February 29, 2024

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Complete Guide for Fishing in Thailand

Reading Time: 10 minutes

With its non-stop nightlife, breathtaking beaches, and magnificent Buddhist temples, Thailand has long had a reputation as one of the best vacation spots on the planet. But what some may not know is that it also offers some of the most diverse angling. When fishing in Thailand, you’ll get to reel in a range of species you’d otherwise have to travel the whole world for.

How is this possible, you wonder? Well, first you have to take Thailand’s natural position into consideration, and the saltwater fishing grounds it has access to. But what really makes this country such an exotic angling destination are its lakes. They’re stocked with some of the toughest-fighting freshwater fish from around the world, with some coming from as far as South America.

If you’re keen on learning more about Thailand’s fishing scene, stick with us. We’ll cover the fish you can catch and where to find them. You’ll also get to read a bit about different ways to fish in the “Land of Smiles” and what you need to pay attention to. So let’s dive into it!

What fish can you catch in Thailand?

Considering the sheer variety of fresh and saltwater fish you can encounter in Thailand, we won’t try to name them all. Instead, we’ll focus on a few species anglers like to wrestle when they visit this piece of paradise. Take a look…

Billfish

You’ll get the opportunity to encounter the three fastest fish in the ocean – Sailfish, Black Marlin, and Blue Marlin – when fishing in Thailand. These fish will fight you with unmatched ferocity. Blazing runs and acrobatic leaps are a standard part of a Billfish battle, making them one of the toughest challenges an angler can encounter.

In Thailand, it’s possible to catch Billfish year-round. However, the prime season takes place from October to April. This is due to Thailand’s climate – its monsoon season can begin as early as May and last through September. Outside the rainy season, the seas are more steady, allowing for longer offshore outings to the fishing grounds where Marlin and Sailfish lurk.

The best Billfish fishing in Thailand takes place in the Andaman Sea, accessible from the west coast of Thailand. Occasionally, you can also catch them in the Gulf of Thailand. In essence, as long as you can spend enough time on the water, you’ll have the chance to catch Marlin and Sailfish almost wherever you start your journey from.

Wahoo and Mahi Mahi

Two other sought-after pelagic species, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi, also roam Thailand’s seas. Between the two, Wahoo are the better fighters. They’re lightning-quick and are capable of powerful, drag-screaming runs. Mahi Mahi are fun to wrestle as well, although they tire more quickly. But with their fighting differences aside, what both fish have in common is their delicious taste.

A female angler kneeling on the deck of a fishing boat in Thailand, holding a Wahoo she caught with a smiling child posing next to her.

Much like Billfish, you can find Wahoo and Mahi either in the Andaman Sea or in the country’s namesake gulf. So if you’re wondering when’s the best time to try to catch them, the answer remains the same – when the seas are the calmest. You’ll have a good chance to reel in both of these species during the dry season.

Giant Trevally

If there’s a single species most saltwater anglers dream of facing on their visit to East Asia, it’s probably Giant Trevally. Pound-for-pound, GTs are among the toughest, most aggressive fish you can encounter. They can produce brutal, back-bending runs, leaving many anglers with sore muscles after the battle.

A smiling angler in sunglasses holding a Giant Trevally he caught fishing in Thailand, with two fishing rods, the ocean, and clear skies visible behind him.

The two main methods of catching Giant Trevally in Thailand are popping and jigging. Popping is used when the fish are near the surface. The popper mimics wounded bait fish, enticing GTs to strike. Jigging is employed when the fish lurk deeper in the water column and it’ll often net you many other species swimming around. A third way to catch GTs is by fly fishing, though this is suitable only for the most experienced fly anglers.

As with the other saltwater fish we’ve mentioned so far, Giant Trevally are present all over Thailand’s seas. Your best bet at catching them, though, is to hit the fish aggregating devices – or FADs for short. These are found offshore, both in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea. Their purpose is to draw in bait fish, therefore luring Giant Trevally and other big game species to them.

Catfish

While there are plenty of saltwater fish to catch, we’d argue that Thailand’s freshwater scene is even more exciting. This is primarily thanks to the monstrous Catfish roaming its various lakes and rivers. In fact, the world’s largest recorded Giant Mekong Catfish, weighing 293 kilograms (646 pounds), was netted in Northern Thailand.

An angler and a child holding a Giant Mekong Catfish while chest-deep in the water, with some greenery behind them.

But even though such beasts swim through Thailand’s rivers, for visiting anglers, most of the action takes place in its lakes. Besides the aforementioned Giant Mekong, freshwater ponds are often home to multiple other types of Catfish. These include Redtail Catfish, which hails from South America, as well as Chao Phraya Giant Catfish, Great Tapah, and more!

The lakes they inhabit are typically managed by different resorts. They take care of the fish, allowing them to grow to massive sizes. So each hookup you get in these waters spells the beginning of a battle with a trophy, behemoth Catfish. Just make sure to warm up those muscles first!

Arapaima

Aside from the Redtail Catfish we just mentioned, Thailand’s resort lakes are often home to another South American fish – Arapaima. They’re native to the Amazon River basin and are the largest freshwater species in it, growing to lengths of over 2 meters (6.5 feet).

Four men posing for a photo while chest-deep in a lake, as they're getting ready to release a big Arapaima with the assistance of a large landing net.

Arapaima also boast serious strength to match their impressive size. While fighting, they’re known to leap out of the water in a stunning show of agility. Or, they’ll head off on blistering, line-tearing runs that’ll leave you holding on to your rod for dear life.

Fishing for Arapaima in Thailand works pretty much the same way as Catfish angling. You just need to find a resort or a managed lake that stocks them and plan a visit. Many Thailand fishing guides will offer pickup and dropoff from major cities, making the adventure that much easier for you.

And Many, Many Others!

The species we’ve named so far are a few of the most sought-after fish in Thailand. Of course, they’re far from the only ones. While saltwater fishing, you’ll get a shot at reeling in Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna, various kinds of Grouper and Snapper, Barracuda, Amberjack, and loads of other fish.

Two shirtless anglers waist deep in green waters, holding a big Siamese Carp they caught while resort fishing in Thailand.

Meanwhile, the freshwater ponds are also home to Siamese Carp, Snakehead, Alligator Gar, and even Barramundi. The fish grow to massive sizes in these waters, with pretty much every hookup holding the promise of a trophy catch. It’s an epic experience that’ll leave you wanting more.

Top Ways to Fish in Thailand

When you’ve figured out what you want to catch, it’s time to think of the way you want to go about your Thailand fishing adventure. Let’s go over a couple of ways to approach these waters.

Charter and Guide Fishing

Whether you’re planning to fish the salt or freshwaters, pairing up with a professional guide is your ticket to a productive trip. On the seas, you’ll need someone who knows the waters, the way the fish behave, and what’s best to go for. Your charter captain will also typically provide you with the fishing gear, saving you the trouble of traveling with it.

An aerial photo of a red and white offshore fishing boat in the sea, with its name, "Guzel" written on its hull and the sun reflecting off the water surface.

Similar reasoning applies to freshwater fishing. Lakes that lie outside Thailand’s major cities can be difficult to get to. To help with this, freshwater guides usually either offer transportation or detailed instructions on where to meet them. In either case, you’d be much better off pairing with a guide than trying to head out on your own.

Resort Fishing

Another option is to simply fish at one of the resorts we mentioned earlier in the article. They offer both accommodation and fishing at their stocked ponds. Elsewhere around the world, it might be almost tedious to stay and fish in one place. However, considering the size of the fish roaming these lakes, it’s likely you’ll end up breaking whatever was your previous personal record.

A youthful angler wearing a baseball cap and glasses crouching on the shore of resort lake in Thailand and holding a huge Redtail Catfish he caught.

While fishing at one of Thailand’s resort lakes, you’ll usually have guides around to help you. They’ll also provide you with fishing gear and enough bait for several hours of angling. You’ll just have to adhere to the rules each resort operates under. This normally includes doing your best not to harm the trophy fish you reel in.

Where is the best fishing in Thailand?

An infographic image showing the best fishing spots in Thailand including Phuket, Khao Lak, Pattaya, Koh Samui, and Bangkok, with each spot marked on a light blue map of Thailand.

We’ve already mentioned roughly where you can find Thailand’s top game fish. Now, however, we’ll delve into specific starting spots for your adventure. From these, you’ll have an easy time finding the right guide to put you on the fish.

Phuket

Phuket is the name of both the city, the island, and the province found in the southern part of the Land of Smiles. Thanks to its position overlooking the Andaman Sea, it offers some of the best saltwater fishing in Thailand.

A photo of two beached Thai boats with rock formations and a man visible in the azure waters behind them on a sunny day.

There are endless spots where you can reel in fish around Phuket. However, the main action takes place around the offshore islands of Ko Racha Yai and Ko Racha Noi. In the waters surrounding them, you’ll get the opportunity to reel in anything from Billfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi to GT, Amberjack, Grouper, and many other species.

There are also numerous freshwater lakes you can fish in Phuket. Most local guides you pair up with will offer help with transportation from the city. Some even fish the lakes that are an hour or two away from Phuket, all depending on which particular freshwater giant you want to reel in.

Khao Lak

Situated north of Phuket, along the western coast of Thailand, Khao Lak consists of several villages devoted to tourism. It’s famous for its pristine beaches and epic nature, including the Lam Ra National Park. An hour away, you can even visit Khao Sok, and experience its breathtaking limestone formations, lush jungle scenery, and the lake hidden in the park’s depths.

A photo of a beautiful beach in Khao Lak and a Thai longboat in the water, with calm ocean waters and greenery visible in the background.

In terms of fishing, Khao Lak is a saltwater angler’s dream. Offshore, the Simian Islands and fish aggregation devices surrounding them make that dream come true. This means only one thing – a treasure trove of fish. You can reel in Marlin, Sailfish, monster Giant Trevally, and numerous other big game fish in this part of Thailand.

Pattaya

Nestled on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya is famous for its beautiful beaches. It also has a long angling history. The settlement was first established as a fishing village, eventually developing into the city it is today.

An aerial photo of the harbor in Pattaya, with different boats in the water, several large pools visible, and with a sign saying "Pattaya City" on a hill overlooking the sea.

Its favorable position, on the eastern coast of the gulf, means you’ll have an easy time getting to all the local fishing grounds. In them, you’ll get the opportunity to catch most of Thailand’s saltwater fish, including Grouper and Snapper, Pompano, Amberjack, Barracuda, and Mahi Mahi. If you’re really lucky, you’ll even see Sailfish and Marlin gobble up your bait.

Koh Samui

After Phuket, Koh Samui is the second-largest island in Thailand. It lies in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Surat Thani province. The island is known for its luxury resorts, coconut groves, lush nature, and some of the most enticing beaches in the world.

An aerial shot of a beach in Koh Samui with palm trees and sand visible in the forefront and azure waters, fishing boats, and another island visible in the background on a cloudy day.

Of course, the fishing in this part of Thailand is awesome, too. Compared to Pattaya, Koh Samui is deeper in the gulf, giving anglers easier access to offshore fishing grounds. This means you’ll have a better chance of reeling in pelagic species such as Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Billfish.

Also, believe it or not, there are freshwater lakes even here. As elsewhere, they’re full of Arapaima, monster Catfish, Carp, and more.

Bangkok

Bangkok is the center of Thailand’s hustle and bustle. And while most visit it to experience the vibrant street life and see its incredible shrines, the city is also an excellent starting spot for fishing trips. It’s situated close to the north coast of the Gulf of Thailand giving you the opportunity to explore its bountiful waters.

A sunset view of the Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok from the river, with a traditional Thai boat visible in the forefront at sunset.

The usual species you’ll get to reel in fishing from Bangkok are Barracuda, different species of Snapper, Kingfish, Jacks, and more. Interestingly, you don’t necessarily have to head into the gulf to get your hands on saltwater fish. There are private ponds just outside Bangkok that are stocked with Grouper, Snapper, and Barramundi.

This being said, where Bangkok really excels is freshwater fishing. There are lakes all over the city hosting record-worthy Catfish, Carp, Arapaima, and more. At any of these, you’ll get your shot at experiencing the battle of a lifetime.

Thailand Fishing FAQs

Thailand Fishing: Where Trophies Are Caught Every Day

A view of three Thai longboats in the water at sunset, with their shadows reflecting off the calm water surface.

We’ve gone over the fish you can catch and where you can fish, but remember, Thailand is a vast country. There are many more hidden angling gems you could discover in this land. What’s certain, though, is that Thailand is home to some of the most exhilarating fishing on the planet. All that’s left to do is figure out which monster you want to wrestle first, and plan your adventure!

Have you ever been fishing in Thailand? What’s the biggest fish you caught? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Fishing in Thailand: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Fishing in Thailand: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-thailand/
Published Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2023 13:12:01 +0000

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