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Krabi newsletter October 2008

Hi to all our readers. It will soon be Christmas, so go on treat yourselves and book that Thailand fishing holiday of a lifetime. The rains are dying out now as our rain season draws to an end. This year the weather has followed its true pattern, unlike yours in Europe. For those of you who follow the progress of our birds, the baby peacock that had grown huge got sick last week and died, which was a choker for me, as I have reared him from an egg. Mr. Peacock is also ill again, and is back inside the birdhouse recovering. I may be able to rear fish and keep them good and healthy, but these birds baffle me. Mind you, what’s new? I have never understood birds! Great news this month, at long last the IGFA have accepted Rob Maylin’s world record Giant Mekong catfish (pangasianodon gigas) at 84kg, or 185lb 2oz in our money. So my dear mate Rob is a world record holder, and our fishery now holds the first of many world records. We have at least 14 other species here that will obliterate the current world records, and not just one of each either, so come on over and get yourselves one! For those of you who want to claim line class records don’t bother; we will not put fish under undue stress for a meaningless record. Who really gives a toss if you walked around a lake for 24 hours following a big fish until it’s close to dying and gives in? We only care about the biggest fish in the world caught without harming them, so if you want to be the proud holder of a 100lb fish on your old granny’s 1lb knicker elastic get in touch with Idi Amin – he collected medals! Why bodies like the IGFA promote catch and release then allow fish to be played to exhaustion on inadequate tackle is beyond me, as are the so-called conservation minded anglers who pursue these Mickey Mouse records. That’s me off the old soapbox for this month.

I have just returned from the local hospital. We had a 150kg arapaima in the cage this morning; I was bent over the cage sorting him out when wham, he flicked his head a mere foot and bam, I went flying through the air and ended up 6ft away with a swollen rib cage. It was like a red-hot poker being inserted in my ribs, but luckily after x-rays it was just severe bruising. So everyone catching one of these beasts here or anywhere take care, even guys like us who handle them day in day out get caught. If it had been a foot more it would have been my head and maybe goodnight, and some would say, good riddance! I am looking forward immensely to November as some of my old buddies are arriving, such as Lee ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ Jackson, Dave ‘stroke puller’ Woods, and the oldest swinger in town, Len Gurd, who is going to make us a promotional DVD. After seeing Len at work and the results of Harefield Haulin’, it should be a collector’s item. Last but in no way least that fantastic fish artist and all round good guy Chris ‘turnip top’ Turnbull is coming too. Yes folks, even if the fishing is crap, the consumption of the old boy’s red grape juice tipple will be awesome! Will we see another record broken this month? Lets hope so! If old Lee could add to his achievement of one-time British carp record holder, and become a world record holder it would be a feat no man has achieved before, and knowing the python’s dedication it could just happen! Tune in to next month’s newsletter folks – if nothing else, there will be loads of gossip, lies and rumors.

So enough for this month’s introduction, and onto the catch report. 30 fishermen came fishing in Thailand to Gillham’s this month, ranging from fishing holidays in Thailand to day ticket fishing. Between them they landed 318 fish made up as follows… 43 arapaima to 380lbs, two Mekong catfish to 110lbs, 112 Siamese carp to 60lbs, 51 red tail catfish to 80lbs, 12 alligator gar to 24lbs, five Asian red tail catfish to 30lbs, 12 black pacu to 55lbs, five Chao Phraya catfish to 48lbs, 65 spotted sorubim to 40lbs, two arawana of 8lbs, three tambaqui to 23lbs, and six spotted featherback to 15lbs. The first week of the month was mainly taken with our ex-pat regulars, and people on short two-day trips. Out of 11 anglers, five had arapaima, which is not bad for a one or two-day trip. We still have a record that nobody has fished Gillhams for more than five consecutive days and not had an arapaima. Steve was the top rod for these short stay guests; he came to us via our dear friend and Thailand’s top fishing guide service, Fishing Adventures’ Jean Francois Helias. Steve only booked an overnight stay with two half days fishing, and he landed ten fish, the best being a 150lb arapaima. He achieved his other target fish, Siam carp, with a brace at 40lb and 45lb. Another guest this month from Angling Adventures Australia was gynaecologist Dr Mike O’Conner – top man, top doc. I bet he sees some sights in his job – urgh, not for me thanks, although in my life I have worked with plenty of what he sees. Now for an Aussie, Mike was a good fisherman, plus he could drink, so he gets my vote. He landed 23 fish of seven species in his four days fishing before heading off to Bangkok for a conference about thingies! His best fish was a 110lb arapaima.

Next to arrive was a guy who nearly shares my surname, David Gillman. Dave was fishing, and also accompanied by his non-fishing wife, the lovely Sam, who actually was the nuts at catching Java barb. Sam’s live-bait catching skills actually helped several guests to catch arapaima and red tails. Now Dave actually rated very low on my list, as after all, who the hell fishes in white socks and slippers? Dave was yet another client to come to Gillham’s via another dear friend, J&K tackle big boss Joe Taylor. Dave’s target fish were of course arapaima, red tail catfish, and Siamese carp, and he certainly copped the lot! It must have been those bloody white socks! Dave fished for ten days to land 52 fish of seven species, including our much sought after 380lb arapaima Henry Waterman (so named because he has a wart on his face) along with five other arapaima. Dave was chuffed, and I hope he buys Sam a nice diamond ring, as Henry fell to a live-bait caught by Sam. The big red tail catfish avoided him, although he did have seven up to 35lb. With 31 Siamese carp to 45lb on Solar banana cream pop-ups, it’s no wonder Dave is booking his next trip. By the way folks, Sam is also a travel counselor. See our flights section on the website, and you will find Sam’s company and contact details. She is well worth checking out for good flight deals, and for our Dutch fan club, Sam has a business acquaintance in Holland who will book flights for you, and those details are also shown below Sam’s details.

The next guests to arrive were Jules and Damien of Siam fishing tours, with two American clients, Alan and Richard. They actually came to celebrate Jules’ birthday with some fishing thrown in. We had some impressive displays of guiding by Jules, firstly in knot tying. If you book with Jules, check those dodgy knots – I bet he wore slip-on shoes as a kid! Secondly, do read our rules before commencing fishing, because fish care is of utmost importance to us, and if you ignore the rules you will suffer the misfortune of being on the other side of one of my famous ear bashings, as Alan found out. Third, ignore Jules when he explains when fish will feed and when not to fish. After griping that he has never caught a 100kg-plus arapaima here, Jules showed his clients how not to fish for arapaima – sitting on your balcony waiting for rain because the big ones won’t feed is a myth. You have to be in it to win it, and if you are sitting around with no bait in the water for sure you will never catch a 100kg arapaima, or any bloody arapaima! Now Damian heeded our advice and on his first trip to Gillhams, fishing where and how Sean told him, he caught an arapaima of 100kg in the bright sunshine, while Jules sat on his balcony waiting for rain – oops, ‘nuff said! They actually caught 31 fish between them, including ten arapaima, Alan was disappointed that he only caught three up to 170lb, thinking they were small. He also had a 70lb-plus red tail that was too small to photograph! Oh I wish I knew were he fishes – it must be a spectacular place! Damian had a blast and showed his fishing skills, taking personal bests left right and centre – six species, six personal bests, and four arapaima made his trip. Shame he never got the red tail for another PB. Jules had a fine brace of red tails at 75lb and 80lb, and he photographed them.

Another happy customer who came for two days with his wife was Ian, celebrating their recent wedding. All Ian wanted to round of his special holiday was an arapaima. He listened to Sean’s advice, fished his socks off, and got amongst not one, but three of his dream fish to 160lb. He was well chuffed, and he went on to catch 15 fish in two days, of five species. Then it was earplugs at dawn as the one and only Derek Mallows, aka Ladders, descended on us like a tornado! Now Ladders is a mate of mine who fishes on uncle Bob’s bait in the UK (Richworth), but can the boy bunny! Between drinking us out of beer, sunbathing, swimming and eating, dear old Ladders actually got some fishing in. When he fishes he puts his heart and soul into it, so in short sessions over ten days he landed all three of his target species – four arapaima too 170lb, five red tail catfish to 55lb, and Siamese carp to 50lb.
Ladders went on to take his second species over 100lb with a fine Mekong of 110lb. In total he had more fish than hours he fished, with 25 fish of six species. No Dell, Horton will never be the same will it, son? Poor old Ladders did not want to go home, and is now busy saving his hard earned to return in June. Another guy to come on a day ticket, and then re-book for a second day was Doug. Upon asking Doug where in the UK he comes from, it turned out he lives just five miles from my hometown, Uckfield in East Sussex. Small world, eh? Doug landed 13 fish of five species in his two days, achieving his target fish on the second day with an 80lb arapaima.

Gillhams is fast becoming a multi-national destination as word spreads that this is the place to fish in Thailand. This month alone has seen anglers from eight different countries, including Russia. Now these guys might not be the most friendly in the world, and certainly not the best fishermen, but boy can they drink! Bloody lucky they never fished the valley years ago – I reckon they could have even topped Mayhem, but I wonder, can they eat a phal? Now the latest two we had were called Bondaz and Kazpav, so they became Bondage and Cowpat – bless them, they thought it was our pronunciation. Despite fluffing numerous takes and nearly striking the fish’s heads off (they actually snapped off three times running backwards and striking), somehow they landed five fish between them. Sean has been getting some fishing in when we are quiet, as usual taking plenty of Siamese carp to 50lb, plus pacu topped off with a stunning black pacu of 55lb. He also landed red tail catfish, Amazon and Thai, on fishmeal boilie. Gollock, our Thai guide, has been getting in some practice taking Siamese carp to 40lb, but Gollock’s real passion is float fishing with a match rod for the Java barb. We have hundreds of these fish now; they breed every two weeks, so all the ones we catch are recycled through the fish mincer and fed into the stew ponds. It seems a shame as these fish are like European roach, and they reach 10lb-plus, but to stop them overrunning the lake, we have to remove them. Even Butter Bean gets into them, perched on his chair outside the restaurant – he catches loads every day. He even tried eating them last week, but says they taste like cotton wool with bones. I will take his word for it, but I am intrigued to how he knows what cotton wool tastes like!

Last, but by far the least, the pest returned – Mad Mitch the Brummie, legend in his own lunchbox. After heading up to swampland in the far north to seek his fortune as a rice farmer with the love of his life, sporting her new 10lb gold bracelet, Mitch met the new family who proceeded to fleece him of his Mafioso earnings! Mitch went from love at first night, oops sorry, sight, to hating the girl in a short romance of two weeks. So he retreated, licking his wounds and phoning mum for some more of the poor girl’s family funds. It only took him a week to fall madly in love with ‘love you long time no two’ in Pattaya. Then he returned to Krabi, and rented a bedsit in the slums of Krabi town, coming here to fish a few short sessions for 15 fish, with a couple of arapaima up to 180lb. He has returned to the Brumland now to terrorize the hood, cut some horses’ heads off to place in the enemies’ beds, and replenish his funds before returning to his bedsit in town.
Rumor has it that ‘I love you more if you can pay’ has done a runner back to Pattaya in his absence. So folks, that’s about it from a sunny blue-skied Thailand ‘til next month. Check out our website or phone me, Stuart, on +66 (0)861644554.

Tight lines, get a whacker, and thank you for reading my monthly ramblings.