Fishing in Cambodia offers the visitor an incredible array of species and locations to cast their line. There is also the chance of catching a genuine monster as Cambodia is home to two of the biggest freshwater fish species in the world, the Giant Mekong Catfish and the Giant Freshwater Stingray.
Fishing in Phnom Penh
The main fishing attractions in Phnom Penh are on the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers. The boat will take you a little downstream of the city where you will find an array of species including Mekong Redtail Catfish, Giant Mekong Catfish, Asian Catfish, Mekong Spot Catfish and several others.
The boat will be stocked with food and drink so you can stay out as long as you wish and enjoy the beautiful sunset on your way back to the city.
You will depart from the boat port near Wat Phnom on the Tonle Sap River and on your way out to the first fishing spot you will see a completely different view of Phnom Penh. First, you will see the Night Market and then the riverside with many hotels, bars and restaurants. Just ten minutes downriver from the Night Market, you will see the Royal Palace where the current king of Cambodia still lives. Just a little further and you will see the famous Preah Ang Dangkeou Temple where Phnom Penh locals get blessed water for good luck.
As you continue, you will see Chaktomuk Hall. Chaktomuk Hall is used for meetings, conferences and is also used as a cinema. It was built in 1960 and has unique architecture. The Hall was completely abandoned during the Khmer Rouge regime, but in more recent times was used as a court to try some of the Khmer Rouge leaders.
A little further down the river and you will see the Tonle Sap River splitting into four parts; the Tonle Sap, Upper Mekong, Lower Mekong and the Bassac River.
This confluence of rivers will be your first fishing location as many species compete for prey in this ecologically rich water. You will stay in each location for approximately 30-40 minutes unless the fishing is particularly good or someone hooks into a Giant Mekong Catfish which may take several hours to land!
Next, you will stop close to the shore of the beautiful Silk Island on the left bank of the Mekong River. Your guide will show you the areas that are best to cast into, making sure you catch as many fish as possible.
We do stress that although these rivers are abundant in stock and species, all fish are caught on barbless hooks and returned to the water as quickly and with as little stress as possible to maintain this diverse ecosystem.
Lake Fishing in Phnom Penh
If your passion is fly fishing then a day experiencing one of Phnom Penh’s fisheries is your best option. The Natural Fishing Resort is 15 kilometres south of the city and is a relaxed setting where you can enjoy food and drinks served to you while you fish for Snakehead, Toman, Tilapia and Giant Catfish from the lake.
Fishing in Siem Reap
The best fishing around Siem Reap is in Southeast Asia’s biggest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. Of course, Siem Reap is now world famous for its many incredible temples, attracting visitors from all around the world. Once you have finished exploring the temples, head just south of the city to Tonle Sap lake for some beautiful scenery and some fantastic fishing.
The livelihoods of the families who live on the lake depend on fishing as they both sell and eat what they catch. Most families live on floating houses and their livelihoods depend on the 500,000 tons of fish is caught from the Tonle Sap lake every year.
During your trip, you will visit Kampong Kleang, Mechrey and Prek Toul floating villages, all located on the lake.
Some of the fish species you will catch include Redtail Catfish, Asian Catfish, Mekong Spot Catfish, Croaker, Tinfoil Barb, Slender Carp and Transverse-bar barb.
Mechrey Village Fishing Community
The Mechrey village is a small community 45 minutes away from Siem Reap. Fisherpeople and their families live on the water and their livelihoods all depend on fishing. After passing through the floating village, you will stop to fish in various locations depending on the season.
Kampong Kleang Fishing Community
Kampong Kleang village is located about 35 kilometres east of Siem Reap. On the journey, you will see many communities of wooden houses on the shore of the lake, which are built on stilts to avoid flooding.
Kampong Kleang is situated virtually in the middle of the lake. There are a huge amount of different fish species living here since the water is deeper than Mechrey village. We will also be situated near the fishing conservation area that is protected by the government.
We will stop to fish at the fishing conservation area, but again we must stress that all fish are returned and humanely treated to protect the environment and the livelihoods of the local people.
Prek Toul Eco-Village
Prek Toul floating village is an ecotourism site and bird sanctuary on the Tonle Sap Lake.
Prek Toul has more than 150 species of water birds such as Spot-billed Pelican, Milky Stork, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black-headed Ibis, and Oriental Darter. There also a significant population of the rare Grey-headed Fish Eagles and Masked Finfoot.
The community-based ecotourism project is one of a number of similar projects which are ever more popular as the ecotourism sector gains popularity in Cambodia. Prek Toul is a highly recommended visit for all who wish to see real Cambodian culture, people and practices and want to give back and help those communities they are visiting.