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Fishing in Thailand

Fishing in Thailand: What You Need to Know

Seafood here, there, and everywhere — this is something you can definitely say when in Thailand! You can also go a step further and do some fishing yourself to catch a variety of fish from some of the most beautiful fishing spots in the world.

In the process of catching your next meal from the sea or lake, you’ll also learn a thing or two about how the locals do their own fishing. If you want to know more, read on!

When is the best time to go fishing in Thailand?

The best fishing months in Thailand are from January to April, which covers the dry season. 

But fishing is fine all throughout the year, depending on your preferred activities, weather, and what kinds of fish you want to catch. 

Do you need a fishing licence to fish in Thailand?

Rod fishing in Thailand won’t require you to have a licence. However, keep in mind that you need to fish only in designated fishing spots as fishing in marine reserves and national parks is subject to different government policies.  

What types of fish can you catch in Thailand?

As part of the Southeast Asian Region, Thailand has varied aquatic fauna that you can catch within its waters. These include catfish, arapaima, giant trevally, mahi mahi, wahoo, and billfish.

Below are further details of the most common types of fish you can catch when you go fishing here:

Catfish

While there are a ton of saltwater fish for you to capture when in Thailand, the country’s freshwater fishes are nothing to scoff about. This is mostly thanks to one of the most distinct fish present in the rivers and lakes of Thailand – the catfish!

Fun fact: the Mekong giant catfish that was caught in Northern Thailand is recognized as the largest in the world weighing in at 656 pounds or 293 kilograms.

While most catfish can be found in the country’s rivers, you’ll find them mainly in Thailand’s lakes.

Aside from the Giant Mekong Catfish, there are also other varieties you might encounter while you’re fishing. There’s the Great Tapah, the Chao Phraya Giant Catfish, and a catfish that hails all the way from South America called the Redtail Catfish. 

In order for you to see these fish, you’ll have to go to different resorts that handle their upkeep, allowing them to grow huge! You should expect that each catch will be a challenge to haul up as the catfishes you’ll contend with here are behemoths!

Arapaima

There’s another fish from South America that calls Thailand’s lakes its home – the arapaima. These are commonly found in the basin of the Amazon River and they are pretty huge — up to 6.5 feet!

They’re actually considered the largest freshwater fish in the Amazon. Plus, their impressive size is also equaled by their formidable strength so your attempts to catch one will be a worthy challenge to your angling skills.

Most arapaima are known to pull hard on your rod once you’ve baited them, making you hold on tight as it tries to tear itself away from you. They’ve also been known to jump out of the air, which may surprise you, given their great size! 

Just like fishing for catfish, angling for these arapaima works the same way. You need to visit a lake resort that manages these kinds of fish or you can even have these resorts pick up and drop you off wherever you might be located depending on their package.

Best Resorts to Catch Arapaima in Thailand

Giant Trevally

If you want a bit of a challenge when fishing in Thailand and other parts of Asia, you most probably want to face off with one of the most popular saltwater fish in the region– the giant trevally. 

This is one aggressive and tough fish, and if ever you encounter one,you better get your game face ready. In fact, those who try to catch this fish end up with sore muscles due to some of the runs they do once they’ve taken the bait. 

To catch this spirited fighter of a fish, you can employ two methods – jigging and popping. Jigging lets fish lurk in deeper waters as you net them along with other fish while popping can be used when the fish is closer to the water’s surface. 

If you’re an experienced angler, though, you can also try a less conventional method called fly fishing, but this requires significant skill and experience. If this is you, then go ahead and try this method as well.

This fish can be found almost everywhere in Thailand’s surrounding waters as it is a saltwater fish. 

The best way to catch them, though, is to proceed using what is called a  fish aggregating device (FAD). A chartered fishing vessel can bring you to these sites for you to experience firsthand how to capture this fish using this unique method.

You can find these FADs in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand which are located offshore. They draw in some fish as bait which will eventually lure in other big game including the giant trevally.

Mahi Mahi and Wahoo

The mahi mahi and wahoo are two more saltwater fishes that are highly sought-after by anglers visiting Thailand They’re both prized catches, but the Wahoo is considered a better fighter. 

Both fishes can drag your fishing rod with their powerful runs and they are lightning quick which means you need to match their reflexes when trying to catch them. 

The mahi mahi can put up a fight but you’ll notice that they tire much quicker than the Wahoo. Despite these differences, you can’t deny that both these fishes taste fantastic. 

The best part is that they freely roam in areas where you can easily get to – the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Billfish

There are three legendary billfish variants that you can face off against when in Thailand. These include the blue marlin, the black marlin, and the sailfish and all three are ferocious, making you work every second you’re angling for them.

They can do huge jumps out of the water and lightning-speed runs that will test your balance and your grip on your fishing rod. In short, these fish will most likely be one of your biggest challenges when angling in Thailand. 

Some of the best spots to fish for Billfish are in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. It doesn’t matter where you start fishing in these locations as you’ll most likely still encounter them wherever you may be in these waters If you stay long enough.

How do you go fishing in Thailand?

You have two main options if you want to go fishing in Thailand: via charter and guide fishing or through resort fishing. 

We’ve listed down the details of these two most common fishing to give you an idea of how anglers do it when in Thailand:

Charter and Guide Fishing

To have a productive fishing trip, you will need a professional guide to help you navigate the fishing spots of Thailand – be it freshwater or saltwater sites. 

If you’re planning to go fishing out in the ocean, you’re going to need someone who knows how fish behave and where to go to catch them. This charter guide will also save you the trouble of having to find fishing gear as he can also provide you with these.

Fishing in freshwater sites also requires the same professional touch.  Getting to lakes that are not within the country’s major cities can be challenging to access and with freshwater charters, you’ll get transportation or instructions on how to get to these sites.

The bottom line is that for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, it’s best to pair up with a reliable and professional guide instead of going solo or going out with your group without the assistance of someone who knows what they’re doing.

Resort Fishing

One other option for you to consider when fishing in Thailand is to fish at select managed resorts across the country. The best thing about this approach is that aside from fishing at their ponds, they usually offer accommodation to anglers as well.

In other places across the globe, fishing at specific lake resorts can seem quite limiting. This is not the case in Thailand’s lake resorts though, as with the different kinds and amounts of fish you can catch here, you might even break your previous fishing records!

In addition, if you choose to do some resort fishing, there will usually be guides around these resorts to assist you as you fish. They will also provide you with some bait and some fishing gear if you ever need some.

There are just some rules you need to abide by while inside resort grounds. One of the most common ones is that you should try your best to keep the trophy fish you catch unharmed and safe.

Where are the best fishing spots in Thailand?

Once you’ve decided which angling or fishing method works for you, you can choose which fishing spots you may want to check out when in Thailand. Here are the best ones:

Phuket

With Phuket’s strategic position facing the Andaman Sea, it’s not surprising that this is one of the best spots to catch some saltwater fish. While there are a ton of sites here to fish at, most of the action happens in the Ko Racha Noi and Ko Racha Yai Islands.

Around the waters of these islands, you can catch a variety of fish, such as grouper, amberjack, great trevally, mahi mahi, wahoo, and billfish. 

Aside from these islands, there are also a ton of great lake resorts where you can catch freshwater fish.

The best part is that these resorts will offer free transportation from the city to the site, and they’ll sometimes even bring you to fishing spots that are farther away from Phuket. This is all just to help you reel in that freshwater fish you’re aiming to bag!

Khao Lak

Located on the western coast of Thailand just south of Phuket, this area consists of a number of villages that focus on tourism. Saltwater fishing, though, is one of the major attractions here as it is considered a dreamland of sorts for saltwater anglers.

Here, you can capture some of the most in-demand fishes in Thailand like the Marlin Sailfish. You better get your muscles and limbs warmed up as you might have to go face-to-face with monstrous giant trevallies as well!

Pattaya

Pattaya is located in the Gulf of Thailand, and with the fish you can catch here, you know things are going to be action-packed! As we mentioned earlier, this part of Thai waters has an amazing variety of big game fish for you to try and capture!

Plus, since Pattaya’s located in the Gulf’s eastern portion, it’s going to be easier for you to get access to some of the best fishing spots in the area. Here, you can go head-to-head and catch a notable and impressive list of saltwater fish.

You can capture some mahi mahi, barracuda, amberjack, pompano, snapper, and grouper. There’s even a chance that you’ll have some marlin and sailfish who will try to take your bait.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the country’s second-largest island, located off the Surat Thani coast in the Gulf of Thailand. While this part of Thailand is known for its amazing beaches, luxury resorts, and coconut groves, it’s also one of the best spots to do some fishing.

Unlike Pattaya, Koh Samui has a gulf that is much deeper which means that you can get better access to fishing grounds offshore. This will translate to better chances of being able to catch fish that are only available in open waters.

These include billfish, wahoo, and mahi mahi. If you ever get tired of fishing in the ocean, there are also some lakes around the Pattaya area that will let you fish for some carp, catfish, and arapaima.

Bangkok

You might be surprised that Bangkok is on this list but hear us out! The city isn’t just about the urban lifestyle since it’s located near the Gulf of Thailand’s north coast which means you can certainly do some angling here as well.

Try and catch prize fish, such as jacks, kingfish, snapper, and barracuda in the gulf. However, you can also catch some freshwater fish here thanks to the lake resorts located across the city where you can bag some arapaima, catfish, and carp.

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