LOCAL GAME FISH

Narrowbarred spanish mackerel(Scomberomoros commerson) are a highly prized fish in Koh Tao for their exciting fight and excellent meat. They are year round residents here but best time to catch these fish is from January through October. Common size is between 5 and 15 kilos.

Very closely related to the Atlantic king mackerel(Scomberomorus cavalla) with a few differences. The narrow barred mack has more pronounced vertical stripes, and the flesh is much firmer than the Atlantic king mackerel. Behaviour, techniques used to catch them, and fighting characteristics are identical.

Narrowbarred mackerel are the most expensive local fish. Can be found in fish markets for up to 150baht/kilo which compares to tuna and dolphinfish(50b/kilo), trevallies and snappers(70b/kilo).

Larger fish almost always caught using bait, but smaller fish often caught by jigging offshore.

Rainbow Runner (Elagatis Bipinnulata), grows to around 8 kgs here and is always fun to catch. Clear water in the summer and there is a chance to catch at the pinnacles.

Cobia(Rachycentron canadum) can turn up anywhere at anytime. These strong fighting fish have been caught at Koh Tao up to around 25kilos. They will take a trolled Rapala lure, any live bait fished on the bottom or surface and also dead cut bait. Usually a berley trail will get these guys on the bite. Pic taken at Mango bay.

Although we concentrate efforts on the top water pelagics we usually fish in areas with bottom structure that hold a wide variety of bottom dwellers. It is no trouble to send down a livebait and often well rewarded. African pompano(Alectis ciliaris) are the most commonly encountered species bottom fishing at Koh Tao. Often caught from 3 to 5 kilos with a maximum size of 7 kilos. Other trevallies we catch are goldspot(caranx fulvoguttatus) and bludger trevally(Carangoides gymnostethus). These two nice African pompano were caught at Mango bay.

Queenfish(Scomberoides commersonnianus) also caught around local wrecks and reefs using any live bait. Inshore around the coast they are aften taken with a trolled rapala. Koh Tao has a large average size of queenfish at about 4 kilos. Max size of 10 kilos. Photo taken at Na Baan pinnacle.

Fingermark perch(Lutjanus johnii) are the largest local snapper species. Usually encountered when bottom fishing at Unicorn wreck although Green rock at Nangyuan island also holds this fish. Size is usually under 5 kilos. This one fell to a live squid at Unicorn wreck. Moses perch(Lutjanus russelli) are found all around Koh Tao in reefs and rocky areas but are much smaller than the fingermark. Mangrove jack(Lutjanus argentimaculatus) live in the shallow waters around the coastline.

Black marlin(Makaira indica) are caught year round in Koh Tao with the peak season December = March. Some of the best areas to catch these fish are less than 500 meters from the beach. Average size is about 30 kilos with some much larger fish sometimes hooked.

Sailfish(Istiophorus platypterus) are less common than marlin and usually caught from September until March, although a few are taken year round. As with the marlin they average around the 30 kilo mark.

Dolphin(Coryphaena hippurus) are caught 5 miles offshore and further. Great fun on light spinning tackle. February through October is the best time. For whatever reason dolphinfish in the Gulf of Thailand have a small average size. Between 1 and 3 kilo fish are very common(can even be a pest at times) but anything over 5 kilos is a rare catch. Koh Tao record is just under 10 kilos.

Great baracuda(sphyraena barracuda) are caught all over this area. Trolling diving lures such as Rapala Magnums or X Raps in the inshore shallows account for most of the smaller fish, while adults sometimes take livebaits offshore near any wrecks or structure.Average size is around 5 kilos, with a maximum size up around 25 kilos. The large adults give a great fight with some spectacular jumps.

Tuna are caught by trolling a chain of small plastic squid or feathers. Often a bird teaser is used to better attract them. 2 species are regularly caught here. Mackerel tuna(Euthynnus affinis) and another small tuna that I can’t ID. The Thai govt and all fisheries studies in the Gulf of Thailand call them longtail tuna(Thunnus tonggol). Year round residents at Koh Tao, the best tuna fishing time is late December through March.

Emperors(Lethrinus sp.) are found all around Koh Tao, both near rocks and areas of reef as well as over sand bottom. Delicious table fish and fun to catch on light tackle.Pic taken at Na Baan pinnacle.

Coral trout(Plectropomus leopardus) are sometimes caught trolling lures close in to the shore in water depths of between 2 and 5 meters. These fish, and all other grouper/cod species have suffered from the extensive fish trapping that goes on here and any coral trout over 2 kilos is an exceptional fish. Estuary cod(Epinephelus coioides) are found around any structure but usually at a small size. Big cod seem to almost always find their way back into the structure when hooked. Fish pictured was caught at Unicorn wreck.