March Newsletter 2013
Hello everybody. I hope you all enjoyed Geoff’s ramblings last month, but if you didn’t don’t worry because Stuart and I are back. You haven’t escaped Geoff totally as he will be writing about some of you from March along with Jut Cole, as these are probably the only two guides at Gillhams capable of both reading and writing. We would never be so cruel as to making you read things from Chris Pache aka Mumbles, as he probably writes the way he talks. Nor would we subject you to the broken English and gypsy slang of illiterate Lee.
March has been an extremely hot month as always, leading to some very burnt guests including one lady who collapsed after sitting around the pool all day fresh from England’s Ice Age, drinking nothing but beer and no water. Talking of water levels, they are being kept up in the lake by pumping in from the river, and the new lake extension is also filling up nicely. Stuart and Benz joined ex-gardener Matt in Bangkok this month picking out and ordering trees and flowers for landscaping the new addition to Gillhams before joining the two lakes, starting on the 19th of September.
We would like to thank everybody who came to see us at the fishing shows through January and February, and we look forward to seeing everybody that booked holidays with us. Also a special thank you goes to all our friends who helped us at shows in England and Holland. Anybody who’s looking at booking for this year or next please don’t wait too long as spaces are filling up quickly.
We often have students and graduates looking for work experience, and this month saw the arrival of Nathan Brotherton, a 21-year-old degree student from the well-known Sparsholt College. Nathan hails from Stoke, which initially presented a bit of a communication issue for the mostly southern contingent of staff at Gillhams. He's been here for nearly a month as I write this, and we're just starting to wean him off his northern colloquialisms. Nathan came well prepared and was equally well equipped to jump straight in at the deep end, netting fish and helping on the arapaima cages from day one. He's a confident and very likeable guy with a good knowledge, despite having clearly been told a few unusual tales whilst fishing or at college.
The first insight into Nathan's life came on his first night. After showering, I could hear him first blow drying then straightening his Justin Bieber style locks. The whole sordid process must have taken him close to an hour. Sadly this daily post work routine has continued throughout his stay, and threats to shave it all off or give him a redneck style mullet haven't altered this daily grooming regime. Once he'd settled in we started to get view of what goes on in his head when not obsessing over his hair. This came early one morning whilst enquiring as to the type of beaches we have here in Krabi. Our answer of course was, “White sandy beaches.” He responded in an authoritative tone that this was due to parrot fish eating coral and pooping it back out into the sea! There obviously must have been billions of parrot fish around here at one time, as there's an awful lot of sandy white beaches near here. We also found out that Nathan can be quite a sociable young man, and being forced to have just one place to sleep wasn't quite good enough for him. One of the guests came to tell me one morning that a longhaired vagrant had crept into the room behind theirs late at night and was still asleep in their bungalow. After discovering a pair of children's trainers carefully placed at the front of the nearest swim, he won't mind me saying he's like a real person but in miniature. As well as clothes all up the stairs, I found an unconscious Nathan wearing just his pants and a cheesy grin asleep, blissfully unaware of his mistake. To add insult to injury, he insisted on asking the couple whose room he'd been sleeping in what they'd caught before I could drag him off to his own bed. Still despite his indecipherable accent and Justin Bieberesque hairdo, I think I can speak for everyone here in saying he's been an absolute pleasure to work with, and that he would be welcome back at Gillhams any time. His is definitely a name to look out for, both as an angler and a fisheries specialist of the future, and we wish him the very best of luck as he thinks about heading back to England to complete his degree.
Last month’s newsletter written by Geoff had a gripe section that was done by the guides, so I think that this month it’s only fair that the gripe section is about them – things that not only piss Stuart and me off about the guides but also what pisses the customers and the guides them selves off about each other. No names will be mentioned, as they will all know who each gripe is about. First off is the newsletter… We know how many of you like reading our monthly ramblings through the amount of response we get after sending notifications out. We receive lots of emails about fish that have been missed out of people’s write-ups, and we also get emails from people saying that they have seen their pictures in the newsletter but no write-up. This is purely down to the guides not being capable of filling in simple catch reports or giving us information about the customers that they spend thirteen hours a day with on the bank. We get catch reports with only first names of the customers, but no dates, room numbers or surnames, which can sometimes be sorted out, but when you have several customers a month with the same name this isn’t easy (please make sure your guides fill in all catches and info, as they are not capable).
One thing that not only pisses me off but also pisses other guides off is that work starts at six in the morning, getting swims set up and bait put out so everything is ready for anglers to start at seven, but certain guides don’t get out of bed and put extra work on all the others. When you know you’ve got work in the morning, why stay up all night watching movies or pulling your plonker, and when you’re out on the town, rather than having 35 shots of sambucas, why not cut it down and save the messy nights for your days off?
We also hear some very strange stories about fish behaviour or methods to catch some of the rarer species from anglers that have been talking to their guides. If you’re not sure, don’t make up bollocks and lie – come and ask us. All you are doing is making yourselves look stupid and the fishery look unprofessional when the customer talks to us or reads up on things on the website or the internet. We get a lot of lines breaking that are normally down to drags tightening up in the heat, and we understand that many people don’t understand about this problem, but what we don’t understand is why hasn’t your guide warned you about this? They all know and it’s costing customers fish and putting the lives of fish at stake by trawling lots of line and rigs around.
Also a certain old guide is constantly sleeping in swims and on balcones (along with others) and spending long amounts of time at the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and any other time wasting reason he can find, while leaving the other guides to do all the work. This isn’t about slagging the guides off. I am writing this newsletter in an air-conditioned office while our guides are on the lake when the thermometer is hitting 100F. They do this day in, day out for 14 hours every day and do a fantastic job catching the customers their dream fish. Not a day goes by when we don’t receive emails from satisfied customers on how the guides have made their holidays, and we welcome those of you who find the time to give us feedback on your holiday so that we can continue to improve and sustain our belief that Gillhams Fishing Resort is the best freshwater fishery in the world. All we want is the guides and the customers to be more aware of certain things that could be improved on, plus a bit of gripe payback for you guys that got a grilling from them last month.
This month we have also introduced life jackets for any angler that has to follow a big fish in the water. Laws are changing in Thailand, and now anglers are not responsible for their own actions – we are. If any customer has to follow a fish down the lake they will have to put a life jacket on or pass the rod to one of our guides to follow the fish. Anything can happen when you’re playing a big fish; an item of clothing could get caught in the reel and the fish could drag you under the water, or you could get out of your depth and into difficulties and drown etc. We as the owners would go to prison if anything happened, and above all we want everyone to enjoy themselves and have a safe and fun fishing experience while here.
We also have our first wedding booked here at Gillhams with our good friends Rob and Martine from Croker Island in Darwin. We first met Rob and Martine when we were invited to their fishing lodge four years ago, and since then they come over to see us every year, and we also visit them once a year. We are very happy that they have not only chosen our resort for the wedding, but also that they actually trust us to put the whole thing together for them. From everybody here at Gillhams, we look forward to the big event next year.
So, on to the fishing in Krabi here at Gillhams Fishing Resorts: the total catches for people fishing this month were 619 fish of 26 species, made up as follows: 54 arapaima to 380lb, five arawana to 9lb, seven alligator gar to 70lb, 151 Amazon redtail catfish to 87lb, eleven Amazon stingray to 32lb, 91 Asian redtail catfish to 42lb, sixteen black pacu to 40lb, three big head carp to 18lb, four Chao Phraya catfish to 100lb, two gourami to 5lb, one giant stingray to 110lb, three giant featherbacks to 8lb, 16 Julian’s carp to 40lb, 88 Mekong catfish to 210lb, one mrigal to 10lb, five ripsaw catfish to 32lb, one rohu to 11lb, eight spotted featherback to 10lb, one striped catfish of 20lb, 125 Siamese carp to 110lb, two shovel nosed spotted sorubim to 25lb, four shovel nosed tiger catfish to 10lb, three tambaqui to 25lb, nine wallago attu to 34lb, six wallago leeri to 15lb and two zungaro to 18lb.
Luciano Mazzanti, an Italian now living in Sweden, came on a day ticket this month. Luciano normally fishes for trout and salmon back in Sweden, and he is making a living now selling his own lures. He spent a fishless day until the late afternoon when he hooked into a huge Mekong. The fish went on a massive run, heading for the end of the lake, and was one of those fish where you are glad that the lake has sides, as this one wasn't stopping and was heading for Bangkok. Three times Luciano had to enter the water to follow the fish, and since Gillhams now operates a strict new safety policy that anyone entering the water is given a buoyancy aid, it was off and on with the buoyancy aid as Luciano fought the fish for nearly four hours. Finally, after an exhausting battle, the Mekong came into the net, but with one last bid for freedom the fish surged on another run, taking the net and the guide with it, and at that point, sadly for Luciano, the line parted and the fish was lost. The fish only surfaced once, and it was estimated to be at least 7ft in length, but as we were unable to see its girth it was impossible to estimate its weight, but this was a big fish. Luciano was truly a broken man and close to tears, but like he said, "To have fought and lost is better than not to have fought at all." Unlucky, Luciano – maybe next time!
Dave and Sandy Bartlett visited Gillhams back in November on a day ticket when Dave sat through the whole day, unfortunately not landing anything. They must have seen something they liked, as they were back again this month determined to put things right. Maybe many people think that Gillhams is just a fishing resort frequented by anglers of all shapes and sizes, but this couple had a great holiday because they both did what they wanted to do. Dave fished his head off all day and Sandy never got off the sunbed by the pool. Many customers come through Gillhams, but Dave will be remembered as the tattooed man, and Sandy as his wife wearing a straw cowboy hat and looking like Elle McPherson. But they both enjoyed their holiday in different ways, which just goes to prove that Gillhams is not just for anglers, so c’mon lads, bring your missus along! All Dave's dreams came true as he caught Mekong to 150lb and Siamese carp to 80lb, having a very red letter day when he caught 14 Amazon redtail to 80lb. Unfortunately the one fish he wanted, the arapaima, eluded him. When it came time to leave, they were one of the couples about whom we all thought, "They will definitely be back."
Dave and Sandy left to spend the rest of their holiday in a hotel in Ao Nang, and sure enough no more than two days later the expected phone call came. Both Dave and Sandy like to smoke the odd cigarette or two, and this unlucky couple must have found the only hotel in all of Thailand that doesn't allow smoking – not even on their own private balcony, so a quick phone call to Stuart and hey presto, Dave and Sandy returned for more fishing and even more sunbathing. To top it all off Dave finally got what he wanted, landing a huge arapaima of 260lb. Unfortunately Dave came back to earth when he got home as some "pikey bas…ard" as he put it, stole the catalytic converter off his van. Great to be back home eh, Dave?
Terry and Lynda Eagan visited us from Warrington for three days’ fishing on their way back from their holiday in Cambodia. Terry is a long-time friend and ex work colleague of one of our guides, Geoff. Geoff tells us that Terry was the very first person he ever went fishing with some 25 years ago. So in reality it's Terry's fault that we ended up with Geoff as a fishing guide... Thanks a million, Terry. What you did was unforgivable, and you have a lot to answer for!
Terry normally fishes for chub and barbel on the River Ribble in Lancashire, and Geoff tells us how he had a smug smile on his face when watching Terry fight his first Mekong, when after 45 minutes Terry was thinking the fish was ready to be netted, only for it to disappear out of view to the other side of the lake on its next run! A further hour passed before the Mekong of graced his net, and Terry sat down dripping in sweat and absolutely cream crackered! He followed that up with Siamese carp of 70lb and 88lb. On his last day Terry fished for our arapaima in the famous G3 swim, and within the first hour before the sun had risen in the sky, an arapaima had fallen to Terry's pellet rig. As if that wasn't enough, he hooked into another monster fish of over 250lb that leapt clear of the water many times and tried to beach itself on the marginal plants before finally shedding the hook. Terry said that the last time he saw something that jumped like that was when playing a 3lb brown trout from the River Bann in Northern Ireland – it's just that this fish was 243lb heavier!
Those who know swim G3 will know that Stuart has placed a line across the lake to prevent clients casting into the bay. Many clients do try and get an underarm cast down the lake and get caught in the line, which usually means the guide untangling it for them. Terry now has the unfortunate name for being the first angler to try and cast under the rope in the hours of darkness, put his rod in the rest, buzzer and swinger on and then sit back and wait. You can imagine Geoff’s face when Terry blew his whistle and he saw Terry’s line going skywards, as Terry had cast over the rope and was now playing an angry Amazon redtail at a very acute angle. Luckily for Terry, the fish came into the side and was unhooked safely... Don't think it would be that easy with a 300lb arapaima! Terry also finished up with Amazon Redtail to 65lb and a 12lb wallago attu.
Property developer Andre Kelbrick , his wife Maria and their two sons Andre Jr. and Dion came to Gillhams for first time this month. It was quite clear from the very beginning that there was a bit of rivalry between the two lads, with Andre a seasoned angler and Dion just trying his luck. well you can guess it can't you? Andre Jnr would be sat in his swim at 7am on the dot, keen as mustard, prebaiting and Spombing his swim and Dion would saunter down when he woke up, whatever time that was. Although Andre had fed his swim and fished like hell, Dion would just throw a single bait in and the fishing gods would smile on him and he would catch a fish. He caught all his target species with the exception of an arapaima, and at one point you could see Andre Jr. getting a little despondent, but whereas Dion caught more fish, when it came down to the weight of fish, Andre Jr. was the winner, landing two arapaima of 180lb and 200lb. The two boys, out of respect for my age, I think, affectionately called me Uncle Geoff, and it would tickle me as most mornings they would say, "Uncle Geoff, we would like to catch a giant stingray today!" If only it was that simple, bearing in mind the number of stingray in the lake. I used to reply, “And what time do you want to catch the stingray, and what weight would you like it to be?" as if I had a magic wand! Dad, Andre Sr. wasn't to be outdone, as he also bagged a few himself. Both the boys – Andre 16, and Dion 14 were a pleasure to guide, and the family have already booked for next year. It will be a pleasure to see you all again.
Bob Cousins came to stay for a month this year on his first visit to Gillhams. Bob was called 'the cowboy' because for the duration of his stay his cowboy hat never left his head, and underneath his hat would flow his golden... sorry, grey… hair, and he really does look like a cross between Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Catweazle for you older readers of the newsletter. Now here is a laid back man; so laid back he should have a caster fitted to the back of his head. Now living in France, I think he brought the French way of life with him because for the first two weeks Bob never arrived at his swim until late morning, slowly sauntering up whenever the mood took him. We all said he was either having a lie in or using young Nathan's GHDs hair straighteners to do his hair.
Bob is a long time friend of Stuart from when they used to go fishing in France many years ago. He told me a story of Stuart going away and giving Bob £10000 to refit his bathroom and kitchen, asking him to get it finished for when he got back from his trip. You all know Stuart, and he isn't the kind of man when he asks you to do a job that you can make excuses if the job isn't finished on time. Poor Bob must have underestimated the time it would take him and managed to get the bathroom completed, but as time passed and it got nearer and nearer to Stuart’s return, the kitchen was, shall we say, behind schedule! Bob ended up working 14 hours a day but still couldn't finish in time, so being the crafty old fox that he is, he got Becca to ring her dad to give him the bad news, and to add salt to the wound, told Becca to tell her dad that he will have to book into an hotel. You can imagine the phone call... “Dad, the good news is you will be able to have a nice hot bath when you get home, but the bad news is you will be on takeaways for another week!” Like I say, if you know Stuart you can guess his response! It can't have been that bad, because they are still good friends after all these years.
The first few days Bob just couldn’t get on the fish, and with other anglers catching around him, he made a couple of swim changes until he started getting some action. All ended well for Bob after finishing his trip on 29 fish of seven species, and also catching some of his biggest fish to date. Bob’s best catches were arapaima to 240lb, Siamese carp to 90lb, Mekong catfish to 140lb and three Julian golden carp to 37lb.
Gary and Fran Hipple came this month. Gary is a caretaker and handyman for a group of council houses and his wife Fran is an IT consultant. They have been married for 34 years and are easy recognizable as a couple who had been together for such a long time, as not one of them said a word to each other throughout dinner every night! I did ask Gary what was the secret to his happy marriage, and he told me that he and Fran go to their favourite restaurant twice a week and have done for all their married life... Gary goes on Tuesdays and Fran goes on Thursdays! Gary started his holiday with an angry 45lb alligator gar that ripped the net to pieces.
Now since he’s a big strapping lad from down south, you would be surprised to hear that Gary was afraid of the mosquitoes that come out to play in the evening time, so much so that Gary took to wearing a pair of what can only be described as camouflage pajama bottoms. However Gary preferred them to be called "lounge pants". Lounge pants? Don't make me laugh! He followed that up the next day when he turned up in the most putrid green T-shirt you are ever likely to see; it was horrible and looked like it was radioactive. You know the colour; like what you sneeze into your handkerchief when you have a cold. Gary had obviously not heard about blending into the background, and he blamed it on Fran, as any good husband would. Gary went on to catch 41 fish of eight species including arapaima to 175lb, Mekong catfish to 160lb, Siamese carp to 90lb and a ripsaw catfish of 32lb.
Sigi and Graz last came to Gillhams in November with their wives, and somehow managed to sneak in another visit this month with their friend Eddie. Sigi and Graz are brothers, originally from Lithuania, but now living in London with Sigi being the manager of a nightclub and Graz looking after the security side of things. Graz, the younger of the two, is built like the proverbial brick shithouse, and if he says it’s Christmas then you start singing carols, if you know what I mean. He had a really muscular body that got Lee the guide drooling… but we won’t go there! Anyway, the first fish that Sigi caught was a Mekong, but as big as he was, he played it like a real wuss. I can say that because he's in London and I'm miles away in Thailand! The 6lb test curve rod was hardly bent over, so of course it took him hours and hours to land. After a bit of tuition, he, Graz and Eddie played their fish really hard and managed to land other Mekongs in a much shorter time.
The one thing I will remember about this group was that if one of them had a fish on, the other two would leave their rods in the water and come and see. Fish welfare at Gillhams is paramount, and anyone who has been here will know what good condition the fish are in, so to see someone leave their rods unattended, in our minds, is inexcusable. So when Sigi left his swim to go to the toilet, I thought enough is enough and decided to speak to them as only someone from up north can do. So there I was, 53, unfit and 5ft 8ins in my stocking feet looking up at these two man mountains both 6ft 5ins and reading them the riot act! When I had finished, I thought, any minute now they are going to pick me up turn me upside down and stuff my head in the fish bucket... Their response? “Sorry Geoff; it won't happen again," and then gave me an expensive bottle of rum that they had bought for my birthday, which sums up these guys from Lithuania. They were really good fun to be around, and I know they have already booked for next year, so see you soon, lads!
Their tally of fish while they stayed was a total of 35 fish of seven species, including ten arapaima to 180lb and seven Mekong catfish to 160lb with other species such as wallago leeri, tiger shovel nose and Amazon redtail catfish to name a few.
Brendan and his wife Karen came to Gillhams to sample the exotic fishing in Thailand. Brendan, a lovely man from the Emerald Isle, was used to fishing the canals back home catching roach and perch. He spent the first three or four days of his holiday watching other anglers catching monster fish, and by the look on his face I think Brendan was wondering if he could handle the power of some of these fish. Finally Brendan decided he would split his holiday up by fishing half days; some in the morning and some in the evening, so when his first session finally arrived we thought we would break him in gently, but his first fish was a 300lb-plus arapaima! After he caught the fish and sat down in his chair to recover, I distinctly remember saying to Brendan, “Don't forget the sun cream; you will still catch the sun under the umbrella,” to which Brendan replied in his characteristic Irish tone, "Oh, don't worry yourself, I very rarely catch the sun." Fast forward to some four hours later and there is Brendan looking like he had just come out of the oven on gas mark 4. He was as red as a Man Utd shirt and spent the rest of his holiday peeling like a leper! Brendan tells me he will always remember the word I said to him when he got sunburn, but as this is a family newsletter it cannot be reprinted!
Brendan and Karen became firm friends with everyone on the resort, constantly walking around the lake talking to everyone, and always with a smile on their faces. It was a pleasure to have them around, but we are pretty certain it won't be the last time we see them, and hopefully Brendan will bring some sun cream with him next time!
This month saw the return of another regular, Koen Verelest. When he's not fishing you can usually find him demonstrating some of his dancing skills, beer in hand, in one of Ao Nang's bars. Koen enjoys his holidays to the full, and the look on his face when it comes time to leave says all you need to know about how much he enjoys his time here. We had a great time on the bank as well, with easily the most memorable capture involving Nathan Brotherton who was guiding for Koen at the time. Nathan had landed all manner of fish while he was here, but had yet to guide an arapaima into the cage. Koen, in his usual generous fashion, suggested that Nathan land the next arapaima that he hooked. This chance wasn't long in coming, as after a scrappy battle down the marginal hyacinths, a large arapaima surfaced attached to Koen's rod. With both Geoff and Jut in the water, Nathan took hold of the line and under instruction began feeding up the line to bring the fish to the surface. Now Nathan isn't the tallest guide on the block, and the look of concentration and trepidation on his face was priceless as he lifted the prized specimen up in the water. All eyes were on him, and even a watching Simmo was for once silent. “It's not moving much,” he says, “are you sure it's an arapaima and not a stingray?” “Reach down for it carefully, Nathan. They can really move when they want to.” Then with all the weight of expectation on him, and words ringing in his ears, it hit the surface – bang – a two-kilo rock, a new PB, and the fish is long gone! You couldn't hear anything over the laughing of Simmo, Koen and the guides. It's another great memory, and in typical Koen fashion, it’s all on video, and we’re pretty sure it'll make its way onto Facebook soon too.
Last up this month is regular Gillhams angler and friend, none other than sir Terry Eustace, owner of Gold Label Tackle. Terry’s main target this trip was to beat his personal best Siamese carp of 95lb, which has now stood for many trips. After a shaky start due to being ill on arrival, Terry soon got off to a good start by landing carp from 70lb to 90lb. After a few fish getting away and landing other species including an arapaima of 260lb, Terry finally thought he might have his dream Siamese carp. After a long battle Terry finally got the fish to the net only to find out he hadn’t beaten his personal best; he just matched it with another Siamese of 95lb, so he’ll have to make yet another trip here later in the year.
Unfortunately that’s all the exotic fishing Thailand has to offer this month. Bookings for 2013/14 are going through the roof, so if you wish to book your fishing in Thailand with us we recommend booking ASAP to avoid disappointment. Contact Gillhams Fishing Resorts by emailing email@example.com or phone Stuart on +66 (0) 861644554.
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Best wishes from us all at Gillhams, and we hope to see you all in the near future.
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