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Krabi newsletter October 2007

Hi everyone sorry there was no September news letter this was due to nobody fishing the lake except for Sean and I fishing one evening for a short session when yours truly hooked a Giant Mekong Catfish weighing in at 72 kgs the beast which took one hour to land was caught on a Richworth method feeder and strawberry pop up, this fish was stocked in May at 47kgs how can we be sure when we have 153 Mekong’s ranging from 30 kgs to 120kgs, well this is a sad but funny story when our Mekong’s were delivered the supplier handed us a piece of paper stating fish number weighs so many kgs when asked are they tagged no he proudly announced we weighed them then scratched a number on each ones head! Horrified we quickly checked one in the lorry and sure enough there neatly engraved on the poor sods head is his ID number. Luckily these ID marks are fading and in another few months will have disappeared. For all further deliveries this barbaric act was stopped, but we do have some 50 numbered fish which does tell us exact growth rates.

Well back to the fish in question he was number 27 stocked at 47kgs now up to 72kgs this is a phenomenal growth rate of 5kgs per month. Other than that it was all work and no play as the resort is rapidly coming together the final construction phases do take up too much of our time we have even stopped our Sunday fishing sessions. The first visitor in October was my old mate Lee Jackson (former British carp record holder) Lee was actually on his honeymoon with his lovely new bride Jayne, so he could only fit in 3 short sessions between other activities. Lee being the sort of angler he is soon got to grips with the fishing here at Gillhams, his target was to catch as most peoples an Arapaima. Well his first session he achieved it with a fine specimen around 40 kgs plus a Mekong of around 30 kgs along with several Soribim also losing another bigger Arapaima and possibly a big Mekong. 2nd session started badly losing two big fish straight off, then landing another Mekong around the 30kgs. He also had 3 Alligator Gar around the 8kg mark plus Jayne got some nice pictures of my lacerated arm when one jumped from the landing net with his open mouth slicing across my arm.

Further fish that session remained small but fun with 2 Red Tails and 5 Soribim all around the 10 to 12 kg mark. Lee returned to the resort late one afternoon having been to visit the yearly Krabi horror show which marks Chinese new year when for some bizarre spectacle lunatics take to the streets with swords knives and many weird objects impaled through there faces and elsewhere in there body in some pagan ritual. He had purchased in the market 6 small dead mullet which he proudly announced he was off to catch his self an Arapaima in his spare hour before going out for a romantic meal, sure I thought I had been with a client all day who had one of his rods out for an Arapaima and had only lost one. Well as only Lee can do 5 minutes later he was into one, Sean claiming it was his superior guiding Lee claiming it was the lucky Chinese new year mullet whatever the reason he duly landed a nice Arapaima of 80kg plus, after the photos he rubbed it in by packing up. The following day Lee came down to earth with a bump the weather was now moving into our change over period from wet season to dry season we get massive temperature changes as it is roasting hot one minute and pouring down the next the fish just switch off but if you get a settled day the fish will come on the feed for short periods. This day he caught 2 of the ever faithful Soribims plus a nice little Arawanna who lives under an over hanging tree who has frustrated many people who have tried to fool him he only weighs around 3lbs he escaped from a holding pen at 6ozs in May and has grown up miraculously in his hostile environment were he is 24-7 on the menu. This brings us onto a rather sad tale of Horace the Alligator Gar who thought he was the big man.

Local Expat John Brown who is a regular visitor to Gillhams decided to have us help with the design of his filter system and stocking of his garden pond John wanted to have Minnie species of our fish all stocked around the 6inch size, this fish Horace quickly sussed if he ate more than his share he would outgrow his mates and then be in the position to scoff and mutilate them he rapidly attained 2kgs then reaped havoc with the rest of Johns stock even though he tactfully avoided Harry the Arapaima who is John’s pride and joy now at 3kgs sectioned off and growing like there is no tomorrow but he is another story. Back to Horace John asked us to remove him, upon his arrival here he stood out as a fish with attitude he swam out into the depths with a definite swagger only to bolt back into the extreme margins 10 seconds later to lay quivering with fear, water barely over his back after bumping into one of our giant levien’s. Poor young Horace eventually ventured timidly back into the deeps only to float up a few days later mutilated RIP.

Our 2nd visitor of the month was a client of who kindly promote and sell trips here for us. Keith Purton an ex pat Englishman who lives in Hong Kong had an eventful flight here his Hong Kong flight was delayed so upon arrival at Bangkok he had to forsake waiting for his baggage and sprint to his Krabi connection this meant a detour via Tesco’s for some trendy Tesco blue label kit he managed a couple of hours for 1 Soribim around 10kgs before the heavens opened up. This evening deluge of rain continued for the rest of his stay as is usual in our seasonal change over period. The following morning at 5-30 am (god this bloke loved early starts) we were treated to a spectacular dawn. It wasn’t long before he was into his first fish of the day after a spectacular fight poor Keith lost a big Arapaima in the margins, for the rest of the day between heavy showers and sunshine with temperatures up and down like yo-yo he caught 3 Red tails and 3 Soribim between 10 and 12 kgs, also in the wet conditions his float fished Tilapia live bait was violently taken by a huge Arapaima line was sizzling of the spool when poor old Keith went arse over tit rushing to the rod by the time he had picked his self up Mr Arapaima had spat the offending Tilapia out in discussed and hightailed it up the lake. Monday dawned as every day to clear blue skies with mist coming off the surrounding mountains showing of the full splendour of probably the most scenic resort in Thailand, these dawn starts totally justified Keith’s early starts as the evenings were getting washed out. We decided to start the day in the top bay which is the shallowest part of the lake at 3 meters with a large plateau rising to 1-1/2 mtrs in the centre as this end of the lake is outside my bungalow we had noticed that since the Arapaima had spawned last month about 8 large fish had remained in residence showing them selves regularly when we sat on the balcony for our meals. First cast Keith was away immediately when after a short fight Keith’s run of luck continued when the bloody hook pulled under the rod tip revealing a good fish around 80kgs, 15 minuets later and the same rod with the secret tuna steak bait was away again this time everything went to plan and Keith justifiably landed his target fish a stunning Arapaima of 100kgs.

Once the fish had recovered in the cage and the photos were over the rods were back out, our breakfast had just been delivered to the swim as is usual just as the coffee was poured of went the faithful tuna steak again this fish powered down the lake on its way to Phuket there was no stopping this fish it was on a relentless non stop run when an unusual thing occurred a huge Arapaima surfaced and took a gulp of air this never happens as they don’t take air when they are hooked hence you have aprox 40 minuets to land a big Arapaima before they start to roll and drown as they must breath air every 40 minuets once played beyond this time your chances of a successful release are 99% unsuccessful. Having discussed amongst ourselves this totally unusual behaviour doubts were creeping in as to whether the fish we saw was the one on the hook or weather the fish could in fact be foul hooked, as this fish continued to power down the lake suddenly disaster the line went slack Keith’s comment was unprintable for a school teacher upon winding in sure enough there was a big scale lodged firmly on the hook which explained it all the fish was fowl hooked. Once we had sorted out the mayhem and finished breakfast Lee appeared bleary eyed (or was it starry eyed as he was on honeymoon) to see what the morning had produced for Keith, the rods were back out as we were relating the mornings events off screamed the alarm signalling another take upon the strike the rod just hooped over at an alarming angle the drag on the maximum setting was dispensing line as if the baitrunner was engaged.

This fish was just pure power and from the outset it was clear Keith was into one of our monsters, Keith had no alternative than to follow this fish down the lake although our lake has no snags when we built it we created features in every swim plateau’s gully’s gravel bars and silt beds to make the lake respond to the more the fisherman research there chosen spot the more fish they will catch, a monstrous Arapaima rolled on the surface some 100mtrs away and dived down the far side of a large plateau as it powered down the far gully the line dug into the clay on top of the plateau as this spot has a drop off from 3mtrs down to 7mtrs the fish was stuck solid. Without hesitation Sean was down to his cacks and doing his Olympic swim to free the line before the fish could break free, luckily the Arapaima just wallowed around waiting for Sean once freed the fight continued but the Arapaima’s initial fight was gone and she was obviously getting short on oxygen reserves after several powerful runs each one getting shorter she was ready for the cage we have a system we work to here, Sean is in control of the cage I lead the fish in this one was so humongous that I had to grapple it into the cage the fish was at least 8 feet long and just incredibly fat I am not a small guy but my arms would not go round it across its back she was at least 2 feet with pectoral fins the size of dinner plates. For the record the fish was not weighed as we wont put our fish at risk any more we lost to many in the early days by our lack of knowledge for this remarkable species they can be weighed but it is a very delicate business we are working on a new way with our fish farmer to weigh them safely and accurately, but it was a known fish we have 5 Arapaima that all have distinct birth marks on there face’s they are all from one farm in Thailand from the same year class they came to us in December 06 at 80 to 90 kgs weighed on delivery, they lived on our fish farm till May 2007 when they were moved to the resort lake the smallest weighed 100kgs the biggest 120kgs the 120 kg fish had a big orange spot under its chin this was that fish and for sure it has put on at least 30kgs. Well unfortunately for Keith that was the end of the days action but who would complain at that. Probably the worlds biggest ever brace of Arapaima in side a 24-hour time frame let alone 2 hours. The week was a bit up and down due to the weather changes but Keith did manage 2 more Arapaima back to reality baby’s of 20 and 30 kgs the poor sod also lost another 2 big fellas, 1x Mekong of 35 kgs plus. He lost a couple of good Mekong due to hook pulls these beasts do not come out till we have hot settled weather so for the weather we were having it was a surprise to even get these. The Siamese Carp are always temperamental they don’t care if it rains or is hot as long as the wind blows and the weather stays the same but he did manage 2 average ones of 16 & 17 kgs plus a small Julian’s Golden Prize Carp along with a rare river carp of 9lbs we only have one of these rare beautiful small carp species and Keith went and caught it twice in a week! Two more Red tails two Alligator Gar one on a lure completed Keith’s week certainly 2 fish of a lifetime but all in all pretty slow for our lake. Also we had Nathan of Mega fishing down for a few days Nathan’s passion is lure fishing he started out well hooking a fish he played for the best part of an hour only to find a Mekong around 40 kgs hooked fair and squire in the tail Sean lost a good Arapaima on the lure and yours truly on the fly was field testing some new flies for Nathan and straightened the hooks on 4 Red tails in as many casts, Nathan is now in the process of getting new stronger hooks fitted to theses deadly flies I am eagerly awaiting there arrival as for sure these boys are going to be devastating. Nathan then switched to bait fishing catching a few Red tails and the ever-hungry Soribim. John Brown our expat regular fished twice this month day one he had 2 Arapaima of 70kgs and 25 kgs plus lost one, also a 15 kg Siamese Carp along with an 11kg Rahoo carp 1x Red tail 1x Alligator Gar, then he did the unthinkable and altered gods drag setting while playing a huge Mekong snapping the 45lb mono like cotton amidst much polite talk from yours truly. 2 days later he returned to som-nom-na (Thai for na na- na na) he blanked.

John’s mate the sprightly 74 years young Cyril on holiday from England accompanied him on both trips the first day the poor old fella was to slow to his rods and not striking hard enough and lost 3 or 4 takes, the second trip he upped the anti on John taking a Red tail and Soribim of 13kgs apiece. For the rest of the month 3 day ticket anglers have blanked in horrendous conditions as the last of our rain went through we are now into a very settled warm spell at last the dry season has arrived if only we had time it will fish its socks off this week. Last week we took delivery of 7 more Mekong’s 2x 100kgs 5x 80kgs 1x pup of 40 kgs 7 stunning 12 kg Common carp 1x 15 kg Mud carp 5x Alligator gar of 15kgs 6x beautiful Black Pacu (vegetarian piranha) all 20 kgs plus. We have also managed to prize away from Mummy and Daddy Arapaima 60 fingerlings that are now happily being fed in the rearing ponds these will surely become some prized fish in the near future, as the parents were two of our 100kg residents. We are busy getting ready for our mid Novembers guests and pushing the construction on here for a very busy December when have a nearly full occupancy of our completed bungalows plus some day ticket bookings. We now have 6 holiday bungalows completed; the swimming pool is 2 weeks off completion and the final 8 bungalows well on target to be completed around January. The restaurants planning appeal has now gone through so that starts next week and should be complete by Mid March 2008. Bye to all for now next months report will follow along with hopefully some news regarding the web site and Novembers catch report when with the settled weather the fish should go on a massive hoover up regards Stuart and all the gang at Gillhams.