The Giant Mekong Catfish is without doubt the biggest of the catfish species and also the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. It is grey to white in colour with no stripes, is scale less and is distinguished from other large catfish in its native habitat by the fact it has no teeth. It is also the only catfish to be without barbels in adulthood, although juveniles of the species are known to have small barbels as well as small teeth which they lose as they reach maturity. It is thought that juveniles have small teeth and barbels because their diet includes small crabs, snails and insects and therefore is not vegetarian, this in itself would account for the barbels which are used to locate food on the muddy bed of its habitat and the small teeth needed to crush hard shells and bodies of these small invertebrates.
The Mekong Catfish is currently recognized by the Guinness book of records as the largest freshwater fish species on earth.
|Scientific Name||Pangasius gigas|
|IGFA World Record||332lb (Tim Webb, UK), Bung Sam Lan, Thailand, 2008|
|Biggest Recorded||646lb, Netted in Northern Thailand, 2005|
|Other Names||Pla buk, Mekong malle, Mekong Jatt mal|
The Giant Mekong Catfish is a freshwater fish that lives in the murky depths of the Mekong river tending to spend the majority of its time amongst the weed beds and vegetation on which it feeds, however, over fishing, water pollution from silt and mud being deposited into the Mekong river from large building projects upstream have caused this fantastic species to become endangered. This silt eventually leads to less oxygen in the water which in turn suffocates plant life which is the natural food for the Giant Mekong Catfish. Another problem is the blocking of its spawning routes by damming projects in the higher reaches of the Mekong river in China.
The Mekong Catfish loses it’s barbels as it reaches adulthood as well as its tiny teeth, it then becomes almost completely vegetarian feeding on algae, aquatic weeds, periphyton, and zoo benthos and any terrestrial plants that enter the river during times of flood. This does not stop them growing at an awesome rate, reaching weights of 150-200kg in only six years.
Tackle and Methods
As you can imagine, rods required to handle these immense fighting machines need to be very strong indeed, a short “boat class” rod with as a heavy Test is ideal, These type of rods, will provide you a great deal more control over your fish, they can also aid in casting when space is limited.
You will need a robust, strong reel for Mekong Catfish, one that will hold a capacity of 150 metres minimum 25lb main line. Mekong Catfish runs are usually very dogged and often downright unstoppable! And you need to fish with an open bail or free-running spool, (bait-runner, is preferred) otherwise your rod runs the risk of disappearing into the water! The Shimano Long Cast is a good fixed spool option.
25-35lb mono is a good line as there is no give in braid to calm down or stop these fish, with a 2/0-4/0 hook, and braided hook link similar to normal Catfishing.
Bait couldn’t be easier, Bread works best, either as a big ball on a method mix set up, or balls of rice made into a paste so it is nice and sticky.