Koh Samui is situated in the Gulf of Thailand, which teems with a variety of fish like barracuda, white and red snapper, shark, cobia, mackerel, sailfish, grouper, gar, travally, queen fish and sting ray. There are various operators, most use the typical beautiful wooden Thai long boats, up to 12-meter long and painted in bright reds, blues and a variety of other eye-catching colors. The only things that you need to bring are towels, some sunscreen and a bit of patience, all fishing gear will be provided. There is normally also an opportunity to go swimming and snorkeling during the fishing trips.

Depending on weather conditions, the captain will decide where to fish: Around Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tan, Orange Island or Lamai.

Gone are the days when you could simply ask a local fisherman if you could join him on his trip to the open sea. He may still allow you on board, but you will be asked to pay the going rate for a tourist trip (about 1000 baht). The reason is that a large number of companies on Koh Samui now offer fishing tours, many of them on traditional boats especially converted to carry passengers. Fishing equipment is usually provided, and experienced fishermen are always on hand to offer up help and advice. This means that even complete novices have a good chance of catching their supper.

On organized fishing trips, the boat captain will usually decide on the best spots to drop anchor at, depending on the prevailing sea and weather conditions. The safest and most common policy is for the boat to hug the coastline, and many fishing tours last several hours and move from one location to another during the day, affording passengers changing views of the island’s bays, as well as increasing the chances of a catch. Big Rock, off the northeast is a popular spot, as are the shallow seas off the small island of Koh Tan in the south.

If you do manage to land a whopper, you can either take the fish back and cook it at your hotel, which is best done by prior arrangement, or ask the crew to prepare and barbecue the fish on board the boat. Wherever you choose to eat your prize, it’s often best to hand over the cooking to the experts, and also to remember that sharing the meal is always appreciated in Thailand.

Over-fishing is a problem in the Gulf of Thailand because some commercial trawlers from the mainland drag nets illegally across the reefs and offshore islands. Smaller fishing boats also damage coral reefs when they drop anchor carelessly. Make sure that your boat captain knows the seas well and is careful to moor where the sea bed is sandy. Expeditions may be cheap and the fishermen know how to find fish, but don’t expect the sort of big game facilities you would expect in more affluent destinations such as the Caribbean.

As with all tourist destinations in Thailand there are usually a plenthora of tour agents on hand at each of the main centres who act as booking agents for a handful of fishing expeditions. Tours start at about 1000 baht a day and can be booked the same morning from agents in Chaweng, Lamai and along the main road on the North coast. Remember to take sun cream and suitable clothing if you are going to be stuck out at sea all day and be weary of late afternoon storms, as there are few safety regulations to limit the small tour operators.

Depending on weather conditions, the captain will decide where to fish: Around Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Tan, Orange Island or Lamai.