Fishing Adventures Thailand crew had an amazing string of 5 new International Game Fish Association world records set so far this year.

Jean-Francois's Thai wife, Anongnart "Lek" Sungwichien-Helias, who is ranked 2nd for two years in a row in the IGFA TOP 10 Female Anglers Freshwater Rankings (2005 and 2006) added to her personal tally a new All Tackle record for a 0.94 kg Duskytail Grouper she captured while saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Siam.

A week later, on Feb. 28, globetrotter angler Tim Webb, an Australian return client fishing with Jean-Francois Helias' team for 23 days broke big time at Bung Sam Lan the former 138lb 14oz (63.00 kg) Mekong Giant Catfish world record held since Feb. 27, 2004 by another Francois' return client, Richard Ainsworth, from Bedford, England. Tim hooked up and landed according to IGFA rules a 175lb 6oz (79.54 kg) Pangasianodon gigas which earns him an All Tackle record currently pending homologation.

On March 12, it was the turn of 73 years old US angler, William Earl Donnell, from Davie, Florida, to rack up a new All Tackle record for the Striped Catfish (Swai). The March 12 catch at Bung Sam Lan Lake barely bested the previous record set two years ago by another Francois' client, Dr. Lenny Kouba, from Chicago, USA..
Having already hauled in several larger Mekong catfish that morning, the still jet-lagged Donnell was caught unaware by his guide’s excitement over the big striper. “I didn’t even realize it was a different species,” he said

More recently, on March 16, while guiding a group of six angler from various nationalities at Srinakarin Reservoir, Jean-Francois Helias broke his own world record for the rare and elusive cobra snakehead (Channa marulius), also known as "great snakehead" whose population is extremely scarce here in Thailand. It was the 4th world record set by Francois for the Channa marulius species. This time, Francois captured on top water an exceptional 5.22 Kg cobra breaking the former 4.46 kg record he has set the previous year, in March 2006. Francois' 5.22 kg latest catch had a total length of 97 cm and a girth of 37.5 cm. Like any of the several thousand snakeheads he had caught through the years, that splendid cobra was safely released to maybe be caught another day.

A happy Francois displaying his catch of a lifetime, a 5.22 Kg Channa marulius. (Photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Helias / Fishing Adventures Thailand)

Francois: "I wish you could have seen the zen accurate cast I did six times in a row through bushes and floating bamboo poles to make that fish come out of its lair and strike! Had it been recorded on film it would be a lure fishing piece of anthology! I have been dreaming of catching such a big size cobra snakehead over the 5 kilos mark for a long long time. I knew it could eventually happen though the odds of catching such a big fish were almost none. Cobra of that weight and even bigger ones do exist in our Thai waters but they are only a very few. They are elusive and cautious, and so extremely difficult to catch. Man, what a shot of adrenaline I got when I saw it appearing from the deeep and starting following my frog lure! And what a tremendous feeling of achievement it was to hold for a while such a magnificent specimen of C.marulius in my hands, before releasing it back to where it belongs. Another great feeling to me is the fact that three months ago I had a stroke and was in hospital for 10 days. My balance and the coordination of my limbs got hit pretty bad. I was such in a bad shape at that time that I thought I would never be able to fish again with the same level of skills and casting accuracy... three months later this 5.22 kg "cobra" catch is happening to me....I am so blessed!"

Shooting of the coming National Geographic documentary about snakehead species (Photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Helias / Fishing Adventures Thailand)

From March 27 to March 30, Francois was leading another 5 days expedition at the Srinakarin reservoir, this time with a National Geographic film production crew, for the shooting of the footage of a coming documentary about snakehead species. The idea of that film was initiated by Francois who had to work hard through a email correspondance of several months to convince the US based film production company that such a documentary had to be done. Francois invited his numerous times return client and good friend Richard Pike to come along, to be part of that scientific mission. Rick is a UK expat based in Pattaya who according to Francois "is as dedicated as I am to snakehead fishing, and today the very best of all top class snakehead anglers whom I had the privilege to take under my wing".

Francois: "The script is about various Asian snakehead species, and more especially the ones that have invaded American waters, such as the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) in the Potomac River and its tributaries, and the Bullseye snakehead (Channa marulius) in Florida canals. The Bullseye snakehead is the american common name given to our Thai cobra. In that National Geographic documentary, my role is to be part of a scientific mission. I got to capture (on rod and line) one or two specimens of Thai channa marulius, so I can photograph them, making clip fins to be preserved in screw-top vials containing 95% ethyl alcohol, which will be sent to Walter Courtenay and Jim Williams. Walt and Jim are the authors of USGS Circular 1251, which I like to call "the bible" about snakehead species. If you do not know that circular, and if you have any interest to learn about snakehead species, then please go to: http://fisc.er.usgs.gov/Snakehead_circ_1251/html/title.html

Then the marulius clip fins will be sent to the Natural History Museum in London to do the DNA work. So let's say the purpose of my mission is to help to be able to compare the DNA of the Channa marulius tissues from Thailand with the Channa marulius they now have in Florida. So biologists will know for sure if the marulius found in Florida comes originally from Thailand or not."

Richard Pike and his gorgeous and monstrous 9.20 kg mama giant snakehead (Photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Helias / Fishing Adventures Thailand)

On the final morning of the expedition, missions accomplished, Richard Pike boated a 9.2kg beautiful mama giant snakehead guarding her blood-red newborn fry. Rick's gorgeous and monstrous mama measured 99cm in length. Rick's 9.2kg catch is taking our French friend Pierre Liegeois's 50lb line class IGFA Record he set last October with a 7.4kg catch."

Richard: "I'm still tingling now ! Her initial power and speed was incredible and my legs began to wobble."

Well done my good man Rick!

Best regards to all of you guys,

Jean-Francois Helias
IGFA Representative - Tha

Fishing Adventures Thailand
110 IGFA World Records

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