Mae Ngat Reservoir

Size: Enormous – many hectares
Species: Principally fished for Giant Snakeheads and Hampala Barb (Jungle Perch), but also contains catfish and carp species
Opening Hours: 24 hours; it is a huge open reservoir – floating houseboats available for overnight stays
Cost: Unless you are experienced at fishing these waters and have a boat you will need the services of a guide with a boat. For the various options open to you see our guided tours page here
Google Maps linkhere

The Mae Ngat Dam & Reservoir is set within the beautiful and tranquil Sri Lanna National Park, about 80 km north of Chiang Mai centre. This huge body of water was formed when the Mae Ngat river was dammed and the valley flooded. The reservoir that formed behind the dam is now a popular recreational venue and a great sport fishing destination. 

There are a lot of floating houseboats available for overnight stays – or even just for the daytime. These can serve as a great base for a multi-day visit to the reservoir; heading out each day to try a different area. Be aware, however, that many young people from Chiang Mai head out to the houseboats to enjoy the beautiful setting and eat drink and be merry! This means that your houseboat can be far from tranquil depending on who else is staying… Boats at the reservoir entrance work as water taxis take you to the houseboats for a fee of about 500 Baht (you should to try to share this). The journey takes about 15 minutes.

So, to the fishing. This is not an easy venue for the novice angler and the services of a guide are needed for most people. You will most likely be lure fishing, casting close to the snags and weeds where the snakeheads and Jungle Perch lay in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey fish. Being able to cast accurately with a variety of lures (including frogs), coupled with a good guide to provide direction, is the key to success. Strong tackle is needed to cope with the explosive power of the snakeheads, but for the well prepared angler this is Chiang Mai fishing at its exciting best. 

Fly fishing is another, less popular, option. If fly fishing is your thing, and you have appropriately strong fly tackle, then you could have great fun with this out on the reservoir.

The best time to visit for fishing succes is July through September. At this time of year the Chiang Mai region is in the rainy season and lots of food is being washed down into the lake and the fish are feeding voraciously. After October the rains stop, the water temperature drops and fishing becomes increasingly challenging – but far from impossible.

Read all about Giant Snakeheads.

Note on houseboats: Their are 20 or more houseboats to choose from, and they vary quite a lot in the quality of accommodation and what they provide (Google is your friend here). I don’t really want to recommend one particular houseboat, but, my friends almost invariably choose the Eakachai houseboat. Up to you…


Mae Ngat


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Posted by ben on

This place is indeed the toughest water in Chiang Mai. Lure fishing by novices here is almost certain to be met with disappointment. Right now the Hampala Barb is being caught in reasonable numbers, however locating them can be a challenge. Forget fishing for snakehead here. If you do get one, it will be a trophy. Avoid this place on weekends due to the great number of boats and tourists making a lot of waves and noise. Start fishing from the very end of the reservoir where there’s no houseboats and work your way back. Most of the year the predators are not very active here and the most fun thing to fish here is the wild catfish (sawai) They are a tremendous catch and reside in large numbers all over the reservoir. How to catch them:
Foam float stopped at about 1 meter depth and before the swivel a weight that will enable you to cast a good distance. Take a BUNCH of worms and put them on a #10 or #12 ismea twist hook in a messy fashion. Once you see a fish come up to splash around, cast very near to where it came up, these fish are never alone and will compete for this delicious offering. You must cast out in a timely manner otherwise the fish will have gone elsewhere. Most of the fish that come up and splash around in Mae Ngat are infact catfish.

Have fun!

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