Fishing The Mekong River In Asia
There are many fantastic fishing destinations in the world, but for many anglers, the Mekong River is their ideal location to fish.
There is no denying the importance of the Mekong River to the local area, and to the world. The Mekong River accounts for up to 25% of the total global freshwater catch, and it is said more than 60 million people are employed in relation to the Amazon river.
Mekong River facts
- The Mekong River is recognised as the twelfth longest river in the world
- The Mekong River is seen as the seventh largest biggest river in Asia
- The estimated length of the Mekong River is 4,350km (2,703 miles)
- The Mekong River discharges
- 475 km3 (114 cu mi) of water each year
- The Mekong River flows through Thailand, China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam
- The Mekong River is a significant trade route between Western China and Southeast Asia
- The Mekong River is said to host more than 1,300 species of fish, with some sources saying there are 1,700 species of fish in the river
Great rivers of Thailand
Great rivers of Thailand which join the Mekong River include:
- Ing River
- Ruak River
- Mun River
The Mun River is also joined by the Lam Ta Klong Rivers, Dom Noi River and Chi River.
The fish of the Mekong River
If you are looking for an overview of the fish found in the Mekong River and the Mekong Basin, the following list gives you an overview of how expansive the range of fish in this area is:
- Acantopsis Dialuzona
- Acrossocheilus Aluoiensis
- Anematichthys Repasson
- Bagarius Suchus
- Balitora Annamitica
- Balitora Lancangjiangensis
- Basa (Fish)
- Beardless Barb
- Blackline Rasbora
- Mekong Giant Catfish
- Crossocheilus Reticulatus
- Dichotomyctere Ocellatus
- Discherodontus Ashmeadi
- Discherodontus Schroederi
- Dwarf Scissortail Rasbora
- Goldfin Tinfoil Barb
- Threestripe Gourami
- Greater Scissortail
- Gyrinocheilus Aymonieri
- Gyrinocheilus Pennocki
- Hampala Dispar
- Hemimyzon Confluens
- Hemimyzon Ecdyonuroides
- Hemimyzon Khonensis
- Henicorhynchus Lobatus
- Homaloptera Confuzona
- Iridescent Shark
- Kryptopterus Bicirrhis
- Kryptopterus Geminus
- Labeo Barbatulus
- Largescaled Rasbora
- Chinese Mackerel
- Mekong Freshwater Stingray
- Mekongina Erythrospila
- Opsarius Koratensis
- Osteochilus Brachynotopteroides
- Osteochilus Lini
- Osteochilus Melanopleura
- Osteochilus Microcephalus
- Osteochilus Vittatus
- Osteochilus Waandersii
- Pale Rasbora
- Pangio Anguillaris
- Pao Abei
- Pao Baileyi
- Pao Barbatus
- Pao Cambodgiensis
- Pao Cochinchinensis
- Pao Leiurus
- Pao Suvattii
- Pao Turgidus
- Paralaubuca Riveroi
- Parambassis Siamensis
- Phallostethus Cuulong
- Polynemus Aquilonaris
- Poropuntius Angustus
- Pristolepis Fasciata
- Puntigrus Partipentazona
- Rasbora Amplistriga
- Rasbora Rubrodorsalis
- Rasbora Trilineata
- Rhodeus Laoensis
- Rosefin Rasbora
- Schistura Bannaensis
- Schistura Quasimodo
- Schizopygopsis Anteroventris
- Siamese Fighting Fish
- Siamese Mud Carp
- Sidestripe Rasbora
- Silver Rasbora
- Smallscale Archerfish
- Systomus Jacobusboehlkei
- Paradise Threadfin
- Tor Sinensis
- Triplophysa Microps
- Triplophysa Stenura
- Wallago Attu
- Wallagonia Micropogon
- Yellow Rasbora
Large fish of the Mekong River
While there are far too many fish and types of fish to delve into great detail, there are some fish in the Mekong River which deserve more attention.
Some of the largest freshwater fish in the world are found in the Mekong River, and it is understandable many anglers are drawn to this area because of these magnificent creatures.
Of the top six giant freshwater fish found around the world, four are found in the Mekong River:
- Giant Freshwater Stingray
- Mekong Giant Catfish
- Giant Pangasius (Dog-Eating Catfish)
- Giant Barb
Giant Freshwater Stingray
Found in sizable rivers and estuaries cross Southeast Asia, the Giant Freshwater Stingray is one of the largest freshwater fish in the entire world. It is known to grow to over 6ft in length, and in some cases has weighed more than 1,300lbs. When you consider the stingray is a thin creature, its potential weight is a breath-taking figure.
Mekong Giant Catfish
When a fish is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, you know it is something to be proud of. A Mekong Giant catfish caught in the north of Thailand in 2005 weighed in at 646 lbs. This was recorded as the largest freshwater fish ever recorded.
Due to its size, the catfish doesn’t get around too quickly, and it is commonly found in the muddy and murky waters.
The Mekong Giant Catfish is a highly prized, and this is not just because of how it tastes. This fish is revered with a God-like status. Many people believe that those who eat this fish receive good luck, and can look forward to a long life filled with wisdom.
With such a desire to capture and enjoy this fish, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that its numbers have fallen significantly in the past few decades.
Giant Pangasius (Dog-Eating Catfish)
With the Giant Pangasius known to weigh up to 220lb, this is another heavyweight fish in a river that is known for having some big hitters. The future of the Giant Pangasius is less critical than some of the other larger fish of the Mekong River, but it is still a fish that is in great demand.
The Giant Barb is also known as the Siamese Carp, and it has been recognised as the national fish of Cambodia.
This fish is regarded as the largest carp species in the world, and it is known to weigh up to 660 lbs. You can see why it has dubbed the “King of fish”, and it is hailed as one of the most important fish in Asia.
The giant barb, also known as the Siamese carp, has a storied history in its native Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, it appears in ancient temple carvings at Angkor and has been named the national fish. Found in the Mekong, Chao Phraya, and Maeklong river basins, giant barbs often frequent deep pools along the river’s edge, but they can also move seasonally into canals or floodplains in search of food.
Protected areas of the Mekong River
If you are looking to fish in the Mekong River, it is important to know some of the parts of the river are protected areas.
Protected areas include:
- The headwaters of the Mekong in Zadoi County, Qinghai, China, which are protected in Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve.
- The part of the river which flows through deep gorges in Yunnan Province is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Cambodia plays host to the most significant lake in Southeast Asia. This is recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
Mekong River fishing tours
With many parts of the Mekong River protected, and many types of fish protected too, it is helpful to know where and what you can fish on the river. Clearly, a guided tour of the Mekong River with a focus on fishing is of help to many anglers.
As stated above, there are 60 million people whose jobs are dependent on the river, and this includes the tour sector. A quick look on reputable travel operators and holiday sights indicate there is no shortage of fishing tours along the Mekong Delta.
When choosing the right Mekong fishing tour for you, there are many things to consider. Please consider these factors:
- Your budget for the entire tour
- The type of fish you wish to fish for
- The country or countries you are in or hope to visit
- How hands-on you wish the tour guide to be when it comes to the fishing element
- Do you need a fishing specialist or will a general tour guide be sufficient?
- Are you interested in a tour that allows you to see local life along the river or are you solely focused on fishing tours?
- Are you interested in the environment or the ecological impact of life along the Mekong River, or do you solely want to fish?
How you answer these questions will help you find the tour or fishing resort that is best for you along the Mekong River. There is no right or wrong answer, and there is no best tour that will meet the needs of every angler who makes their way to Asia to fish.
If you planning a fishing trip along the Mekong River, we hope this guide is of benefit to you, and helps you plan a trip you will remember for the rest of your life. If you have already fished on the Mekong River, we would love to hear from you.
This is one of the most highly prized fishing destinations in the world, and we know people are keen to hear stories, tales and tips from experienced fishers. If you have anything to share about what you loved or hated about fishing along the Mekong River, please let us know and we will be more than happy to share.