If you are like me, you are probably used to fishing the rivers and lakes of your home country. The types of baits that are used, and work well, may be the farthest thing from the right choice when fishing in Thailand. In the United States most fisherman rely on their standard choice of cut baits such as anchovies, mackerel or shad when hitting the river for a day of fishing. When targeting catfish the choice may be a good stink bait or some chicken liver rigged on a treble hook. Live bait consists mainly of minnows, worms or leeches.
The rivers and lakes in Thailand are an entirely different beast. I will discuss a few different methods for targeting the different species of fish and how they differ from what you are used to.
Fishing in Thailand is typically done using earthworms, insects or some type of ground bait. These may include liquidized bread bait, ram(rice bran) or any combination of the two.
The first method of catching catfish in Thailand may not seem so strange to you. Bait is rigged on a standard sliding sinker setup with a barrel swivel and 12-18″ leader. Fishing these rigs on the river is best done at night or early morning. This method is for targeting the walking catfish, also known as pla dook dan. The walking catfish is one of the most abundant types of fish for eating and can be seen on any barbecue or being cooked at many street food stalls throughout Bangkok. They are notoriously nocturnal feeders in their natural environment and although omnivorous are generally caught using live baits such as earthworms or white cockroaches. This setup is best fished in rivers with some current, in and around the edges where you will find vegetation.
Probably the most popular method used here is the spring feeder with standard or flavored bread. The spring feeder is attached at the end of the line with a small sliding weight just big enough keep the bait on the bottom. Then 2-4 hooks are attached to the spring feeder. This is where you hook the punched bread or foam balls for the fish to bite. There are a variety of breads that can be purchased from tackle shops in and around Bangkok. The preferred color and flavor is green pandan liquidized bread bait. For this method you will need to slightly wet the bread to get it to a consistency that it can be molded into a ball. Then take a handful and make a ball about the size of a tennis ball. This will be smashed onto and molded around the spring feeder. The hooks are then loaded with the punch bait or small foam balls and mentioned earlier and pressed into the ball of bread before being cast out. This method is good for stiller water where the bait wont be washed away as it does not stay attached to the feeder for long.