A Whale Of A Fish Tale

Fishermen are legendary for their powers of exaggeration, if not outright lies. From Cambodia, however, comes a story about fishermen landing a real whopper, with no puffery involved.

Cambodians fishing the Mekong River have caught what is believed to be the world’s largest freshwater fish. Weighing in at an absurd 661 pounds, the stingray required a dozen villagers to reel in and haul to shore. Consider, by way of comparison, that in America landing a bass that weighs more than 20 pounds is considered remarkable. The Cambodian stingray is more than 30 times heavier. Of course, no American lakes or rivers are inhabited by freshwater stingrays that are 13 feet long, either. In fact, I’d wager that any American angler who hooked a fish that looked like this record catch would probably drop their rod and reel in astonishment at what they had hooked.

Before the stingray was caught last week, the record freshwater fish was a 645-pound catfish caught in the Thailand section of the Mekong River in 2005. (Interestingly, there are reports of a 736-pound catfish caught in the Mississippi River, but apparently there must be some doubt about the size of that fish, because it isn’t mentioned in the story of the Mekong River catch.) In any event, the stingray will still be there in the Mekong River, ready to amaze future fishermen, because the villagers who caught it tagged and released it. And that is perhaps the coolest aspect of this fantastic fish tale.