Since our last report the research of Giant freshwater stingrays in Thailand has progressed in leaps and bounds with the Fishsiam team now having successfully landed one hundred and twenty two (122) individual Giant freshwater stingrays.
We have experienced several recaptures during this period, but most of the freshwater stingrays have been identified as being virgin fish caught for the first time. We have made regular visits to the Maeklong River in Samut Songkran and have been accompanied by veterinary scientists from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Whilst filming two separate television productions over a period of two separate weeks we managed to capture twenty different fish.
The first expedition yielded several large stingrays with big females caught with estimated weights of one hundred and eighty (180kg) and possibly two hundred (200kg) kilogram’s. A further six other stingrays were captured during the week with weights ranging between twenty and one hundred and twenty kg’s.
In addition to the Giant freshwater stingrays that were captured during the first trip two much larger fish were also lost with one particularily large female breaking a rod in the final stages of the battle. The monster freshwater stingray was clearly over two metres in width and was almost certainly the biggest freshwater stingray encountered during the expedition.
The second expedition, which took place on the last week in July, saw Japan’s premier television network TBS fishing at the Maeklong River in Samut Songkran. Dr.Nantaika Chansue and her team of veterinary scientists from Chulalongkorn University in addition to representatives from the Dept of Fisheries were in attendance throughout the trip in order to collect various scientific data from all freshwater stingrays caught by the team. This trip produced twelve different fish over a one week period but on this occasion the fish were of a much smaller average weight with larger specimens not making an appearance. The largest stingray captured on the TBS trip was a male weighing an estimated one hundred and twenty kilogram’s (120kg’s) with all of the other fish being identified as being a mixture of small males and females. The big male was the largest male freshwater stingray that we have caught to date and was clearly an old and ancient looking River Monster.
Recently, Todd Wayne from New York in the USA used our services for the first time at the Maeklong River. In a record breaking one day trip to the Maeklong River the experienced specimen hunter from New York caught five different freshwater stingrays topped by a monster stingray which was estimated to weigh one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty kilogram’s (140-150kg’s).
Another recent exploratory trip to an outlying area of Bangkok saw the team fishing the narrow Nakon Nayok canal in Phatum Thani province. During the short day session the team encountered a new species of freshwater stingray named the White Edged freshwater stingray/Himantura Signifer. The White Edged freshwater stingrays were weighed at weights of 3 and 4kg’s respectively and returned to the canal.
White Edged freshwater stingray
The Fishsiam team has also been involved in several lure fishing trips over the course of the last few months in both Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai provinces. Recent lure fishing expeditions to the mighty Srinakarin Dam and Khao Laem Dam in rural Kanchanaburi province have produced numerous Giant Snakeheads with predators weighing upto 4.5kg’s falling for a variety of poppers, propellers and surface lures.
Another angler, Andreas from Austria, recently returned after previously catching a monster Giant Freshwater Stingray from the Maeklong River which gave birth to a live newborn. Andreas travelled up to Chiang Mai province in the Northern part of Thailand in search of the highly aggressive and ferocious Giant Snakehead. The veteran Austrian lure angler fished at Mae Ngat Dam and succeeded in capturing a massive Giant Snakehead weighing 7.2kg’s in addition to several other smaller Snakehead’s.
The last report of this month saw another visit from TBS Network from Japan with them this occasion visiting the infamous Bungsamran Lake in Bangkok. In a two day marathon angling session three Japanese comedians fished grueling eighteen hour days. The marathon fishing session saw the Japanese anglers accounting for one hundred and thirty different Mekong and Striped Catfish with fish weighed to a satisfying fifty four kilogram’s (54kg’s) in addition to Giant Siamese Carp to over thirty kilogram’s (30kg’s).
The TBS guys also decided to target the monster Arapaima gigas/ Pirarucu that regularily surface at various parts of the lake. After fishing for a very short period the Japanese anglers managed to hook a massive Arapaima which proceeded to throw itself out of the water on several occasions. The massive 2.3m predator which had the largest girth of any freshwater fish I have ever seen was estimated to weigh 180kg’s and required two large nets to safely secure the monster fish. The fish was released soon after being allowed a short period of time for recovery in the murky margins of the lake before it swam away strongly back into the depths.