How Does Deep Hole Fishing Work? Read Before Going

The most used technique for catching large quantities of fish is still the netting technique. However, the stone age fishers use the deep hole fishing technique to trap many fishes. If you understand how deep hole fishing works, you will acquire enough fish hassle-free.

You only need to make a hole and cover it with foliage. The hole will serve as a perfect spot for protection to fish without knowing it’s a trap. Fish often look for protection and shade from predators and the hot sun. They swim in, and you have a lot of fish waiting for you in the hole.

Simple right? Yes, quite simple. However, if you are going on a deep-hole fishing trip, the rest of this post will show you everything you need to know about it. The article will tell how to catch a fish in a hole, the precautions, and the type of fish you can capture with this method. 

What Is Deep Hole Fishing? 

What Is Deep Hole Fishing

Deep hole fishing is an ancient fishing technique common in Cambodia, a country on the Indochinese mainland of Southeast Asia. The fishing strategy involves digging a deep hole in the ground around wetlands and riverbanks – just as the name implies – to trap fish when water levels rise. Furthermore, the technique is effective in areas where fish inhabit, such as a river, a lake, a pond, a dam, a canal, or even a flooded area. 

A brief history of deep hole fishing

Deep hole fishing is a Cambodian tradition that has been in existence for a very long time. Cambodia is mainly a land of plains with many rivers, and it is between significant overland and river trading routes linking China to India and Southeast Asia. Fish is the second most consumed food by a typical Cambodian.

The majority of fish in Cambodia are catfish and snakeheads, which can walk on land and are sometimes in holes around water areas and rice fields – that’s a better explanation of why the early Cambodians used the deep hole fishing technique to trap fish.

Benefits of deep hole fishing techniques

Someone may ask why you should use the deep hole method. Is the deep hole fishing method effective?

Well, to answer the question, we’ll say yes. Deep hole fishing is an effective method of fishing without much stress. The Cambodians have used the fishing technique for ages to feed their family. The holes can become filled with fish on a rainy day and sometimes a few fish on another day. 

Moreover, in our own opinion, it is more fun to pick up fish from a hole than to fish directly from the river. That said, let’s have a quick look at some of the benefits of using the deep-hole fishing technique.

  • Deep hole fishing is easier to catch fish without disrupting the flow of the river.
  • The fishing technique is effective for catching lots of fish readily to be harvested.
  • Furthermore, deep-hole fishing is one of the cheapest ways to fish because you can use it without fishing equipment. A super cool technique to try on camping, especially when anyone is stranded.

How to Construct Deep Hole Fishing?

Are you interested in knowing how to construct a deep hole for fishing? If yes, the first thing you need to do is dig a deep hole, about 3-5 feet in depth and 2-3 feet in diameter. Furthermore, ensure that the hole has a shallow barrier separating it from the water bodies.

Speaking of the shallow barrier, you need it to prevent the deep hole from getting filled with water, as fish will swim out if this happens. Furthermore, the spot must be sloppy, allowing fishes to move into the hole effortlessly while also preventing water. The main aim is to trick as many fish as possible into swimming into the deep hole and avoid killing them before you collect them.

That said, you will have to fill the hole with little water. Cover the hole with foliage to protect the fish against human theft, predators, and scorching sun.

Nowadays, many anglers have developed a better way of constructing the deep hole. They use a large water distribution pipe (up to 3-5 lines) to create a passage for the fish from the water into the deep hole. And they capture more fish than the former. 

Ethical fishing suggests that you should fill the hole to stop additional fish from getting trapped inside it once you don’t use it. It makes no sense to trap fish that you do not intend to harvest for food.

How to Catch a Fish in a Hole?

Now that you have tricked many fishes into the deep hole, it’s time to collect the fish. It is advisable to use fishing gear like hand nets or baskets to collect the fish. The reason is that there are chances that poisonous fish or reptiles are lying in the deep hole. Besides, most fish that are caught using this method have stings that can cause pain to your skin.

However, if you are in a location where you can not access fishing gear, try getting the fish and water out before picking up your fish.

Fishing Techniques Similar to the Deep Hole Fishing

Fishing Techniques Similar to the Deep Hole Fishing

The noodling fishing method is popular in the southern United States, but it is slightly different from deep-hole fishing. The noodling fishing technique involves catching catfish with a bare hand, typically in a body of water. It does not include tricking the fish into a hole.

Just recently, several videos circulate on the internet where people capture fish from a tiny hole using mentors, coke, toothpaste, or eggs. It is probably a new fishing method that originated from Asia countries and is very much similar to deep hole fishing.

The main difference is that the Deep holes are dug manually to trick fish into hiding in them. But the latter are holes burrowed by the fish to hide and nest its egg. Fishes inhabit holes for three main reasons:

  • To hide from predators, 
  • To nest eggs and to stay calm and 
  • To avoid the sunlight because of the sensitivity of their eyes.

What Kind of Fish Live in Holes in the Ground?

Not all fishes can burrow or live in a hole underground. Snakeheads, catfish, lungfishes, and perch fishes are examples of fishes that can live underground. The fishes are widespread in Africa and Southeast Asia. However, they are also in the United States.

Snakehead Fishes

Snakehead fish have unusual abilities that allow them to move a short distance on land. They can breathe on land and in water with their gills. That’s not all; they can also wriggle their long narrow body on the ground – that’s the more reason why Snakehead can migrate from the river into the deep hole trap. 

The snake-like pattern fish are predators and can consume other animals. The fish is also capable of biting and attacking humans, especially the giant snakeheads.

About 28 species of snakehead fishes are present in Southeast Asia countries. One of the most common snakeheads is the Channa argus. Other common ones include:


Catfish, named for its prominent barbels like that of a cat’s whiskers, is found virtually on all continents, including the United States. It is capable of walking a short distance on land and can also live in holes. The reason is that it can breathe through its gills on the ground and be able to burrow through the mud. 

Many catfish species possess spines, in most cases are innocuous, embedded behind their fins. However, they are not aggressive. People that get hurt are those that are not handling it well enough. If you get hurt by the spine, dip the affected hand in the water to relieve the pain. 

Here are the precaution to take while handling a Catfish

  • Avoid touching the pectoral and dorsal fin causes pain and discomfort if the fins puncture the skin.
  • The catfish’s body is slippery and soft, except for behind the two pectoral fins. Hold the fish by the head just behind the pectoral fin and above the dorsal fin.
  • Use fishing gear like lip grip while handling it.
  • Be extra careful with small catfish. The smaller the fish, the more dangerous the spines.


Perch is a freshwater fish that moves out of its winter hole around March. It is a carnivorous fish that are found in ponds, lakes, streams, or rivers. It is on small fishes and insect larvae. The fish can easily be trapped by the deep hole fishing technique using bait.

The Perch has three species which are:

  • Perca fluviatilis – The European Perch commonly found in Europe and Asia
  • Perca schrenkii – The Balkhash perch found in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China.
  • Perca flavescens – The Yellow Perch found in North America.


Deep hole fishing is an exciting fishing technique that everyone living in rural areas or camping should try. It’s cheap and fun to do. However, ethical fishing is advised.