Fishing in Thailand

Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers and lakes of Thailand, as well as sea fishing off the Thai coast...

Thailand has many fishing areas. Sport fishing is a big industry and there are many options for both the novice and experienced fisherman.

Thailand has both freshwater and sea fishing. The waters surrounding the many islands near Phuket are famous for the large numbers of saltwater species. Thai freshwaters are renowned for their many world record catches.

Freshwater Fishing

  • In the north of the country, near Chiang Mai there are several lakes with large catfish
  • Around Bangkok and Pattaya there are also a number of good carp and barb fishing spots
  • The reservoir near Kanchanaburi is especially famous for big snakehead fishing
  • In the south, Phuket has lakes with pacu, giant gourami and Indo-Pacific tarpon

For more information on freshwater species in Thailand see websites Fishing Adventures Thailand and Siam Fishing Tours.

Sea Fishing

Thailand's saltwater sport fishing is dominated by the waters surrounding Phuket. The Racha Islands offer a wide variety of fish species. South-west of Phuket lies the continental drop-off for some serious deep sea fishing. Marlin, giant trevally, tuna, swordfish, barracuda, mahi mahi and sailfish are some of the species most likely to be caught.

  • For more information on fishing in the Andaman Sea from Phuket Marine Guide: Click here

The Gulf of Thailand also has a wide range of fish. It is generally warmer and less saline than the Andaman coast. In the north of the gulf off the coast of Pattaya and near Trat and Koh Kut, there are large sailfish. Further south, off the popular tourist islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, there are also eagle rays and barracuda. African pompano and big-eyed trevally can be caught at the wreck off the coast of Koh Dao.

Fishing Seasons

Fishing in Thailand is a year-round sport. However, different fish are available at different times of the year:

  • Phuket: November to April is good for sailfish, giant trevally and tuna while May to October is good for mahi mahi and wahoo
    • For a calendar of fishing seasons and species: Click here
  • Gulf of Thailand: October to March is generally the best fishing with freshwater fishing possible year-round
  • More information on fishing seasons from Phuket Marine Guide: Click here

Conservation and Ecology

Thailand's fish stocks have been declining over recent years largely due to commercial fishing, although sport fishing also has an effect. The industry is growing very quickly but there is no management of the sport. Many tour operators ignore national park boundaries and bans on endangered species such as the Giant Mekong Catfish. However, some fishing tour operators and parks are now encouraging "catch and release" practices to help maintain fish stocks.

  • More information on the ban on catching Giant Catfish from the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme: Click here (PDF)

Permits

Permits are not required in Thailand for rod fishing. However, there are regulations regarding fishing in certain locations and for some endangered species. When fishing at a fishing park or on a fishing tour, any permits needed should be arranged by the tour operator.

  • No fishing is allowed in Marine National Parks
  • It is not permitted to fish for the following freshwater species:
    • Malayan Bonytongue
    • Siam Tiger Fish
    • Siamese Butterfly Catfish
    • Giant Mekong Catfish
  • Sea fish: there are many species that may not be caught

There are rules and regulations for commercial fishing; contact the local Department of Fisheries office for exact details. For more information contact:

Fishing Clubs

Fishing is a relatively new sport in Thailand and has been built around the tourist industry. As a result, there are few fishing clubs. News and information on local events is available from the local fishing parks and tour operators.

Pattaya Sports Club promotes sports and supports local charities. It organises game fishing tours.

  • Pattaya Sports Club (Fishing)
    At: 3/197 M-6, Pattaya 3rd Road, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150
    Tel: 03 836 1167
    Fax: 03 836 1929
    email

The Rawai Beach Fishing Club is a fishing club open to all fisherman interested in ethical game fishing. The club house is located at Paradise Beach Bar on the Rawai beach road in Phuket.

Further Information

For other fishing destinations and tours in Thailand: