Many anglers dream of taking on huge exotic freshwater fish in a distant tropical land. Whether it’s the mighty Arapaima of the Amazon River or the monster Mekong Catfish of Southeast Asia, people travel thousands of miles for a chance to catch one. But what if you want all the world’s top species in one location? Simple: Head to a Thailand fishing resort. Over the last 10 years, Thailand has made a name for itself as the land of giants. There are now over a dozen exotic fishing resorts in Thailand. They feature legendary species from around the world, as well as the top catches from Thailand itself. A day at any of them will land you more trophy than you would get in a month anywhere else. How did Thailand corner the market on monster hunts? What beasts can you find in these lakes? What do you need to know before visiting? Keep reading to find out.
Thailand may seem like a random location for the world’s best fishing lakes. When most people think of the country, they imagine delicious spicy food, hot tropical weather, and white sandy beaches. But for some, Thailand’s inland waterways have always been fishing heaven. Why? Really, really big fish. Southeast Asia is home to more than its fair share of river monsters and freshwater giants. In fact, several of the world’s biggest freshwater species live here. On top of that, Thailand shares a climate with the Amazon Rainforest – a land known for its huge and outlandish fish. Throw them all together, and you have the ultimate exotic fishery.
This mix of freshwater heavyweights has drawn some of the biggest names in sportfishing over the years. From tournament winners and world record holders to TV anglers and sportfishing celebrities – nobody can resist the all-star lineup that these lakes hold.
So what can you expect on the end of your line? Every resort has its own mix of species, but there are a few “must haves” in any exotic fish collection. Here are the top catches, and why you’ll really want to land them. Arapaima are bizarre in more than just looks. They’re air-breathing fish, meaning they have to come to the surface to take a breath. This doesn’t mean you can take them out of the water unharmed, though. Their sheer size means that keeping Arapaima out of the water can injure or even kill them. Luckily, most parks have special submersible catch cages to safely handle them. Native to the remote reaches of the Amazon and Essequibo basins, Arapaima are the star of the show for most visiting anglers. These large, aggressive hunters are unlike almost any other fish out there. You can find Arapaima weighing over 300 pounds in many Thai fisheries. They’re worth traveling for and have more than paid for their airfare to Thailand. Siamese Carp fishing in Thailand was big long before the first fishing parks opened. This is the largest Carp species in the world, after all. Also known as Giant Barb, these gentle giants can grow to well over 100 pounds. In fact, the current IGFA record was set in a fishing resort in Thailand. The country’s lakes are literally the best place in the world to catch them. They’re not the only Carp you can catch, either. Yellowcheek and Indian Carp are stocked in several Thai fishing lakes. These may not grow as big as the locals, but they put up a real fight nonetheless. If your idea of a perfect day out is catching three different species of Carp, this is the place for you. Mekong Giant Catfish are the true heavyweights of Thailand’s freshwater fishing scene. They’re said to reach 10 feet in length and over 700 pounds in weight. The biggest one ever caught on rod and reel weighed “only” 260 pounds, but that’s still more than most saltwater predators. And guess where it was caught? That’s right, in one of Thailand’s fishing resorts.
But what if one monster Catfish doesn’t cut it? Don’t worry, there are plenty more. Amazon Redtail Catfish are one of the most popular species, as are Thai Redtails. Then you’ve got Chao Phraya, Tiger Shovelnose, Niger Ripsaw, Wallago Leeri – who knew there were even that many Catfish out there! Giant Snakehead are the stuff of nightmares. Growing over 4 feet long and weighing more than 40 pounds, they’re big enough to put the most skilled anglers through their paces. But that’s not the scary bit. Snakehead have a nasty bite which more than earns them their name. On top of that, they’re known to “walk” up onto land and breathe out of water for hours on end. Still want to catch one? You’re not alone. Giant Snakehead are a popular target in Thailand. They’re stocked in most fishing lakes and they also live in the wild. They’re an important food fish in Southeast Asia and apparently make for great eating, although you have to release the ones you catch in the country’s fishing resorts.
So far we’ve had fish that breathe air, fish that can walk on land, and fish that weigh as much as a car. How can things get any stranger? Enter the Alligator Gar. These “dinosaur fish” come from the southern states of the US, where they’ve lived for over 100 million years. They look like a cross between a Pike and a crocodile, and they fight just as hard as either.
Alligator Gar regularly hit the 6-foot mark and can more than 100 pounds. Their scales are so tough people used to use them as arrowheads. Their mouths are lined with two rows of dagger-like teeth. What’s more, they’re able to survive out of water like Snakehead. Seriously, these are the ultimate primal monster. Every lake holds something different and there’s simply too much variety to list here. If you’re after something specific you may need to shop around, but you’ll never be lacking for variety. Arowana, Clown Knife Fish (Featherback), Tambaqui, Pacu, Giant Gourami – if it’s big, mean, and exotic, you can bet you’ll find it in Thailand.
What a truly fantastic experience we had at Exotic Fishing Thailand! Mike was an outstanding host, we had great guides and staff, experienced scenery that is out of this world, stayed in new, spacious and modern accommodation, had great food - and then fishing was the highlight!! Many species, big fish, and a 220lb Arapaima to top things off :)
We would highly recommend Exotic Fishing Thailand to anyone.
Never tried before night deep sea. had a lot of fun with my friends, thanks captain, he is pro!
BB was fantastic! Everything was so simple and easy. This was actually the only fishing charter that responded to us in a timely manner, and for that, we are thankful. BB was very communicative, our pickup was very simple, and she came on the boat with us. The fishing was great, lunch was great, this was a one of a kind experience I would recommend to anyone! We caught a black marlin and a king mackerel and several tuna, and the crew filleted it so we could take it with us for dinner later. What a great trip!
Second time fishing E F T and sure won't be the last! every minute there is amazing, the mountain views all the staff, food, service and especially the fishing,
Each time fished a day ticket and always caught plenty of good fish, 12 fish yesterday in total just on a day ticket the guys know how and work hard not to disappoint that's for sure! thanks to joy for all his effort
Resulting in 1 arapaima 5 Amazon redtail 3 Siamese carp 1 Asian redtail 1 redtail tiger cross catfish and a albino pacu.
I sure slept well last night lol
Each swim has all you need for comfort while fishing for these amazing species table chairs even a sun lounger & fan well needed lol ashtray,bin,outside light for those dark evenings service to your swim so no need to leave the rods out the water I would highly recommend the breakfast it's real good even took my wife and daughter this time and they fell in love with the place just like me and they even want to return next time with me which is a bonus until next time mike keep up the good work and will see you all again for sure thanks again Danny
A wonderful experience fishing at Bungsamran with Tap. Will be back soon fishing for other species.