish had been photographed and released, the rigs were rebaited and put back in the same area. No sooner had he put the rods on the pod than he was away again, fighting his second carp within 30 minutes.

What a start, and his target achieved so quickly! Well, he continued the way he’d begun and the next fish was an alligator gar that wanted to join in with the feeding carp. This is a fish we recognise and affectionately named Chris after our Brummie guide. The reason for this is that they both have a very similar jaw line, which is slightly off centered. This set the tone for his trip, and at the end of day one he had three carp, the alligator gar and a nice arapaima. Peter went on to catch 13 fish during his trip – six Siamese carp to 62lb, an alligator gar of 62lb, five Asian red tail to 20lb and an arapaima of 55lb.

The end of April saw Danish angler Jan Kastrup come back for more fun in fishing paradise, and this time he had two weeks solid fishing booked. Jan was with us the same time last year when he had three nights with us, and it was crazy what he caught on that session a year ago – Mekong catfish over 200lb, Siamese to 100lb, arapaima over 300lb, giant stingray over 100lb, firewood catfish, alligator gar, and the list continues. This time he was focused on a carp trip and to catch as many as he could and beat his PB of 100lb.
He certainly had the time to settle in and really give it a good effort and work his swim.
It is always eventful with Jan; you get a feeling something special will come out for him and a comedy moment or three will happen while he is here.

Well the special was one of his many carp that he landed – he achieved his goal and landed a awesome Siamese carp of 110lb. This was a stunning fish and made even better for the effort and work Jan put in to catch it. He worked his swim every day, built up the area he had plumbed and regularly and accurately baited up to keep the fish interested and got his awesome reward. No trip here ever comes smoothly, and mighty Mekong catfish did their job and gave Jan a beating on a few occasions. This was also a great enjoyment for the guides who loved the look of pain and fear in his face when he realised he wasn’t into a carp and about to be chasing fish to both ends of the lake.

Jan came out with the guides on a couple of occasions, and on one of these nights let’s just say he had one too many, and getting him to leave the bar was the start. He did the standard slalom walk to the taxi, via the standard McDonald’s pit stop where he bought one of everything on the menu. He then drifted in and out of a drunken state for the journey home while eating his food. Upon getting back to the resort in the early hours he had to be helped to his room by two people, one under each arm. Once at his steps he gave the nod that he was ok to get to his room to continue his McDonald’s binge. Well, after four steps up and a right hand fall it was clear to see he wasn’t as ok as he thought! Once the two helpers stopped laughing at the mess they were witnessing, they helped him to his room. Let’s just say fishing was a write-off the next day and a very hungover Jan had a relaxed day.

Jan went on to catch 65 fish on his trip, including Siamese carp to 110lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 40lb, big head carp 26lb, arapaima to 180lb, Mekong catfish to 165lb and a catla carp of 36lb. We can’t wait for him to return the same time in 2014 just to see what events occur and what his next great catch will be.

That just about sums up this month’s fishing in Thailand – a month of mixed emotions and loss for the Gillham family. Thanks to Stuart for praising our efforts, we are all pleased to have kept the high standards he demands. Also a big thank you to all the guests this month – without you all Gillhams would not exist and we would all be working at home in mundane jobs.

Looking through the diary for the rest of 2013 and through 2014 it is clear the next 18 months are going to be very busy here. Gillhams’ popularity just keeps growing and rightly so. The fishing, scenery and good food make Gillhams what it is, a world class fishing resort! We strongly recommend if you are planning a visit during the next two years to book ASAP to avoid disappointment. Contact Stuart at or phone +66 (0) 861644554.

Tight lines and good fishing from all of us who make up the Gillhams team.