Samui Wining & Dining
On The Line

On Samui there are fishing trips to suit everyone from beginners to experts!

12“There are two types of fishermen: those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.” Harold F. Blaisdell, ‘The Philosophical Fisherman’, 1969.

And that just about sums it up. Except, on Samui, there’s one more type. People do it just for fun, although the word ‘fishing’ has a whole different ring to it over here. There are no misty mornings on riverbanks and oilskins in the rain. On a tropical island, ‘fishing’ means something quite different. Firstly, there are those who have to do it because it’s their living. And then there are all the rest of us who do it because we want to – because it’s fun!

One of the best aspects of Samui is the whole range of ways that you can enjoy the surrounding waters. The scattering of nearby islands is ideal for lazily-chugging boat trips and snorkel stops. Diving, swimming or simply splashing-about is built into the island lifestyle. And for every local boat that offers a snorkelling trip or a sunset cruise, there’s one that will take you fishing, too.

The vast majority of the daytrips that you’ll find are not organised by the boat owners themselves. In fact, it’s not easy to track down a list of companies that specialise in fishing trips. But every single hotel and resort will offer you such a trip. The reason for this is simple: there are a thousand local fishing boats around, mostly owned by the islanders. The resorts supply the customers and the boat-owners take them out. It’s a mutually-beneficial arrangement and it’s good for you, too, as it’s all laid-on and neatly organised.

Every package I’ve come across follows a similar template. One of the crew will pick you up in the morning from your resort. The fishing tackle is provided, as is the bait you’ll need. You’ll have most of the day on the water, with several stops at different points for some static fishing. The boat will pull up to a shady beach somewhere for a lunch break, too, which is included in the price. The fish you catch will be gutted and prepared for you to take back, or there’s sometimes the choice of setting up a barbecue-stop on a deserted island for a fish meal on the way back. And when all’s done, you’ll be returned to your resort afterwards.

This is the ‘fun’ part of things. This is the carefree boat trip with a hand line. It’s perfect for everyone, whether you’re a ‘fisherman’ or not! Who cares about catching a whopper – it’s a great way to spend the day. But there are some things to be aware of. Many of the boats used are of the ‘longtail’ variety, with a (car!) engine mounted on the stern. You’ll get used to it, but it’s certainly not quiet. Try to find a bigger boat with an inboard engine (there are plenty about) if you don’t want noise. And then there’s the bait. The fish round here just love baby squid (particularly if they’re alive) so check on what bait is being provided.

The usual direction you will head is south towards Koh Tan (‘No Dog Island’ as it’s known locally) and another neighbouring island, Koh Matsum. This is where the ‘casual’ fishermen go, as the pickings are richer in this area. But anyone who’s more serious about fishing for big stuff heads north – and a long way north at that.

And the reason for this is that the seafloor around Samui is shallow. In some directions you have to go 25 miles to find a depth of more than 40 or 50 feet. In shallow water, particularly around rocks or reefs, you’ll find groupers, snappers and mackerel. But none of them are very big. You’ll have to head past Koh Pha-Ngan in the direction of Koh Tao before you get to the serious fishing. And this is the region that Samui’s fishing fraternity – our ‘sports’ fishermen – head for.

Dave Greerson retired from the UK to live here back in 2002. Previously a keen amateur fisherman in England, he has since adapted himself to the local conditions. “If you want something exciting,” he told me, “then you have to begin at Koh Tao. You’ll often see shoals of billfish off the coast near the town of Maehaad,” he continued, “and some of them are 40 or 50 pounds. Sail Rock and the shipwreck sites are good places, too. This whole area is rich in marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado and trevally, but you’ll need some specialised equipment to bag them!”

The triangle formed between the northern tip of Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Tao, and Chumpon seems to be the place, but it’s just too far for a leisurely daytrip from Samui. And this is where the various boat charter companies come in. There are several around the island and all are able to offer you a crewed sail or powerboat with onboard accommodation and meals included. Oceans Elite in Bang Rak, for example, offers a choice of luxury sail or motor cruisers that can sleep up to six, have several cruise-package options, and will happily tailor a few days’ or nights’ fishing to match your requirements.

As a less lavish alternative, ‘Mr. Tu Fishing Game’ is based at Big Buddha Pier. He has two big boats and offers several game-fishing packages, including two days and a night with accommodation included.

But if the idea of wrestling with a six-foot marlin for three hours sounds too much like hard work, then what about a shady inland freshwater lake full of huge fish? They’ve got giant Mekong catfish of up to 200 pounds (!) and giant carp and arapaima, too. This is TopCats Freshwater Fishing Resort in Ban Taling Ngam, and they also have quality accommodation in teak houseboats and a super restaurant. Go for the day or stay for a couple; it’s up to you.

You’ll find that the cost of all this is quite reasonable at around 1,200 - 1,800 baht for the day out and with children usually at half-price. And a day at TopCats will set you back 1,800 baht. Live-aboard boat hire gets understandably more pricy, so expect to pay around 50,000 baht for two days and a night. This is for six of people, plus the crew of an ocean-going boat.

So what’s it about? Is it sport? Is it for the fish? Do you eat them or chuck ’em back? Whatever sort of fisherman you are then you’ll find it here. Whether it’s day or night, one day or five, tiddlers or whoppers, take your pick. But whether you’re seriously serious or just on a fun trip out, one thing’s guaranteed – all of it’s fun on Samui!

 


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