fishing in Bhutan
Fishing in Bhutan

Bhutan is a tiny landlocked country located in the Himalayan Mountains in East South Asia. With its friendly people, picturesque landscapes, and unique culture, Bhutan is a beautiful country to visit. Bhutan offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for nature lovers, including hiking and trekking, bird watching, mountain biking, river rafting, and fishing. The country supports a wide variety of freshwater fish species. Fly fishing in Bhutan can be done from the shore, by a boat, or by a kayak, depending on the water you are fishing in and the type of fish you are chasing. If you’re looking for an amazing and exotic fishing destination, Bhutan is the place for you!

This blog will go over the history of fishing in Bhutan, fishing spots, and the different types of fish found in its waters. We will also discuss the ideal season to fish in Bhutan so you can make the most out of your fishing trip!

History of Fishing in Bhutan

fishing in Bhutan
Bhutan mahseer fishing – make time for one more cast

Back in the 1930s, the Second King of Bhutan, Jigme Wangchuck, decided to bring brown trout to Bhutan. Thanks to the king’s decision, Bhutan is now home to many other fish species. 

In the 1980s, the country’s Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided that Bhutan should focus on Gross National Happiness GNH. This means that the country considers the health of its natural environment, culture and people, and economic growth. As a result, the fish and other animals were the lucky beneficiaries of this approach.

He introduced fish to Bhutan from Kashmir. The fish have flourished in the rivers of this craggy country, but few people travel to Bhutan to catch them – making it the perfect heaven for anglers!

Carp were imported from Assam, and the Department of Animal Husbandry established a Fishery Development Programme in 1977. Between 1979 and 1987, annual fish catches averaged 1,000 tons. 

In 1981, the FAO (Food And Agriculture Organisation) conducted another survey, and for the first time, the government included fishery development in the Fifth Development Plan.

The Integrated Fisheries Development Project started in 1985 at Geylegphug. The National Warm Water Fish Culture Centre supplied fish to farmers, and about twenty-one tons of carp were produced at fisheries for local and national consumption. 

The Department of Forestry controlled trout fishing in Bhutan (as well as other fishing activities) by issuing fishing licenses and enforcing seasonal and fish-size prohibitions.

Things to know about fishing in Bhutan

fishing in Bhutan
Fly fishing in Bhutan

If you want a permit for fly fishing in Bhutan, you must apply for it from January through the end of August. The permits are not issued during the months from September through November because that is the breeding season.

Trout fishing in Bhutan (or any other fishing activity) is forbidden on certain religious holidays and near-religious institutions like temples and monasteries. Moreover, during the first and fourth months of the Bhutanese Lunar Calendar, which usually falls between January and March or May and July, people are not allowed to fish as it is considered a very auspicious time.

There are places where trout fishing in Bhutan (anyother fishing activities) is completely restricted, such as Punakha and Wangdue and the Chamkar River in Bumthang. This is because they are close to monasteries and temples. To fish in these areas, you must apply a special permit from us.

Lastly, you are not allowed to use natural bait like worms or take the fish as a trophy. Whether you want to catch and release it or take your catch for dinner is totally up to you. 

Types of fish in Bhutan

fishing in Bhutan
Bhutan mahseer fishing- be a hooker on weekends

There are diverse species of fish that can be found in Bhutan. Some of the main indigenous fish include Himalayan trout (Barilius spp) and Mahasheer (Tor spp). Exotic brown trout (Salmo trutta) was introduced at some point and is now a common fish in some rivers and streams in Bhutan. 

In addition, there are also Snow Trout and Brown Trout, two of the most common types of fish found in Bhutan. The best time of year to find them while fishing is usually between March and October.

Then there’s the Golden Mahseer, which mostly feeds on small fish like minnows. Bhutan has recently permitted fishing activities such as trout fishing in Bhutan for tourists – now is your chance to visit and discover one of the most iconic fishing hotspots in the world!

Fishing spots in Bhutan

1. Haa Chuu

fishing in Bhutan
Exotic trout fishing in Bhutan

Haa valley is located in the western part of Bhutan and is known for its rich biodiversity and diverse wildlife. It has plenty of waterfalls, mountains, forests, and streams, making it an ideal place for trout fishing in Bhutan and spending quality time with nature or relaxing after a busy day at work.

You can find plenty of brown trout in this location, so be sure to visit Haachu in April or May, or September if you want to hook one.

2. Sankosh (Tsirang)

fishing in Bhutan
Bhutan mahseer fishing – fish to catch moments not fish

Bhutan is a great place to go fishing, and there are many different spots to choose from. One great option for Bhutan mahseer fishing is the Sankosh River in the Southern District. The river flows from Punakha, during the spring and fall seasons.

It will be teeming with fish, including the majestic Golden Mahseer. If you’re looking to camp out and fish, there are plenty of beautiful spots to set up the tent. 

3. Mangdue Chuu (Zhengang)

fishing in Bhutan
Bhutan mahseer fishing – keep it reel

Mangde Chhu is the perfect place to come for a Bhutan mahseer fishing and rafting adventure. It is remote, so you’ll be able to really get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of Bhutan.

The Mangde River is an exotic alternative if you cannot go to the south because, just like the Sankosh River, the majestic Golden mahseers populate the Mangde Chhu – a chance to catch something really special!

4. Manas Chhu And Drangme Chhu (Zhemgang)

fishing in Bhutan
Trout fishing in Bhutan is fun, catching is even better

Zhemgang’s Manas and Dangme Chhu rivers offer a serene and beautiful spot for fishing enthusiasts looking to enjoy a day or two away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

These tropical rivers are home to a wide variety of fish, so you will have a great time fly fishing in Bhutan for all sorts of different species. So pack your gear and come down to Zhemgang for excellent fishing fun.

5. Tang chhu and Chummey Chuu (Bumthang).

fishing in Bhutan
Trout fishing in Bhutan for hours only to hold it for seconds

Bumthang is a beautiful place often called the “second Switzerland.” There are gratifying valleys that offer more than just fishing and are one of the most spiritual places in Bhutan. 

The rivers of Bumthang are home to many snow trouts, which makes trout fishing in Bhutan a popular activity in the area. However, fishing is only allowed in the Tang Chhu and Chummey Chhu, as it is strictly prohibited in Chamkhar Chuu for religious reasons.

Ideal Season for Fishing in Bhutan

fishing in Bhutan
Trout fishing in Bhutan – Just fish it!

The season for fly fishing in Bhutan is from April to May and October to November. Fish will be in deep water if the weather is cold and cloudy, and they will come up to the river when the weather is calm, and the sky is clear. 

Therefore it is better to go fly fishing in Bhutan from mid-April to mid-May and from October to mid-November.

Fishing in Bhutan is an amazing experience. One can find many different types of fish in our rivers and lakes. If you plan a trip to Bhutan, fly or trout fishing in Bhutan is an activity you should not miss. 

Are you looking for a memorable fishing trip in Bhutan? Druk Heritage Experience is the perfect company for you! We offer personalized travel experiences and ground support to make your trip hassle-free. Our team of experienced and expert team will work with you to plan an unforgettable trip that fits your budget and needs.


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