Gary Newman lands his 15th 50lb-plus freshwater species

Korda’s TV production manager, Gary Newman, fancied a bit of sun over Xmas and the New Year, so he paid a visit to Gillhams Fishing Resorts, in Thailand, and ended up banking his fifteenth different freshwater species over 50lb.

Siamese carp were Gary’s main target, but whilst fishing for them he also managed to pick up a few other species, including his first ever big head carp, which weighed in at 53lb 12oz, and a huge Mekong catfish which owner Stuart Gillham estimated to be in excess of 250lb.

Gary explained: “I’ve been friends with Stuart and his son Sean for years, so it is always nice to catch up with them, and enjoy some fishing whilst I am there. I first visited this fishery soon after it opened, over a decade ago, and it is amazing to see how it has changed over the years, and how Stuart has developed it into the upmarket resort that it is today – plus the fish have really piled on the weight during that time!

“I mainly target the Siamese carp as I’ve caught many of the other species – including all of the Amazon ones – in the wild, plus I find these carp fascinating to fish for, and enjoy trying to find ways of improving my catch rate. It is very different to my normal carp fishing, and I’ve found that to get the best from your swim you have to use more of a match style approach, re-casting regularly and feeding on a little and very often basis.

“My usual approach consists of a piece of unflavoured cork as a hookbait, fished on a short hair on a size 1 Wide Gape XX hook (with the barb removed) to a 50lb Arma-Kord Sinking hook link, with a 4oz inline lead fished on a Shockleader Sleeve, to a Dura-Kord leader. I fish this along with a medium Solidz PVA bag, which is threaded onto the hook link and fished parachute style. I fill the bags with my own pellet and groundbait mix, designed to hopefully get the fish to home in on it, and over the top I Spomb 12mm ‘house pellets’, plus some 8mm Hinders Elips pellets, which I took with me. My hookbait was very critically balanced, as I’m relying on the fish sucking it in along with the contents of the PVA bag.

“I started off in a swim called Sala 6 and fished all three rods close together in a line at the same range, recasting every 45 minutes to an hour, and putting out three or four Spombs of bait every ten to fifteen minutes. In the past I’ve found that I often get bites immediately after recasting or whilst putting out more bait – often as I’m reeling in the Spomb! - and I believe that often the Siamese carp are sat off the bottom and follow the loosefeed down, resulting in a quick bite.

“It seemed to work as well as it has done for me in the past, as within two hours of casting out I was attached to my first Siamese carp of the trip, which felt quite heavy and was plodding around rather than going on faster runs like the smaller ones tend to. Ten minutes or so later a big fish surfaced and went into the net, and we all agreed a weight of around 125lb – I only put them through the extra stress of weighing them if I catch something close to my PB of 158lb, and in the past we haven’t been far out with our estimates when we have subsequently weighed the fish.

“I moved a couple of days later into one of my favourite swims, Sala 9 – it isn’t really any better than the other swims, just more comfortable to fish as it is closer range fishing – and the action was fairly steady, with my best day producing six Siamese carp, and a bonus 60lb Chao Praya catfish, but I was unable to manage anything else over the 100lb barrier.

“Aside from the carp though, there were a couple of other highlights, including the capture of my first ever big head carp, weighing in at 53lb 12oz, which was also my fifteenth freshwater species over 50lb.

“I don’t really fish for the Mekong catfish as they tend to cause chaos when hooked, and often the other anglers have to reel in so I try to avoid them, even though I respect them as a species. I’d had one sat over my baited area continually eating pellets on the drop whenever I tried to top up my swim with bait, and I was just considering having a go for it to try and get rid of it – they normally get caught right up in the water near to the surface – when I hooked into something on the bottom that definitely wasn’t a carp!

“I immediately knew that it was a Mekong from the way that it was fighting and the unstoppable first run, so I played it extremely hard as I’ve found that if you can keep them off balance then you can tire them out pretty quickly. After around 30 minutes I was knackered but we had it in the net – well part of it anyway as the tail was still sticking out! – and I could see that it was a very big fish. It was extremely wide and deep, as well as being long. Stuart said that it would have weighed in excess of 250lb, and I certainly don’t doubt it, as it absolutely dwarfed any of the previous ones that I’ve had, weighing up to 170lb. Had I known just how big it was I might have taken it a bit easier during the fight, but it just goes to show how strong the hooks are!

“I spent the rest of my holiday fishing a few other different swims – Sala 8, A3 and E3 – and although the carp fishing was very hard going due to a change to very hot and dry conditions, I still managed to catch consistently from all three swims, including a nice brace of 90-pounders on my penultimate day.

“I ended the trip with 24 Siamese carp, the biggest being the 125-pounder that I landed on the first day, but I was particularly pleased with the big head carp, as they don’t get caught that often, plus the Mekong. I can’t wait to get back out there again as it truly is a special place!”