A guide to Fishing the waters of
Ngwe Saung Beach - Myanmar
A fisherman’s dream will come true at
Ngwe Saung Beach-Myanmar
These waters of the Indian Ocean are quit pristine. We didn't see any large fishing boats at all. Each night there where about 5 small wooden boats on the ocean, fishing with strong lights. There are also nets used, but not the big ones and not many. Close to the shore there are a few.
There is a lot of movement in the ocean. Big splashes and a lot of big fish hunting. You will see this the whole day. Schools of flying fish will fly away from the boat (click), it is a magical sight. The skipper’s eye is well trained and he will point out every splash if you don't see it first.
It's looks like a very healthy and balanced water, although there is a lot of plastic floating around and thrown into the ocean. Overfishing is not something they discuss here.
At daytime there are a few excursions from Lovers Island to Bird Island. You can go either fishing or snorkelling. There’s plenty of room for fishing on the snorkelling excursion, but the fishing tour is fully concentrated on fishing. We did both tours.
When going on a snorkelling trip you will be trolling the whole way to Bird Island and back.
You'll go for anchor at the southwest side of Bird island were all boats for snorkelling will go for anchor. You can choose between reef fishing or snorkelling, do both is also possible. You stay for anchor for about two hours. While you are snorkelling the skippers are fishing the reef trying to catch their diner. All boats are fishing on the same place so the fish knows the drill! We caught less fish at the southwest part than on the full day fishing trip on the east part. A small wooden boat from the island will pick you up from the boat and drop you on the island. Be aware of the sharp rocks. They ask for a small amount of kyats for the pickup service. There are a few shacks on Bird Island were you can eat fish on a stick from the BBQ, drink coffee or tea and have a lovely snorkelling trip. Countless reef fish painted with the most bright and beautiful colours on earth will swim all around you.
Note: the people are poor, they don't care about bright and beautiful colours, fish is fish and fish is food. So between the rocks on the island you will encounter some unpleasant surprises. But keep in mind, the people don’t have much.
Price: 30.000 kyats for 5 hours
(to be sure, ask before you book the snorkelling trip if there are trolling lines and reels & rods and a pick hook aboard! If not, tell them to arrange this or just pick a other boat.)
Full fishing day
Usually 2 or 3 locals will come with you on the boat. They are very friendly, funny and helpful. Take a package or two of cigarettes on board and give that to the skippers. They'll love it! An awesome fishing trip is already assured. There is plenty of drinking water on board, they also bring a very nice watermelon and basic lunch for you. Soda's or beer you can bring yourself. One skipper is driving the boat and the other one is cook, and most important, fishing master. He also keeps an eye on the engine which makes a very loud "diesel" sound (earplugs can be handy:). He also controls the water level inside the boat and starts pumping when necessary. The third man is an expert big game fisher and he delivers the rods & reels. Unfortunate he was sick that day and didn’t come with us.
On the full day fishing trip you are trolling for about 2 hours to Bird Island. On the way back you are trolling for 2 hours again. We caught a Jack Trevally on the way there and a Barracuda on the way back. We had 5 big strikes on the lure but those fish escaped. That has to do with the use of nylon line but also bad luck, later more about that in the subject materials. On the way back it was quiet, we had 2 mild strikes and lost both fish.
You'll go for anchor at the east side of Bird Island for about 3 hours. This is a big difference compare to the southwest side. You can catch fish each time you lower your bait. When a fish takes the bait, just strike upwards quickly to set the hook. Watch your fingers when pulling out the hook. You will hear the jaws slam.
Use braided line and a good hook for more success. When lying for anchor the men will start cooking their meal on board. They’ll make a fire and a lot of smoke will raise from the boat. Don’t panic, everything is under control. You can choose, or better, let them choose a freshly caught fish. They will prepare it for you on the boat. Fresher is simply not possible! I can recommend to share the fish with them.
Most of the skippers speak very poor English or not at all. This can be difficult if you want to share your wishes, need some information or just want to talk with them. Conversations can quickly get confusing. In Ngwe Saung Beach there are serval boys who do speak English. Try to find one like we did and ask him to join you're trip. In general they’re keen on practising their English and will love to come with you. They might ask you for some money, you can give some after the trip or share you're caught fish. That´s a big reward for them and their family.
We found a boy named Ye Nyein Naing (nickname YengYeng –picture-) He was very friendly and helpful to us. His English was quite good, he could translate for us and was an excellent companion. You can find him in the village at the left side of Luxer de lux hotel. Just say his name :)
I advise you to go to Ngwe Saung Thar Boat Tour in front of Lovers Island to find a boat.
On the beach before the island you'll find some shacks. Ask in the most left shack. Face to the Island.
And please, when you come back, don’t do the banana boat tour, that looks really silly :)
But you can also just ask around. Everybody has a friend with a boat :)
There are different possibilities to fish. The speedboats are much more expensive and less fun than the wooden diesel boats. The tours are also shorter with the speedboats than with the wooden diesel boats. For example, I saw a flyer for a speedboat fishing trip which was 88.000 kyats for only 4 hours.
Do your research before you book.
Price: 80.000 kyats for a full day fishing, 7 hours
The materials you use are far from modern. New materials are very costly for the locals.
We used 2 big game rods which looked old. One rod had a broken tip, but anyway, the rods did their job well. As rod holder, they used plastic sewer tubes strapped with thick nylon fishing line, as so the nylon line was used for the rudder and throttle of the boat. When the rods are standing in their holder, make sure you tie a rope on the rods. If things break you will save the rod.
They took 2 deep diving Rapala lures on the boat. My advice is to take some extra with you. If you have only 2 lures and one is lost, you’ll fish with only one rod and reduce your chances with 50%. Bring a surface lure from home, this can give you some big surprises. There’s a fishing store in the village. It’s hard to find, so just ask around. They sell some diving lures for not too much money. Except from the good brands. If you buy one, ask what colours are doing well in the ocean. They also sell squid lures, take one with you for sure (photo):
When you finish your fishing trip give your local purchased lure to the skippers. This is a very big gift and they will take it with big cheers and happiness.
Nylon line has got a lot of stretch. Probably you will lose a lot of fish because of this. Best thing to do is to take a reel with braided line with you. I had a reel which was strong enough for the big game. But my line was a little too light, so make sure you take the right diameter. On the beach, ask if they put your reel on the big game rod (if you didn’t take your own). It’s better to use your own “travel” rod as an extra. That way you can fish at the side of the boat and having 3 lures in the water. Keep the rod in your hands and shout it out loud when you have a strike so the skipper can slow down and turn the boat. It’s almost sure you will catch every striking fish because there is no stretch on the line. When you have a strike, set the hooks strongly a few times. Also when you go for anchor a braided line will help you a lot. The guys where fishing with thick nylon, they caught 3 or 4 fishes in 3 hours. With the braided line almost every strike was a hit. My catch was around 25 fishes.
Be aware at all times. Big game fishing can be very dangerous. Think about the sharp teeth of the barracuda or toxic spines of the beautiful reef fish. They can end your day very quickly. If you become badly injured you’ll have to go to Bangkok or Jakarta to find a suitable hospital, those in Myanmar are not advisable. When shipped out of Myanmar, that will be the end of your holiday. If the injury is too bad for you to be transported by air, and you have to be admitted to a hospital in Myanmar, it’s a 6 hours’ drive to reach Yangon. And once again, the hospitals are not good. Better be safe than sorry.
If you are not experienced with big game fishing, like me, be aware of any advice given to you by the skippers. When the game is on, listen to the men. Think quickly and be assertive. Pay attention. Be sharp. Except when u are using own materials like braided line and you know how to use it, then you are the boss and in charge all the time. It can be that the men don’t know these materials. Like my skipper for example, who tried to lift a big Barracuda on a thin braided line with his hands. This did not go very well: The line cut his hands and the line broke. Gone fish, gone lure and the skipper must have been in pain for few days. Although he was very, very lucky he did not cut his fingers of…(click here to see the video)
At least let the men catch the first big fish. Or even better, let them land all the big fish to reduce accidents to zero.
Around 3PM the sun will cool down a bit. Then you can go to Lovers Island to do some squid fishing. Early morning is also a perfect time. The locals will try to get you in a boat to get to the island, while walking is also possible (depending on the tide). Just try first, it might save you some money for the boat. If you go with boat you have to come back from the island before sundown. When walking you can stay longer. But it’s not easy to do. Determine your path to go back in the dark while it's light and do not forget your headlight and a plastic bag to keep your things dry.
The squids we saw on Lovers Island were gigantic. We saw them at Bird Island as well. They mostly swim at the surface but you can also find them in deeper water. Wait until you see one at the surface and try to cast in front of the squid. Fun is assured.
Bring some small squid and prawn. You can buy them in the morning at the market in the village, or in the fish tank shop (you can’t miss this one…) Then you can fish for small fish with a float and small hooks. They look very beautiful.
Although the locals will tell you there are no fish at the beach, I know for sure there is. Not big ones, but big enough for a nice breakfast. You’ll have to wait until dark. Assure you have some squid and prawn with you and use small hooks. Take some anchor lead from home because the current is strong. Fix your lead in the sand. Find a sewer tube(blue) somewhere as rod stand and dig this in the sand close to the water. Take a headlight from home, this is essential. You’ll get small strikes all the time.
Light a nice campfire which might attract some fish to the beach and take a zip of the very cheap Mandalay or Grand Royal Whisky. Can you wish for more?
Be aware. The shoreline is a motorbike highway. The locals drive from village to village on the beach. Best is to strap a light on your rod holder to avoid chopped of heads or any other accident.
Shore fishing with boat
You can go fishing close to the shore with a boat. They will offer you this when you had your full day fishing trip. I didn’t do it, but it sounded nice.
Price: 10.000 kyats