When it comes to saltwater fishing, unchecked commercial fishing has depleted many fish stocks around Phuket effecting the baitfish populations and in turn the larger fish species such as the sailfish and other large predators.
25 years ago, Pelagic species were plentiful and multiple sailfish catches of 5 or more fish per day were more the norm than the rarity they are these days. This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t fish to be caught in Phuket waters, but it is a lot more challenging than in the past with some experienced captains doing well at certain times of year.
It is mindboggling that in a tourist paradise like Phuket that more isn’t being done to help to rekindle the sportfishing industry. Thailand would do well to learn from steps taken in Malaysia where they have stopped commercial fishing in certain areas where the sportfishing industry is important to the local economy. The Rompin area is a prime example as a sailfish hotspot and a growing attraction for sport fishermen from around the world looking to catch Sailfish in good numbers.
With difficult conditions for sport fishing here in Phuket sadly anglers are looking elsewhere for a saltwater fish of a lifetime. I have personally traveled several times to India for amazing Marlin and Popper fishing as the waters there are protected and prize catches are in abundance. Some local Phuket captains are now offering trips to Myanmar to fish the Burma Banks and are having excellent success there although some are concerned about the future with plentiful commercial fishing there also.
As far as freshwater fishing is concerned the future has never looked brighter. Fishing Tourism has been growing at a rapid pace in the last 15 years.
British expat Stuart Gillham took the Carp fishing world by storm when he built his stunning fishery in Krabi. Gillhams Fishing resorts has really put Thailand on the map with fishing shows Monster Fish, River Monsters and more recently Monster Carp being viewed by millions of anglers.
The addition of Exotic Fishing Thailand just north of Phuket 6 years ago has further recognized southern Thailand as a freshwater fishing holiday destination. For People not wishing to travel far from their Phuket hotels there are several popular fun lakes to enjoy with the expanding Chalong Fish Park and recently relocated Phuket Fish Park leading the way.
All the fisheries mentioned are sustainable operations and promote catch and release and safe handling of their precious fish. This enables stocks to grow to huge sizes and makes sure our children will be able to enjoy quality freshwater fishing in Phuket for years to come.