A bustling city-state of 5 million people probably isn’t the first place your mind goes to when you think of fishing. But most high-rise metropolises don’t sit on the crossroads of the South China and Java Seas. These treasure troves of prized fish are right on your doorstep when fishing in Singapore. Hit the waters here and get away from the pressure of downtown, kick back, and get your fish on.
It’s all about getting back to basics when casting a line in Singapore. After all, this city started off as a humble fishing village. While that may seem a world away from the skyscrapers of today, pick the right trip and you could be transported back in time. Head out on a traditional “kelong” boat or marvel at them from your modern sportfishing vessel. Whatever you choose, you’ll see that Singapore has fishing in its DNA.
Explore all around the main island (Pulau Ujong) or discover any of the 62 other islets that make up this tiny but impressive country. Everywhere you look will be full of exciting and delicious fish. In this guide, we’ll take you through the top catches, some of the preferred techniques and spots, along with regulations, and more. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Best Fish to Catch in Singapore
Most Singapore fishing trips focus on bottom fishing along the coral reefs and shipwrecks close to shore. But there are also surprises on the watertops. With local ponds and reservoirs full of prized fish, too, and the possibility of an offshore hunt from nearby Malaysia, diversity is the real name of the game here. But let’s meet the stars of the show.
We’ll start in freshwater with a variety of one of the most sought-after species in the world. Peacock Bass are an exotic member of the Bass family, and are well-known for their tough-fighting prowess, dazzling colors, and delicious taste. Bear in mind that these species are actually In Singapore, they’re known as “Emperor Fish” which is high praise indeed, if you ask us. The calm ponds and lakes come alive with a Peacock’s battle, as they thrash about to get off the end of your line.
But before targeting one, you’ll want to know exactly what to use to reel ’em in. You should be aware that fresh bait – live or dead – is not allowed when freshwater fishing in Singapore. Therefore, you’ll want to stock up on artificials. Spoons, plugs, and popping bugs are favorites of local anglers… Basically, anything except plastic worms will do the trick. And after a fierce fight, you’ll have some tasty meat to take home.
Speaking of delicious freshwater fish, they don’t come much better than Snakehead in these parts. A staple of the local cuisine – from clay pots to grills – across the whole region, Snakehead is a must when fishing in Singapore. After all, what better way to get ready for dinner than by catching the meat yourself? We certainly think it tastes sweeter that way!
And if you thought Bass were aggressive, wait until you meet these ferocious creatures. They’ll attack your line with so wildly that you won’t know what’s hit you. Use a variety of topwater lures to attract these beasts’ attention, before getting ready to put your strength to the test. They swim in similar waters to Bass, so bring an array of lures and try your luck against both.
Coral Trout and Fingermark Bream
Moving into saltwater now, and close to shore, there’s an abundance of fun-to-catch fish. A couple that bite close to the water’s surface include Coral Trout and Fingermark Bream. While the latter can be caught further out too (where they’re known as “Golden Snapper”), smaller specimens provide serious fun for anglers of all levels in the shallows.
The good thing about targeting these creatures is that, by feeding closer to the top of the water column, they limit your risk of snagging your line on the rocks. They also respond well to a range of baits and – unlike in freshwater – there are fewer limits here! Prawns are the weapon of choice for most locals, mainly due to their incredible numbers. But squid and other small bait fish like herring are good. Try jigging your bait up and down or cast out into your target waterway. A fish is almost guaranteed.
A real staple of the shallows wherever they show up, however, is Barramundi. Anglers from Australia know all too well about the game and meat qualities of this impressive species, so they need no introduction. They can grow to over 1.8 meters (6 feet), although chances are you’ll be targeting varieties in the 60–120 cm (2–4 foot) range. That’s still impressive, though!
Casting towards the brush where these creatures hunt is your recipe for success. These beasts are likely to gobble down any live bait you throw their way. Prawns, mullet, minnows… they’ll all do the trick. But again, with Barramundi, the fun kicks in once hooked. Get ready for an impressive fight along with some heavy lifting to reel one in. Just be careful when bringing them aboard, as their razor-sharp teeth are known to do damage to lines and humans.
If you thought it couldn’t get better than Barramundi, wait until you see what’s next in store. Trevallies are known all across the Pacific for their game qualities, and these impressive creatures are no different in Singapore. Golden Trevallies are the most common close to shore, with dazzling Diamond Trevallies possible further out. There’s even a special Giant Trevally fishery, too, so you know there’s no shortage of this prized family.
Other than the fight they put up, these fish are also targeted due to their interesting behavior. They’ll likely take a nibble at your bait instead of eating it all at once, meaning that it’s up to you to set the hook before they run away. Much like Barramundi, these fish aren’t exactly picky eaters so almost any bait will work. But each Trevally can dive deep with your line, attempting to break it on the rocks, so you’d better be prepared for a battle of skill, too.
Snappers and Groupers
We’ve already mentioned that Fingermark Bream are known as Golden Snappers the further out you find them, but there’s also plenty more where they came from. Bottom-dwelling Snappers and Groupers are all the rage along the reefs, offering fun, fun, fun, and delicious meat to boost. The bright-red Red Emperor Snapper is a favorite of local and visiting anglers alike, while the monstrous Queensland Groper steals the show on the Grouper front.
Gropers can grow to as big as 3 meters (almost 10 feet) long, so you know these are impressive fish. And, while they’re heavily regulated in Australia, the rules are a little more relaxed around Singapore. Much like Barramundi, they can be dangerous to humans, so handle them with care. It’s especially important, as you’ll likely forget after the mammoth battle you’ll endure getting one to the boat! Snappers, meanwhile, are less complicated but they do offer some of the best pound-for-pound action. Try bottom fishing to entice the bite of both – your chances are pretty high!
When to Go Fishing in Singapore
While that’s by no means the end of the list of fish you can catch in Singapore, unfortunately, we need to move on. The good news for you is that we’ll now let you in on the best times to cast a line here. In even better news, fishing is possible year-round thanks to the permanent presence of some of the species we mentioned above in the shallows and on the reefs. But, that being said, some seasons are better than others…
For example, monsoon season can be unpleasant. The strong winds can make the conditions a little tricky, but high water levels mean it’s good for night trips, especially around the southern islands. March is when the fishing season really kicks off, as Snappers and Groupers start biting left, right, and center. They’re joined by Trevallies, Queenfish, Barramundi, and Parrotfish in April, and they’re all here to stay through fall.
The height of summer may not be the most tempting due to the soaring temperatures, but head out in the early morning or evening and you can have a productive trip. Things gradually start winding down from October onwards, with Groupers dominating the angling scene in November. Then you’re back to monsoon season again.
How to Go Fishing in Singapore
So you know the what and when, what about the how? Below, we’ll talk you through some of the most popular ways to get your fish on in Singapore. Read on and make your mind up about how you can make the most of an angling adventure here.
Shore Fishing in Singapore
Singapore is surrounded by water, and, on top of that, it’s a pretty small place. That means that you’re never far from a good place to cast a line. While many private lands are off-limits for anglers, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to set up for the day and go fishing. Our tip? Look for a beach or rocky outcrop near any joining bodies of water – streams and rivers, for example. These attract plenty of bait fish and, eventually, your prey.
There’s a real back-to-basics feel when casting from shore in Singapore, as you indulge in the city’s real roots. Spend as little or as long as you want but we suggest heading out 2 hours before high tide and staying a couple of hours later to make the most of it. Catfish, Rays, Bream, Queenfish, Snappers, and much more are all possible at the right time of day.
And, if you want to add some real local flavor to your trip, consider trying “longkang.” This family-favorite method involves using small nets to catch even smaller fish. It’s definitely worth trying if you’re bringing the kids along!
Kayak Fishing in Singapore
There’s more than one way to land a fish, and the protected waters around Singapore prove that. Singapore’s namesake strait along with the Johor Strait are ideal spots for meandering on a kayak. Kayaking is a sport in its own right, of course, but combine it with fishing and it gets a whole lot more exciting. Yes, it may be daunting trying to cast and paddle at the same time, but there are plenty of guides to help you find your feet.
Most trips start on the beaches and take you to coastal structures where fish like to hang out. Here, they can hide from predators and feed on smaller bait fish. You can explore the mangroves, too, where a wide array of species are possible targets. From Parrotfish and Snappers to Barramundi and Groupers, everything is possible.
Singapore Charter Fishing
But, if you want the best of all worlds, consider teaming up with a Singapore fishing charter. Catering to all budgets, there’s something for every angler here. Want to spend the day on a traditional kelong? No problem. Prefer a modern offshore sportfishing vessel? Sure! And with everything in between on offer, you can pick whatever you want.
The benefits of fishing with a guide are almost immeasurable. Who better to take you fishing than someone who’s out on the water every day and knows the area like the back of their hand? Unlike elsewhere, not all charters come with gear included, so you should talk to your captain before coming aboard. This will also help them tailor the trip to your desires and skill level. You’ll cover plenty of ground to maximize your chance of landing fish – and some charters even come with drinks and food included. Not bad, eh?
Top Singapore Fishing Spots
That’s enough of the theory, let’s introduce you to some specifics about fishing in Singapore. While this small island is abundant with prime fishing spots, there are a few that stand out. Have a look at our pick of the best places to wet a line below:
- St. John’s Island. When we mentioned getting back to basics, this is what we meant. This remote island has very little life on it – indeed, there’s not even anywhere to buy food and drink! Focus completely on fishing in tropical surroundings, where you could land Cobia, Trevallies, Needlefish, Sharks, and more. Ferries leave from Marina South Pier.
- East Coast Park. If you want in on some of the Grouper – more specifically – the Groper action we mentioned earlier, then East Coast Park is the place to be. Over 30 water breaks not only make this a habitable environment for these bottom-dwellers, but also give you the chance to head out on foot to the deeper waters.
- Bedok Reservoir. More of a freshwater fan? Bedok Reservoir is Peacock Bass heaven. Not only that, but you can target Catfish, Snakehead, and much more, too. This is a favorite spot for Singapore locals, and we seriously suggest checking it out.
- Changi Beach Park. Way out of the centre towards the airport, Changi Beach is the place to come to relax and get away from it all. But the underwater world is anything but calm! Barramundi, Rays, Catfish, and many more prized species call these waters home.
- Punggol Point Jetty. This rocky outcrop is a haven for gathering fish. While it’s no longer a well-kept secret, the fishing is still red hot and there are now plenty of other activities to go alongside fishing. Go after Groupers, Barramundi, and more, before kicking back in one of the point’s top eateries.
- Malaysia. Okay, so we may be stretching the definition of Singapore with this one. But, if you’re looking for an offshore hunt for prized species like Sailfish, the 4–5 hour drive to Kuala Rompin is well worth it.
Singapore Fishing Rules and Regulations
Before we let you go, we just need to let you in on some rules you’ll need to abide by when fishing in Singapore. First of all, some good news. You won’t need any form of fishing license around the city-state. Despite this, though, there are some fishing regulations, especially concerning exactly where you can cast a line.
You’ll only be allowed to fish in “designated fishing areas“. Fishing outside these zones is strictly prohibited and will see you receive a fine. For example, the whole of the popular Coney Island is off-limits.
Other than that – while we already mentioned it, it’s still worth repeating – you can only use artificial lures when fishing in freshwater. You can find all other regulations in English on the Singapore government’s website.
Singapore: World-Class Fishing in a World-Class City
So there you have it. Fishing in Singapore is much better than you probably expected. As with many other things, this small but populous city punches well above its weight when it comes to the angling opportunities available. The only thing that’s left for you to do is to prove us right!
Have you ever been fishing in Singapore? Any tips and tricks to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!