You are my adversary, not my enemy.

You are my adversary, but you are not my enemy.

 

We don’t eat our adversaries

I am game with eating a lot of things from ant eggs to a salad made with blood and bile but I promise you that I will never consciously eat the flesh of a giant snakehead. For me, personally, the giant snakehead is not just a game fish or a wild creature that needs to be caught and cooked to satisfy some sort of primal urge. No, to me, the giant snakehead is my greatest and most loved adversary. Since my childhood, I would look at the covers of the Thai fishing magazines like Yuur Kub Plaa or Tohng Tiaew Tok Plaa and admire the men and women who patiently mastered their skills to lure out these magnificent creatures of the fresh water so that they could hold the fish in their arms before gracefully releasing them back into the deep. Most people won’t understand it.

I’ve mentioned it a while before, the idea of a sports fisherman can be quite a difficult concept for most people to grasp; we spend our time and money to buy expensive gear, drive long distances, sleep in remote locations filled with bugs, spend hours fishing in intense weather for many, many, many trips to land a catch of a lifetime just so we can hold it, photograph it and throw it back in. Yet, people still have the misconception that what we do is easy or. better, a futile behavior that yields no results since nothing gets eaten in the process.

I have many reasons for admiring the freshwater fox.

Here are some of my reasons for my admiration of the giant snakehead

 

Bone-ripping ferocity

Tilapia with its tail completely ripped off.

Tilapia with its tail completely ripped off.

Once a giant snakehead has locked its jaws onto the tail-end of a prey, it will shake its head left to right violently like a vicious dog until a viciously clean rip of the creature has occurred. Bone, scale and flesh, scattered around in a bloody mess as the front half of its prey clings to dear life. It is a merciless but just killer that only ends a life it needs to either feed itself or protect its young.

Just watch this video below to see how incredibly fast a snakehead kill can be (warning a live frog gets fed to a giant snakehead in this video).

 

 

They are the king of the snakeheads

They grow even bigger than this!

They grow even bigger than this!

Bigger than the rest of the fish in the snakehead family, the giant snakehead can grow up to 20kg. The 7.23kg giant snakehead I had landed recently (fishing report and video coming soon) had a head capable of decapitating a small dog, imagine the size of the jaws of a fully matured 20kg fish. It is hauntingly alluring, a combination of fear and awe rolled into one serpent-like fish with two rows of razor-sharp teeth.

 

Explosive top water attacks

 

In the right season, casting a lure into the shallow sunken vegetation will cause a hungry giant snakehead to chase it down and slam it with a very audible splash. For any lure fishing aficionados, this is the kind of magic that brings tears of joy to our eyes, a hit so visible you can actually hear it. Seeing the lure crawl out of the sunken grass and a wake following from behind before a monstrous SPLASH will test the nerves of many fishermen.

 

Monogamous and overly protective parents

 


The giant snakeheads are completely monogamous during the breeding season. When the first rains of the monsoon season begin to fall, the males and females would begin to seek out one-another to pair up. Once their fry are born, the mother and father will continue to protect their young until they are big enough to fend for themselves. This period of parenthood could last up to about three months and most creatures that make the mistake of venturing near the red ball of fry usually get ripped to shreds.

 

 Changes behavior and color according to the seasons

 

The giant snakehead dramatically changes color according to the spawning season. In this image you can see the changes occur by following them in a clockwise fashion.

The giant snakehead dramatically changes color according to the spawning season. In this image you can see the changes occur by following them in a clockwise fashion.

The giant snakehead goes through an array of colors throughout their life-cycle. As hatchlings they are only 3mm in length and are completely black. Photographs of this stage of a giant snakehead’s life is extremely rare as they are usually hidden in the weeds and too small for most eyes to see. I have only personally witness it once when the water quality dropped and the hatchlings were forced out of the vegetation. Following this stage of their life, they turn bright red. This is a stage that everyone who is familiar with the art of fry stalking are familiar with. Eventually they will reach 8-10cm in length and begin to lose their red colors and start inhibiting a shade of brown. As adults they will have a purplish color while sporting black camo patterns. In the pre-spawn phase of their life they begin to go completely black in color save for some white at the corner of their jaws. After their eggs have been lay, their bellies begin to return a white color while their camo print returns but, instead of the purplish shade, they now will have a bright emerald green color all over the top. After three months of the green stage they will slowly return to their non-mating purple.

And, with every season change, there is also a behavior change and with it, almost a different method to fish for them every season.

 

They have the capacity to learn

In this particular fry-stalk, the giant snakehead had learnt to head butt the lure instead of biting it. It has learned our ways and knows the difference between a real frog and a fake one.

In this particular fry-stalk, the giant snakehead had learnt to head butt the lure instead of biting it. It has learned our ways and knows the difference between a real frog and a fake one.

Fishing isn’t easy. Snakehead fishing is even harder. They are capable of learning. Look at any stocked fishing pond or over-fished area and you will how clever the snakeheads have gotten. Use the same lure too many times in one area and suddenly the next week the snakeheads have wisened up to our ways.

 

That’s about it, I can probably go on for a lot longer but this why I love what I love. Thank you all for reading. A new video and story will be up very soon.

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