Giant Mekong catfish caught in Thailand is a new world record

A 260-pound giant Mekong catfish, caught late last November in Thailand by Welsh angler Martin David Kent, was approved this week as a world record.

The International Game Fish Assn., after an unusually long authentication period, recognized the catch 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).

Kent, 54, did not require approval, of course, to realize he had landed a monster. Judging by the accompanying image the fish looks as though it could have consumed the angler (at left, holding the head) for breakfast.

Surprisingly, Kent hooked the whopper on a mere piece of sweet corn, and reeled in his quarry after an hour-long battle. 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 continues.

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.

However, 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 it was caught by a net and multiple fishermen.

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