Species: Pangasianodon gigas
Thai Name: Pla buk
Grows to weight/length: 3m+/250kg+
Stocked at Hookers: to 215kg, caught at 155kg
The Mekong giant catfish until recently held the record as the world’s largest freshwater fish and is a true icon throughout the Thai fishing community. Unlike other native catfish species, mature specimens lack barbels and teeth and the Mekong consequently feeds on a diet of plankton, algae, shrimp and other molluscs. Their scaleless bodies are grey with tinges of black in the dorsal area and white from the pectoral to pelvic areas of the belly.
The Mekong is without doubt the most powerful fish in our lake and we’re lucky to have what we believe is the largest stocked fish in Thailand, weighing 215kg/470lb when it went in. At the time of writing it has still to be caught. Our Mekong seem to prefer feeding during dry, hot spells and will take a variety of baits including fruit flavoured pop-ups, corn, bread and pellet fished in conjunction with a large lam ball. For now, there is a definite preference for bottom fished baits and it is important to keep feeding your chosen target area with plenty of lam balls every 15-20 minutes. Adding banana and coconut milk to the lam also seems to appeal to these monster fish.
Be prepared for a back-breaking, arm-wrenching fight that can extend for up to 2 hours. The Mekong is a master of using its weight and massive caudal fin to hold bottom and take a rest during a fight – it will let you bring it in ever so slowly, metre by metre, only for a quick burst of energy to take it back out to where it was (or even further).
When the fish is eventually close to the bank, our guides will dive down with masks and snorkels and bring it to the surface – as many of our specimens are in excess of 100kg there is no other way to bring them to the surface safely. The fish will be guided into the cage for your pictures and then we will let the fish recover for anywhere between 20-45 minutes with lots of oxygenated water.