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Krabi newsletter November 2010

Hi to all our readers following our Krabi newsletter. As I write this we are 17 days away from Christmas, so it’s appropriate to wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. I especially hope it’s prosperous for you all, as then you can come and sample the best freshwater fishing in Thailand here at Gillhams. This Christmas is going to be special, as my son Jack is at the age to really enjoy the fun, and with many of our regular guests returning for the festivities, plus our expat crowd, the party should be the best yet.

The fishing in Krabi has been very patchy for the last few weeks due to the rainy season spluttering to a stop, then just as the water started to warm up we got another torrential downpour dropping the temperature back down and making the fish lethargic. Although the fishing is slow, the quality has been high, plus the Mekongs have gone on the rampage, with this month being our best ever for these hard-fighting fish. For the third time in two years we have broken the IGFA all tackle world record Mekong catfish; the latest shattering our old record by 69lb – a true beast of a fish at 260lbs We first broke the Mekong record here in May 2008 when Rob Maylin had one at 184lb, and then we broke our own record with a different fish to Joe Ball at 191lb in December 2009.

We had a visit from Commander Dai Kent and his wife Lieutenant Commander Isabel Kent, who both recently retired from the Royal Navy. Dai has downsized boats from 20,000 tons to a bass fishing charter boat out of Tenby, Wales, the M/V Illusion. They came to Gillhams for Dai to do some fishing while on their retirement holiday. Dai was the angler and Isabel was just chilling out with some rainbathing and swimming. In fact their whole stay with us was water-based, starting with check-in when the air con started spraying water over their room. After changing rooms all was fine, apart from rain every day until their second to last night when at 3am Isabel woke up to find three inches of water all over the floor due to a burst water pipe! Upon waking Dai he refused to leave the sinking room, threatening to go down with his double bed! The last day of his trip Dai was understatedly peed off, with water everywhere, and not a fish landed. He was threatening never to return when his luck changed with a Mekong catfish, which weighed exactly 260lb. It was caught on a Free Spirit Cat Tamer 10ft 6lb tc rod, Penn 760 Liveliner reel, 80lb Berkley whiplash braid, Richworth feeder with a Richworth Tutti and Scopex boilie on a Gold Label Tackle Gillhams Penetrator 1/0 hook and Kryston Ton-Up braid hooklink. The fish was landed in front of 12 witnesses, filmed on video and stills, weighed on certified scales, and measured from its nose to tip of tail at 87ins with a 46in girth.

Gillhams really has become the number one fishing venue in Thailand, as we have 44 species of fish in our lake with six species that are over 100lb. The top six are arapaima to 400lb, Mekong catfish at 260lb (with known bigger fish), Siamese carp to 170lb, freshwater stingray to 200lb-plus, wallago leeri to 110lb and Chao Phraya catfish to 130lb. We also hold the world record Chao Phraya at 91lb. We have at least 16 species of fish that will break existing IGFA world records!

Over the last few months we have been touching on the subject of misspellings, and it has got to the point where everyone is paranoid to write anything for fear of a piss-take. This has led us to start listening for verbal cock-ups, and on this front Becca my daughter is coming out tops with such gems as an ‘articulated python’, “I have money in my bag but don’t want to run out at the till,” “Veal is game the same as deer and pheasants,” (Imagine going shooting calves!), and “If the ceiling in the restaurant is 10ft high, will a 7ft high Christmas tree fit?” Derrr! Then we had Adam the cook who forgot to shake the snake, and to hide his embarrassment made a joke claiming to be ‘incompetent’! Mind you, if his Yorkshire poppadoms, oops, sorry, puddings are anything to go by, incompetent was the right word. Helmet the dog gets all the left overs here, and even he picked them out of his bowl and tossed them to one side in disgust! Talking of Adam, his food is superb but his Sunday roasts need improving. As a kid I could never understand why greens were called greens, as my dear old mum always boiled them till they were yellow. It wasn’t until I left home to venture into the wide world that I liked greens, finding that less boiling left them green and with a taste. Obviously Adam was trained by his mum, as we now have yellow vegetables. Mind you, we also had pink cauliflower, which either shows which way Adam swings, or was something to do with steaming it under the tray of carrots! For those of you booked in for Christmas, don’t worry – Benz is taking over the vegetable preparations.

While on the subject of pink vegetables, Scott the gay guide has returned and was issued with his new uniform on arrival in the form of a small, pink Gillhams T-shirt and a pair of hot pants. With his fishing kit and tool belt, he was ready and set to go. Scott returned as the chubby fishing guide, having piled on the pounds while travelling the world on his gay tour, then returning to the UK as a pink cab driver in Brighton. Obviously he has been over-indulging on sausages. We also found some good pictures on his camera of friends in England wishing him farewell, and shots of him and other mates at gay parties. When news got out of Scott’s return, Tina the long-suffering wife of Eric from Birmingham Angling Centre dashed out and purchased a new range of knickers ready for their return in January, so our chubby gay guide will have some new headwear!

Matt the brown-fingered gardener saved up for a new mountain bike, and his pride and joy duly arrived. Upon going on his first road test, he said that the seat was very hard as it was just a basic seat that came with the bike. When asked if he was going to buy a new one to save his arse on long bike rides, Matt replied that there was no need for that, as after all the ‘short time fun’ he had been having with the aid of lubricant gel, his arse was already chapped, ready for action, and used to taking hard hits and long rides. Now Chubby Scott, on hearing this, immediately went and ordered the same bike in pink! Matt went out on a taxi run leaving his pride and joy in a safe place by the restaurant, but unfortunately for Matt this was a bad move, as we had been waiting for this opportunity. While he was gone we fitted the saddle to a 20ft pole, complete with a set of disco lights. On his return the bike was looking like a Christmas tree on acid with all the flashing lights running up and down the frame and his new extended seat post. Matt, for a skinny bloke, can eat like a horse, but since the bike riding has started he is eating us out of house and home. The other day he returned and devoured a week’s worth of roast pork between a loaf of bread. Add the food bill to his hospital bills, and he is on the same pay as David Beckham. This month’s accidents have included cutting himself while unpacking his bike, treading on a snail shell and cutting his foot, and burning his fingers grabbing roast spuds out of hot oil.

As I was told to take it easy by the doctors, I decided to get some fishing in using 2lb tc float rods with maize and bread, the target species being Julian’s golden prize carp. The first fish I hooked was a red tail catfish of 40lb, and like a twat I committed the cardinal sin I preach to others about of recasting without checking the line. The next fish I hooked was a fish I would love to catch from our lake, an Atlantic tarpon. This one took maize, and after some spectacular leaps and turns the line parted by the hook. Upon checking, sure enough the line was frayed by the red tail’s rasping mouth, and my stupidity cost me the chance to be the first person to catch an Atlantic tarpon in Asia! The next fish to make an appearance was a 45lb tambaqui. So much for taking it easy, and considering I was not expecting to catch anything above 20lb, the last three fish had pulled my stitches, so I retired to the bar. My troubles didn’t stop at the bar, as when I mentioned I had caught my first tambaqui, my voice was lost in cries of, “Ring the bell!” The next day I caught two Julian’s to 20lb on flake, plus three Amazon red tails to 25lb and a sorubim – two days of fun fishing, but it caused problems, as you will read in the gripe section.

Gillham’s Gripe… Many people coming here worry they will get into this part of the newsletter. Well, don’t worry at all if you are the sort of person who has the morals – you will not get into this section. On the other hand if you are reading this and think, sod him, it’s my right to moan about everything, then you are right on one thing, and you sure are going to qualify for a slagging, so please think again and go somewhere else! This month one person was moaning because I can fish the top bay outside my house, which is closed to guests. Apparently it’s not fair. Well, f**k me; I own the lake, and only fish once in a blue moon, plus I only fish single grains of maize and small bread flake on size 8 hooks! The same prat was also moaning because he only had a small arapaima of 90lb, even though it was his first of the species and the fish he had come to catch! As I constantly say, 95% of people coming here are great people, and many return again and again, becoming friends, but the 5% of dickheads who moan about everything appear some months and spoil a great atmosphere.

Comments like, “The fishing is slow; I only had four small fish today,” with the ‘small’ being 40 to 50lb fish, or, “I only had a small arapaima of 150lb.” Bugger me – where else in the world can you get action like this? These are the same people who expect someone who has put a lot of effort into their fishing to move out of a swim they are catching from to allow Mr. Chuck-it-and-chance to fish. Another problem we get is people trying to pre-book swims or booking a bungalow because they think the swim outside it will be theirs. The only way this would work is to sell trips on set seven-day blocks like Saturday to Saturday. The whole idea of Gillhams is you can book to fish one day or 100 days, and if a swim is empty it’s yours till you choose to move, as long as you fish every day. If you wish to change the way we do things, my suggestion is to buy your own lake and make your own rules. All I can say is good luck when the arse wipe visits your fishery! My final piece of advice to remember when visiting here is don’t shout to your mate across the lake! Remember the other guests who have come here to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The total catch for the month is as follows: 386 fish of 18 species, made up as follows: 37 arapaima to 360lb, six arawana to 7lb, three alligator gar to 38lb, 68 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, 11 Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, five black pacu to 20lb, two giant snakehead to 5lb, two Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, 55 Mekong catfish to 260lb, four mrigal to 8lb, two ripsaw catfish to 20lb, three spotted featherback to 8lb, 153 Siamese carp to 75lb, ten striped snakehead to 2lb, 11 shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 35lb, three tambaqui to 45lb, two wallago attu to 18lb and nine wallago leeri to 25lb.

This month saw the return of Rob Snowdon who was accompanied by his friend, Joel Fennell. Rob had his heart set on an arapaima, as last visit here his glory was denied by a hook pull. Rob and Joel were only booked for a four-day fishing but ended up staying two weeks. In between partying they landed some nice fish, including the first capture of the ripsaw catfish to Rob at 10lb. Then ten minutes later he landed another one of 20lb, using worms that he had hidden in his case. Rob’s luck on the arapaima wasn’t looking too good, as he had fished for five days before hooking one, only for the hook to pull! Over the next couple of days his luck changed when he landed three arapaima, and then on his last day he hooked into his biggest one. All was looking well as he battled the beast to the cage, only for the braid that he brought with him to break just as the arapaima was approaching the cage.

About forty minutes later another angler and friend, Richard Foster of Fosters of Birmingham, was walking around stalking. He cast to a rolling arapaima, and then had a 30-minute battle to the cage only to find that he had actually hooked the braided line that had snapped from Rob’s fish. Not only was it nice to be able to get the braid and rig back; it was also nice to be able to go and rub it into Rob that the fish he had lost was 340lb. Hearing this news, poor old Rob was devastated to know what he had lost and wasn’t far from tears. Throughout Rob’s stay he fished hard and even though the lake was not fishing its best due to the changeover in seasons, he still managed to land 17 fish of eight species, with the two biggest being a 140lb Mekong catfish and a 130lb arapaima. Joel spent more of his time drinking till late and just fishing the afternoons. He did manage to get up early on a couple of occasions when he was helping around the lake, and he enjoyed learning about fish care. He said the highlight of his stay was when he helped land a massive 360lb arapaima for one of our clients. During his stay when he was up out of bed and half sober, Joel caught six fish of four species including carp to 50lb, arapaima to 120lb and Mekong catfish to 90lb.

Richard Foster, owner of Fosters of Birmingham tackle shop, stand up comedian and world champion pie muncher returned for a week. He was on his way back from India where he had been fishing for giant trevally and other species with friend Colin and our regular visitor Mike Bailey. Mike also stopped here for a week, but has asked us not mention it as people back home are starting to question whether or not he does any work or if he’s just fishing all the time. So we had better get back to Richard and Colin and pretend that Mike was never here, and that he didn’t catch six fish of four species including a Mekong catfish of 140lb and a 120lb arapaima.

Richard wasn’t too bothered about catching fish; he just wanted Colin to do well. Anybody who knows Richard will know that he’s a very kind and considerate person who gets just as much pleasure watching others catching fish and enjoying themselves. He did manage to put a few on the bank, with the biggest being an 80lb Mekong catfish, unless you count the big arapaima he caught as a joint effort with Rob Snowden, or the 300lb of pies he consumed! In between fishing, Colin was also taking many photos of fish and scenery around the resort with all his high-tech camera equipment. This is another hobby of his, and we even managed to get a lucky break in the weather on his last day and hired an 80ft crane to come in so that we could get some shots from above the resort. During Colin’s trip he managed to land eight fish of four species including Mekong catfish to 170lb.

Ken Jowett and his cousin Adrian came here after finding us on Facebook. On arrival Ken had planned to take it easy the first day, but got pissed in the bar instead. He started drinking at two in the afternoon, and went through until one in the morning. As the night went on Ken continued to entertain the guests with ramblings and falling off his stool in drunken heap on the floor. The first day, and Ken was nowhere to be seen until he rolled out of bed and started fishing at the crack of 4pm! Luck was obviously on his side, as he had only been fishing for a couple of hours when he caught his first fish, whereas poor Adrian had fished all day and hadn’t even had a touch. As the holiday went on, Ken started fishing hard and soon became known as Mekong Ken after catching many of these powerful beasts, including landing seven in one day. By the end of his stay Ken landed 16 fish of three species with 11 Mekong to 120lb, red tail catfish to 60lb and Siamese carp to 50lb. Adrian ended his stay with eight fish, the biggest a Mekong catfish of 130lb, which was good considering this was his first time fishing.

Dave and Samantha Gillman also joined us on their return trip from Australia. Dave had a week’s fishing while Sam chilled out reading books and relaxing. Samantha works as a travel agent and sorts out flights for our customers – you can find her details on our website. During Dave’s trip he caught 21 fish of four species with the biggest being a Siamese carp at 60lb. Unfortunately the Mekong catfish he wanted wasn’t to be, so they will have to return again next year for that ambition to be fulfilled.

Next to arrive where John and Lynne Lawrence. Lynne wanted a foreign holiday but BNP man John didn’t want to go abroad. However he changed his mind when Lynne told him that the resort is run to European standards. I must admit I was not sure what to expect, but from the off we got on well and even tried to put the Great back in Britain! While John was fishing, Lynne was painting the stunning surroundings, and at the end of the holiday she presented me with a fabulous painting of the resort. The fishing was tough as the season’s changes were in full swing, but John landed five fish of three species including Mekong catfish to 150lb smashing his previous biggest fish by 132lb! While here John met and teamed up with a fellow BNP member Phil Donohue from Scotland who landed an 180lb arapaima, which was actually caught by accident when using a light rod for snakehead. When he hooked the arapaima and realised he only had 15lb line his heart entered his mouth until it was safely in the net. Phil’s main target species was Mekong catfish, and luckily for him he extended his stay by an extra night, as in the final minutes of his last day he caught his Mekong at 110lb.

Dave and Julie Jones returned for one week, and then they were off to Phuket before ending their Thailand trip in Chiang Mai. Dave fished hard every day, landing 31 fish of seven species, including Amazon red tail catfish to 65lb, Mekong catfish to 140lb, plus seven arapaima to 220lb. After the week’s fishing, Dave and Julie went to Phuket accompanied Benz and me for two nights. Anyone who has been to Phuket will know that two nights is enough. Phuket has some nice areas, but also unfortunately some seedy dives, being a party island with bars and nightclubs. You are continually being hassled by hookers and ladyboys, plus little Indian men wanting to sell suits, along with restaurant reps trying to drag you in off the streets. For Dave and his wife two nights of this was enough, and as the weather wasn’t at its best for a beach holiday, they decided to return to Gillhams with Benz and me to spend a few more days here relaxing and fishing. Then it was off to Chiang Mai before returning to snowbound Brighton, and as usual with this couple the minute they got home the next trip was booked, so they will be returning for ten days in February.

Nick Denton aka Nick Cage came for a week’s fishing with his wife. While here Nick wanted an arapaima and managed two on his third day, both coming thirty minutes before the final whistle at 8pm. Over the next few days Nick landed more first time species, plus another arapaima at 340lb. During the stay Nick caught a total of 14 fish of six species. Nick and his wife were then back off to England where Nick is actually a music producer who has worked with all kinds of artist including Tom Jones, and is the manager of Dizzee Rascal who he’s had five number one hits with.

Pete and Shelly Evans came for seven days with two days’ fishing after finishing their Orient Express train journey through Asia while taking a break from the holiday park they run in England, which has a fishing lake plus a golf course. Pete started fishing on his first full day here and ended up fishing every day. As their holiday came to an end they changed their flights and stayed an extra week. Pete wasn’t bothered what he caught – anything that came along would do. During their stay Pete caught 23 fish of three species with Siamese carp to 55lb, Amazon red tail catfish to 30lb, and two Mekong catfish, with the biggest at 135lb, which was by far was the largest fish he had ever banked.

Darrell and Kath Cruttenden, old friends of mine, came for two weeks after booking their trip two years earlier. Darrell started fishing the day he arrived for his target fish, arapaima, and through his stay he landed four, with the biggest going 130lb. Apart from the arapaima, any new species would be welcome, and he also had a couple of days off the lake to take Kath out, but getting back late afternoon so he was able to get the last few hours in. On the days off they went out on the long tail boat island hopping, and one day went elephant trekking, taking the elephants into the river for a bath. By the end of his stay Darrell caught 16 fish of five species, which included Siamese carp to 50lb and red tail catfish to 45lb.

Barry and Fran Sayers made a return trip again this year for two weeks and seven days fishing that once again ended up at ten days fishing leaving a couple of days to chill out with Fran and get some shopping in due to losing a £100 bet that Fran wouldn’t stop smoking. Barry’s first few days were slow, but after a swim change Barry started to catch, with Amazon red tail catfish and Siamese carp to 65lb. Barry ended his trip with 18 fish of five species with the biggest being an arapaima of 135lb. Throughout his trip Barry wore pink shorts, and getting out of the lake was the hardest part for the old fella. Scott, also in pink shorts, offered Barry a bunk-up and Barry reckons he declined.

Ross, Richard and Joe came here for their first time and booked ten nights and ten days through Angling Direct holidays. While they were here the fishing wasn’t at its best but as anglers they got on with it and fished hard every day. As they arrived they spent an hour chatting about tactics before heading up to their rooms and chucking their bags in before getting the rods out. The first day they fished was slow but they had lots of fish fizzing on their baited spots and rolling all over the bait. As darkness fell, Joe was into his first fish that turned out to be a 70lb arapaima, and then just before the whistle he also landed a wallago leeri. Richard celebrated his 40th birthday while he was here, and he chose to take the day off from fishing to visit the marine research centre as he works in the aquarium trade back in the UK. At the research centre there are all kinds of different fish including goliath groupers over 500lb that you can feed, along with sharks, giant trevally and many other species of fish.

After that we took him to a beach bar for lunch and to see the wild monkeys that come out of the mountains and onto the beach to rob the tourists of anything they can get their hands on. On returning to the resort there was a surprise party for Richard and another guest who shared the same 40th birthday as him, and the same name as me (Stuart). We even had a cake made for them complete with the Gillhams logo. All three lads caught some nice fish with Mekong catfish to 110lb and Siamese carp to 55lb. At the end of their stay they had landed 24 fish of seven different species, and they have vowed to return and catch the lake in a better mood and take their revenge on all the fish that eluded them this trip. If only more anglers had the same attitude to their holiday as these three there would be no Gillham’s Gripe!

That’s me for another month. Sorry if you didn’t make the newsletter but as always I have run out of space. Don’t forget to make a note in your diary of the 5/6th March Carpin’ On show at Five Lakes in Essex. We are on stand 125 opposite the bar, Sean is with me, and we drink lager! We will be holding a raffle for a trip to Gillhams plus other prizes, so book your holiday and pay the deposit at any of the shows for a 20% discount. If you can’t make that one, we are at the Farnborough show the week after, stand number to be confirmed, or the Visma in Holland from the 31st March to 3rd of April sharing a stand with RV Henglesports.

Some dates for 2011 are already fully booked, so to avoid disappointment book early. Many thanks for your continued support of this newsletter, and we hope to see you all in the near future. In the meantime all of us here at Gillhams would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

For enquiries email or phone Stuart 0066861644554.