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The essence of fishing, in some opinion, is cold drinks in the hot sun. According to this sort of thinking , the whole enterprise isn't much more than an excuse to get a good tan. And this is certainly part of it. The uncongested seas off Thailand, with their variety of magnificent scenery and ideal weather conditions, are among the very best venues in the world for this sort of lollygagging. But there's more. The sheer pleasure of lazing around on a boat in spectacular surrounding is nicely complemented by the sense that, at any moment, a prize-winning gamefish may hit your line.
Big gamefish are found in abundance in Thai waters -- everything from wahoo and tuna to barracuda to sailfish and marlin. Just when you roll over to start matching the tan on your back to the one on your front, the reel on one of the big deep-sea rods at the stern begins to sing, the line stripping off behind the boat at a rate of knots. Catapulted from the depths of blissful lethargy, you suddenly find yourself in the harness, adrenalin pumping, a prime fighting fish on the other end of the line.
Fishing the gulf
Gamefish like deep, clean water with lots of baitfish. Compared to the Andaman Sea, the Gulf is less saline, warmer, more turbid, and shallower. Nevertheless, plenty of fighting fish are out there and waiting for the gamefisherman.
Sharks, eagle rays, and barracuda are only some of the species which regularly strike at trolling lures in the Gulf. It is also not uncommon to take sailfish, though these tend to be smaller than those caught in the Andaman Sea. In the Christmas through New Year season in particular, you can get sailfish in the Pattaya and Ban Siray area, as well as down around Chumphon and Ko Samui. Pattaya is the centre for gamefishing in the Gulf, with at least two well-equipped local operators organizing charters.
Fishing in the Andaman Sea
High season for sailfish. Just when the sailing and diving and windsurfing are in their low season - from around mid-May till November - the sailfish really start to bite. On a good day in July or August, for example, you are all but guaranteed a sailfish, trolling off Racha Yai Island. In this season, Phuket compares with anywhere in the world for sailfish, a true aristocrat among fighting fish.
Of course, you can also count on skipjack tuna, if that's what you want. What could be nicer than tuna sashimi and cold beer right there on the boat? You certainly won't get the sashimi any fresher.
All kinds of gamefish. Or go for wahoo, or barracuda, or queenfish, or trevally, or any number of other species of gamefish. Fish for sharks at night. Light-tackle casting for trevally in the Similans makes a nice change. Or get lazy and bottom-fish for groupers and snappers - they make an excellent dinner.
Gamefishing tournaments. The Holiday Inn Classic gamefishing tournament and the Krabi Game Fish Tournament,
both of them held in November, are two annual competitions which have attracted participants from all over Asia. Interest in these events should continue to grow as the sport surges ahead in popularity.
High season for marlin. In the late-November to May season, the sailfish aren't biting much. But the tuna and the marlin are. Between Phuket and the Similan Islands, as well as out along a deepwater drop-off two and a half hours by boat south of Phuket, you have every chance of latching onto a 200 kilo black marlin. This is also a good spot for yellowfin tuna. Local charters will take you out for trips of between one day and four or five, depending on how far afield you want to go.
New frontiers. Just as there are diving frontiers at hand, Phuket based gamefishing is looking at trolling the continental shelf, in open sea well off Phuket. There is every chance of hauling 500-kilo marlin out of those waters. But those adventures must wait for bigger and faster gamefishing boats, craft which will surely come as this sport really starts to take off in Thailand.
Professionally crewed and equipped boats. As it stands, there are several well-outfitted gamefishing boats operating from Phuket, most of them out of Chalong Beach. (A couple of the boats have been purpose-built, the others are converted local fishing craft. They all come equipped with fighting chair and firstquality deepsea fishing tackle, however.) With the new marina planned for Chalong, however, there is every reason to believe many more operators will establish themselves here.

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