5 Thrilling Places to Fish in the Philippines

For the increasing number of people across the globe who have been bitten by the fishing bug, there can be no more attractive destination to wet a line than the Philippines. A quick look at this Southeast Asian country will quickly reveal why it is one of fishings dream destinations.

Which Island?

The Philippines boasts around 7,000 islands, many of them only lightly touched by the 21st century. The country has a total of approximately 11,000 miles of coastline – and an incredible variety of habitats where fish and other marine life are abundant. The diverse nature of these environments means that there is something for every fisher who enjoys the challenge of saltwater. Fishers need not undertake a long deepwater excursion in order to discover a plethora of fish species. Approximately 1,000 species of fish are located in the Philippine offshore.

History of the Fisheries

The Philippine fisheries have come under enormous pressure in the past. Overfishing and the unbridled exploitation of the seas natural resources caused organizations such as Greenpeace to encourage consumers to boycott seafood from the country due to mismanagement of resources and overfishing.

However, the Philippine government quickly realized the importance of its natural resources in terms of tourism potential and industry. In 2015 the country set in place an aggressive program to encourage sustainable fishing practices. This has resulted in species bouncing back – and the increasing attractiveness of the Philippines as a fishing destination.

For those who want to enjoy the fantastic fishing opportunities that the Philippines has to offer the choice of just where to go can be confusing – there is simply so much choice. However, here are some Philippine fishing destinations that will satisfy both the novice and more experienced saltwater fishers.

Siargao Islands.

The first destination is a paradise for game fishers. Siargao Islands is a group of 48 islands of varying sizes – and the fishing in this area is spectacular. A testament to the fact that this is a world-class fishing destination is the fact that the International Gamefishing Tournament in Pilar has been attracting some of the planet’s best fishermen ever since 2018. There are trophy fish to be had – in 2018 the winner of the tournament took home first prize with a Sailfish of almost 100 pounds. There is an enormous number of different species that can be targeted in the area. These include tuna, dorado, grouper, Broadbill Swordfish, and Billfish.

Subic.

For those who want to venture into deeper water visiting Subic should be on the bucket list. From October to June, this Zambales Province will be most productive. During this time the shipwrecks of the coast will reward diligent exploration with hook and line. However, the real action is for those who want to go after some of the most iconic fish species in the world in the clear deep waters off the coast. Here fisherman stands a chance of hooking barracuda, giant trevally, sailfish and King Mackeral. There is something here for everyone.

Cebu City / Mactan Island.

Cebu City in the Central Visayas region of the country has long played host to some of the most active commercial fisheries in the Philippines. However, in recent years locals and the Philippine government have realized that the waters off the coast hold enormous promise as far as fishing based tourism is concerned. Fishermen who visit the area will be immediately faced with a challenge – whether to enjoy the world-class fishing possible from the shore or to venture into deeper waters. Popular species in the deep blue include snapper, tarpon, coral trout, trevally, and barracuda. There are numerous fishing charter operations in the area, so sport fishers will be spoiled for choice.

Sticking to the shore also will bring rewards. As with most things following the locals may be the key to getting the best experiences – it is no different in Cebu City. Head for ‘Green Lagoon Park‘ just outside of town and get your line in the water to enjoy the attentions of species such as grunter, barracuda and emperors. It’s also a great place to simply unwind. There are grilling facilities nearby, and it’s also a great place to get some swimming in.

Leaving the bosom of the city is not necessary to enjoy some great fishing action. Naga City Baywalk is around 40 minutes from central Cebu – and the fishing here is magnificent. There are also a number of public transportation options which will deliver right to the edge of the action. Species such as crescent grunters, needlefish, and jacks are abundant. There’s a great bonus for those who head out to this fabulous fishing spot. It boasts the most transparent and cleanest waters in the area.

Another great location near to Cebu is Mactan Island. Only about a mile from downtown Cebu, this location offers some exciting species and great days fishing from the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. The bridge is tremendously easy to access and is in a safe public park (the Philippine Seafarers Memorial Park) which also has a satellite police outpost. Entrance is free – and it’s also a great place to relax. There are numerous hawkers and outlets where one can but refreshments. Police presence means that it is perfect for those who want to explore the excitement of night fishing in the Philippines. The fishing can be challenging due to strong currents and snags – those putting a line in the water should be prepared to lose a fair amount of gear while bait fishing (the locals recommend live shrimp or squid). The park can get a bit crowded – but that’s no wonder given the size of the fish that have been landed off its shores. Species that receive the most attention include snapper, grouper, eel, trevally and barracuda – however, there are plenty more types of fish in that sea.

Manila.

Navotas Mamale fishing near Manilla is one of the open secrets among those who want to experience some great fishing – but also stay close to the bright lights of Manilla. Here fishermen can target Threadfin Salmon, trevally or jacks as well as Oxeye Tarpon and Ladyfish. It’s the perfect spot to get in some relaxation with a popper or spoon at the terminal end of the line.

For those who want to explore the freshwater options, there is no shortage of opportunities in the Philippines – and many of the country’s lakes will deliver a freshwater fishing experience that will rival anything that can be found in the salt.

Just over two hours from the capital city Manilla twin lakes (Lumot and Caliraya) provide some exceptional Largemouth Bass experiences. Largemouth Bass is an American import. They found their way to the Philippines courtesy of the US Army Engineers who helped to construct the Caliraya Dam during World War Two. Today the species boasts specimens that can reach more than ten pounds – a very respectable size for a hard fighting fish.

The lakes are also the perfect antidote for the sometimes uncomfortably humid coastal areas of the Philippines. Cooling breezes make every visit an absolute pleasure.

Tadlac Lake.

This freshwater location in the Philippines will deliver some adrenaline-filled fishing experiences. For those who want to travel and explore a trip to Tadlac lake is highly recommended. This lake is also known as Crocodile or Alligator Lake. The lake is located in Los Banos, Laguna and boasts populations of some of the most impressive fish species in Southeast Asia. This is the place to head if the fisherman wants to experience species that are native to the region. Species that can be targeted include giant snakeheads, giant carp (commonly in the region of 40kg’s), Pangasius Catfish, and tilapia. There is another reason to visit the lake – it is located in an area of incredible natural beauty.

The Philippines is a country that boasts incredible natural beauty. The sheer number of islands off its coast – and the government’s commitment to sustainability means that it has quickly become a favorite with fishermen (and women) from across the globe. Add to this the sheer number of species that are available to the hobbyist, and it is no wonder that the country is seeing an ever-increasing number of sport fishers paying its shores a visit. Add to this the incredible choice between salt and freshwater attractions, and you have the perfect recipe for fishing bliss.

The country is filled with excellent accommodation choices which will suit every budget. The food is world-class, and the nightlife ranges from calm and laid back to pulsating. The food is renowned across the world for its variety and complex flavors.

In short, a fishing trip to the Philippines delivers much more than an opportunity to wet a line. It delivers an experience that is more than a sum of its parts. Put the country of your fishing bucket list – you will never regret the decision.

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