The Walking Catfish – Thailand Freshwater Fish

29 09 2008

The Walking Catfish

I was lure fishing for Pla Chon – Striped Snakehead at a local fishing lake called Bung Chum Narng in Samut Prakarn Province when I had an unusual take while retrieving the lure slower than usual.

Instead of the fast breaching twisting run of the Striped Snakehead, this fish stayed deep and zig zagged every 2 to 3 meters, a local fisherman passed by during the play and mumbled “Pla Duk” and continued on his way.

I landed the fish in the net and remembered that these fish have two large sharp spikes on each Pectoral Fin which can be covered in a poisonous mucus depending on the species, so it was a cautious unhooking.
The fish weighed 800 grams and was about 40cm long.

The fish was released into a holding pond at the request of the lake owner – possibly because he wanted to eat it or more likely to remove a potentialy hazardous fish from his main lake. It will probably walk back to the main lake anyway 🙂

What or which one is it? – more photographs at http://www.john-tom.com Fishing in Thailand Page

I was informed that the fish was a Pla Duk – great,  but when I tried to confirm the species with the fish chart I was left confused (more than usual)

The candidates where

Pla Duk Darn – Clarias Batrachus – batrachian Walking Catfish or common walking catfish

Pla Duk  – Clarias Gariepinus – African Walking Catfish

Pla Duk – Clarias Macrocephalus – Asian Walking Catfish

After a little surfing (the net, internet that is) I found a web page to help with the identification between the species is by the difference in shape of the skull plate or Occipital Process as shown in the sketches (ref A.)

number 1 is C. macrocephalus or Asian Walking Catfish
number 2 is c. batrachus or Batrachian Walking Catfish
number 3 is c. gariepinus or African Walking Catfish

Even more confused – the skull bone was not the shape of the macrochepalus and too long to be a batrachus and too short to be gariepinus and the mouth was not similar to any of the listed species. Also the pectoral fins of my fish where halfway between the location of the fins in drawings 2 and 3

More searching revealed the answer, the fish is a cross between macrocephalus and gariepinus not suprisingly named “Clarias macrocephalus x gariepinus” (ref B:)

So that was my first Walking Catfish and put the cherry on what was already a great couple of hours fishing.
Other catches of the day where several Striped Snakehead fish caught on Lure with 40lb PE braid with a 20lb mono leader

Reference A:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/AC231E/AC231E03.htm

Reference B:

http://www.scotcat.com/clariidae/clarias_macrocephalus_x_c_gariepinus4.htm

More info on this and other fishing sites in Bangkok and surrounding areas is available at www.john-tom.com Fishing in Thailand Page

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