Krabi newsletter March 2009
Hi to all of you following this fishing in Thailand series. This last month has been hectic to say the least with my trip back to the UK and Holland. For those of you who came to see me at the shows, thank you, and a bigger thank you to all of you who booked your holiday with us. To all my friends who I didn’t make it too see, sorry but time ran out. So I suppose to start this newsletter - on with the shows. Firstly Five Lakes in Essex; this one should have been the showpiece, but to be honest the organizers let me down badly to say the least. When it was first talked about our part of the deal was giving the Carpin’ on show a prize of a week’s holiday for two with flights to the value of around £3,000, which was for sure the best prize any idiot had ever given them. Their part of the deal, I was told, was that I would get a monthly slot on Carp-Talk online (not a lot considering 50% of the pages are repeats), mentions in all Angling Publications comics, and mentions both days throughout the show, the client base for all entries to the competition. Put all this with a free stand, accommodation and meals at the show, and it was a reasonable deal for us, and a blinding one for them.
So what did I get? The Carp-Talk online articles stopped once I had agreed to the prize, the mentions in their magazines never appeared, there wasn’t a single mention during the show, no client base, and a 2m by 2m stand not giving us enough room to swing a mosquito, let alone display our pictures! I wasn’t even asked to come on stage and draw the winner - in fact I had to go and search for someone to check if the winner had been drawn. To top that off, it took them two weeks to give me the winner’s name even though they managed to put it on Carp-Talk online the next week! And what did I get? A bill from them for a table, chairs, and plug for the rabbit hutch they called a stand, and a promise for a free stand of a decent size next year! But will they keep their word! It was comical at the show watching the organizers walking around, and every time they approached our box, oops, sorry, stand, they turned on their heels and walked back the way they came. Not once did one of them come and see us or thank me for the prize. On top of all that I let Rob Maylin share my room (twin beds, honest!). Now Rob snores louder than a jumbo jet on takeoff, so Saturday night there was no sleep - if he snores like that on his visit to us he will cause a tsunami.
Another old friend I met up with at the show was my old pike fishing mucker Max Cottis, who I was pleased to see is now twice my size and shops at Chipperfield’s for his keks! Max has started his own company Ace Advanced Carp Equipment, which every one who demands quality should look out for. He presented me with a typical Max idea, the D-Spool Line Stripper, a brilliant bit of kit that fits on your standard electric drill, and is used to unload and dispose of your old line quickly and safely. It includes a slipping clutch in case the line snags, and this handy bit of kit will save us hours, having 70 reels to maintain. Typical Max idea - simple but brilliant. I am sure Max will come up with many ideas, so my advice to you all is check out the Ace range, as anything Max puts his name to is quality. The blast from the past at the show must go to another old mate. An Alf Garnet lookalike appeared, a little old fella in a denim jacket and jeans, and slid alongside me asking, “How you doing, geezer?” I had to whisper to Rob, “Who is this?” “It’s Ritchie McDonald,” was his reply. Christ, I would never have recognized my old mucker Richie - the only clue was the hooter! Nice to see the little bald fella and hopefully he’s coming out to see us soon.
The most asked question at the show was, “How many fish over 100lb could I catch in a day from your lake?” Oh dear, nothing changes! In comparison the Visma show in Holland was the nuts - obviously set up and run by professionals! I was invited by Leo Burger of Carps Cabin to go on one of their stands, and on arrival I was given a 5m by 4m stand in a prime location – wow, I could swing the cat! All in all Leo and his team treated me like a king, and not a bill in site - top man, top team, and a top show. Thanks to you all, plus a big thank you to our dear friends Wil and Betty who gave up their valid time to help me over the four-day show. Betty, you could sell sand to the Arabs - thanks. Finally, a big thank you to all the people who flocked around the stand to see the fine pictures we had room to display, plus all of you who booked. Lastly, while the shows are on my mind, how about this? While sorting through the archives for some fish pictures for the shows, I came across a picture of Sean stocking a stingray in February 2008. This fish was stocked while I was in England for the 2008 fishing shows, and there right by his hand was a bloody sting! Yes, now the mystery is solved - it was never removed. It didn’t grow, it wasn’t a second sting, it was Sean after his inheritance early - thank god he only stocked the one! Still on the subject of stingrays, apparently it is barbaric to remove their stings. Funny, as they don’t flinch when it’s done, and seem healthy enough, even spawning after it has been done on fish farms. Mind you, some much more barbaric things have been done to these magnificent beasts in the name of glory, records and self-hype, but I won’t comment on this, as others are going to elsewhere, but to the guy who said it - stones and glass houses spring to mind!
Since last month’s newsletter with our heatwave conditions and no rain, March has been like June here, raining every afternoon much to our gardener’s delight. The lake has had a good flush through and is at its maximum level. Perfect conditions for this month’s visit by National Geographic to film my old mucker Rob Maylin - the spawny git even got a business class ticket thrown in with the deal. Watch out in May as another mate arrives, Keith ‘Made in England’ Jenkins - now that will be a blast. I can’t wait to take Keith to our local nightspot to see the in-house band - we are gonna rock! No visit to England is complete without a visit to my dear friend Bob Baker, aka Richworth baits. Apart from a stock up of 300 method feeders, Uncle Bobbie gave us five litres of the old favorite salmon oil – wow, that’s a flavour from my dark past. I am sure the carp here are gonna love it! The day before I visited Bob I went to the Cemex Horton Church Pool to see my old mates Ladders and Dell, and as I parked the car, lo and behold a guy had a 40lb-plus carp, the first 40lb European carp I have seen in five years since my exile – oh, I want one again now! Another trip I made was to see my old mate Rob Eustace at Gold Label Tackle. The big fat boss, tubby Terry Eustace visited Krabi whilst I was in the UK – a bit of a long way to go to avoid me, I thought! We went out, had a few beers, and the obligatory Indian, only to return to Rob’s for the Chelsea game. Rob’s mate Alan Boon is a Chelsea fanatic, and when Chelsea scored, he was off the sofa dancing like a good’un, and Rob’s Staffordshire terrier seized his foot, bit through his shoe, shaking him like a rat. Obviously the dog ain’t no Chelsea fan!
Before I left home for the UK we bought 20 arapaima from 150lb to 220lb from a fish farm that went broke, plus two breeding pairs around the 350lb mark, which went to our fish farm to keep new strains coming into our arapaima breeding program. Back to the 20 fish - all our stock ponds are full to capacity, so we netted off the top bay of the main lake and put them in behind the net to settle down. Well, all the other fish in the lake tumbled that a free feast was on offer every day, so when these fish were fed, arapaima and all the catfish species sneaked over the net and cashed in on the feast. So many fish in a small space resulted in some in-house fighting, resulting in a sorubim, tiger catfish and rohu, who thought it would be a cool place to hide, getting themselves killed in the fighting, On my return, the area behind the net was bulging with various freeloaders - all our 300lb-plus arapaima were in there, so no wonder they have been absent this month. Also there were big red tail catfish and Chao Phraya - one red tail was huge, and when he gets caught he will be 100lb-plus for sure. Now the net is out of place and the food has stopped going in, some big fish should be on the cards, and the boost to the arapaima stocks should make for some good fishing over the coming months.
The plea for a giant weigh sling has been answered by Army Andy, who makes slings, mats etc to order. My dear friend Ruth from Yateley Angling put us onto Andy, as he makes specials to order for them and the Tackle Box. He has made us a stretcher type cradle that will allow us to weigh a record arapaima safely, so once one is caught under the IGFA rules, Gillhams should soon be the home of another world record. I couldn’t bring it back with me, as my bags were full of other goodies, but Rob is bringing it with him next week. Not much controversial gossip this month, as I was away, but Sean had one dick in who claimed to fish at home all year for one big carp. So he had managed to fit in a few hours to come here and get some monsters, but gave up after five hours, disappointed not to have had a fish over the 100lb mark - as Sean said, another twat! So that’s about it on gossip for this month, but watch out for next month as we have some crackers already plus we will have the return of Maylin! So it’s on to the fish reports.
12 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, and 26 came on day trips. Between them they caught 407 fish of 17 species, made up as follows… 39 arapaima to 220lb, eight alligator gar to 20lb, 55 Amazon red tail catfish to 70lb, six Asian red tail catfish to 30lb, ten black pacu to 35lb, six Chao Phraya catfish to 50lb, three giant featherback to 7lb, one giant snakehead of 4lb, nine Julian’s golden prize carp to 30lb, four Mekong catfish to 120lb, six rohu to 20lb, five spotted featherback to 10lb, 215 Siamese carp to 120lb, four striped snakehead to 4lb, 20 spotted sorubim to 40lb, eight shovel nosed tiger catfish to 20lb, two wallago attu to 20lb, and six wallago leeri to 10lb.
The first visitor to arrive this month had the unfortunate name of Gordon Brown. Oh if only it had been the Gordon Brown we could have saved Britain from destruction, and put him through the fish mincer and fed him to the arapaima - it’s about all he would be any good for! This Gordon though was an American with the misfortune of sharing the other prat’s name. In a couple of days fishing he landed arapaima to 150lb and Siamese carp to 55lb, plus a small red tail. Next to arrive was a returning client Carsten Brandt with his delightful other half Eva. Now Carsten had to suffer a dramatic temperature change to come here, going from -38 to +35! Carsten comes from Greenland and had vowed last year after coming for a day and a night, to get his dream fish, an arapaima. Well he achieved that in style, landing seven to 200lb in his seven-day stay. In all Carsten landed 42 fish of six species with Siamese carp to 60lb, red tail catfish to 55lb, and a rare Julian’s golden prize carp along with rohu and alligator gar.
Then along came Neil ‘no tip’ with his much better half Kim. After leaving us last month they had been travelling around Thailand and Vietnam only to miss Steve’s cooking and our beautiful resort. This time around Kim put her foot down on the little wimp and made him take her out on day trips all week. He was allowed to fish on an hourly basis before and after day trips, and still managed a respectful catch of 28 fish of seven species for the week, these being arapaima to 150lb, spotted sorubim to 30lb, red tail catfish to 55lb, Siamese carp to 50lb, tiger catfish of 15lb, a 10lb rohu, and lastly a giant snakehead of 4lb. Now these snakehead were never stocked below 12lb, so it is another baby of a species breeding here in perfect conditions, it makes us wonder what will end up here, as fish keep breeding in the perfect environment we have created. Talking of fish that have bred here, how’s this for a catch of fish for a day ticket? Swedish angler Johan came for a day trip and landed two wallago leeri of 8lb and 10lb (black wallago), again both bred here as we never stocked these fish under 20lb. Actually six of these fish have come out this month, so there has been a very successful spawning of these beautiful rare fish. Johan also had two giant featherback of 5lb and 7lb, another fish that has been spawning away here for the last two years. Again these cracking looking fish were never stocked under 10lb. Johan went on to catch a rare Julian’s golden prize carp of 24lb, an Asian red tail catfish, plus an Amazon red tail catfish and two Siamese carp. That’s six species in a day with three of them being old Poppa Eustace’s target species for his holiday.
Talking of the old fat git Poppa Terry Eustace, he was the next arrival, taking a nicely planned trip to coincide with my trip to Europe. Terry arrived at his new PB weight of 21 stone 6lb – wow, that’s an awful lot of flab on the old bloodhound lookalike! Terry’s target species this trip were Siamese carp, and he managed ten up to 75lb, but had to suffer the swim next to him turning up one of 120lb. Terry has another passion apart from eating, and that’s catching new species, so imagine the old sod’s face when a day ticket angler opposite him caught all the ones he wanted. Terry was on a roll, and not his usual bacon one! When disaster struck, he wasn’t like the old weeble that used to wobble and not fall down - poor old Poppa took a tumble landing heavily (well he would), and he damaged his ribs, which curtailed his fishing. He had to extend his stay for another week as he was unfit to fly, and he spent the next week unable to fish, but perfectly capable of eating all day! Terry’s tally before the accident was 16 fish with two arapaima to 170lb, and a new species in the shape of an 18lb tiger catfish that the silly sod managed to delete from his camera whilst looking at it!
Swedish women can certainly fish, as Asa showed her boyfriend Mathias. This couple only came for two days’ fishing and a two-night stay, but in the first hour she landed a 170lb arapaima and a Siamese carp, only to gain a ban from fishing the next day in case she showed Mathias up further. She said her arms ached, but refused a lie detector test. Mathias never achieved the arapaima, but did land six fish of four species. Talking of short stay visitors, expat Warren made the six-hour journey here again this month from his home in Hua Hin. Last month when Warren was here he bought a kilo of the Gillham special boilies. Having used at least 15 of them, he took them home and fished a local lake with them, only to return with at least half a kilo for this trip. At the end of four days he had landed 12 fish, the best a 170lb arapaima, and went home with at least ten boilies for his next trip. Now that must be the best eight quid the fella has ever spent. He runs a restaurant as a living, and Christ, I dread to think what they do with the leftovers. I bet he doesn’t know what a sell by date is either! Another nice fella to arrive with his lovely family was Neil Cobley; he came for a two week family holiday using Gillhams as a base to go sight seeing etc, and fishing odd hours between trips out. Neil had asked a million questions prior to coming, and he brought some spods, making him the first to try them here. Also being a Nutrabaits fan, he made the kids wear the same clothes the entire trip so he could fit in 40kg of his favourite baits. He spodded vast amounts of maize, and fished his beloved boilies over the top when after a few slow days something clicked! He gave maize a try, and the change of tactics paid off when the first day he landed a cracking 120lb Siamese carp, which now adorns his Facebook profile picture. One day trip Neil went on was a day’s training at the local Thai boxing stadium. It cost him more money than a day’s fishing here to get his arse kicked! To be fair to Neil, he treated his family holiday with 100% commitment, but on his odd hours fishing he put in the same effort to prove what a good fisherman can do here if he studies the lake and puts in the work. Neil ended his holiday with more fish than those who don’t try catch while they sit fishing all day every day. He caught 34 fish of nine species, including five arapaima to 180lb, 18 Siamese carp to 120lb, three rare Julian’s golden prize carp, sorubim, pacu, alligator gar, and Asian red tail cats along with a rare tiger catfish and an even rarer wallago attu (silver wallago). Just shows what accurate casting and spodding can do! I wonder what Neil would have achieved if he had fished full days?
John Cristlas came to try our style of fishing for a day, being a keen fly fisherman at home in the UK. Fishing with static baits on alarms was new to John, and after a couple of hours declared this type of fishing, although relaxing, wasn’t his thing. This all changed 40 minutes later when he latched into a 100lb Siamese carp that took him three quarters of an hour to land. This fish had him shaking with excitement, and when an hour later his fish bait rattled off he was hooked, or rather a bloody great stingray was! After an hour of tugging and pulling the hook hold gave, and poor John was left wondering what might have been. He is now going to take up carping in the UK, thinking 100lb carp are plentiful! Seriously though, he is now another statistic of somebody who is hooked on carping, and he knows to beat his PB he will have to return to swell my bank balance - oh I love the draw of Gillhams.
Space is running out again but we must mention returning client Graham Jones, who came for a ten-day stay, mainly sightseeing, but with three days fishing. The plan went out the window once Graham started fishing; he ended up fishing all ten days, landing 34 fish with the third 100lb-plus carp this month in the shape of a fine 110lb fish, plus four arapaima to 130lb along with red tail catfish and pacu. Another couple who wished they had booked their whole holiday here instead of five days were Don and Ann Spence. They had stayed at another fishery in the past that was a crap hole, and were dubious about what to expect here. As soon as they arrived they made the usual comment that our website does not do the resort justice. Don had a few fish under his belt, including an arapaima, when he hooked into a turbocharged arapaima that took him the length of the lake then burst through the net holding the new arapaima back. Sean had to swim out with the rod, dive down and swim through the hole in the net, then hand the rod back to Don who duly played and landed the 200lb beast on the sanctuary side of the net. Don ended up with 17 fish for the five days, made up of five species, which included a rare wallago attu. Another day ticket angler was father and son team Hohan and Mattrah Jonsson from Sweden. When father Hohan landed a 150lb arapaima and Mattrah failed to land one, they returned another day when dad wasn’t allowed to fish, as he had spanked Mattrah the first time. Well he got his arapaima this time around, beating dad by 20lb with a fine 170lb fish. They ended their campaign with 17 fish between them of five species. Last but not least our international appeal proved itself again with another country being represented by Denmark angler Preben Klausen coming for a five-day fishing holiday. His plan was to fish Siame carp, and despite catching 11 he failed to get a big one, but made up for it with two arapaima of 150lb and 190lb along with red tail catfish. He ended his holiday pleased, but with plenty of targets to return for.
That’s me folks, out of space for another month. We sure are becoming known worldwide for our big fish - our visitors this month came from nine different countries, which shows the power of the Internet. Watch out for next month’s news letter to see how Rob performs for National Geographic, and also to see if the Carpin’ on show have had me shot for daring to speak out against them! April has started off with some good fish and loads of gossip, so see you next month for more on the greatest fishing resort on the planet. Until then check out the website www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com or phone us on +66861644554. Forget the recession - that’s what credit cards are for - book that holiday of a lifetime and make your dreams come true. Tight lines, and catch a whacker from Stuart and all the team at Gillhams Fishing Resorts, Krabi, Thailand.
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