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Krabi newsletter September 2008

Hello everyone, from a very wet Thailand. The weather here for the first two weeks of the month has been rain, rain and more rain, just like a British summer! Our monsoon season ends in October normally, with a week of continuous rain, so we are hoping this is it. The amount of cold water going into the lake has put most species off the feed for the first month since we opened, and not one Mekong catfish has been landed, although several have been hooked and lost… or at least several unstoppable monsters presumed to be Mekong catfish have been lost. However the spotted sorubim, red tail catfish, Siamese carp and arapaima have been feeding well. Due to the rain our clients have been spending more time in the bar and playing pool, so it’s an ill wind. The temperature has dropped so much George the tortoise has gone into semi-hibernation, Mr. Peacock has had to go and live in a shed to keep the old fella dry and warm, baby peacock is twice the size, growing faster than me, and that’s without Steve cooking his meals!

The Thai people are very superstitious, and they all believe in ghosts. Now we have the best security in Thailand at our resort; the local police take care of security for us, and we have at least one policeman on duty here all night. Now police do not lie (do they?), so imagine our surprise when our policeman reported to us that he had seen a ghost with a green flashing light fishing the lake in the middle of the night. He had called his chief out, who had also seen this ghost swim round the lake and whisp off over the fence. After much pee taking Benz told me you should not mock ghosts, because they will come and get you! Well after several nights of making owl noises and general banter, Butter Bean, Benz and I were walking back from the bar at 1.30am when I spotted a green flashing light in the lake. Benz crapped herself, poor old Butter Bean was hoping it was a pizza delivery, but as for me, being the sort of bloke that believes everything has an explanation, decided to strip off and swim out and investigate. As I was slowly creeping out into the lake, suddenly something brushed against my thigh, too close to the shriveled maggot for comfort. I leaped into the air, Benz shrieked in horror, Butter Bean froze, but then a red tail surfaced, swam off, and I swear he was laughing to himself! After this minor setback the light was still flashing, so I silently swam out into the murky depths. As I approached the ghost and made a grab for it, there pulsating in my hand was a damned great big water beetle the size of my thumb, with a luminous flashing green light, trying to attract Mrs. Beetle for some nookie. Ghost solved, but still the police would not venture round to see it, and now in the village I am known as the exorcist!

After a busy August it has been nice to slow down, giving us a break before October when we start to pick up, then it will be no peace for the wicked ‘til April. Sean took a well-deserved break, taking Noi to Chiang Mai for a holiday. He promised her not to go fishing, but could not resist a day at Dream Lakes with Rainer and Ploy – see our links page for Dream Lakes. The Anglers Mail team were due to go home on the 6th but much to the envy of Vince and Adam, Gary Newman (aka ‘When I found out he was a man…’) decided to stay on an extra week, mind you what a week! There was rain every day with plummeting temperatures, but still the Siamese carp, red tail catfish and arapaima fed. John Pierce the Phuket ladies’ hairdresser can’t keep away; he is becoming a permanent fixture here – mind you our fish are bigger than anything they have in the ocean around Phuket nowadays! Funny old thing this fishery management – after removing some 400kg of tilapia from the lake last month, I have cocked up the balance so that now there is less predication on the java barb we have had an explosion of fry. Gollock has been netting for a week now, removing 100kg and hardly making a dent in the pesky things. Mr. Egg is coming to the rescue as soon as he can locate 100 3kg barramundi – now they will not only sort out the fry, but should grow rapidly on the abundance of food.

There really are some sad twats in Thailand, and instead of all pulling together and promoting Thailand as the world class fishing destination it is, some of the guiding (hic, joke) services run by self-titled professional fishermen are hell bent on destroying what people like Francois Helios’ Fishing Adventures Thailand and Jules Fernandez’ Siam Fishing Tours are doing to promote Thailand. If these dorks wish to control fishing in Thailand, why don’t they buy their own lakes? Mind you with their fish handling skills they would go broke. If they could all work as a team, more fishermen will come to fish Thailand.
Before I get off the soapbox, the rumor that we feed our fish every day to get them big is total b——s. We built and designed our fishery to sustain our stocks, and six months before stocking fish we stocked millions of shrimp. We also planted huge bloodworm beds, so along with all the small fry here our fish do not need feeding; they have that wonderful food source called natural food. Plus we are not overstocked, hence the fish grow on their own. The only food that gets fed here are anglers’ ground bait. We do feed twice a year for a week at a time with food soaked in Oxy, an antibacterial agent that stops bacterial infections, but that is for the fishes’ wellbeing. If these dickheads had to buy stock, they possibly might understand this, but I doubt it, as their only concern is profit without investment. So girls, instead of slagging off the professionals, get your own acts together, learn how to handle fish, and also how to fish and tie safe rigs, then you just may be allowed on the world class venues in Thailand – ‘nuff said!

We are finishing off a few bits, so everything will be ship-shape by the time high season arrives. For those expats who read this newsletter, the Christmas party is filling up fast so get booking now to reserve your place at the best Christmas party in Asia. Well, that leads us onto the fishing…

This month, although only 22 fishermen visited Gillhams, they accounted for 408 fish, made up as follows… 28 arapaima to 290lbs, 217 Siamese carp to 70lbs, 43 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lbs, 13 alligator gar to 25lbs, one Julian’s golden prize carp of 20lbs, three Asian red tail catfish to 25lbs, seven black pacu to 20lbs, 11 Chao Phraya catfish to 45lbs, 64 spotted sorubim to 35lbs, five arawana to 6 lbs, five spotted featherback to 10lb, two wallago attu to 20lb, seven striped snakehead to 5lb, and two giant gourami to 14lb.

Last month’s newsletter was full, and as the Anglers Mail lads were here for the last week in August and first week in September (except in the case of Gary Newman), we decided to hold their catch report over ‘til this month, although their August fish were added to that month’s figures. They all fished hard for arapaima the first week, with Adam and Gary choosing to fish Siam carp for the second week, while Vince stuck it out for arapaima red tail catfish and sorubim. Mind you he had to, as he was well and truly stitched up by Adam, who had already caught a 380lb arapaima. He and Gary had drawn the swims that produced two big arapaima, and in the bar the night of Gary’s capture of a 320lb arapaima, while helping Gary drink two bottles of champagne, the lads agreed that as the top bay was due to throw up a lump they would rest it for Vince to have a go for his biggie the next afternoon. I was in my office replying to emails when over the radio came the shout, “Arapaima, top bay!” Racing around the lake to assist, well, wobbling actually, imagine my surprise to see Adam playing an obvious beast. As we caged Adam’s second 300lb-plus fish at 390lb, I asked why Vince was not fishing as agreed. Adam, in a true stroke-puller’s rehearsed speech, replied, “Oh, was he fishing here today?” blaming the champagne and heat for his memory loss that denied Vince his dream fish. No wonder they call Adam “Ghost Face”; he certainly ghosted into the bay! Between the lads they landed 228 fish. Best arapaima went to Adam the stroke puller at 390lb and 380lb, as was the best Siamese carp, also to Adam at 70lb. Vince stole the show with red tail catfish, landing three over 70 to 75lb, and he also annihilated by the sorubim, with 28 to 30lb. Vince also took a rare wallago attu at 20lb, along with an arawana of 5lb, giving him the most species at eight – the others being Siamese carp, alligator gar, and two Asian red tails.

Gary caught the most, but then he would, as he had an extra week landing 108 fish of six species. His carp fishing was hectic, but the big fish never moved in on him. He went on to land 38 with loads of 30lb fish, but only up to 35lb. Gary’s stalking paid off taking arawana, red tails and arapaima by crawling around in his jungle suit. He resembled one of those guys out of the band The Village People, but with his track record who would be surprised at that? Adam finished with six species, and although he was only two swims down from Gary, he got the medium sized carp in front of him, so along with the 70, he had a 65-plus, a couple of 50lb fish, and also the only Julian’s golden prize carp of the month at 20lbs. Boy, do Julian’s golden prize hate the rain! Along with the rohu they just seem to go off the feed in the rain, although the strange thing is we see plenty jumping. See Gary Newman’s article from the Anglers Mail on our website under ‘Publications’. Angling Direct client David Sampson from some posh part of Manchester arrived for a week, taking 45 fish, the best being a 65lb red tail catfish and a 150lb arapaima. David fished hard, probably a lot of the time in the wrong places for too long, plus he caught the wettest week this year, but he thoroughly enjoyed his trip, and is planning a return trip.

The first week of the month we were visited by an old friend, Matt Skinner, who used to fish Harefield with me before the war, when we were both a lot younger-looking, or at least Matt was! He made the short trip from his windsurfing resort Reef Retreat on the island of Boracay in the Philippines As Matt’s low season is the same as ours, he came for some fishing, bringing his lovely other half ‘Poke Her Huntis’ Clair. Now Clair can boost anyone’s low season – can the girl drink or what? She should have fished the Colne valley in the Horse and Barge days; she would have shown the lads what a proper drink was! Matt fitted in three days’ fishing targeting arapaima and Siamese carp, and he ended up with 16 Siamese carp to 70lb, two arapaima of 200 and 180lb, plus three sorubim. Matt was over the moon, landing three of the biggest fish in his life, and he has vowed to return next low season, as he says where else could he go now for a PB? The other day we had the invasion of the hippies, and for a few minutes I thought I was at Glastonbury when Dutch man Pieter and his team of fire eaters came for a half day’s fishing and drinking – good lads and a good laugh. But no we do not wish to have a fire show boys, thanks! I must mention an American couple who came here for a day – Gil and Natalie – these two were fun! The day started slowly, but a move round the lake put them on fish. They ended the day with seven fish between them, including an arapaima each. Natalie loved feeding the sorubim that patrol the margins looking for food, even getting them to feed from her hand. Our sorubim here have sussed the fact that anglers throw their old bait in the margins, giving them a free eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet!

Sean and Gollock have been fishing a fair bit this month, showing off their skills, and fishing short spells between guiding they have had 68 Siamese carp to 50lb. By keeping a steady stream of bait going in, they have been taking multiple catches of fish in short sessions, which proves what we tell our clients – keep the bait going in and keep recasting the feeder, and large hits of Siamese carp are on the cards. The big Siamese carp have avoided the pair, and it’s pretty sad really when a 50lb carp is considered medium-sized – just the same as a 20lb carp in Europe. Yours truly has been floater fishing, taking Siamese carp and red tail catfish off the top, and also fitting in the odd hour fly-fishing, taking some impressive red tail catfish, spotted sorubim, and trying for a Chao Phraya catfish on the fly. They are hard fish to get to take a fly – I hooked one but the hook pulled. Ex-pat John Brown made a guest appearance this month, taking Siamese carp to 35lb. Butter Bean has been float fishing outside the restaurant, taking some good sized java barb, and for someone who did not fish before, the fella is getting into it now, which is surprising really considering he can’t eat them! Then the phone call came in the form of a voice like in the old Tunes advert for a stuffy nose – none other than the crazy Brummie mad Mitch. After being home a month, poor young Mitch got homesick, needing rehab and a father figure, plus he was missing Miss Siam and he returned after only being away a few weeks. However the poor lad got lovesick, and after only fishing at odd times, even though he had a couple of arapaima plus several other fish, he disappeared in a cloud of roses off to meet his new in-laws in Isan, Northern Thailand. Last heard of he was planting rice in the paddy fields, fishing for snake heads in the local ditch, and sleeping in his new top dollar tin hut!

We also had a visit from five lads from a Dorset-based shooting estate for a 24-hour session. Chunky was the fisherman of the team, who desperately wanted to catch a big Siamese carp. Sorry Chunky – next time for one over 50lb. The lads’ mate Luke only came for the beer, and had a brace of arapaima in the first two hours, but that’s fishing – you pay your money and you take your chance! At least they all caught fish, and then went on to have a good evening in our bar playing pool and swapping monster fish stories with the other guests, plus a buffet feast of a Butter Bean special Indian. This feast was attended by all on the lake plus several of the local expat community, Stevie boy’s Indians are legendary in Thailand, and we do a special once a month, or more if requested. As I am putting the finishing touches to this newsletter it is looking like the rains have at last come to an end, the skies are blue, it is 30 degrees, and the beer is cold. I am off for a swim – so enjoy the frosts in Europe, as your winter is on the way… or why not treat yourselves and book that fishing holiday in paradise at, catching fish beyond your wildest dreams? Look out for next month’s report on fishing in Thailand.

Best wishes from Stuart and all the gang.