Nestled among the dramatic limestone karsts just 40 minutes north of Krabi, in the quiet and peaceful province of Phang-Nga, is a remote area where you can come and find your inner angler. An oasis in the seemingly endless fields of palm and rubber trees, Exotic Fishing Thailand – or EFT for short – has found a home.
Founded by Canadian native Mike Bailey, Exotic Fishing Thailand just finished its second full season with tremendous success.
Bailey, an avid sport fisherman, began his love of fishing, like many of us, when he was just a boy. He spent many weekends bass fishing in the many Canadian lakes and rivers and later, when he grew tired of the local options, he traveled down to Mexico for Dorado, sailfish and many other fish. After getting hooked (no pun intended), his love for the sport took him around the world sporting fish in many exotic destinations. When at one time he was working in Korea, he began traveling to Thailand for the sun, beaches and the tremendous fishing opportunities. On one such trip he stumbled across a fish breeder in Bangkok and began contemplating the idea of giving up his job in the metal fabrication industry and building a career in what he loved to do, fishing.
Soon after in 2011, Mike began looking throughout southern Thailand for land suitable for a large lake in which he could stock all his favorite exotic fish species and open a fishing resort . After endless searching, he found a special plot of land of approximately 50 rai, in Phang-Nga. Nestled between two mountain ranges – one of which is named by the locals “The Eagles’ Nest” because of its numerous raptor residents – is the oasis he has named Exotic Fishing Thailand.
The PH of the water was perfect, the price was right, the area was beautiful, which all together meant, time to start digging!
Bailey began the project after consulting a range of experts about size, stocking densities, stocking ponds as needed and so on. The final main lake was set in the center of the land resting on approximately 25 rai or around 40,000 sq. meters. At its center, the pond’s depth is just over five meters giving it a total volume of approximately 160 million liters of water.
Mike created EFT with diversity in mind. Over 66 different species can be found at the main lake thus creating a huge range of potential catches for anyone wishing to try their luck with the rod. Goonch catfish from India, Arapaima from the Amazon and our local hero the Mekong Catfish from Thailand, are only some of the many species one can find on the end of their rod while testing the waters here.
Krabi Magazine took the time to head out to EFT last March to see it for ourselves and to try our luck on the rod – we were not disappointed. Surrounded by endless trees extending to the horizon, the drive through Ao Luk and into Phang-Nga is a great event by itself. Just sitting back listening to the wind wisp in our ears, we dashed along the countryside weaving between the numerous mountain ranges that erupt through the region. Turning off the main road somewhere in Phang-Nga we headed off deeper into the jungle in search of fishing paradise. As we headed down deeper and deeper into the unknown, the road turned from a paved path onto a gravel and dirt road. After traveling along for a few kilometers we began to second-guess ourselves, but we persevered, and finally, after breaking through the jungle cover, we made it!
Engines off, scooters go silent and we take everything in, this gorgeous location. It is a true masterpiece to behold. A long line of cliffs border the edges of the land on two sides creating an extreme valley in which the lake is located. This lake houses some of the biggest and rarest freshwater species in the world.
The lake is surrounded by 16 fishing platforms with covered seating areas from which excited anglers can cast their lines.
We entered through the reception area and were greeted by the man himself, Mike Bailey, who came out with a huge smile on his face (I guess another great Arapaima just got hooked). He then chauffeured us through the reception area where we got a glimpse of the dining area, which serves the tasty and exclusive Arapaima burger.
Afterwards we began the “around the world fishing tour”. This entails traveling to one end of the lake area where there are actually 8 other ponds; each one is stocked with a certain variety of fish. When the fish in the stocking ponds are big enough they are transferred into the main lake. The smaller stocking ponds are home to Amazonian Arapaima, Chao Phraya Catfish, Redtailed Catfish and a number of other exotic species.
Next to the stocking ponds are numerous fish tanks with yet another vast variety of fish (smaller of course) from all around the world. These oversized tanks are set-up in groups and all fish in each of these tanks will be endemic to a certain region of the world. There is a South American section, African, Asian, and best of all a predatory section, which features the amazing African Tigerfish. This fish makes the piranha look like a mouse, but don’t get your hopes up to high, the Tigerfish are not stocked in the main lake for safety reasons. These are relegated to the glass fish tanks which makes seeing and taking photos of them easy but catching them impossible for now.
After seeing the many different species of fish from around the world and taking some quick photos, we moved onto the Arapaima breeding ponds where Mike is currently in the process of starting his own population of Amazonian Arapaima. Mike can easily maintain the current stocking levels of Arapaima fish in the main lake.
Mike mentions that the fishing tour we are currently on is actually a separate activity area in EFT. It is designed as an area where kids, schools and/or non-anglers can come see some amazing fish species and learn something new but not necessarily partake in fishing if they don’t want to. The fishing tour area is named the “Mountain View Fish Park” and is open the same hours as the main fishing pond. Private tours of the fish park area are available from Mike or his staff.
As we continue on with the tour, we come to the main lake where we can see numerous splashes from the large fish surfacing for food, playing or marking their respective territories known to one another. The pond area is massive, extending over 25 rai, as it should be. It looks like it nearly extends to the horizon. From our platform we can see the other anglers casting their lines. The echoes of laughter, joy and triumph can be heard all around as the many anglers land a large catfish an Amazonian Arapaima or any of the other 66 species in the pond.
Looking westward on the lake, we notice that some land has been cleared. Upon asking Mike what the plans are for the area he replies that they are building a number of lakeside private villas, which will offer the serious angler an option to own their own place on the lake and also rent it out to other anglers while they are not around. The lakeside villas are currently planned to be complete sometime in mid to late 2016.
Overall, Exotic Fishing Thailand really impressed us at Krabi Magazine. The area is stunning, the fish are huge and plentiful, the food was great and the staff was knowledgeable, friendly and ready to help with baiting, casting, taking photos and answering all our questions. We are looking forward to our trip back to this haven, and given than it is only 40 minutes from Ao Nang, I think our rendezvous will be happening sooner rather than later.
Exotic Fishing Thailand is located in Phang-Nga just a short 40 minute drive from Krabi. You can get in touch with them by visiting their website at:
or by calling them directly at: