Prologue Written by Eddie Mounce
How big? How big? Is what everyone wants to know, most likely scouring this page for a figure; for a weight to put on the fish that is so boldly claimed to be the biggest arapaima ever caught in Thailand. Estimates of fish's weights are thrown around incredibly loosely and the bigger the fish, the bigger the margin of error. Nearly always is the case that huge arapaima are grossly over-estimated, not often is a fish under-estimated and that is what make's fisherman perhaps the best story teller's of all!
A fact however is that after carefully comparing the size of this arapaima to all other known huge arapaima pictures, readily found on the internet; this is by quite some margin the biggest arapaima ever caught in Thailand. Crazy weights of upto 660lb were shouted out across the lake, infact nobody offered a weight under 500lb, which would have been far too easy to go along with. Instead however we compared the pictures to arapaima that have been accurately weighed and came up with an estimate of 400lb; the weight however is almost irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is the biggest arapaima ever caught on rod & line, which at around 400lb makes many other claims to bigger fish that are clearly smaller than this one a little ridiculous. Sam's catch is about as big as arapaima can get, it is a milestone in angling history.
English born angler Sam Wakerley, now working & residing in Dubai has fished with The Fish Thailand Team on previous visits. This latest Thailand fishing game plan was to fish for barramundi at Boon Mar Ponds on the first day (see previous catch report), followed by two days fishing at Bungsamran Lake in Bangkok. Sam's target fish during these two days was the arapaima & Siamese giant carp.
Setup with two rods fishing whole mackerel at Bungsamran Lake on day one, expectations were high - it was common knowledge that the biggest arapaima in the country resides there. Until now it has always been the smaller arapaima caught at Bungsamran, never the biggest. The swim chosen to fish for the arapaima today can be seen in the above picture - a case of worry about how it would be landed later. Surely enough after a few biteless hours an arapaima was hooked and Sam immediately took to the boat to try and keep it from the snags. Most arapaima fights are over relatively quickly as surprisingly they are not as strong fighters as one would imagine, however this was not a typical size fish!
Twenty minutes into the fight Sam was back on land playing the fish in open water, by now most of the lake's anglers had gathered behind Sam to witness what was about to be the biggest arapaima ever caught on rod & line. To avoid too many tail walking displays the drag was set fairly light, although these displays can be spectacular they increase the risk of the fish causing itself injury. Even so a couple of times the fish managed some surface commotion as pictured above, netting the fish was incredibly difficult too. Several guides were in the water but with very deep margins it was upto the two netsmen to secure the fish; two failed attempts at the net had Sam's heart in his mouth. A little while later totalling a forty five minute fight and the third netting attempt was successful, the owner of Bungsamran cried out that it was indeed his biggest & never been caught before arapaima.
Quickly getting everything into place for a photo-shoot, the fish was carefully moved through the water to the shallow area of the lake. At 10ft long, Sam helped by five others raised the fish for the cameras; and a few minutes later released with no harm. To say that day one at Bungsamran was a success is an understatement - the day angling history was made.
Day two at Bungsamran produced Mekong catfish to over 100lb for Sam and unfortunately a lost carp also guessed at over 100lb. A few days later Sam fished at Hua Hin Greenfield Valley where incredibly he landed the lake's biggest arapaima of 250lb - full details and pictures of this incredible story can found by clicking here.