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Krabi newsletter September 2009

Hi all, it’s that time again, to read the latest Krabi fishing news in this Fishing in Thailand series. What a month this one has been – my son Jack in hospital with bronchitis for three nights was a situation I would never want to go through again. He is 100% ok now, but kids, eh? You never stop worrying about them.

Also this month I had to make a trip to Bangkok to apply for Jack’s British passport, which gave me an excuse to visit one of my favorite places in Bangkok (not Soi Cowboy!), Jaktujek market. This huge market has zones for everything from furniture and clothes to animals. I love looking round the fish, reptiles and animals on sale here; they have just about every creature on the planet. The fish was my area to visit, as I want to buy some golden dorado. I was surprised to find pike at 8in long for £20, barbel for £50, 6in Wels catfish for £100, and 6in golden tench for £200 pounds each – the mind boggles!! And yes, I did locate the golden dorado, so I can’t wait for those fellas to arrive. I was seriously tempted to buy a pair of marmosets ‘til the lady said they were illegal but not to worry as she doubted I would get caught, but if I did, she never sold them, and I could go to prison! Oh dear, I do hope my dorados won’t get me a trip to the Bangkok Hilton!
Whilst I was in Bangkok, Sean had to go to a wedding so our good friend Meik Lykke of Thai Freshwater Fishing came and looked after our fishermen. I wouldn’t trust many people with our fishery, but Meik is a top angler and fishing guide. Gillhams is not really Meik’s scene, as he specializes in Cheowlan Lake, a huge lake 100 kilometers from us, plus wild river fishing for Thai mahseer. In fact Meik is going to handle most of our bookings for jungle fishing, so anyone interested let me know – he guides all his own trips with a maximum of two anglers per trip to ensure a personal service and top fishing in the wild jungle rivers in the National Park around here.

Rain! Have we had some rain, as a series of tropical storms swept through Thailand? Between torrential showers there have been some nice sunny spells, and the fish have been feeding for the few anglers taking their fishing holiday in Thailand this month. Some of the poor day ticket anglers struggled if they got the wrong day, whereas others cleaned up; it has just been the luck of the draw. Those on holidays have reaped the rewards on the good days. September is always a quiet time here, which is strange, as September is one of our best months for big hits of fish, as those who came have found out. The arapaima have been on a feed-up prior to and after spawning. At this time of year when we get heavy rains the arapaima get their fin over, with the males fighting for the females’ attention, and the strongest win their prize of a night of wet, slimy passion! It is a spectacular sight to see these huge fish tail-walking and head-butting each other, but it is also a worrying time for us, as every year sees a casualty or two; this year being no exception with one nice 160lb specimen being killed and several others bearing some scars.

We were watching one such display of fighting when a young whippersnapper of around 100lb took on the mighty 350lb male, Henry Waterman. The cheeky pup only wanted to get his fin over our big 400lb female Salmon Spot. Well, our Henry was having none of this, and trounced the young pretender. To escape a severe beating, this horny little fella shot through a weedbed and up the grass bank, where he slid along the bank for 10m on his belly, before sliding back into the lake to swim as fast as his fins would carry him out of the top bay! Henry has once again won the attention of Mrs. Spot, and they are now the proud parents of around 300 babies (sod that – it’s enough in my house with one!). In around eight weeks we will attempt to take some of these young from them before they turn round after 12 weeks of perfect parenting and scoff the lot!

While on the subject of spawning fish, my mate Mickey Russell, another ex-pat who lives close to us, had a traumatic experience. Now Mickey keeps Koi carp; he is a fanatic who dotes on them like a proud parent, and his Koi carp have just spawned, but that is not the story. Mickey, in his quest to be the number one Koi keeper, looked on the Internet and found, to his joy, the Bangkok Koi Club, so without further investigation he promptly joined the club of fellow Koi lovers. Next thing he knows he is getting swamped with amorous letters from gays all over Thailand! Mickey, being a big butch ex-fish and chip man, suddenly found to his horror that a koi in Thai language is the word for your willie! Yes folks, he joined a gay club, and Mickey got inundated with new buddies! Sandy, his long-suffering wife, came to the rescue!

Now we come to the bell ringing! I did warn we would name and shame, and first up is Neil ‘The Gob’ Goodwin and his mate Tom ‘The Beast Tamer’. These two had PB’s galore, but failed to ring the bell once! Also a few others slipped by without ringing the bell by going out for the evening, and then forgetting the next night. Nice try, but they will also be named after this month – you have been warned.

Gillham’s gripe… Oh no, here we go, and some of you are now shaking in your boots. Unless you really piss me off, you don’t get named here, but when you read this you know who you are! Not much to say really this month, apart from shouting across the lake, flicking fag ends in the lake, and dropping litter – all my pet hates. Also wanting that one more photo and ‘sod the fish; it’s all about glory’. Another thing that I find hard to understand are the questions that come in via email, like, “Which fish do you have in your lake?” and “How do I catch such-and-such a fish?” or “What tackle do you have, what are your costs?” When I tell them that it is all on the website the reply is, “I can’t be bothered to look, so that’s why I am asking you!” Jesus Christ ,it’s me who wrote both, and you are going to read it, so don’t waste your time typing the question, and mine replying. These sort of guys are the ones who will stay for a week without ever walking round the lake, never do anything for themselves, sit there with headphones on letting our guides cast, bait up and strike for them. All they really want is a picture of them holding a huge fish that they put zero effort into catching so they can show their mates what good fishermen they are!
I regard myself as a fisherman; I built this lake for fishermen, and if you cast my rod out, baited my swim, or struck my rod, I would never count that fish as one I caught, in fact I would pack up in disgust. Many of these so-called anglers wind in their photo opportunity, only to find it’s a world record, but we can’t and will not claim a record if anyone else touched the rod. Then they get upset when we refuse to put in a claim, as we deny them their ultimate show off to their mates as the master hunter! We want world records here, and will claim them, but not if the rules have been violated.

The depth-checking situation is turning into a joke, with many guys now deliberately winding me up, so I am going to drop the subject and leave the guys who do their homework to grossly out-fish the lazy ones who just cast out and fish where it lands, which reminds me of that old carp angling legend Roger Smith who had a saying: “If you are too drunk to cast drop it in the margins – it’s worth two fish a year.” I agree, chuck it anywhere, and if it goes splash, then great; you will catch a fish occasionally, but please don’t whine to us that the other lucky guy has the best swim because he caught more than you! I know I just promised to drop the subject, but how about these gems from this month’s ‘chuck it and hope’ brigade?

Question to me: “Why don’t you give everyone a map?” Answer: “If the map showed plateau at 37yds, how would you know where that is?” Answer: “I would guess it!” F**k me, ‘nuff said!! Or this one: “Unless you are float fishing, why would you want to know the depth?” Finally, how about, “Why should I bother? Sean can cast for me!”?

A favorite question, especially when it’s been raining all day and the said angler sits under a brolly while our guides cast and bait for them: “Why can’t we fish ‘til midnight?” Answer: “Because the guides would not get to sleep ‘til 2am after tidying up and eating, then they have to be up again at 5.30am to get ready for the 7am start.” “So what’s their job?” comes the reply! Oh, one day there’ll be another splash out their somewhere… So that’s it for this month, and all in all a good crowd enjoying their Thailand fishing holiday.

Sean and I managed some fishing this month, as we had some days with no one fishing. We have been field-testing our new boilie range of sweet coconut mix with Scopex or tutti, and also our fish mix with salmon or crab and mussel, with my old mate Bob Baker of Richworth supplying the flavors. We have had trouble getting the boilies hard enough to keep the unwanted Java barb at bay, so I gave uncle Bob a call, asking how to achieve harder bait, and got the typical Bob reply of, “Two of sand, and one of cement!” After Bob stopped falling off his chair at his own joke, he suggested steaming the baits, and hey, thanks Bobbie: it works a treat! Now they stay on indefinitely, and we have thousands of Java barbs with broken teeth!

Sean had 16 fish with carp to 65lb and red tails to 60lb, plus he spent many hours trying to catch a giant gourami. Thank God he finally got his gourami, as it was costing a fortune in bread! 36 loaves and ten sorubim later he finally got old pink head, who was probably knocking on the door of a world record at 10lb.

I think Sean spent so long on the gourami trail so as to have an excuse for the total thrashing I gave him, landing 29 fish including 17 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, Siamese carp to 50lb, plus rohu, alligator gar, sorubim, and even arapaima on both boilie mixes, or should we call them steamers? I also got the old fly rod out for a try at a Chao Phraya catfish, which is a fish I have been trying to take on a fly for ages. Casting into a pack of Chao Phraya, I had a gentle take, then all hell broke lose with my 12-weight rod bent double for an hour, convinced I had got a record Chao Phraya, when a Mekong catfish surfaced with a white lure firmly embedded in its massive cakehole, and the fish was a good 120lb. I spoke with my good buddy Francois Helios, and we both think this could be the first Mekong ever caught fairly on a fly.

Which leads me on to the fishing in Krabi: 16 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, ranging from three to ten days, with 14 anglers fishing on day tickets between their Krabi holidays. Between them all they caught 465 fish of 23 species, made up as follows: 51 arapaima to 350lb, nine alligator gar to 20lb, one arawana of 7lb, 79 Amazon red tail catfish to 80lb, 10 Asian red tail catfish to 27lb, one barramundi of 9lb, 64 black pacu to 25lb, five Chao Phraya catfish to 65lb, one giant snakehead of 8lb, two giant gourami to 10lb, one giant featherback of 11lb, four Julian’s golden prize carp to 15lb, five Mekong catfish to 150lb, three mrigal carp to 8lb, 15 rohu to 18lb, two tambaqui to 20lb, five spotted featherback to 9lb, 137 Siamese carp to 85lb, six striped snakehead to 3lb, 46 shovel-nosed spotted sorubim to 40lb, seven shovel-nosed tiger catfish to 18lb, three wallago attu to 20lb and eight wallago leeri to 20lb.

First guest this month saw the return of the Luton pest Neil ‘The Gob’, with his mate ‘Whale Man’ Tom! These two certainly picked the right time for their ten-day trip, with Neil taking a 50-fish haul which included 11 arapaima to 340lb, 17 Siamese carp to 85lb, eight Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, seven sorubim to 35lb, six black pacu to 20lb, plus an alligator gar. He also managed to nick my phone and Sean’s porno collection, both of which have a back on them Neil unless you fancy a swim next time you visit!

The ‘Whale Slayer’ Tom was named not because of his fishing skills, but for his help with the local Whales In Need club! Tom beat Neil by four fish with a 54-fish haul of eight species with five arapaima to 200lb, 17 Siamese carp to 55lb, 11 red tails to 70lb, plus sorubim, Asian red tail catfish, spotted featherback, black pacu to 30lb and alligator gar. Poor old fat boy Tommy was not the brightest spark in the pack. He came out with a few classics, such as when told about the snow park in Bangkok where they have a snow making machine, loads of snow for sledge and ski, plus an ice rink, asked, “Wow, is that outside?” Yeah right, in temperatures of 100-plus! Or, “Does the Indian restaurant sell Indian food?” Or, “I don’t believe that girl is a man!” Oh boy, rock on Tommy!

Next up was John Duffy, an Englishman who lives in Indonesia. John came to us for five nights before heading up to our good friend Bruce Dale who owns and runs Teak Tree Lake in Chiang Mai. John loved it so much here he returned for another five days after his successful sortie at Teak Tree Lake. In fact John is in line to buy a season ticket, as he is booked again for five days at the end of October; his target next trip is Siam carp. Now John is the first to admit he loves to catch fish, but needs a slave to take care of him, so he hired Sean as his bitch for his ten days. Sean, on the promise of a share in John’s vast dollar collection, worked his socks off and helped John to a fantastic haul of fish, nearly all caught on the new Gillhams steamed baits! John, having nearly as much wonga as Bill Gates, had no problem in raising the lake by six inches with several tons of the new super bait! Over the ten-day period John landed 81 fish of 11 species, including 13 arapaima to 200lb, 16 Siamese carp to 55lb, 18 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, plus a Mekong catfish of 150lb. Other fish in the haul were sorubim, black pacu, Asian red tail catfish, tiger catfish, rohu, alligator gar and wallago leeri. With the fishing being hot, John phoned his mate Barry in KL Malaysia to fly the 1 hour 20 minutes to Krabi for a weekend. Barry fished for three days and landed 19 fish, including two arapaima and a nice 60lb Siamese carp.

We also had a return visit from the mystery man, not Mr. Evans, but Alistair, no last name please! With his friends Alan and Terry who was celebrating his 50th birthday, or so he claimed – Christ, he must have had a hard life! Now they would be the first to admit they didn’t fish hard; in fact they hardly fished, well, Terry didn’t even get to cast out, but our bar takings rose rapidly as they sheltered from the deluge of rain. In between the rain they slotted in some short sessions over their six-day stay. Alistair landed 21 fish and Alan nine fish, the best being a 350lb arapaima and a 70lb carp, beating both Alan’s PB’s set here earlier in the year. Terry managed a PB 300 beers, plus 50 burgers!

This month we also had the return of the dynamic duo Matt and ‘Oh what a pair’ Kandy! These two have been clients of ours since the start of Gillhams; they used to live in Bangkok, but are now in Malaysia. There is always some rivalry between them, but Kandy gave Matt a proper spanking this trip from the very first cast, when she landed a 300lb arapaima. They actually caught the lake in a bad mood as it switched off during their five-day stay, which could have been down to Matt’s secret coconut oil that only the pacus loved, or Kandy using her 88 double-D bra as a catapult, and firing in 50kg of bait per pull! Seriously, it was hot one day and rain the next, with rising and falling temperatures, and the fish played hide-and-seek. Other anglers where catching, and every time Matt and Kandy moved, so did the bloody fish! Final score was: Matt, nine fish of five species, and Kandy 11 of six species, which, I believe, makes game, set and match to the delightful Kandy. She would have whooped him even more, but to stop the humiliation she kept striking with the baitrunner disengaged or the drag set to hard, just so as to snap the line on several big fish so Matt didn’t have a tantrum!

Another visitor this month was John Carter who came on his honeymoon with his own princess, the delightful Noi. What a lucky guy – Noi agreed to the fishing honeymoon, even though she does not fish herself. John had never been fishing in Krabi before, but is already planning his return. Over six days fishing a very moody lake with temperatures all over the place, John landed 17 fish of eight species including his target arapaima of 120lb.

Last of the holiday guests was none other than the angling legend, the little bald French bastido, Francois Helios, Now our dear buddy Francois has been threatening to visit us for two years, and finally made it. Francois is the holder of nearly 200 world records, and he is the man who put Thailand on the map as a fishing destination. He runs the first and the best fishing guide service in Thailand. We regularly exchange clients, as Francois has one of the only companies here that know how to fish, and uses fishermen as guides. In the last year Francois has taken up fly fishing; he came here with his float tube, basically a big kid’s rubber ring fitted out like an armchair, and it even has drink holders! Every day he merrily propelled himself around the lake in his little rubber armchair, supposedly targeting Amazon red tail catfish, but when he thought we weren’t looking, he would cast to an arapaima and accidently catch it. Oh I wish I had an air rifle! Imagine popping his little craft, and the little bald fella disappearing below the waves. HMS Victory sprang to mind! Between fluff chucking and bait fishing, Francois landed 13 fish with four accidental arapaima to 130lb, two Amazon red tail catfish, four Siamese carp, one pacu and a PB 27lb Asian red tail catfish.

Some of our day ticket visitors had some good hits of fish, with English angler Chris and his Thai wife Moonla doing well, landing 15 fish between them of six species. We also had a guy called Peter make the trek from Phuket to visit us for the day, and he landed 12 fish of six species, including two arapaima, Siamese carp, black pacu, sorubim, red tail catfish and a tiger catfish. Peter’s trip came about by the bad weather, as he was booked to go out from Phuket on a game boat, but the storms worked in his favour, as our lake holds bigger fish than you will catch off Phuket nowadays!

A group of four Ukrainians came for the day, also from Phuket. When we heard their surname we were worried, as they sounded Russian! We had stocked up on purple dye and wrap-around shades in anticipation of the mafia visit, so it was a pleasant surprise when our first Ukrainian visitors appeared. If all the people from this country are as polite and friendly as this crowd, we are more than happy for more to follow. As it happened only three of them fished. Sergi landed five fish of five species: Pacu, rohu, sorubim and Siamese carp, topped by a 130lb arapaima. Alexandra landed four fish of four species: wallago leeri and wallago attu making a rare brace, an Asian red tail with a 110lb arapaima to end his day. Rosa kept the ladies side up with a nice tiger catfish and a Siamese carp giving them an 11-fish haul. This was made even more special, as they didn’t arrive until 8.30 am, stopped an hour and half for lunch, and were gone before 5pm.

That just about wraps up the newsletter this month folks, except to write about a certain unnamed Spanish catfish holiday company who booked the whole lake from the 15th to 28th of February. Despite promises of, “You can trust us, as we are a reputable company and your friends”, after months of telling everyone we are full and turning down bookings, they have let us down, so we now have spaces for those dates. Let’s hope someone does the same to them! I wonder how sincere any of their advertising is, because their word certainly isn’t their bond! Watch out for next month’s newsletter as we have Les Bamford here at the moment, so no gossip there that’s for sure! Plus a visit I am looking forward to; Dean Macey. Oh, I wish he had been here this month – he could have stuck a spear through the wee bald man’s plastic armchair at 100m, no sweat.

Get booking that dream holiday now before you are too late! Christmas is filling up fast, so hurry up and give yourself the best Christmas present ever with a trip to paradise.

Check us out on contact Stuart on or phone +66861644554.

Tight strings, catch a whacker, and mine’s a lager!