Originally a fishing village, Singapore is now one of the world’s most advanced metropolises. Nowadays, it can be hard to connect the city state with its beginnings. Go out on a fishing boat, though, and you get a unique view of this small but bustling country. Fishing in Singapore gets you face to face with saltwater predators and freshwater gamefish alike—and introduces you the wild side of this regulated and well-ordered society.
Perched at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore is made up of one large main island (Pulau Ujong) and 62 small islets. The local landscape is famous for its high rise buildings and perfectly manicured parks. But get out on the water, and you’ll be able to see a whole new story. Even today, you can still find yourself fishing and cruising past ‘kelongs,’ traditional wooden fishing huts on stilts. Bring your favorite rod and reel combo, and get ready to explore.
Most Singapore fishing trips focus on bottom fishing or drifting around the coral reefs and shipwrecks. In general, the bottom fish bite is the most rewarding, although there are some surprises to be had on topwater, too. Look out for big Queensland Gropers, Parrotfish, Coral Trout, and Golden Snapper (Fingermark Bream).
With all these islands to play with, it’s no surprise that mangroves and estuaries play a big role in the local angling scene. These produce nice catches of Barramundi and Mangrove Jack, perfect for cooking up after a long day on the water. At the same time, there are several species of Trevally around (including the prestigious GT), as well as big Queenfish, both of which will give even the most experienced anglers a run for their money.
Inland, Peacock Bass and Snakehead are the exotic stars of the show. These freshwater thugs are always ready to wreak havoc on the island nation’s normally calm and disciplined lifestyle.
If your sights are set a little less high, you can still have a go at fishing, right at the other end of the spectrum. ‘Longkang’ fishing—the traditional practice of kids using small nets to catch even smaller fish—is an angling family’s dream come true. Although the name comes from the Malay word for ‘drain,’ this fun activity takes place in designated fishing ponds, perfect for getting kids hooked on fishing—and having a great time splashing around in the water.
Fishing spots in Singapore
One of Singapore’s Southern Islands, the waters around Sentosa are the perfect starting point for a local fishing trip. Expect a variety of reef fish, including the prolific Indo-Pacific Sergeant, Wrasses, and Damselfish. Mix it up by casting topwater lures for Queenfish in the outer harbor. Fishing on the island itself is prohibited, so hire a fishing charter to get the most out of the action.
Pulau Pawai and Pulau Sudong
Fishing Singapore’s Southern Islands gets better the further south you go. Stop by to fish the waters near Pawai and Sudong, and you’ll see what we mean. Look out for Golden Snappers, Giant Groupers, all sorts of Trevallies, Parrotfish, and big Spanish Flag Snappers. Keep an eye open for Indian Threadfin, Trevallies, and Queenfish, too. Just make sure you don’t dock here: these islands are owned by the Singapore Armed Forces and access is prohibited.
Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong
While we can’t argue with the fact that most of the fishing charter action happens to the south of the mainland, there are some excellent fishing spots in the north, too. If Barramundi’s on your list, this should be your number one destination. Golden Snappers and Groupers are also on the menu, which is just as well, as this is one of the best parts of the country to get your catch cooked on a floating restaurant after your trip. Best of all, the fishing here is available almost right from the start of your trip, so even families and beginners taking a half day excursion will have plenty of time to bend a rod.
Our top recommendation for freshwater fishing is the crystal clear waters of Bedok Reservoir. This is one of the best places in the area to catch the exotic Peacock Bass, known locally as the ‘Emperor Fish’. Its yellow color is reminiscent of royalty in these parts, and its big black tail spot conjures up images of a king’s ‘seal of approval.’ One of the few places this fish lives outside of its native Amazon waters, Singapore attracts anglers from far and wide to battle this explosive fish.
Deep sea fishing
There’s a lot of fishing pressure all around Singapore, meaning local anglers will make the 5-hour drive up to Malaysia in order to sample the best deep sea fishing. Here, they fish from Kuala Rompin, where the Sailfish action is some of the best in the world.
Singapore Fishing Tips
Fishing in Singapore is all about corals, so everything you do will revolve around avoiding the dreaded ‘sangkut’ (snagging). Most charters have their own way of getting around this, and will give you expert tuition on the best local secrets for drift fishing over coral and rock formations for the local heavyweights: Parrotfish, Grouper, Triggerfish, and Snapper.
It’s common to go bottom fishing at night for Grouper—while these trips are usually longer and more expensive, they pay off in terms of the quality and quantity of the catch.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, practice jigging for Queenfish and Trevally. If you hang out with enough local fishing ‘kakis,’ you’ll probably hear them talking about Madai jigging. This technique imitates an octopus moving along the bottom of the sea and can be ruthlessly effective.
Looking for the most genuine experience out there? Don’t miss trying traditional handline fishing around the reefs. This will test you to the limit!
Need to know
Where you can fish on Singapore’s islands is strictly controlled. Look out for ‘designated fishing areas’—if you fish in a ‘no fishing’ area, you risk a hefty fine. For instance, it is not allowed to fish on Singapore’s popular Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon).
Artificials are your only option for freshwater fishing in Singapore’s reservoirs: using natural bait may result in a fine of up to $3000. It's also not allowed to fly fish in most areas.
Singapore fishing charters do not typically provide fishing gear for their customers, although some may have some you can use for a nominal rental fee. Bait may or may not be provided for you. You do not need to purchase a fishing license.
If all these regulations are a bit much to comprehend, don’t worry: English is the official language here so you won’t have trouble asking the locals to help you understand what you can and can’t do. So just pack your bags and get ready to catch some fish!