The seas around Koh Chang are fertile fishing grounds. When you head out on a snorkelling trip you’ll often see fishing boats out at sea or moored in some of the coves. Fish that are commonly caught include Grouper, Cobia, Trevally, Barracuda, Red Snapper, African Pompano, King Mackerel and the abundant Longtail Tuna.
There is even an international fishing tournament, now in its 9th year, that attracts anglers from around South East Asia. However, this isn’t widely publicised. It’s held some time between mid-February and mid-March. Keep an eye out for posters when if you are on the island at this time of year.
However, fishing isn’t a way of life for many people on Koh Chang nowadays, the advent of tourism killed that off. It’s far easier to make money by converting your trawler into a tour boat and running snorkelling trips than it is to go out for days on end deep sea fishing.
But at night, especially when there is no moon or it is cloudy, you’ll still see the green lights from dozens of squid boats on the horizon when you are dining at a beachfront restaurant. The bright lights are used to attract squid to the surface where they can easily be caught. These boats mostly come from the mainland, where there are still large fishing communities.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any real fishermen left on the island. If you want to see how fishermen live, avoid Bangbao – the touristy fishing village and head to one of the smaller fishing villages that aren’t inhabited mainly by dive companies and seafood restaurants.
You’ll find one in Klong Son at the north of Koh Chang, at the crossroads in the village, take the road that heads towards the sea, follow that and you’ll end up at a small pier lined with stilt houses and with small fishing boats moored at the end.
Over in the south-east of the island, the village of Salakkok is still home to many small scale fishermen who have their own boats and for whom life hasn’t really changed at all over the years. To get there, head down the east of Koh Chang, then take the left turn off the main road at the sings to Salakkok & Jek Bae, then go past the temple & school, past the concrete mangrove walkway on the left. You’ll see signs to ‘Salakkok kayak station’, follow them.
First you’ll pass a small boatyard where you can see wooden fishing boats being repaired. Near here is a small wooden walkway that leads to several fishermen’s houses. A little further on you’ll come to the Kayak Station and restaurant, the canal here is lined with stilt houses which are home to the local fishermen. There’s one restaurant here which sells seafood caught by local families.
In Salakphet Bay, in the far south-east of the island you’ll see a handful of much larger commercial fishing boats moored. In the past, Salakphet was the main centre of fishing and the island’s most prosperous area. Nowadays, during high Season, yachts and private boats outnumber fishing vessels.
If you prefer to fish off dry land then either head down to the far end of Bangbao pier, where you’ll often find a few locals casting their lines. Or as you go down the east of the island drive along the old piers in Dan Mai village or just south of Than Mayom waterfall. In the past these piers were used by commercial boats and passenger boats from the mainland. But are usually deserted apart from a few anglers.
If these locations are too far from your hotel one alternative is the river estuary in Klong Prao. Call in to Sapporot Bar or Moley’s , grab a beer and cast away. Moley’s even has a pontoon in the river that you can fish from.
However, regardless of how much you enjoy fishing, it is highly unlikely you are going to want to go out at sea with the crew of a trawler for a few days. And you aren’t going to land any big catches off a pier. Therefore a day fishing trip is in order.
As many locals still enjoy fishing as a hobby they often have their own small fiberglass boats with longtail engines. On calm days they’ll head off with their mates for a few hours of bobbing around in the ocean drinking beer and drowning worms. Some will take visitors with them for a few hundred Baht. If you are interested in doing this then just ask around at your local beach restaurant to see if they know anyone who will take you out.
The better organised and better equipped trips are on larger boats.
Sea Hunter Fishing Trip
Sea Hunter Tour is the oldest and most popular fishing trip provider on Koh Chang. They have a couple of vessels specifically designed for fishing in Koh Chang’s waters. One even has an air-conditioned cabin where you can cool off during the journey to the fishing grounds. They are equipped with GPS and fish-finding sonar. Plus they provide English and Russian speaking guides.
They run two trips per day. Day fishing, from around 09:00 – 17:00 and Night fishing from 18:00 – 23:00. Both are priced at 1,500 Baht / person. Night fishing is mainly for squid and so, aside form the novelty of being out on the ocean in the middle of the night, isn’t that exciting unless you’re really into eating freshly caught squid.
The Sea Hunter staff are experienced fishermen and the rods, reels and lines provided are of a very high standard. The only factor to bear in mind is that they get a lot of Russian tour groups. So if you have bad luck you might find yourself on a trip that’s more akin to a Black Sea party boat than a chilled day out fishing.
Rodjanaphan are a locally owned and run fishing company that have several wooden fishing boats based in Bangbao. They also run two trips per day, starting at 09:00 and 18:00. The daytime fishing trip and nighttime squid fishing trip. Prices are a little cheaper than Seahunter – 1,300 Baht per person for either trip.
As you;d expect the prices include transport between your hotel and the boat, food, water and good quality fishing equipment. There’s a small galley on the ship where the staff will happily cook your catch for you to eat on-board. Fish doesn’t get any fresher than that. You’re also welcome to take your fish back to your hotel. And you’ll find most local restaurants will happily cook up any fish you caught for a small price.
More information: Facebook.com/Rodjanaphan
Finally, if you are travelling with your family or group of friends and want to go out fishing for a day then the best option is to hire a boat.
Private fishing boat hire – Eat Here Restaurant, Klong Son
The owners of ‘Eat Here’ restaurant in Klong Son put together regular fishing trips which can be joined for just 800 Baht / person with a maximum of 13 people. Kids under 4 years old are free and 4 – 10 years old are half price. Alternatively, their boat is available for private rental.
A day trip will begin at around 08:30 and end at 18:00. Food, fishing equipment and also snorkelling equipment is included in the price. The boat is based in Klong Son but will pick up passengers from one or two points on the west coast of the island as it heads south to the best fishing and snorkelling spots.
If you are renting the boat privately then you’ll be able to specify how you want to spend your time – all day fishing or a mix of fishing and snorkelling, plus will be able to pre-order food from their restaurant and also any drinks you want providing – a slab of Beer Chang for example.
Private rental of the boat is from 7,500 Baht for a day trip. And, for hardcore fishermen, an overnight trip from 16:00 – 06:00 is 11,000 Baht. You’ll be sleeping rough on the deck of the boat under the stars.
At the mercy of pirates.
If you want to avoid tour groups then this is a good option during High Season. As trips aren’t run daily, it’s better to contact the owners through their Facebook page and arrange it in advance.