Krabi newsletter April 2009
Hi to all our readers. Many thanks for all the encouraging emails - the Krabi newsletter is getting more popular as time goes on. It’s nice to see so much interest in this fishing in Thailand series. We had a good April; things were going great, all our customers were a pleasure to fish with, no idiots, no whingeing, just good anglers having fun. Then it bloody happened at the end of the month - the Russian and Korean from hell, the rudest most arrogant pair of prats it has ever been my misfortune to meet! They were claiming to be billionaires, but were as tight as a duck’s bum. It’s easy to reinvent yourself here in Thailand; there are numerous self-professed SAS men, gangsters and drug dealers in all the loser’s bars, and these two were probably in the same league. The Russian claimed to have friends working in the KGB, but I think he meant working in KFC! When they booked they boasted that if Sean got them an arapaima he would get a 1,000 dollar tip, another mythical piece of bull’s dung. When he hooked one for them while they played in the swimming pool, they got confused with 1,000 and 100, and Sean got 100 dollars, which is normally a good tip, but not when you were promised 1,000!
On arrival they wanted lunch, and after scanning our menu of 120 items, they ordered a selection of ten cheeses, Greek salad and grilled vegetables. Christ we run a fishing resort not a delicatessen! On informing them that for special orders they should order in advance, they had what was to be one of many tantrums. The Korean guy who claimed to be the billionaire lives in Russia with the other berk, and all I saw was a spoilt brat who thought he could stamp his foot and everything he wanted would appear. At 9pm he demanded three girls for an hour’s massage, and when we told him the girls we use finish work at 7pm and would not come out, he said, “Get them, whatever it costs, I have money!” Our girls wouldn’t come, so we found some others, and then he haggled over the bill. Meanwhile the Russian strutted around ordering everyone about, demanding this and that, and telling us he was a fishing guide in Russia. If he is, god help his clients - he didn’t have a clue about fishing, and when he hooked a fish (oops sorry, when Sean handed him a rod with a fish on) all the customers on the lake fell around laughing because he looked like he was wielding a sword in the battlefield.
After their trip the Russian had wound in an arapaima and two Siamese carp that Sean had cast to and hooked up for him, and King Tantrum sat in his room watching TV, while Sean hooked him three arapaima, then had to call him to come and wind in for his photo, only for him to play them like a total dick and lose each one, ending up with one alligator gar that felt sorry for him. He then had a mega tantrum because he wanted an arapaima. I presume he can buy most things but you can’t buy skill at fishing, and money certainly doesn’t buy breeding and manners! The highlight of their visit, apart from them leaving the next day, was when the idiots thought the spray bottles of Jensen violet at each swim, for treating fish with cuts, was mosquito spray. They sprayed themselves all over, and in the dark couldn’t see they were bright purple! It takes five days to wear off fish in the water, so they should be feeling blue for a while! At the end they tried to knock us for part of the bill, refusing to pay around 25 dollars. Being too thick, they never batted an eyelid when I converted their dollars to baht wrong, and cost themselves 30 dollars. They went off smug, thinking they had won, when actually they paid more. The Russian also left his designer sunglasses behind, which unfortunately Helmet the dog took a shine to, and ate! Good riddance to them; they certainly are not welcome here again. In fact out the 20 Russians we have had this year, only one has had manners, so we are thinking of banning the nation as a whole, or making them take a human being test prior to booking!
Ok, only one more whinge to come, a bit later (honest), but first onto brighter notes. In the first week of April we were having some very heavy rainstorms, so we decided to flush the lake through. We raised the water two feet, then dropped back two feet to let water back up the next day. What happened? The rains stopped, so as I sit here writing this report the lake is a good two feet down, as we have had no more rain. The rainy season is imminent though, as we are getting huge rain clouds every day; there has been no rain as yet, but we have not had blue skies for a week. We have had a non-fishing family in our restaurant a few times this month who were renting a villa down the road. They were passing, popped in, and seeing Steve’s menu they sampled the food and returned on a regular basis. They are a really top family, the Watkins from Southend in Essex. Most days they came by, so on their last day we ran them to the airport. Peter Watkins lost his passport, but was assured by Krabi immigration that a picture ID would get him to Bangkok where he should see an immigration officer who would give him clearance to travel home. The first stage went to plan when Peter amazed us all by flying to Bangkok on his bus pass, but from there though it all went to pot, as he met a jobsworth who would not budge and help a pensioner return home with his family, although his arrival passport and ID with iris recognition was all on computer. Poor Peter had to stay behind, then go to the British Embassy and wait for clearance papers. Some five days later one very tired and frustrated old man arrived back in the UK. I do hope the jobsworth was proud! As for travel inside Thailand though - bus passes are go!
Talking of Bangkok, Diane Brown and husband, with their friends, stayed in the capital for a few days prior to coming to Krabi. The lads decided to take the girls to a go-go bar in Bangkok. Poor Diane was new to this kind of sightseeing adventure, and was convinced the girls had numbers on their bikinis for collecting their coats from the cloakroom after the show, bless her! After my month’s absence in the UK, I couldn’t wait to see how our baby arapaima and red tails had grown in the stock pond. I was surprised to see that the 10 to 20lb arapaima I left in February are now 15 to 25lb with a few of the top fish going around 35lb. The Amazon red tail catfish have gone from 6lb to 10lb with the top fish around 15lb, and all these fish are just 18 months old! Imagine what these guys are going to be in the next year - they get through 50kg of fish and 10kg of pellet a day between 250 of them, costing a fortune, but well on target to be their stocking weight of 100lb for the arapaima and 50lb for the red tail catfish in the next 18 months. We also left ten Siamese carp in this pond at around 20lb, and they are easily 50lb each now, so they should be 70lb at least in the same time span.
We also had an old fox creeping around the lake this month, but luckily he left our birds alone. I think he was looking for a mate, so no wonder Helmet our Weimaraner dog was looking worried! Once again we have had baby wallago leeri showing up in catches, so how long before one of the big girls makes an appearance? For a supposed fish eater, eight of them fell to maize, dispelling another myth! Which leads us onto this month’s catch report, plus some more gossip. 28 anglers came for fishing holidays in Thailand, and 16 came on day trips. Between them they caught 469 fish of 20 species, made up as follows… 48 arapaima to 350lb, four arawana to 8lb, eleven alligator gar to 20lb, 79 Amazon red tail catfish to 75lb, four Asian red tail catfish to 20lb, 18 black pacu to 50lb, nine Chao Phraya catfish to 65lb, three giant featherback to 9lb, two giant snakehead of 6lb, two Julian’s golden prize carp to 20lb, three mad carp to 5lb, three Mekong catfish to 150lb, three mrigal to 12lb, two rohu to 15lb, six spotted featherback to 8lb, 226 Siamese carp to 110lb, four striped snakehead to 3lb, 31 spotted sorubim to 30lb, two shovel nosed tiger catfish to 16lb and 10 wallago leeri to 16lb.
First out the bag this month is Graham Brown with his mate Ron, plus their better halves. This group was great fun with a good sense of humor. The guys enjoyed the fishing even when it was a bit slow - being fishermen they took it for what it was, and had fun. In their six days fishing they landed 23 fish between them of five species, the best fish being a 100lb Siamese carp to Ron. James Courtney, who spoke about Gillhams with Tony Morrel of Paradise Lakes France, just had to come and sample what is on offer here for himself after seeing Tony’s photos of his trip to Gillhams. He came for a three-night stay with his friend Dave plus their other halves. Then they headed of to Phi Phi Island for a friend’s wedding. James got caught in the Gillhams spell and sneaked an extra 24 hours in before flying home. He ended up with four arapaima to 180lb, one Amazon red tail catfish of 75lb, plus six Siamese carp, the best being a known fish, which we weighed a month ago at 110lb. Sean told James this fish was a known 100lb-plus fish, but James does a bit of weightlifting and has one of those bodies that hang in the wrong places, unlike mine, plus a six-pack. One day he will attain the perfect body like me and have a one-pack! He reckoned the fish was 75lb, but I think he is so used to lifting weights he doesn’t know his own strength, as this fish came here in Christmas 2007 at 100lb. She dropped to 98lb when she was weighed after her first capture in April 2008, but then didn’t show until January 2009 when she was still holding 110lb. Her next capture was February 2009, weighed at 110lb, so to drop to 75lb by the beginning of April is unlikely, as Gollock our fishing guide caught her again on the morning of first of May. We weighed the fish to make sure, and this time she was 108lb. So poor old James had a 100lb carp, and didn’t believe Sean.
Another nice fella to arrive was Steve Smith from Birmingham; he came with his two sons and took our option of renting a bungalow for a family holiday, fishing odd hours between day trips with the boys. Only fishing for the odd hour here and there he still managed a 110lb Mekong catfish, plus four arapaima to 150lbs, and one Siamese carp. The boys only fished once for around two hours, but Brandon had a red tail catfish and Jacob a Siamese carp. Steve is now back home, planning another trip with his other two kids. Sorry no pictures of this family Steve has not sent them to us, as is often the case we are up to our necks in water helping with your fish so we can’t get a picture. Despite promises once people go home they forget to send their pictures, very often we then get an email asking why they have no picture on our web site! This month has been hard for us as many people did not send us their pictures as promised. So we either do not have the good ones we were shown in our bar when the angler was still bussing, or an inferior one from someone else who took a picture and did send it to us. Come on guys we supply you with your dream please send your pictures as you promise!
It’s certainly been the month of the Brummies; we had Chris and Darren who came for a couple of days, then returned for two more days. On the second visit poor Darren could not fish, having being attacked by a herd of monkeys! I kid you not - Darren was having fun feeding the pack of woolly rascals and taking photos, when disaster struck - he ran out of grub for the starving hoard, and as is so often the case with monkeys, they turned vicious. Wanting more food they decided to mug Darren, and his only weapon was his camera, but as it was a present from his mum he did not wish to launch it at the beasts, so he took the next option and legged it, only to slip over grazing himself badly and twisting his back! So it was no more fishing for Darren, but he has vowed to return to fish, and also shoot the damned monkeys! He did manage eight fish on his first visit though, with his target arapaima at 130lb. Chris faired better with the two lots of fishing, taking 16 fish of five species, including a 150lb arapaima, a 60lb Chao Phraya catfish, red tail catfish to 60lb and Siamese carp to 40lb. Chris is actually still in Thailand, and is returning for the last two days of his holiday in May, so we will keep you posted next month. As for Darren, he went home with his tail between his legs! At the same time two American guys, Scott and Bill, came for a two-day stay. Now Bill is in his 70’s and smokes a few too many. He had a 110lb arapaima and retired happy and knackered for the day, and the next morning he latched onto a stingray. Now the only way to land these boring bottom stickers is once they are moving, tighten up the drag to the max and pump and wind like you are pulling a monkey off Darren! Or use an oil drum as a float to tire them prior to hooking them – meow… glass houses! Poor old Bill couldn’t muster the energy, so he sat in a chair and just kept trying, but every time the boys got the fish moving it swam for a short while and then locked down again. Fair play to Bill; he stuck at it for six hours, only for the line to part, after which Bill retired to his pit for the day, while Scott landed two Siamese carp.
We had an unusual request next from a Malaysian family who wanted to come for lunch and then experience a three-hour fishing adventure for eight people. To be honest we were dreading it, as eight novices in three hours should spell trouble. How wrong can we be? The whole family was fun, polite, and just wanted us to try for a fish. Luckily the fish gods were willing, and they were well chuffed with their two Siamese carp. When the bonus turned up in the shape of an arapaima of 110lb, smack in the middle of a huge thunderstorm directly overhead, they stuck at the task between lightning striking all around them, and duly landed their deserved prize. For the photo shoot it was most amusing, as all eight piled into the water like a scene from the fleeing passengers in the movie Titanic!
Once again sorry if we have missed you out, but we only have so much space - the consolation being you did nothing wrong so didn’t get a mention. Talking of doing wrong-uns we had two Irish lads phone and haggle over the price. When it was explained to them that the price is high because we have one of the best fisheries in the world with some of the biggest freshwater fish on the planet, one of them assured us what good an angler he was. I won’t name the guy because he knew he did wrong, and suffered a famous show of my other side! But upon turning up, instead of fishing they slept, and the next day they ventured out for an hour to complain it was too hot. This pattern continued for their stay - minimum effort for minimum fish. Feeling sorry for the self-professed pike supremo, I relented from continued pestering to let him fish the reserve in the top bay just for one arapaima. He caught one first cast of 120lb, only to retire back to his bed, mission accomplished. He appeared again at 6pm when all the lake had agreed to stop fishing at 7pm while he was asleep, so that we could all have a night on the town. To stop his whining that he should fish till 8pm and sod everyone else’s agreed plans, I reluctantly told him he could fish at 10am the next day for one more fish in the bay.
Par for the course the doughnut appeared at the crack of 3pm. He phoned me and I told him to wait for Sean to accompany him to the reserve, only to get a call ten minutes later saying he had a fish on, as he had gone and cast out alone. Rushing to the bay it was obvious the dick had hooked this fish at the time of his first call, and tried to bully it out of the bay to pretend he wasn’t fishing there. Christ knows what else he had done in our absence, and after a strange fight the fish was landed at 200lb. After a quick photo and the fish suffered an anxiety attack dislocating its jaw. It seemed to go back in place, but the fish, which had a distinct scar on its back, swam off not looking too good. Two days later the poor thing popped up dead - a cracking fish, which the prick has denied someone else catching, plus losing us a considerable sum of money. Shame he had checked out the day before, or I would have charged him for it, that’s if he had survived what all the proper fishermen on the lake would have done to him had they got hold of him! Christ knows what the state of the Irish pike waters are like after this twat has fished them! I said I wouldn’t name him, but sod it - other fisheries should know that Mr. P. Russell is banned for life from Gillhams, and other fishery owners should do the same. He’s not a fisherman; he’s just another muppet chasing trophy photos.
Onto a lighter note Shimano Malaysia contacted us to send down three of their design guys to test the new baitrunner reels they have designed. Nice guys, although probably not the best fishermen in the world, but all round nice fellas. After a very slow morning we again felt sorry for them, as these new reels needed a workout on a big fish. They had already informed us of their extensive field testing at the factory, where believe it or not they connect a line to a motorbike then roar off up the road while the guy on the rod end increases pressure till they part company. So, taking the first guy into the bay he duly hooked a nice red tail only to tell me he really didn’t want to catch a big fish, as he was a bit scared. Upon handing me the rod and asking me to play the fish, he then asked me to evaluate the reel! Well, on half a fight the drag felt good, it also cast well, and the line lay was good, but hey surely it needs a minimum test of six months on a fishery like ours, then an evaluation would be a better test than a Honda Dream and half a red tail catfish fight! To be fair the other two guys came and took a turn each, both landing an arapaima, one of 90lb and one of 140lb. So guys that’s it, the new reel will be launched with flying colors after a rigorous field test of three fish in two hours at Gillhams plus a few trips to the shops lashed onto a Honda Dream – yep, that’s tomorrow’s tackle today! Or should it be yesterday’s tackle out today! The footnote was that the guys used our Free Spirit rods, still standing the test of time after two years of hard abuse at Gillhams, even though they have never played a pushbike let alone a Harley! The Shimano boys reckoned they were the best rods they had ever used - a sure sign that Free Spirit’s extensive research and testing produces quality goods that you can spend your hard earned dosh on with confidence.
Expat Ian Norris, exiled in Australia, made his second trip this year back to Gillhams, again with his Aussie friend Ryan. They are really nice guys these two, and good anglers to boot; they both landed their dream arapaima this trip with Ryan taking the best at 200lb. They landed seven different species between them. Ian on his last trip landed a rare wallago attu (silver wallago), and this trip he went one step further and became the first guy to get both wallago species at Gillhams with an equally rare wallago leeri (black wallago) of 15lb. They are back later in the year - will he go one better and catch an albino wallago? We only have one in the lake at around 30lb, but I wouldn’t bet that the guy doesn’t pull it off.
Then the legend returned, none other than my old mate Rob Maylin. Rob caught the world record Mekong catfish here last year, and our dear friend Julia Dorn, film producer for California based Hoff Productions flew Rob over to recreate his historic capture for a show that will broadcast very soon for a major USA network. Stay tuned, our American fans, to Airdale TBD. Julia filmed here last year for National Geographic with the capture of Keith Purton’s arapaima - all you guys in the States have seen this one many times now, but still we have no date for broadcast in Europe. But I am told it is imminent, so watch out for National Geographic’s Man vs. Fish series, we have seen it already and it does more for fishing than Robson ‘Twat’ Green will ever do. All that guy seems to do is make a mockery of fishing conservation and the fishing scene in Thailand. With comments on UK TV about 90% of fish caught dying this prick is all we need in these days of anti-brigades. Put that with a guy who has no respect or knowledge of fish or fishing, and you have a disaster on the screen. Why any self respecting television show would use this clown in a fishing show is beyond me. This time we were not so lucky with Mekong catfish when they refused to play for the cameras, but Rob did land a nice brace of arapaima for the cameras, plus a 50lb red tail catfish. Rob ended his short trip with 15 fish, including four arapaima to 180lb. Did he fish his nuts off? Did he hell - we were in the middle of the heatwave before the rainy season, and it was hot and humid. After a gruelling flight, then up at dawn for fishing, the poor old chap was finding it hard to muster any energy! He spent most of his time trying to keep in the shade, and unusually for Rob not even bothering to rebait regularly. When Sean told Rob it pays to rebait every 20 minutes he replied, “F--- that, I’m off to bed!” Top man, Rob!
You really must watch the recreation of Rob’s historic catch as poor old Rob was made to get in and out of the lake for retakes, not helped by Sean and me pissing about. Watch for the fish in the film making long runs down the lake, as Rob furiously winds like hell while the drag is singing out - it looks like he is attached to a motorbike! After filming we went out on the town, and oh what a night. It was going to be a meal at the seafood restaurant then a couple of pints at Amy’s bar and home by 11pm. Ha - slim chance; it was like the old Horse and Barge days, with a gaggle of drunken fishermen getting worse by the hour. From somewhere a big pair of pink glasses turned up with no glass in, and we had a cracking shot of Rob in these, but he bribed the guy with the camera to delete the shot. The party ended sometime around 4am for most of us, with just Sean and a few others taking it to the extreme and returning to the fold at 8am. Surprisingly most of the lads were out fishing by 7am, and in any fish shots that day it isn’t red eye on the camera; they are 100% genuine red eyes!
Another guest who was here for the filming was Philip Bell-Scott who came wanting to catch as many species as possible, plus to try for an arapaima on the fly. After asking all the so-called experts in Thailand what flies and tactics he needed, he contacted us. After numerous emails between us, and pictures of flies sent from me to him, he had all the correct info and turned up with exactly the patterns I told him to make. In fact they were ten times better than my efforts. Once we found patterns and methods, arapaima are easy to target. When I told Julia that we would get an arapaima on a fly for her to film, she doubted my word. So after some persuasion she set up the crew and cameras to film Phil. He fished like a pro, with accurate casting and followed our instructions to the letter. His first hook up came within ten minutes of filming - a 26lb sorubim. Then it happened - Julia was filming the fly landing in front of a big arapaima, when wham, it took the fly. One and a half hours later, in the dark, after being dragged around the lake, a very happy Phil landed his prize, a 250lb arapaima - the first fly-caught arapaima ever caught for a professional filmmaker.
After the previous day’s success Julia asked Phil to get his fly rod out again, because they wanted to recreate a few bits. We told Phil to fish for another instead of pretending for the camera, and an hour later arapaima number two was hooked up. Another epic one and a half hour battle was played out for the cameras with the light fading fast, but in time for some nice evening shots. Phil landed prize number two, and what a prize this one was - a fish of 350lb, making them the biggest two arapaima ever filmed, and on fly tackle to boot. Julia is bringing out these captures under a different film, and it will surely be one of the most unique fishing films ever, as a fly caught arapaima has never been recorded on national TV before, plus the size of the fish will probably never be matched at any other venue. For us it is a great feeling, being one of the few true fishing services in Thailand who created and own their own fishery. Here you only get guided by us on our own lake for our own fish, not like the many other parasites in Thailand who invest little or nothing with a limited experience of fishing, selling trips to other people’s venues at inflated prices and claiming to be guides! All venues in Thailand can be booked and fished by direct contact with the owners at cheaper rates than the Mickey Mouse so-called guiding services sell them for. All the commercial venues in Thailand have their own superior guides waiting to help you on arrival.
Both fish would have been potential world records, but no claim has been submitted, as Phil was using a 10wt rod, which is under-gunned for huge arapaima, so to save the fish undue stress we touched the line in both cases to ease the fish to the waiting cage. We would only ever claim a 100% genuine record, and if the rules are broken in any way we will not submit a claim, just the same as Thailand fishing legend Francois Helios. The other pretenders may cheat and lie, but as with Francois, we are the genuine article. We don’t need to drum up business to sting the punters - oops here I go again! The other species Phil took on the fly was a 7lb arawana that jumped out of the net while he came to get us for a photo. He also fished standard bait and wait tactics for four other species. On the night of the partying Phil was no slouch on the drinking front either - he held his ground till the wee hours when the tequila got the better of him and he met up with Hughie! Fair play to the fella though, he was back on the ball for a 7am start. For sure he could have been a true Horse and Barge man!
Other top guys to visit this month were Mike Bumpstead who came for a couple of days and caught his three target species of arapaima, red tail catfish and Siamese carp albeit in small sizes, which goes to show the divers did their job well, as Mike can come back after Christmas to beat all his previous PB’s. Nick Dean was another good angler who can’t wait to return to Gillhams, spending four nights and three and a half days fishing with us, accompanied by his charming wife Fon and his good friend Bob who doesn’t fish, but had a ball going out on various day trips and getting us some much needed footage of activities around Krabi. Nick got off to a slow start, but really fished like a machine towards the end of his trip. His final tally was 23 fish of five species. His main target was to fish Siam carp, as in four years of trying in Thailand this species had eluded him. All went to plan, and he caught 15 with two 60lb fish and a 50 in that tally. He also had five red tails, the top two being 60lb and 70lb, Target next trip a bigger carp and an arapaima to beat the 80lb one he had this trip.
Another super guy who came for three days, and stayed a week, was John Anderson from the Isle of White. John was gutted to leave, and said he could not return for 18 months only to contact us a week after leaving to book November! John had listened to all our suggestions of gear to bring, where and how to fish, and built up a swim by first plumbing the depth, finding his chosen spot, and then accurately baiting. He was rewarded with 53 fish for the week of eight species, made up of six arapaima to 200lb, 30 Siamese carp to 50lb, eight red tail catfish to 70lb, a fine Chao Phraya catfish that would have nudged the world record at 60lb-plus, black pacu, Indian Siamese, sorubim and a rare wallago leeri. Our good friend Francois Helios of fishing adventures Thailand sent the previous Americans to us this month, and also the true gent, 72 years young and still fishing, Lenny Kouba from Chicago. Lenny has caught seven different 100lb-plus freshwater species around the globe, and is still as keen as ever. Lenny was another perfect gentleman, and an extremely good fisherman. Fishing for three days and wishing he had booked more, Lenny is booking with Francois again for October 2010, this time for a week or more, saying Gillhams was the finest fishing venue he had visited. Coming from a man of Lenny’s standing that made us all very proud of what we have achieved here. I really missed Lenny and John when they left, their company was second to none - guys like these make my job so worthwhile, and in a short space of time I made two new friends. Len landed 17 fish of six species in his three days, topped by a PB arapaima of 150lb.
Last guest of the month was bought to us by another professional Thai fishing guide Neil of Fishing-Khaolak. Neil is another UK angler living and working in Thailand. He does some spectacular wild jungle river trips, and we are off on one of his adventures in June, fishing for Thai mahseer, so we are really looking forward to that one. Neil’s client was another Brit, Robert Mitchell, who came for three days, landing 19 fish of ten species. How’s this for two casts? Take one, a 110lb Siamese carp released after the pictures, and next cast a 130lb arapaima. Robert ended the session with three arapaima to 160lb, five Siamese carp to 110lb, alligator gar, Asian red tail catfish, Amazon red tail catfish, spotted featherback, mad carp, mrigal, sorubim and a wallago leeri.
That’s it from us guys, space has run out once again, and sorry if we missed you out. Watch out for next month - it’s quieter, but we have Keith ‘Made in England’ Jenkins here as I write this newsletter, so for sure there will be more news, gossip and general ramblings. Thanks for reading and supporting these newsletters. Don’t forget to book that dream trip at www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com or phone Stuart on +66861644554. Tight lines, and we hope you catch your dream, if you come here you will for sure! Till next month, goodbye and good luck from all of us here at the world’s favorite venue, Gillhams Fishing Resorts.
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