Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kata Reef Dive Saturday 29th

Exceptionally pleasant dive on the Kata reef today....masses of different species to see, excellent visibility to pick out the smaller creatures and the camouflage experts. This year there's many Feathertail Stingray along the sandy fringes of the reef.....must have spotted over 30 yesterday.
                                                              Varicose Wart Slug
I don't know what this is...the nearest I can find in the book is the double-ended pipehorse...well, come on you experts....let me know your opinion!
                                                        Ambon scorpionfish....I think!
                                                       A gurt shoal of damsel fish
                                                            Feathertail Stingray
Giant Puffer Fish
 From Patong to Kata Beach, covering 24 kilometers, the Thai's are putting concrete structures into the sea to create articifial reefs and encourage new corals and fish life back to the inshore areas. Massive damage was done to the seabed by the Tsunami back in 2004 and constant overfishing has successfully annihilated the inshore fishing. There are lots of colourful fish to see when diving but they are small....and a population of small fish is the best indicator of severe overfishing.
                                              Cuttlefish hiding in the sand...not easy to spot!

With a maximum depth of only 12 metres and great viz, everyone can manage a good hour underwater on a single 12 Ltr it's certainly a rewarding experience. Congratulations to Mr Jeff Whittard this month having completed his AOW and Nitrox PADI Certificates. Jeff's already booked a 5 week stay in Feb 2014 when we intend to visit the Similan Islands for some spectacular Liveaboard Diving.

In January we have several guests arriving who are keen it's gonna be another great month here in The Land of Smiles.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Xmas Dinner and Carp

Phuket Fishing Park Carp

Ahhh...the frustrations of lake fishing when your knowledge is severely limited. We were given a right lesson in fishing a couple of days ago. Conditions were perfect and the fish were going mad with loads coming to the nets from every swim....except ours. Just shows how much there is to know about angling......I'm spending the next day at the lake with the local Thai guides and paying them to teach me so I can try and improve the catch rate of you guys coming here. It's a great little lake; some real quality fish....but sometimes there's just that bit of attention to some detail I am not seeing which can make all the difference to the catch rate.

 We did get a couple of fish....and they were nice carp so that was good. I need some of you freshwater boys here to show me how to improve!!

Anyhow, enough of 'fish, fish, fish'. Our International Lothario, Keith, was with us over Xmas and turned up with a particularly lively hot Thai Tottie. Here she is bringing our hardworking Xmas Dinner host, Malcome, a brief interlude of friskiness before he had to return to stirring the sprouts.
 Malcome and Carol have lived at Phuket Private Lagoon for a few years now and delight in giving us all a traditional Xmas dinner which starts at 1300 and finishes when we all collapse into the swimming pool about 12 hours you can see, there's no expense's some of Santa's (Malcome's) helpers arriving to keep the drinks flowing as we were unable to stagger to the fridge by this stage. Saucy Little Minxes they were too!! (Sorry, Gary, no Lady Boys to show you yet).
 Yeah, I know the photo's are out of order....but this is when we were sane and waiting for the starters to arrive. We have on the left Steve and Janey Thorne; in the blue corner is Malaka (Lothario Keith's latest), then Keith and then Pook. Pook is Jeff's Thai stepdaughter through his marriage to Om. Om hates sprouts so decided to stay 'Up North' with her Thai family and enjoy Catfish Pie rather than turkey. Meanwhile Pook has become addicted to English food and chose to celebrate with us lot. (Funny old world, eh?). And then there's Jeff. I'm pleased to say that Jeff and Crusty got on extremely well together and were considering an official Blood Brother Ceremony before Jeff left...

(Yep, me and The Jai were there....I was taking the photo and Jai was behind me telling me how it should be done...)

And here, after 103 years together, is how a good English couple show what true togetherness is. As you can see, they are completey on their own as all the other guests were off chasing the Saucy Little Minxes.

Bit of a jumble this Blog....we have been without Internet for 7 days....not good. However, all is now OK and I will keep things updated.

One thing I need to stress though is that it is REALLY important for you to consider your transport options for when you come here. The idea of my place for your  holiday is that it gets you away from the hotel are here to have your own adventure. Yes, I am here to make things run smoothly but it was never the idea for me to drive people around all day and every day.

Thailand drives on the same side of the road as us. Yes, the driving is nuts but the Brits ARE the best at handling it. Imagine how hard it is for our European cousins to cope with the insanity and to be driving on the opposite side that they are used to. The secret here is to just take it easy. Don't get wound up.....use your driving experience to anticipate the IS ok. Go and have your own adventure!!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gillhams Fishing Resort. Part 3. The Fish!!

The Fish!
Meet Mark Simmonds...who quite a few of you know as a regular south coast charter boat angler . Mark had enjoyed giving me plenty of stick whilst I was playing my gurt monster an hour or so before. Unfortunately for Mark, I'd decided to go and get a few photo's for this blog...just as he hit into a big Mekong Catfish. You will see, in this photo, what a relaxed and composed gentleman he is...and how happy he was that I'd arrived...ready with my own stream of abuse and technical tips!!
 Now Mark, unable to control his miserable tiddler with the same panache as I clearly possess, allowed his fish to control him. This meant that it shot off down the lake and around the corner giving Mark no choice but to jump in after it....and be towed along.
 This may seem like great fun but after some time it gets to be a bit knackering...'s Mark gasping for breath at the side of the lake with his rod still buckled. At this point he was refusing to look at me and kept saying bad words.
 I could include the whole photographic sequence depicting the downfall of a proud man into a quivering wreck...but I have decided to be kind and jump to the final picture where our brave adventurer has finally tamed his catfish after another 90 minutes of pleasure filled pain...this one was given as about 150lb...pathetic in comparison to mine. Well Done, Mark!
 And now to introduce Glock...the Thai guide. Glock is just great...with a fantastic temperament. If you think it's funny listening to Jai get excited and issuing instructions when your monster bass or playful bream gets to the surface...then you should hear Glock. The Gillhams have got a definite cockney twang to their accents (yeah, yeah...they'll deny this of course) and Glock has picked it up...well, sort of. In fact, he doesn't say many real words...they are often really funny noises but you can recognise them...and they are like Jai's. Hilarious....''yepyouturneditnow. Giveitsomestickyan blingitthiswaynow. Go on. Stopmuckinabout..getitin''.  (Thais don't use punctuation by the way)
 Here's Glock guiding the tired fish gently into the landing net....
 The fish is allowed to recover before any attempts at photography are made. This one (again in the 200lb region) was caught by Ron Biss. Ron caught four of these before lunch on our first day!! The difference in the catch rate between the experienced men of the lake and ourselves (3 silly old sea fishermen) was pretty dramatic and we clearly have a lot to learn...well, I do in particular because I want any of you who come to catch more than me, Jeff and Spike did. Saying that, bearing in mind we'd never done anything like this before...we can truly claim to  having caught some monster fish that we'd only ever expected to see in pictures.
 Not all the fish are monsters. There are 48 species in the lake with at least 7 of the species having reached over 100lb. There are two types of stingray in the lake....we actually hooked up 3 times on rays but we just couldn't moved them. One the guides dived down and physically lifted another angler's ray off the bottom so he did manage to get it in...weighing about 100lb. Anyhow, here's Spike with a smaller type species of catfish...I dunno what it's doubt you all will.
 And here's Spike with a Siamese Carp estimated at 65lb. We several carp to 100lb landed by different anglers.
 And here's me with that 200lb catfish again. I actually caught two of the rascals.
Highlight of our trip has to go to Jeff Whittard from Bristol. Fishing started every day at 7am and finished at 2000. Jeff persevered right to the end each day and was rewarded with several Arapima plus various catfish and carp. This was his smaller Arapima...we're waiting for the photo's of the bigger one to come from Singapore from another angler who had some much better camera gear than we had....soon as it comes I'll get it onto the blog.

You will notice that the fish are kept in the water for the photo...they are simply too heavy to lift out and would die from without the support from the water. Jeff has two guides in the water with him (Jeff's in the middle) to gently ease the Arapima into position...they are big and powerful...they have to be kept calm for the photo..if stressed and determined to take off they can cause an awful lot of damage to those holding it!

So, there we go...our first and highly memorable trip to Gillhams...what a place! What an experience! What fish! Thanks to all the staff and Gillhams for providing such an amazing angling experience and to Stuart himself for creating such an amazing venue for us all to enjoy.

There's loads of info on the Gillhams Fishing Resort website...take the time to read it!

Gillhams Fishing Resort. Part 2...The Tackle.

Now you rascals all know that my knowledge of freshwater fishing is in its infancy so the information here is open to scorn and mockery by you more knowledgeable chaps. The tackle I am describing here is the tackle provided by Stuart Gillham but he is happy to allow competent anglers to bring their own. However, it's important to read the website carefully as there is a wealth of information contained within it....especially about tackle. If you bring your own gear, then it has to be within the framework Stuart provides on the website. These are big, powerful fish and the highest priority is given over to their care. Knowing that a big fish has just run off and smashed inappropriate tackle to pieces and is now dragging it around is not what is wanted. A great deal of respect is given to these fish and they way they are handled is a shining example as to how highly they are regarded.
 The main reels being used are Shimano B Baitrunners with the slow oscilation drag system. The reels take a great deal of stick during a fight (mine lasted for nearly 90 minutes with a 200lb mekong catfish) so they must be powerful bits of kit. The spools are loaded with 36lb mono to a running 80lb braid leger.
 Each angler is provided with two rods as part of the 'package'. You can fish with an extra rod but it will cost a bit more. The rods, Free Spirit Cat Tamer 'S' Sport Custom built rods with 6lb-8lb test curves,  are set up on these rack sytems...
... with the lines running through alarm systems that I am sure you carp anglers out there will know all about!
 This is the basic running leger rig. The mainline ahead of the leger is covered in plastic for a foot or so to protect the fish's body during a fight. You'll notice the 'hair rig' which will have a couple of the larger bait pellets  (see photo below)presented below the hook.

You can also purchase disolvable PVA bags as shown above to attach to the hook for groundbaiting purposes. The current favoured PVC bags are in the SOUDZ system and are the L size 85 x 110mm with 20 in a bag. A day's fishing would expect to use 30 PVC bags on the two rods plus a regular supply of ground bait catapulted out into the swim. It is recommended that you bring along your own large boilie catapult. Now at this stage, if you are still reading, I need to remind you that I don't actually know what I'm talking about. This is information I was gleaning off any of the anglers kind enough to explain what was going on and for this I am indebted to Mr Ron Buss from Surrey and Mark Simmonds from Southampton. Ron is a very highly rated carp angler and can be looked up via Google as a recognised top man in his area of expertise. Mark has fished with Ron for many years and was eager to point out that what he knew came mainly from Ron. As often happens in our world of angling, Mark knew many of the anglers who fish with me from the Southampton area...and I was very impresed when he addressed me with 'Buggar me, it's 'All Weather Whittall'. Ha ha...

Both these anglers were trying corn baits (shown above) and advised the very keen anglers out there amongst you to bring a few items with you....such as a baiting needle, plastic dumbells to keep the artificial sweet corn on the hairrig, the PVC bags and a nut drill (plus your catapult). this point I will stop on the technical stuff. Those of you out there who do this sort of fishing will know what I'm going on about and will know how to fill in the gaps to what I am trying to say. Those of you who haven't got a't're just like me Jeff and Spike. Everything will be provided for you and you will be guided as you go along by top level, committed European guides. Believe me when I tell you that Stuart and his team have thought of everything and will have the answers to your questions before you even know what your question is.

Remember to read the website if you intend to bring your own tackle.....

Gillhams Fishing Resort....Scenery and Accommodation.

Gillhams Fishing Resort, Krabi.
Part One....the Scenery!
This winter season we are aiming to increase our freshwater fishing efforts. Three of us have just returned from our first visit to Gillhams Fishing Resort in Krabi which is a 2 hour gentle boat trip away from Chalong where I am based. 
 The first thing that smashes into your mind is the scenery. This is when adjectives such as 'amazing', incredible' or 'stunning' are just mere gibberish. This place is something very special...I cannot see how Stuart Gillham (or anyone else for that matter) could have chosen a more spectacular setting and to have had the vision and range of skills to have created what can only be described as an anglers' paradise takes a very special person indeed. I know how hard it is to do the simplest transaction here in sunny to pull off something as amazing as this must have demanded every ounce of patience, perseverance, diplomacy and unswerving belief that anyone could possible call upon within their own character. This really is an amazing achievement and one that Stuart and all those involved in it can be justifiably proud.
 There's a good sized pool set above the fishing lake and just behind the accommodatiuon bungalows. My photographs cannot do this place justice in terms of its surroundings...but to just stay in pool and look at what's all around you would be a good holiday in itself!
 The bungalows are all immaculate and are set up in such a way as to give a degree of flexibility to the required booking. There's one bedroom with a large double bed and a second bedroom with two single beds. Each room has fridge and A/C etc with shared W/C facilities. If, for example, just one room were to be required, then the second room can be isloated and the charge made for the area rented as opposed to the whole bungalow. With three of us, we took the whole bungalow for our use.
The bungalows have their own verandas looking out onto the surrounding Karst formations and dense greenery. The gardens surrounding the bungalows and lake are kept immaculate by the Thai staff...fabulous.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kata Revisited

Sunday...and our first visit to Kata in Phuket. Today we are diving with Jeff Whittard from Bristol and  sparkling new starlet, Robyn from Weymouth. Robyn has been with us for a few days and is moving on to the famous Phi Phi Island on Tuesday and aiming to take her diving up to Dive Master level.

Treated myself to a nice new camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4) and Underwater Housing ((Panasonic DMW-MCFT3)for this season. Amazing how much they improve...this one is capable of 14 million pixels or something wierd like that. First attempts show the photos to be much clearer than last season's camera.

Excellent conditions; calm sea, sunny and 30 degrees at 10 metres. Lots of things to look at...including this Boxer Shrimp that had ambushed a small fish and was busy dragging it into its burrow.

This fan anenomes always make a good photo.


Highlight of today's dive was successfully searching out a whole shoal of blue spotted stingray....must have been 30 rays in a condensed area of sandy seabed....very impressive sight. That's the most I've seen in one go.


And what shore dive is complete without spotting a scorpion fish lurking under the rocks.

And lots of little fish of many different species........
We aim to do another shore dive tomorrow before Robyn heads off and Jeff, Spike and I head to Krabi for our fishing at Gillhams.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Phuket Fishing. First trip Dec 2012

Our first trip to Phuket Fishing Park this winter was a great success with plenty of fish caught.
 Here's Jeff Whittard with the first pirhana...

...and Spike with a nicely conditioned carp.

Spike soon discovered the best position to adopt when playing these fish.
And here he is with his first pirhana.

Whittard bought this fine catfish to the net....amazing how similar they look.

Even I had a couple of there were plenty taking the baits yesterday.

And a cracking Siamese Carp for Jeff.....

...followed by a little catfish for Spike.

I'm please to say we lost count of the amount we caught....lots of action to welcome us back.

This was our 'warm up' for next week when we go to the famous Gillhams Fishery in that IS going to be a great trip.

Test Run...Whittard and the Trees

Our first visit for this season's 2012/2013 winter fishing at Phuket Fishing Park....Whittard's first cast....straight into the trees. Great to se that we're carrying on where we left off in March this year.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Day at Phuket Fishing Lake

Time is running out for was our last chance this 'season' to go fishing at the Phuket Lake. Japanese Ladies' Freediving record holder, Ai Futaki and EFSA President Horst Sneider were my prestigeous angling partners today!!!

Here's Ai.....just waiting for that first bite.

We had a pretty busy day. It wasn't long before Horst was into a nice Siamese Carp....

.....followed by one of these lunatic fruit eating pirhana fish which are definitely on steroids. These fish are mad and go racing up and down the lake....excellent action.

Here's Ai into her first fish with Horst acting as netsman...

Ai's fish was a red tailed catfish.....beautiful looking creature!

Old git Whittall actually caught a few fish today....5 I think!! Here's one of the catfish.

When yapping to the new lake owner, an Australian called Chris, and not paying rod was dragged into the lake by a fish. Chris dived in after it and caught the rod butt before it was dragged under....and then proceeded to play the fish whilst swimming back to the shore. Very impressive technique.....he's gonna go far, this lad!!

So, that's it for this more lake fishing for me....but it was a great day's fishing to end on. Ai retired after 3 fish, the red-tailed catfish, a pirhana and a carp. Horst had 5 fish with 3 of them being carp and I had 13 fish with most of them well into double figures and several over 20lb. We've had some terrific fishing this year.....Thank you, Phuket!!