Home > Local News, Mekong River > Mekong giant catfish approved as all-tackle world record

Mekong giant catfish approved as all-tackle world record

Martin David Kent required only an hour to land a 260-pound Mekong giant catfish late last November, but it took seven months for the impressive catch, made in Thailand, to be approved as a world record.  

The International Game Fish Assn., after an unusually long authentication period, recognized the catch last week in its all-tackle category. That means it’s the biggest of the species in the record book (the IGFA also lists line-class records).  Asked what took so long, IGFA worldf records coordinator Jack Vitek explained: “For international claims there is a 90-day minimum wait period, from the catch date. 

In this particular case, we required written testimonies from the angler and witnesses – which took some time.”   Welsh angler Kent, 54, did not require approval, of course, to realize he had landed a true behemoth. Surprisingly, Kent hooked the whopper on a mere piece of sweet corn. 

After being weighed and photographed, the fish was released to fight another day.  “I usually catch bass weighing four or five pounds off the Pembrokeshire coast so this [fish] was a bit bigger than I’m used to,” Kent told WalesOnline.  He had been fishing at Gillhams Fishing Resorts in Krabi, Thailand. 

The catch shatters the previous all-tackle record, a 191-pound specimen caught at the same location in 2009, by Joseph Stewart Ball.   Mekong giant catfish are endemic to the Mekong River and the wild population is critically endangered because of overfishing and degradation of habitat (dams, runoff, etc.). River fishing for the giants is banned in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, but poaching is widespread.  

Thailand allows fishing in lakes in which fry or small catfish have been stocked via government or private hatchery programs. This has no impact on the wild fishery.   Gillhams Fishing Resorts utilizes a nine-acre lake and plants two species of catfish purchased from a Thailand fish farm. 

The fish apparently grow to remarkable sizes within the expanse of the reservoir.  “This is a lake I created from a swamp, and due to the habitat I built into the lake the fish certainly do grow here,” said Stuart Gillham, the owner. “I have had Mekongs put on 100 pounds in 13 months and arapaima, which I breed myself, with the same weight gains.”  

 The largest known giant Mekong catfish was a 646-pounder netted from the Mekong River in 2005 by local fishermen. It’s believed to be the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. It didn’t qualify as an angling record, naturally, because of the manner by which it was caught.  

— Photo shows Martin David Kent (left) and companions he enlisted to help display the 260-pound giant Mekong catfish. Courtesy of Gillhams Fishing Resorts

Categories: Local News, Mekong River
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